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Why We Fish

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Tuesday
May202014

TVA to Pay for More Spraying on Guntersville

 

As part of a cooperative effort, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is stepping up its role in managing hydrilla and milfoil on Lake Guntersville, site of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. That means the agency will pay for more spraying as the new Alabama Board for Aquatic Plant Management works toward achieving self-funding.

“We are actively working to develop a long-term plan in which local communities will contribute to the cost of this program that is so critical to our economy and the preservation of our lake,” said State Rep. Wes Long from Guntersville.

Since 2010, TVA has required lakefront property owners to pay for weed treatment, as it confined its efforts to public areas such as ramps and beaches. Under the new agreement, it will pay fully for treatment for three years, with funding dropping a 1/3 annually after that, until the board takes over financing in 2019.

“One of my first actions as a United States Congressman was to ask the TVA leadership to resume its abandoned weed effort,” said Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville. “I thank TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson and TVA Board of Directors Chairman Joe Ritch for being responsive to weed control requests by my office, mayors, commissioners, and elected officials throughout the Tennessee Valley.”

Not surprisingly, some anglers are concerned that TVA will obliterate valuable fish habitat in its efforts to manage the invasive plants. But many seem cautiously optimistic.

“If they limit the spraying to boat trails and docks and marinas and beaches, I don’t think any of us would object,” said guide Mike Carter. “But if they kill a lot of the weeds in the prime fishing areas, that would be a concern.”

The director of the Alabama Bass Trail added that managing the plants is essential if Guntersville is to continue as a world-class bass fishery.

“Flight surveys have shown that up to 40 percent of the lake is covered with weeds in late summer,” said Kay Donaldson, who also serves on the new board. “That’s too much of a good thing.

“When you get that much weed cover, it blocks anglers out of thousands of acres of water that could otherwise be great fishing. The best situation is controlled spraying . . . which will give us a balanced lake that produces lots of fish and still allows homeowners, boaters, and swimmers to enjoy open areas year around.”

Local officials in Guntersville and Scottsboro plan to reinstate the local Aquatic Stakeholder Group to work with TVA and the new board.

Monday
May192014

Top Places to Take Family Fishing

Check out Take Me Fishing’s top 100 family friendly places to fish.

Qualities include the following

  • Within an hour’s drive of a major city or town.
  • Public body of water that is known for having plenty of common fish species such as bass, crappie, bluegill, and trout. Often times these public places are stocked with fish for all.
  • Part of a park that also offers amenities families need like parking, restrooms, playgrounds, picnic areas, or campgrounds
  • Has plenty of places to cast a line, like a fishing pier, or has boat ramps to allow visitors to reach other areas by boat.
  • Is recommended by other anglers! Anglers from around the U.S. cast their votes and thought these parks offered some of the best fishing spots.

 

Saturday
May172014

Great Fishing --- But Not Catching --- in the Appalachians

Photos by Robert Montgomery

The Dead Dog Pool was just that --- dead. But Secret Garden surrendered a feisty little smallmouth bass, giving us hope that the second day of float fishing would be better than the first.

It was better, but not much.

Fishing two great Appalachian rivers during the prime of the spring season should have yielded good numbers of hefty smallmouths for my friend John and me. But for whatever the reason, they just wouldn’t bite. Floating with guide Judson Conway, we managed just 4 fish on the first day and 14 on the second, with no bass longer than 12 inches and most in the 8- to 10-inch range.

No, not a great trip for catching bass, but it was a great fishing trip nevertheless.

The weather was pleasant, the scenery spectacular, and the companionship first-class. Both John and I enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I suspect that Judson did as well--- except for when the anchor hung under a rock ledge and he was forced to strip down and jump overboard in a vain attempt to free it. He finally resorted to cutting the rope.

The truth is that trips such as this are more common for most of us than those in which we catch big numbers of big fish. Most are somewhere in between. One of the reasons that I wrote Why We Fish was to explore how fishing is about so much more than what we bring to the boat.

On the first day, we fished the “Swine” River, a fishery that Judson prefers not to publicize by its real name because his clients catch so many large bass there during April and May. Starting in June, it typically becomes too shallow and warm to be productive. For the fish to be so uncooperative so early in May surprised both Judson and John, who have fished together for years.

During the 13 years that he has been guiding there, Judson said, he has yet to see another guide on the river. On our all-day float, we saw only one other angler, who was wading.

On the second day, we switched to the Nolichucky, a scenic stream for white-water rafting that rises in the mountains of North Carolina and then flows into eastern Tennessee, right through Davy Crockett country. We caught a couple of fish early and then a dozen after our shore lunch.

By the way, Judson, who has guided in Chile, the Florida Keys, and much of the West, is one of the best that I’ve seen at fixing a fast and tasty hot lunch. We enjoyed tuna steaks on the first day and crab cakes on the second.

We saw a few more people the second day, including “sirens” sunbathing on the rocks just below some rapids. But only one person was fishing. Most were riding kayaks or rafts down this fast-flowing stream that offers a variety of great smallmouth habitat, including deep pools, rocky shorelines, and backwash pockets in and below the rapids.

The big fish are there, as well as in the “Swine.” I have no doubt of it, and, if I did, Judson had plenty of photos to show me of hefty smallies caught by his clients recently in those waters.

My best guess is that the big smallmouths in both rivers were experiencing brief postspawn doldrums during the days we floated them. But who really knows? It’s not really that important.

Sometimes you catch them and sometimes you don’t. And catching is only one small part of what makes a great fishing trip. 

Friday
May162014

Yogi Knows Fishing

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” Yogi Berra

“Smoked carp tastes just as good as smoked salmon when you ain’t got no smoked salmon.” Patrick F. McManus

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom from Reel Fishermen

“Creeps and idiots cannot conceal themselves for long on a fishing trip.” John Gierach

“If fishing is interfering with your business, give up your business.” Sparse Grey Hackle

Better Bass Fishing: Secrets from the Headwaters by a Bassmaster Senior Writer

“There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home.” Roderick Haig-Brown

Friday
May162014

Texas Angler Catches Record-Size Guadalupe Bass

 Marcos de Jesus, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

A Guadalupe bass with broad shoulders “appears to qualify as a new state record and world record in several categories,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

While floating the Colorado River below Austin on Feb. 1, Bryan Townsend caught the 3.71-pound fish on a crawfish-pattern fly and a 7-weight fly rod. That should supplant the 3.69 caught in 1983 at Lake Travis.

Generally, 2 pounds is considered large for a Guadalupe, a river species unique to the clear, fast-flowing rivers of central Texas. Townsend’s fish, though, was a chunk, with a girth almost equal to its length (17.25 inches), but DNA testing confirmed that it was a pure Guadalupe.

Because that section of the river has yielded quite a few large Guadalupe-like fish in recent years, TPWD’s Marcos DeJesus decided to do a little research.

“So far as we can conclude, they seem to be pure Guadalupes,” he said.

“The Colorado River below Austin, from Longhorn Dam to La Grange, has been a special bass fishery for many years,” DeJesus continued. “Productive waters and excellent habitat have helped support a healthy black bass population composed of largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass.

“Recently, with reduced pulses due to drought, aquatic vegetation exploded all over this river segment. Flood events in October flushed a lot of it downstream, making it easier to fish.”

Townsend caught the big Guadalupe while fishing with guide Shea McClanahan, who immediately recognized its world-record potential. He phoned a friend who helped coordinate a meeting on the river with DeJesus, who brought an ice chest and an aerator.

“Our clients are 99.9 percent catch-and-release,” McClanahan said. “I don’t even have a stringer. We don’t kill fish.”

The biologist measured and weighed the fish, as well as took photos and a fin clip for genetic testing. They then took the bass to Cabela’s in Buda, the closest place with a certified scale.

Afterward, Townsend donated the fish to TPWD for live display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, where it can be seen in the theater’s dive tank.

“It was just an awesome day on the water, and getting the record was a true group effort,” Townsend said. “Guadalupe bass are such an incredible fish, and I’ve just fallen in love with that river. It’s all worked out wonderfully.”

According to TPWD, the angler will submit applications based on the fish’s weight for water body, state, and world records. He also will apply for records based on length and tackle used for state catch-and-release, fly-fishing; and world record catch-and-release, fly-fishing.

Designated the official state fish of Texas in 1989, the Guadalupe is found only in the Lone Star State, with its range including the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. Generally green in color, it doesn’t have the vertical bars typical to smallmouth bass and its jaw doesn’t extend beyond the eyes, as in largemouths. Also, its color reaches much lower on its body than in spotted bass.

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