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Monday
Feb232015

International Bass Fishing Center Location Announced

The International Bass Fishing Center – a multi-functional attraction centering on the world of bass fishing, is being planned for construction in Cullman, Ala., the Board of Director of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors announced.

The plans were unveiled during the annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on the eve of the Geico Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro in Greenville and on Lake Hartwell, S.C.

Adjacent to I-65 in northern Alabama - the “home state” for bass fishing, the International Bass Fishing Center (IFBC) will be the home of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, which honors and describes the accomplishments of those who have made significant contributions to the sport and the bass fishing industry, and much more.

“Within the Center, anglers young and old can immerse themselves in the “Family Fishing Experience” attraction,” said Dr. C. Hobson Bryan, BFHOF board member and professor emeritus at the University of Alabama. “We’ll have fully-stocked ponds for learn-to-fish excursions for area school children, plus we plan on hosting multi-day ‘Fish Camp’ clinics during the summer months.”

The IBFC will include a “Boat and Tackle Showcase” – a living display of the ingenuity and innovation of the bass fishing industry, along with a variety of interactive displays in the Virtual Fishing area, from simulating catching the big one to a ride in a fast, state-of-the-art bass boat.

The “Discovery Center” will enable visitors to experience the watery world of bass first-hand by observing fish behavior in the 36,000 gallon aquarium designed by Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, known throughout the world as the subject of the hit Animal Planet television show "Tanked". Bass fishing professionals and other instructors will demonstrate the latest lures and techniques used successfully on the tournament trail.

With its proximity to such world-class fisheries as Smith Lake and TVA lakes Guntersville, Wheeler, and Wilson, the IBFC will be a tournament headquarters and conference center. According the BFHOF board president Sammy Lee, the location makes it a natural meeting place for fishing industry related events.  These can include national tournament organizations and angling research symposia, as well as bass tournament weigh-ins. The adjacent Cullman Civic Center will enable partnering with the City on a wide range of activities, including non-fishing related events as well.

Currently in the midst of a major fundraising effort – already supported by leading tackle industry names including PRADCO, Zebco, Shimano, G. Loomis, T-H Marine and Strike King, the BFHOF Board anticipates groundbreaking for the IBFC in fall 2016.

###

About The Hall of Fame -- The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers, tackle dealers, media and other related companies who further the sport of bass fishing. In February 2013 the board of directors announced the completion of a decade-long, exhaustive quest to secure a permanent home with the selection of Cullman, Alabama as the future site of the Hall – and what will now be the International Bass Fishing Center. The IBFC site will be constructed as a joint project with the City of Cullman, Cullman County and the City of Good Hope – a project that includes an adjacent civic/convention center, all of which will be housed on the 110-acre parcel known as the Burrow property. The Hall will enjoy a dedicated 30 acres of the property, which will include ponds, gardens and an aquatic-education center. The entire project is estimated to cost in excess $17 million with structures that will encompass 101,000 square feet. Dependent on fundraising efforts, the BFHOF Board hopes 

Friday
Feb202015

Oregon Chub Is First Fish Species Classified as 'Recovered'

The little Oregon chub is providing big headlines on the fisheries front. It’s the first fish ever to be deemed “recovered” and removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals.  

“This milestone demonstrates how the Endangered Species Act can bring people together to accomplish a shared goal,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This effort succeeded because of an extraordinary partnership between federal and state agencies, landowners and other stakeholders who brought this species and ecosystem back from the brink of extinction in just over 20 years.

“We’re now managing the river in a smarter way, which means better opportunities for recreation, a boost for salmon recovery and improved water quality – all of which are good news for Oregon and its economy.”
  
The Oregon chub, a small minnow found only in the Willamette River Basin in floodplain habitats with little or no water flow, was listed as endangered in 1993 and reclassified as threatened in 2010. Primary factors that led to its listing were loss of habitat and predation by nonnative fishes. Through collaborative partnerships, and aided by outreach to the local communities, these threats have been lessened over the last 21 years with restoration and acquisition of habitat, promotion of natural river flows, and the reintroduction of chub into historical habitat. 
 
Just eight populations totaling fewer than 1,000 fish were known to exist at the time of listing in 1993. Today, the population stands at more than 140,000 fish at 80 locations with a diverse range of habitats. 
 
The Endangered Species Act has helped prevent the slide toward extinction for hundreds of species. The Oregon chub joins 28 other species that have been successfully recovered and removed from the Endangered Species List. Many other species also are experiencing trends toward recovery, including three additional ones from Oregon: the Modoc sucker is currently proposed for delisting, and the Borax Lake chub and the Columbian white-tailed deer are recommended for reclassification from endangered to threatened. 

Wednesday
Feb182015

How About a Nice, Cold Beer Brewed With Zebra Mussel Shells?

Slowly but surely, the public is awakening to the value of Asian carp as food.

And what possibly could go better with a carpburger than mussel beer?

More specifically, a Milfoil Lakehouse Saison Ale, brewed with zebra mussel shells and Eurasian watermilfoil by Excelsior Brewing Co. on Lake Minnetonka. The beer with the “exotic, invasive flavor” is promoted as a way to heighten public awareness about the problems caused by exotic species.

This past fall, Grumpy’s Limited Action Beer Fest challenged breweries to develop beer using only Minnesota ingredients, and Excelsior decided it wanted to push the envelope. It blended Minnesota wild rice, Minnetonka honey, and local hops with a small dollop of aquatic hitchhikers.

“We thought, ‘We’re going to take this to the extreme,’” said Paul Awad, a spokesman for the brewery. “It ended up being a really great beer.”

He explained that only tiny amounts of milfoil and mussel shells were used, and filtering prevents beer drinkers from finding a trace of the ingredients in their glasses. “Neither of them adds a lot of flavor. It’s more the novelty of it,” he said, adding that the brew tastes like many Saisons, with fruity, spicy overtones.

Ryan Anderson from MNbeer.com wasn’t particularly surprised by the mussel/milfoil beer. “There are some breweries out there trying some crazy things,” he said.

For example, seaweed as an added ingredient is becoming more common, while other micro breweries are trying things like fish bladders and oyster shells.

“It’s definitely a kind of interesting thing,” he said of the Excelsior beer. “But stranger things have happened.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources said the exotic brew “sounds really unusual.”

Before this latest offering, Excelsior already created beers that honored its lakeside location, including Big Island Blond Ale. Additionally, 1 percent of its profits support the popular fishery via donations to organizations such as the Freshwater Society.

Meanwhile, in the Cafeteria . . . 

The University of Missouri is testing recipes and gathering reactions as it considers adding the invasive Asian carp to the menu in its dining halls.

About 40 students tried different recipes using the fish during recent taste tests at the Sabai Culinary Development Kitchen on the Missouri campus, and their reactions will help the culinary staff decide whether to serve the fish.

Tuesday
Feb172015

Coral Diseases Threaten Marine Fisheries

 

Coral reefs, among the most valuable marine habitats for fisheries, are suffering. Overfishing, world climate change, and other stressors likely are contributing to their degradation and increasing susceptibility to disease. 

One of the most recent examples comes from Hawaii, where a new disease has been found on coral colonies.

This disease can spread fast and has the ability to kill a small coral colony within a week,” said Anne Rosinski, a marine resource specialist with the state’s Division of Aquatic Resources.

Additionally, the state reported that a “mass bleaching event” of coral colonies occurred last fall. Scientists don’t know if there is a direct connection between the disease and the bleaching, “though bleached coral is generally more susceptible to diseases.”

Here is what NOAA says about the value of coral reefs:

  • The commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs is more than $100 million. In addition, the annual value of reef-dependent recreational fisheries probably exceeds $100 million per year.
  • Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists estimate that there may be another 1 to 8 million undiscovered species of organisms living in and around reefs.
  •  Storehouses of immense biological wealth, reefs also provide economic and environmental services to millions of people. Coral reefs may provide goods and services worth $375 billion each year.
  • Millions of people visit coral reefs in the Florida Keys every year. These reefs alone are estimated to have an asset value of $7.6 billion.
  • Coral reefs buffer adjacent shorelines from wave action and prevent erosion, property damage, and loss of life. Reefs also protect the highly productive wetlands along the coast, as well as ports and harbors and the economies they support.

 

Sunday
Feb152015

Historic Access Site on Potomac to Re-Open in March

Dock repairs have begun.

Shut down in the fall because of safety concerns, one of the most popular and historic access sites on the Potomac River will re-open in March, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

Still,  resource managers are uncertain how they will  provide a long-term solution to the siltation, which forced closure of The Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove in October. At that time, NPS declared the dock unsafe for public use, two weeks before the end of the season, and an official revealed the agency does not have the money to dredge the cove and make lasting repairs.

In response to concerns expressed in a petition by the Friends of Fletcher's Cove, a coalition of more than 400 organizations and individuals, NPS sponsored a public meeting in December, and agreed to re-open Fletcher’s in the spring.

“The Park Service made clear its commitment to fund and implement a plan that addresses the immediate need for safe access to the Fletcher’s dock,” coalition leadership told its supporters, which include Keep America Fishing, Trout Unlimited, and the Potomac River Smallmouth club.

“The more complex long-term solution to the siltation at Fletcher’s Cove will require your continued persistence and support. The Park Service anticipates a comprehensive study is needed and will develop a scope-of-work as a first step.

“Our coalition must continue to assist with this vital effort to preserve the Fletcher’s Cove experience for future generations to come.”

Important financial assistance could come from the Washington, D.C. Fisheries & Wildlife Division, according to its director, Bryan King. He said that the city has funds not being used that are “strictly for boating access.” Consequently, “we could have a grant (for Fletcher’s) off our desks in a matter of weeks.”

One possible complication is that commercial activity is not allowed where federal funds are used, and the concession at Fletcher’s is a private corporation. 

(This article appeared originally in B.A.SS. Times.)