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An Angler Does Not Forget . . . 

“The angler forgets most of the fish he catches, but he does not forget the streams and lakes in which they are caught.” Charles K. Fox

“I used to like fishing because I thought it had some larger significance. Now I like fishing because it’s the one thing I can think of that probably doesn’t.” John Gierach

“No life is so happy and so pleasant as the life of the well-govern’d angler.” Izaak Walton

Why We Fish --- Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen

“There is only one theory about angling in which I have perfect confidence, and this is that the two words, least appropriate to any statement, about it, are the words “always” and “never.” Lord Edward Grey

“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.” Charles Waterman



Halibut Fishery Casualty of Catch Shares

One of the reasons that I founded this website back in 2011 was to warn against Big Government attempts to restrict/prohibit recreational fishing. The National Ocean Council, which will “zone” uses of oceans, coastal waters, and, eventually inland, is one of the cornerstones. The other is Catch Shares, which privatizes a public resource, limiting participation.

To learn more just do a search for those topics on this site and you will learn plenty.

I haven’t written about either for awhile. But Brian Bondioli recently penned a great letter in response to this article.  Thanks to the Florida Guides Association for alerting me to this.

Here’s the letter:

The privatization of the public resources through catch shares is a bad deal for everybody and everything. Here in AK, catch shares have resulted in hostility, animosity, and violence in our communities. Furthermore, and most importantly, catch shares have NOT resulted in a healthy sustainable halibut resource. They have allowed the commercial fishing fleet to absolutely destroy what was the last great fishery in the US.

The political energy of the Commercially dominated (98% comfish/2% rec) NPFMC and IPHC has been entirely focused on creating a financial investment market for the sole benefit of the longline fleet (and commercial fishing interests) and the detriment of the Alaskan communities, charter fishing businesses, and, most significantly, the halibut resource.

As the "regulators" have spent all of their energy eliminating nearly 50% of the charter fleet and soon 50% of the recreational angling opportunities, they have spent Zero effort to manage commercial fishing practices, resulting in a fisheries induced evolution toward exponentially fewer and smaller halibut.

As the "regulators" have spent all of this time manipulating "the process" under the guise of conservation, those same "regulators" and their cronies have been day trading halibut quota and making millions of dollars.

Interestingly, the same Linda Behnken mentioned in the article (when chair of the NPFMC) spearheaded the implementation of commercial quota shares in Alaska. She also submitted the first (and most of the subsequent) proposals/s to implement charter IFQs. She is/has been the president of ALFA (Alaska Fishermen’s Longline Association) as well as an advocate/employee/"unofficial lobbyist" for the MAJOR corporations in Seattle and Portland that own the majority of halibut quota shares in Alaska.

"We shouldn't be issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities and to multinational corporations. It's a no-brainer," says Linda Behnken, the vice chair of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, which works to strengthen fishing communities.

The real irony is that Linda Behnken has been the driving force behind "issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities". She and her cronies have worked very hard to make sure that they have complete control over who can and cannot purchase quota share opportunities in Alaska.

The new Alaskan Catch Sharing Plan is designed around a program to reallocate recreational angling opportunities to force an artificial marketplace in which recreational anglers must pay longliners to harvest halibut. However, they only want to allow the new shift by their own rules.

For example, they have made sure to stress that those purchase/lease opportunities may only be done on a small scale to ensure that bequests or investments by wealthy recreational interests cannot get "an upper hand" to ensure the future of recreational angling for halibut in Alaska. It's OK for commercial fishermen to make millions day trading quota. It's OK for major corporations in Seattle/Portland to control and own the majority of halibut quota. Everything is OK, as long as recreational anglers and charter businesses struggle to survive and have to pay the commercial fleet to "get by".

It's OK for Linda's employers and cronies to make hundreds of millions while decimating the halibut long as they are in control. There must have been a loophole somewhere that she didn't see coming.

Even though Magnuson/Stevens specifically prohibits outright ownership of a public resource, the Alaskan halibut IFQ program, the NPFMC/IPHC, and the new Catch "Sharing" Plan has done exactly that.

Catch Shares are a BAD deal. They are devastating to the communities, devastating to the resource and have pretty much completely destroyed everything except the commercial longliners and processors financial portfolios.

I shall forever be opposed to Catch Shares and will never personally support them.

I have personally seen the sector separation and quota share programs destroy many lives/communities/businesses and the resource. 


Try a G.Loomis Rod at No Cost

Activist Angler with a hefty largemouth caught on a jig--- and a G.Loomis rod. Photo by Wil Wegman

If think that G.Loomis rods are too expensive, now’s the time to try one at no cost to you. Check out its new “Guaranteed Love” program.

I first recognized their superiority years ago, while fishing plastics for bass with a friend on Bull Shoals. He used a G.Loomis rod, and I didn’t.

I knew that he was a better fisherman than I, but even that couldn’t explain why, time after time, he caught so many more bass than I.

When I started using my first G.Loomis, I learned why. Because of the rod’s sensitivity, I felt bites that I didn’t even know were there with my old rod.

Today, I use nothing but G. Loomis. That’s because I learned taht Gary Loomis was right when he said that the only G.Loomis rod that you’ll think is expensive is the first one.

Here’s more from the company about the new program:

At G.Loomis, it’s about helping anglers catch more fish. It’s that simple. And now participating tackle dealers are making it simple to experience G.Loomis fish-catching performance with the new G.Loomis “Guaranteed Lov program. An angler can purchase any G.Loomis rod – from the GL2 through NRX series – and will have 30 days to fall in love with it. And if not? He can bring it back.

 “It’s as simple as that,” said Bruce Holt with G.Loomis. “Our ‘Guaranteed Love’ promise gives anglers the confidence to try out any of our rods, be it spinning, casting or fly. We’re confident that once you do, you’ll not only love it, but also will probably start thinking about buying another. We wouldn’t offer this guarantee if we didn’t believe in our rods. Otherwise what’s the point?”

Any time within the 30-day ‘Guaranteed Love’ period, “if the love is not there, you simply return the rod to the tackle shop where it was purchased for a refund,” Holt said. “But here is what we already know:  The first time you fish that G.Loomis rod and hook a fish, the light is going to go off. Now you know. This is what G.Loomis performance is all about.”

The “Guaranteed Love” program is offered on all G.Loomis rod series – NRX, GLX, IMX, GL3, GL2, PRO4x, and fiber-blend. Participating dealers have complete details on the “Guaranteed Love” program, plus information is also available under the support menu at


More Anglers Learning Confidence from Better Bass Fishing

I caught this 12-4 largemouth bass with one of my "confidence" baits.

After reading Better Bass Fishing, many anglers have sent me kind comments about how the “secrets” that I shared in that book helped them catch more and/or bigger bass.

By far, the most popular tip has been my take on “confidence” baits. In fact, I just received another, which is what prompted this. Excerpts from the book provide more details. 

I didn’t suggest that readers adopt my favorites as their own, but it seems that some have. My top two are these:

1. Rat-L-Trap by Bill Lewis Lures

If the bass aren’t biting anything else, then I will throw a ‘Trap or a Spot (see below). These baits have saved countless trips for me, especially when I need a “photo” fish for a magazine article.

These lipless crankbaits will put fish in the boat--- and in front of the camera--- when nothing else will. One reason for this is that they cover more water than slower moving baits, increasing the likelihood that they will swim in front of accommodating bass. Another is that their vibration and noise attract attention.

Some mistakenly believe that the ‘Trap is for catching numbers of fish, instead of quality bass. Yes, that can be true if you throw a 1/8- or ¼-ounce bait. I prefer the ¾-ounce, and I’ve caught enough big bass with it to convince myself that the ‘Trap is a good bait for trophies as well. Aside from its larger profile, the ¾-ounce model also has more rugged split rings and hooks, both important when you’re catching big and/or large numbers of bass.

Be sure to check the hook points before you throw a new ‘Trap. I’ve found that they sometimes need sharpening.

I throw chrome/black back and chrome/blue back on sunny days in clear to slightly stained water, and I go with reds or crawfish patterns before the sun is high, on cloudy days, and/or in colored water.

2. Super Spot by Cotton Cordell

Put the ‘Trap and Spot side by side and the only difference seems to be that the ‘Trap has a dorsal fin. But they also differ in vibration and noise (from the rattles), which is why I always carry both. Sometimes bass seem to prefer one and other times the other.

Back in the 1990s, parent company PRADCO made some Excalibur Spots in 3/8-ounce and 5/8-ounce sizes. With those extra-sharp Excalibur trebles, they were dynamite baits for me, especially in baby bass, shad, and red/orange belly patterns. In fact, I caught a 12-4 largemouth on the red/orange, 3/8-ounce version at Lake Guerrero.

When PRADCO stopped making that version of the Spot, I searched tackle shops, looking in vain for leftovers. Sadly, I have only a few left, and can’t seem to find any more.

And here’s why confidence baits are important:

Using a confidence bait gives you a psychological boost, and that’s important when the bite is slow--- maybe more important than the bait itself. It heightens your concentration and makes you more eager to fish. It makes you more attentive to where you are casting and to detecting subtle bites. In short, throwing a confidence bait makes you a better angler.

Secret: If you don’t have a confidence bait, work on developing a couple. You’ll be a better bass angler for it.

But also don’t forget that many, many variables play into whether a bass is going to bite your bait. Some we understand. Some we think that we understand. And some we don’t even know about. That watery world below the surface is so different from ours that we simply can not know it in the same way that we know our air environment.

Once in awhile, we really do catch bass because we have chosen the “right” bait. Other times, they hit because they are in an aggressive, feeding mode, or because we have found a concentration of fish that stirs itself into a competitive frenzy when a lure passes through. During such times, just about anything in your tackle box might work.

Secret: So, when you are catching bass on a confidence bait (or a new lure that you just bought at the store), pay attention to more than just what is tied on the end of your line, its color, and the way it moves in the water.  Look at water depth and clarity. Determine where the bites occur in relation to cover, structure, and current. Note the weather conditions and wind direction.

In other words, benefit from the “confidence” that throwing a favorite bait gives you, but also be smart enough to realize that bass probably aren’t biting it because it’s your favorite or because it is vastly superior to others. Likely, they are biting because of a complex combination of favorable variables, of which the lure is just one.

You can find more valuable information about how to catch more and bigger bass in Better Bass Fishing --- Secrets from the Headwater by a Bassmaster Senior Writer.


More Tennessee Waters May Be Stocked with Florida Bass

Now that stocking of Florida-strain bass in Lake Chickamauga has proven a success, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is going to investigate introducing them into other waters.

“We don’t want to throw money away,” said Bobby Wilson, fisheries chief. “We don’t want to stock fish where we don’t think they’re going to do very well.

“But we’re going to gather some preliminary information.”

Fisheries to be examined include Old Hickory, Percy Priest, and Normandy. Biologists hope to determine whether Florida genes already exist in those waters. They also will look at aquatic vegetation, as well as water temperature and quality.

At Chickamauga, meanwhile, multi-year research shows emphatically that adding 2 million Florida fingerlings since 2000 has enhanced the fishery. In spring of 2013, TRWA biologists found that nearly all of the 50 “trophy size” bass from which they collected genetic samples were either hybrids or “backcrosses.”

None of those fish, many weighing 8 pounds or more, was either pure Florida or pure northern.

“A backcross is created when hybrids or their offspring spawn with a pure Florida or pure northern strain of bass,” explained biologist Mike Jolley. “Interestingly, the pure Florida largemouth bass was not observed at all, which has been the common theme throughout this project. Hardly any pure Florida bass have been collected during any of our samples.”

Jolley pointed out that several factors contributed to success, including good aquatic vegetation, an ample forage base, and consistent natural reproduction.

 “We are excited about the results of the Chickamauga Lake Florida Bass Project,” Wilson said. “Our original goal was to increase the percentage of Florida bass genes to 15 percent, and it is currently about 45 percent. But more importantly, these stockings led to a significant increase in the number of larger bass in the lake.”

The fisheries chief praised local anglers and tournament directors for assistance in the study and their desire to see a trophy bass fishery.