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Thursday
May022013

Bassmaster Lists Best Bass Lakes

 

Bassmaster Magazine has released its list of the top 100 bass lakes.

Following are the top 10:

1. Lake St. Clair, Michigan

2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas

3. Clear Lake, California

4. Lake Guntersville, Alabama

5. Lake Erie, Michigan/Ohio/New York/Pennsylvania

6. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee

7. Falcon Lake, Texas

8. Lake Okeechobee, Florida

9. San Joaquin Delta, California

10. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas/Louisiana

Click here to see the story.

Then click on “Photo Gallery," and you can see photos of the top 100, as well as the comments.

Oh, yes, the comments. If there’s anything that anglers don’t agree on, it’s the best place to go fishing.

 
Thursday
May022013

EPA Confirms Threat that Pebble Mine Poses to Alaska Salmon 

Those fighting to protect one of the world’s most valuable salmon fisheries are pleased with a recent assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Basically, the EPA found that, even without a major disaster, the proposed Pebble Mine would destroy up to 90 miles of salmon streams and up to 4,800 acres of wetland salmon habitat in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

“The science is clear: developing Pebble Mine will harm salmon and destroy streams even if nothing ever goes wrong at the mine,” said Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program.

“Pebble is far bigger and more threatening to renewable resource jobs than any other mine proposal in Alaska and it’s planned for the worst location possible: the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

"Clearly, the time for action to protect Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act is now.”

Save Bristol Bay adds this:

Anglo American, a foreign mining company of luxury metals with a record as one of the world’s biggest polluters, forms half of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which has said it plans to file a permit application for the mine this year. Its partner, Northern Dynasty, filed detailed plans with the SEC to build North America’s largest open-pit mine and the world’s largest earthen dam in Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to America’s most productive salmon streams.

Several representatives from the Save Bristol Bay Coalition were in Washington this week to urge the EPA to quickly release its updated draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. They are part of an unprecedented, bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, more than 900 hunting and fishing groups and businesses, 26,000 retail food stores, 225 chefs and restaurant owners, and 22 jewelers like Tiffany and Co. that believe Bristol Bay should be protected.

Nearly 60% of Alaskans and 80% of Bristol Bay residents oppose the construction of Pebble Mine, particularly Alaska Natives who fear the destruction of their 8,000 year-old culture.

Go here to learn more about the assessment and comment.

Thursday
May022013

Snakeheads in the Big Apple?

Snakeheads might be lurking in waters of New York City’s Central Park.

I’m sorry about this, but this is just the way my mind works: When I first learned of this, I couldn’t help but think of the song made famous by Frank Sinatra.

I want to wake up in that city 
That doesn't sleep 
And find I'm king of the hill 
Top of the heap 

 And how about this? 

If I can make it there 
I'll make it anywhere 
It's up to you 
New York, New York

I hope that’s not true in regard to snakeheads. 

Here’s the New York Times’ take on the hunt for snakeheads in Central Park.

Wednesday
May012013

Help Protect Angler Access in Everglades

Which fishery will freshwater anglers lose first? Lake Erie? Lake Okeechobee? Lake Amistad? The Potomac River?

Unless we stand tall and push back assertively, we’re going to lose access to at least a portion of one of these or some other notable freshwater fishery in the years to come. You can count on it.

Preservationists and their close allies in this administration do not want us fishing on public waters, and they are going to use the National Ocean Policy and the National Park Service (NPS) to deny us access wherever they can.

Thus far, the focus has been on saltwater, notably Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne Bay.

But with this latest assault on access at Everglades National Park, they are moving their focus inland. A NPS proposal  for managing the park would prohibit combustion engines in about 80,000 acres of the eastern Everglades, south of the Tamiami Trail. In other words, it would create de facto no-fishing zones in much of Florida Bay.

“Boaters would be allowed to use push poles or trolling motors in these areas, but because many of these areas are several miles wide and lack channels or corridors for motorized access, many popular fishing areas would become virtually inaccessible,” says Keep America Fishing.

And the Miami Herald reported this:

“Said David Olsen, board member of the angling group CCA-Florida, to park officials at Tuesday’s meeting:

‘There’s growing concern in the angling community . . . a lot of people frankly believe you don’t want us there.’”

That’s correct. Disdain and/or disregard for recreational fishing permeate this administration.

What can you do about it? Speak out. Go here to do so.

Keep America Fishing offers this sample letter:

As an angler and conservationist, I fully support efforts to restore and conserve the magnificent natural resources in Everglades National Park. I want to ensure that current and future generations have the ability to enjoy this national treasure.

I am concerned, however, that the proposed management actions in the draft General Management Plan would unnecessarily restrict public access to large areas of the park’s waters far beyond what is needed for resource protection. In particular, the pole and troll zones proposed in the park’s preferred alternative are so large and lacking in sufficient access corridors that the majority of these areas would become de facto closures. Closing these prime fishing areas would burden anglers and hurt local recreational fishing-dependent businesses.

It is my understanding that several local fishing organizations have provided a detailed set of maps that identify existing boating access corridors in relation to the proposed pole and troll zones. I strongly urge you to incorporate these concepts for improved access into the management plan.

I am also concerned with complications that may result from the proposed mandatory boater education program. While I support improved boater education, rather than enacting a mandatory boater education program specifically for Everglades National Park that has different requirements from surrounding federal and state waters, I believe that federal agencies and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should work to develop a boater education program that would apply to all appropriate federally managed areas in Florida.

Thank you for your consideration.

Go to this Everglades National Park website to learn more.

Monday
Apr292013

Angler Involvement Critical if We Want to Keep Fishing

By nature, anglers don't want to get involved. They just want to go fishing.

I am angler, so I know.

But we must get involved if we are to maintain access to many of our waters.

The latest report from AnglerSurvey.com on public access is not good. Overall, the number of anglers who cancelled a fishing trip or stopped fishing because of lost access didn’t decline from 2011. But it didn’t improve much either.

What that means is that 15 to 20 percent of anglers have reported losing access during the past two years. Because more anglers fish freshwater than salt, most of that loss is inland. “Seventy-one percent of reported access problems involved freshwater anglers and 24 percent involved saltwater in 2012,” AnglerSurvey.com said.

“Despite these challenges, 22 percent of affected anglers said they actually fished more last year than the previous year, just in different locations, and at least 32 percent reported fishing at least as much. Still 39 percent reported fishing less frequently due to their lost access and 7 percent didn’t fish at all.”

While I’m pleased than more than half of anglers reporting said that they fish just as much if not more, there’s a downside to that as well. Combine that statistic with fewer places to fish, and you have more pressure on remaining waters. At some point, that’s likely to discourage even more from going fishing. And more lines in the water also can mean that some fisheries must be more intensively managed, with more restrictions, if they are to be maintained.

Why are we losing access?

Some closures are occurring because property owners associations around lakes are shutting down ramps and/or restricting them to specific hours because of concerns about invasive species. As anglers (and preferably as angling clubs) we must work with these associations, instead of standing back and doing nothing, or even worse, railing against them.

Also, we have to better police our own. Most fishermen don't litter. But those who do give us all a bad name.

Lots of recreational boaters, including some anglers, practice something called "sinking your empties." Instead of taking their empty beer cans and bottles back with them, they throw them into the water. Their excuse is that they don't want to get cited for DUI if they are stopped by law enforcement because they might "give the appearance" of being drunk because of all the empties in the bottoms of their boats. (Check out this link and this one to see what I mean.)

Finally, we must reach out more to state wildlife agencies, offering our assistance for research, cleanup, habitat, and access projects. As we become valuable resources for them, they will become invaluable allies for us.

Some closures are justified; many are not. But the overall trend certainly is in the wrong direction and angler activism is the only way to slow it down. Sadly, that is not happening nearly enough these days. We certainly have the numbers to change things. But strength lies in numbers only if that strength is recognized and acted upon.