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Freedom to Fish Act Protects Angler Access Below Dams

Enactment of the Freedom to Fish Act in early June forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to back off its plan to restrict access below 10 dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries.

In the wake of the bill’s signing by President Obama, the Corps immediately announced that it would comply and begin removing barrier buoys.

“This preserves the freedom to fish for generations of Americans who enjoy fishing below the dams on the Cumberland River, and does so in a way that gives the appropriate state wildlife agencies authority for boating safety,” said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who championed the legislation.

“Now the Corps is required, by law, to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen.”

The Corps had planned to establish permanent restrictions, which angered anglers and boaters, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Additionally, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that it would not enforce the Corps’ policy.  

Under the law, anglers and boaters retain access when conditions are safe, with state agencies determining when it is not.

In response, the Corps said, “The Nashville District will be removing the buoys recently placed below the following dams: Old Hickory, J. Percy Priest, Cordell Hull, Center Hill, and Dale Hollow.

“This work will begin immediately. The Corps will also convert recently placed ‘Restricted--- Keep Out’ buoys above its dams on the Cumberland River and tributaries back to ‘Danger Dam’ buoys. The signs installed on upstream and downstream lock walls with the message ‘Restricted --- Keep Out’ will be replaced with signs that display the message ‘Danger--- Dam.’”

The Corps pointed out that three accidents have occurred below Tennessee dams since June 1.

“The water areas above and below dams continue to be very hazardous,” it said. “State laws for mandatory lifejacket wear below dams remain in effect. All boaters are cautioned to say clear of all turbulent waters released from these structures.”

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



Zebra Mussels Moving Toward Canada

Zebra mussels found on a dock being installed on Minnesota’s Sand Lake are worrisome for resource managers both in the state and neighboring Canada.

That’s because Sand is a part of the Bowstring chain of lakes, which flows into the Big Fork River. The latter is a tributary of Rainy River, which feeds massive Lake of the Woods (65,000 miles of shoreline). And if that’s not enough, that lake drains into the Winnipeg River, and, ultimately, Lake Winnipeg.

Additionally, the closer the shellfish are to uninfected waters, the easier it is for them to be introduced on boats and trailers.

“It takes awhile for zebra mussels to establish through moving currents, but that potential is there,” said Cheri Zeppelin with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). “The key is to slow down the spread.”

Across the border, meanwhile, fisheries managers had thought their resources were protected by the Canadian Shield, because lakes there don’t contain enough calcium for the invasive mussels to thrive. But this discovery raises the possibility that they could spread into northwestern Ontario without going through that natural barrier.

On the positive side, both the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River are low in calcium as well, according to Jeff Brinsmead with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. That could diminish the likelihood of the mussels naturally migrating in river currents, but only time will tell.

The mussels found on the dock were dead adults, Zeppelin said. That means that they probably were alive until the dock was pulled out last fall.

Likely they were introduced by boaters, said Richard Rezanka, an invasive species specialist with the MDNR.

“This is the farthest north we’ve got them,” he said. “We’ve got pretty heavily fished lakes in the central part of the state, so it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for water or zebra mussels to have been moved.” 

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


Learn about Why We Fish at These Links

"Anglers and non-anglers alike, will find Robert U. Montgomery’s book, Why We Fish, interesting and hard to put down as one adventure after another leaves you wondering where the award winning author might lead you next."

Review at Florida Guides Association 

Information about the book  has been placed in the Fishing Industry News folder of New & Tips section for two freshwater fishing iPhone apps, FishMate and FishMate Pro, as well as a saltwater app, FirstMate. You can learn more about each app, as well as how to purchase, at Connectedllcapps.

"Montgomery's book is a charming, nostalgic look at the reasons we fish. It poses a question that every reader can immediately relate to and provide personal examples. The anglers who provided essays were obviously touched by the question and find solace and relaxation each time they grab fishing gear and go to the water's edge. Very interesting and readable book for all ages."

One of 13 five-star reviews at Amazon.

Also you can read about the book --- and me --- in this Daily Journal article.


Minnesotans Want Locks Closed to Protect Fisheries from Asian Carp

Minnesotans are worried about Asian carp moving into inland lakes from the Mississippi River--- and justifiably so. As they’ve spread out from the lower Mississippi states, where they escaped, they’ve proven inexorable in their expansion, often riding in on flood waters.

Dennis Anderson at the StarTribune says this:

“Waiting this long to close some combination of the Upper or Lower St. Anthony locks, or the lock at Ford Dam, on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters, is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

“Every day the locks stay open, the state’s inaction is dumber still.”

Also, a poll released by the National Wildlife Federation and other groups reveals that 63 percent of Minnesotans would support closing the locks in Minneapolis to prevent the spread of Asian carp.

“Minnesotans understand that fishing is not just a major part of our Minnesota economy, it is part of our quality of life and heritage," said state senator Amy Klobuchar. "That's why I convinced my colleagues in the Senate to pass my amendment closing the lock. The legislation needs to now pass the House."


Bassing Bob Helps Anglers Catch Bass at Lake of the Ozarks

If you fish for bass at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks --- or are planning to --- you'll want to check out Bassing Bob. It's described like this:

 " is an online community of bass fisherman, offering valuable membership benefits for bass fishermen of all levels, offering highly detailed Lake of the Ozarks fishing logs describing baits used, conditions, locations, all archived on the website to provide members with year around bass fishing information."

Additionally the site is a supporter of the University of Missouri Bass Fishing Club.

“We recognize that the sport of bass fishing is becoming popular amongst college students. In order to encourage growth of this sport to a younger audience, we reached out to the University of Missouri Bass Fishing Club to offer our support," said Bob Bueltmann, founder of

“The Mizzou Bass Fishing Club is currently ranked 30th in the nation and participates in many tournaments in the Midwest and as far south as Texas. We are dedicated to providing a comprehensive website on bass fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks, and we are thrilled to support this team of young bass fishing enthusiasts."