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Friday
Feb262016

What You Should Know About Barometric Pressure to Help You Catch Fish

Spring is here --- or rapidly approaching --- in many areas of the country, and anglers are ready to hit the water.

With that in mind, I’m sharing below an excerpt from my book Better Bass Fishing on how weather influences fish behavior. This explains the effects of barometric pressure.

Barometric Pressure

Generally moving from west to east, areas of high and low pressure determine our weather.

As high pressure moves in, winds tend to blow clockwise and away from the center. Weather within the center of a high-pressure area features clear sky, dry air, little or no wind, and cooler temperatures. Especially during fall and winter, high pressure brings sunny, blue-bird skies, cold winds, and poor fishing.

With the approach of a low-pressure area, the wind blows counter clockwise and toward the center. Weather within the center of a low-pressure area features cloudy sky, high humidity, light winds, steadier temperatures, and possibly precipitation. Fishing almost always is better under these conditions.

Changes occur as one type of pressure is pushed out by another. A low pressure area moving in typically brings unstable weather and falling barometric pressure. Falling pressure, anglers know, typically coincides with better fishing.

But maybe not for the reason that many believe. Some think that high pressure makes fish uncomfortable, which is why they don’t bite well upon the arrival of fair weather and a rising barometer. They also believe that falling pressure prompts fish to become more active.

Actually, what probably happens is that falling pressure allows plankton and tiny invertebrates to become more buoyant and float upward. This makes them easier prey for shad and minnows. The increased activity of these forage species, in turn, triggers bass and other game fish to feed.

Or, falling pressure simply might be an indicator of more favorable conditions overall, according to Bob Ponds, a former professional angler who worked as a radar specialist and supervisor for the U.S. Air Force and the National Weather Service.

“If you have falling pressure, you’re going to have high humidity and clouds. It will be darker and the fish will stray out farther from where they have been hiding and they will bite better,” he says. “Barometric pressure doesn’t affect how fish bite so much as it indicates conditions that affect how they will bite.”

And what happens when the barometer rises? Why do the fish stop biting? Here’s one theory:

“When you’ve got a rising barometer, fish are going to seek eddies and structure to take the pressure off them,” says Sam Griffin, a lure maker and guide on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. “We can feel a temperature change. They can feel a pressure change. We think that fish hide in cover and behind structure to feed. They also do it to rest.”

Friday
Feb262016

Herbicides, Parasites Likely Causes for Susquehanna Decline

Endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, as well as pathogens and parasites, are the most likely causes for the decline of the Susquehanna River's world-class smallmouth fishery, according to results of a multi-year study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and other agencies.

"We appreciate the assistance of the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and our other partners in the evaluation of many possible stressors to the smallmouth bass population . . . ," said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (FBC).

"The health of the smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River continues to be compromised and this analysis rules out certain causes, prioritizes other uncertain causes for further study, and, most importantly, identifies likely causes which can be targeted for action."

TO FBC's credit, it has been sounding the alarm about fish with lesions and sores, as well as declining numbers, for years, as well as lobbied DEP to categorize the lower portion of the river as "impaired."  That designation would allow for a comprehensive plan to be developed to address the problem.

Until the release of this study, though, DEP countered that it makes recommendations based on water quality, not species health, and refused to recommend that the Susquehanna be placed on the EPA's impaired waters list. Anglers and groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) hope that these findings will help the river get the help it needs.

"The time to start to remedy the sick Susquehanna River and save a world-class smallmouth fishery is now," said CBF's Harry Campbell. "An impairment declaration will start the healing process so that the waterway that millions of Pennsylvanians depend upon, and provides half of the freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay, can benefit from an unwavering level of restoration, resource investment, and pollution study."

Scientists now view temperature, dissolved oxygen, algal and bacterial toxins, and young-of-the-year food quality and habitat as "uncertain causes."  Meanwhile, "unlikely causes" include high flows, ammonia, and toxic chemicals such as pesticides, PCBs, and metals.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Texas Becomes 19th State to Guarantee Right to Fish and Hunt

 

In 1777, Vermont became the first state to include the right to fish and hunt in its constitution. In November, Texas became the 19th overall and the 18th since 1996, as more than 80 percent of voters approved Proposition 6.

As we've become an increasingly urbanized society in recent years, sportsmen have recognized the need to protect their rights from an aggressive animal rights movement. Its members view the pastimes as "cruel" and ignore the immense importance of fishing and hunting for conservation, as well as its historic and cultural significance. That was made abundantly clear last fall, when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  faced a firestorm of criticism for its decision to address an exploding bear population with a managed hunt.

Here's what one enlightened anti-hunting activist told FWC: "The world watched the barbaric massacre of the majestic black bears and is disgusted. They should have a 'harvest' for hellbound rednecks."

And how about what happened to angler Ed Loughran last July, during the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open on the James River? As he legally fished a tidal area, he was harassed, threatened and sprayed with a hose. In August, meanwhile, Elite Pro Mark Menendez was insulted and threatened on the St. Lawrence River.

With its considerable political clout, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been a leader in the movement to enshrine hunting and fishing as state constitutional rights. And the Texas victory, it said, "brings us one step closer to our goal of incorporating this critical protection across the country."

In addition to confirming those rights, the Texas amendment also designates fishing and hunting as the preferred methods for managing and controlling wildlife. And it specifies that this provision does not affect laws relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.

Texas B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director Tim Cook said that bass anglers helped spread the word about the importance of this proposal in the weeks before the election.

"Other than social media, forums, and word of mouth, we didn't feel the need to do much else," he said. "I was told that the outdoor community was pretty confident it would pass.

"While we always have had this right," he added, "adding it to our state constitution may help prevent infringing on our rights in the future."

In Texas alone, almost three million annually fish and hunt, spending $4.1 billion, generating 65,000 jobs and contributing more than $415 million in tax revenue. Across the country, anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales each year, with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy, creating employment for more than 828,000 people, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Association Recreation.

Additionally, license fees paid by anglers and hunters are what finance state wildlife agencies, not general tax revenue. And that funding is bolstered by the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which collects excise taxes on fishing tackle and hunting gear and then redistributes the money to the states.

Anglers and hunters also contribute billions to private conservation programs. Protecting their rights provides for the continued existence of science-based fish and wildlife management and habitat programs that benefit all species, not just those pursued by sportsmen.

Monday
Feb222016

Monday
Feb222016

EPA Violated Federal Law With Propaganda Campaign for Clean Water Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) engaged in "propaganda" and violated federal law by using social media to urge people and influence Congress to support rules to strengthen the federal Clean Water Act, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said that he is not surprised, long suspecting "that EPA will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda."

EPA used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and an innovative new tool, Thunderclap, to counter opposition to the rules that critics argued would be too broad and enable government overreach onto private properties.

Federal agencies are allowed to promote policies, but aren't allowed to engage in propaganda, which is defined as covert activity intended to influence the public. They also are not allow to use federal resources to conduct grassroots lobbying, which is defined as urging the public to contact Congress to take a certain kind of action on proposed legislation.

GAO concluded that EPA did both. "The critical element of covert propaganda is the agency's concealment from the target audience of its role in creating the material," the watchdog agency said in its 26-page ruling.

Environmental groups argue that new rules are needed because court decisions have weakened protections. Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action said the proposed rules are "taking the way the Clean Water Act works back, so that it works the way water works in the real world."

As proposed, they would extend to streams regardless of size or how frequently they flow, as well as to ditches, gullies, and almost any low spot where moisture collects on a seasonal basis.

Opponents insist that current provisions are strong enough to protect public waters and the new rules would infringe on private property rights.

"The EPA's draft water rule is a massive power grab of private property across the U.S.," said U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. "This could be the largest expansion of EPA regulatory authority ever."

Implementation of the new rules already had been blocked by a federal court, after they were challenged by 18 states. Additionally, the Republican-led House of Representatives hopes to use Congress to stop them permanently.