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Tuesday
Sep172013

Duke Energy Develops Effective Strategy for Hydrilla Control

For years, resource managers have struggled to find a cost-effective and efficient way to control hydrilla. Mass application of herbicide can be cost prohibitive, as well as unpopular with anglers, environmentalists, and lakefront property owners. Grass carp, meanwhile, need years to bring the fast-growing exotic plant under control, unless they are stocked at exceptionally high rates, which also can be unpopular and expensive.

But Duke Energy Corporation has developed an effective management strategy for five of its Piedmont reservoirs that incorporates moderate use of both herbicides and carp. This reduces cost, as well as minimizes the likelihood of the adverse effects on fisheries that often accompany heavy stocking of grass carp.

This one-two punch, however, is not the sole reason for success, according to Ken Manuel, Duke’s reservoir aquatic plant manager.

“Early detection and rapid response is critical,” he said. “The plants grow so fast that you’re quickly past just a small infestation.

“Hydrilla grows faster than you think,” Manuel added. “It’s not just an inch a day. A plan can grow multiple feet per day from all of its growth tips.”

And too often, it’s spreading undetected. “Especially in the East, the states, which manage the fisheries and the water quality, rely on interested individuals to tell them about invasive plants,” the scientist said.

By contrast, Duke Energy’s mosquito control teams aren’t just controlling blood-sucking insects while they are on the water full-time for six months annually. “They are constantly looking for hydrilla and other invasive plants so that we can act quickly,” Manuel said.

Once hydrilla is confirmed, it is treated with herbicide. Sometimes, that is enough. More often it is not. That being the case, stocking of triploid grass carp follows, at a rate of 20 per acre of surface infestation.

The herbicide reduces the plant’s biomass, while carp graze on what sprouts from the surviving tubers. “If you have 1,000 acres of hydrilla, you have 1,000 acres until the tuber bank is exhausted,” said the scientist.

Additional “maintenance” stockings at a rate of 1 per 8 acres of the reservoir might follow for 8 to 10 years. 

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

Monday
Sep162013

Why Do We Fish?

Monday
Sep162013

Anglers Win Important Election Battle in Australia

Good news for recreational fishing in Australia, as the Coalition government “swept to power in a landslide election victory.”

That’s because the Coalition seems much more rational about resource management than the previous Labor government, which was backed by anti-fishing extremists.

According to Fishing World:

“It is likely, insiders say, that the new government would favour ‘protecting what needs protecting’ but not necessarily banning fishing.

“The Coalition’s approach to marine protection is likely to be a bitter pill for the various anti-fishing groups, which have long campaigned for no compromise lockouts.”

Read the rest of the story here.

And, by the way, if you think that a similar anti-fishing movement isn’t actively campaigning to close off public waters to anglers in this country, you aren’t paying attention. The Obama Administration has especially emboldened them. Some of them are serving in it, in agencies such as the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. And many others are helping shape policy.

Monday
Sep162013

Be Prepared For That Big Bass

TPWD photo

Planning to catch an entry in the Texas Toyota ShareLunker Program this year? If so, be sure to read the following guidelines from Texas Parks and Wildlife before making that first cast.

And even if you don’t live in Texas and/or have no designs on a 13-pound largemouth, following the more general recommendations will make you a better angler and conservationist.

  1. Program the Toyota ShareLunker numbers into your cell phone NOW. Voice: (903) 681-0550. Pager: (888) 784-0600. Both are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the season, which runs October 1 through April 30. Be sure to include your area code if leaving a message. (And by the way: There is no need to call either number in the middle of the night just to see if they are working. They are.)
  2. Check your tackle and respool with fresh line, preferably braided. Big bass tend to hang out in the nastiest cover they can find and are quick to wrap your line around a tree. Chances are you are going to have to pull them out by brute strength.
  3. If you do not have an oxygenation system installed in your livewell, get one. Instructions on how to do it yourself can be found at http://www.slideshare.net/raminlandfish/livewell-oxygen-injection-8773301. Oxygenation is especially important during warm weather and tournaments, when bass may be held for several hours.
  4. Don’t have a livewell? You can use the information in step 3 to rig a large ice chest. Bass do not respond well to being dragged across a lake on a stringer. Remember that a 13-pound bass will probably be at least 24 inches long.
  5. Get a rubber net. These are much kinder to fish than nets with knotted construction. Abrasions make a fish more vulnerable to infections.
  6. Get a scale and check its accuracy using a known weight. (A five-pound sack of flour or sugar and a gallon of water in a plastic grocery bag should weigh about 13.5 pounds.) This can save much time and frustration trying to find a place to weigh a fish.
  7. Review the procedure for handling and caring for big bass at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/handle/.
  8. Know the locations of official ShareLunker weigh and holding stations (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding/). These places have certified scales for weighing your fish, a specially equipped tank for holding it, and personnel who have been trained by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists on how to care for big bass. Taking your fish to one of these stations, if one is nearby, is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to insure its survival.
  9. Expect to catch a lunker. Many lunkers are caught by people who just went fishing and did not expect to hook a trophy bass, and they didn’t have a net, or didn’t fill their livewell, or didn’t have a scale or know where to take a fish to have it weighed. Any time you fish in Texas, you have a chance to catch a 13-pound or bigger bass. Act like a Boy Scout. Expect the unexpected.
  10. Buy a fishing license and know the regulations for the body of water you fish. Some big bass have not been accepted into the ShareLunker program because they were not legally caught. The first thing the TPWD employee does when picking up a fish is check the condition of the fish. The second is to ask to see your fishing license. Have one.
  11. It’s best to use a rubber net to land a fish, but if you must lip it, take care not to suspend the fish’s weight from its jaw. This can break the jaw and make it impossible for the fish to feed. Grip the fish’s mouth firmly with one hand and its tail with the other, and handle it as little as possible to avoid damaging its protective slime coat.
  12. Treat the fish with respect after catching it. Quickly take photos of yourself with the fish, and then leave it alone. Don’t let others handle the fish and have their picture taken with it. It’s your fish. You want it to live to go back into the lake. The process starts with you.
  13. Go fishing. 
Friday
Sep132013

Red Snapper Bill Would Turn Over Management to States

Finally, something is being done to untangle the awful mess made of the red snapper fishery by the feds.

Introduced by a bipartisan coalition, the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act would establish a coordinated Gulf states partnership through which the states would comply with a management plan approved and adopted by the Gulf States Marines Fisheries Commission. The partnership would be similar to how the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manages striped bass and how the Gulf states manage red drum (redfish).

“There are many examples where a shift to state-based management of a given fishery resource has been called for, producing better results,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

 “State fish and wildlife management professionals have a strong track record of managing their fishery resources in order to achieve the right balance between sustainability and quality fishing opportunities. The ongoing red snapper debacle in the Gulf is begging for the opportunity to put proven state-based management approaches to work.”

Federal management of this popular recreational species has been broken for years, and reached rock bottom in 2013 when frustration over status quo management compelled several Gulf states to seek greater control of the fishery in their own waters. In retaliation, the National Marine Fisheries Service used an emergency rule process to reduce the recreational season to nine days off Louisiana and 12 days off Texas. Both states sued and a federal court overturned the action.

The legislation comes after the governors of four Gulf states released a joint letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership stating that federal management of Gulf red snapper is “irretrievably broken,” and calling for a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management. In a sign of broad support for the concept of state-based management of fish and wildlife resources, the entire leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus has signed on to the bill.

“The reality is that federal management of the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper fishery is fundamentally flawed, and it is negatively impacting anglers and the coastal economies that depend on access to that fishery,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane.

“Federal management of red snapper has painted itself into a corner,” added Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We have a robust red snapper population in the Gulf, but 2013 was as chaotic a season as anglers have ever seen. The season started as the shortest ever, saw a revolt by some states that resulted in even shorter seasons, endured a lawsuit, received a glowing stock assessment and the promise of a fall season, only to crash on wild estimates of overharvest that put the fall season in jeopardy.

“This is no way to manage a fishery, and this legislation presents a way out of this no-win situation. Congressman (Rep. Jeff of Florida) Miller is a true champion of American anglers for taking the lead on this legislation. His leadership brings a reliable, workable solution that allows the Gulf states to better manage red snapper conservation.”