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Wednesday
Jan022013

Keep Cash, License Dry With Workout Wallet

Twice I’ve taken my wallet swimming with me. Not intentionally, of course. But no matter the intention, both times I was left with a wet wallet, as well as soggy cash, fishing license, and business cards.

 But no more since I discovered the Workout Wallet from Store Smart. It’s a durable plastic, zip-top wallet (3 7/8 inches by 5 /38 inches) with a two-pocket folding card holder. I can use the black lanyard to carry it around my neck or stow it away in a pocket or tackle bag.

 The manufacturer says that the zip top is “water resistant.” For me, “water proof” would be better. But I tested the wallet underwater and it does seem to keep its contents dry. Making certain that the top is properly sealed, however, is critical.

 For a damp day of hiking or hunting, the wallet is a good way to keep both your wallet and your cell phone dry. For travel, it’s a good way to keep important items, including passport, together in one place.

 The Workout Wallet comes in a variety of colors and is available from Store Smart. A two-pack is $12.99.

 

Wednesday
Jan022013

Snakehead Population Continues to Grow in Potomac

Potomac River guide Steve Chaconas with a northern snakehead.

News is not good regarding snakeheads in the Potomac River, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

Research indicates that since 2006 “distribution in Maryland has rapidly increased.”  Also, “relative abundance has doubled most years.”

On the plus side, “anglers are handling, killing, cooking, and eating the fish.”

To learn more, go here.

Wednesday
Dec262012

Lake Fork Lunker Caught a Second Time

TPWD Photo ©2012, Larry D. Hodge

The wisdom of catch-and-release for big fish has once again been confirmed, this time with ShareLunker 538 in the popular Texas trophy bass program sponsored by Toyota.

Gary Sims of Gunter caught the 15.02-pound bass Dec. 12 at Lake Fork. Examination of the fish revealed that it also was caught March 13, 2011, when it weighed 14.25 pounds.

Sims was fishing for crappie with a double jig in 30 feet of water near the dam when the big bass bit. “She made several long runs, and at first I thought it was a catfish, because we had already caught several,” Sims said. “Finally she came up and I lipped her.”

Lake Fork has now produced 250 of the 538 entries into the ShareLunker program.

Here’s more from Texas Parks and Wildlife about the fish and the program:

Genetic information on file shows the fish is an intergrade, or a cross between pure Florida largemouth and northern largemouth bass. Pure Floridas are held for spawning, while intergrades are returned to the lake as soon as possible. Fish caught on or after April 15 will be recorded and entered into the program but will not be transported to Athens for spawning. Experience shows that fish caught late in the season typically do not spawn in time for the offspring to be stocked before water temperatures rise beyond the optimum level for survival of the fingerlings.

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.

ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked  into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.

Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. All fish accepted into the program become official entries whether spawned or not, and anglers still receive all program prizes.

The person who catches the season’s largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.

For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year’s season, see the TPW website. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.

Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on Facebook.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

Wednesday
Dec262012

Angling Participation on the Rise

 

The number of people fishing and otherwise enjoying the outdoors increased “dramatically” from 2006 to 2011, according to the recently released 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report.

 Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • More than 90 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011; that is up 3 percent from five years earlier. The increase was primarily among those who fished and hunted.
  • Wildlife recreationists spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities, which equated to 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Of the total amount spent, $49.5 billion was trip-related, $70.4 billion was spent on equipment, and $24.8 billion was spent on other items such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.
  • The number of sportspersons rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011. The data show that 33.1 million people fished, 13.7 million hunted, and 71.8 million participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity such as observing, feeding and photographing wildlife.

Fishing and Hunting

  • Of the 13.7 million hunters that took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds, and 2.2 million other animals.
  • Of the 33.1 million anglers that fished, 27.5 million freshwater fished and 8.9 million saltwater fished.
  • While 94% of the U.S. population 16 years of age and older resided in metropolitan areas (50,000 and over populations), 89% of all anglers and 80% of all hunters were metropolitan residents.
  • 73% (24.2 million) of all anglers were male and 27% (8.9 million) were female. 89% (12.2 million) of all hunters were males and 11% (1.5 million) were females.

Wildlife Watching Highlights

  • 71.8 million U.S. residents observed, fed, and/or photographed birds and other wildlife in 2011. Almost 68.6 million people wildlife watched around their homes, and 22.5 million people took trips of at least one mile from home to primarily wildlife watch.
  • Of the 46.7 million people who observed wild birds, 88% did so around their homes and 38% on trips a mile or more from home.
  • Other types of wildlife also were popular for trip takers: 13.7 million people enjoyed watching land mammals such as bear, squirrel, and buffalo. 4 million people watched marine mammals such as whales and dolphins; 6.4 million enjoyed watching fish; and 10.1 million enjoyed watching other wildlife such as butterflies.
  • People spent $54.9 billion on their wildlife-watching trips, equipment, and other items in 2011. This amounted to $981 on average per spender for the year.

The U.S. Census Bureau selected more than 48,600 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers for detailed interviews. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews. Starting in December 2012 through May 2013, the State reports will be prepared for release on a rolling basis. The survey is funded by Multi-State Conservation grants under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs which celebrates 75 years of conservation success in 2012. 

Wednesday
Dec192012

Setting Hook Properly Is Key for Catching More Fish

Photo by Robert Montgomery

(Author's note: This article was written a few years ago for young anglers. But the advice applies to anglers of all ages who want to catch more fish.)

You feel the fish bite. It even pulls the line and bends your rod. But you don’t catch it.

What happened?

Maybe the fish was too small to get the hook in its mouth.  Maybe it bit and spit.

Or maybe you didn’t set the hook properly.

Along with mastering a level-wind reel, one of the biggest challenges for young anglers is learning how to set the hook.

Remember when you first went fishing? When you saw your bobber bounce that first time, you were so excited that you started reeling as fast as you could. Probably your dad or your grandpa or maybe even your mother was yelling, “Set the hook! Set the hook!”

You just kept reeling. You didn’t know what “set the hook” meant.

Now, you know that it means to pull back on the rod when you see or feel a fish bite, and that’s what you do. But still you miss bass. What’s wrong?

Maybe nothing. We all miss fish occasionally--- even professionals such as Kevin VanDam.

But you definitely can improve your catch rate if you will listen and learn from the best.

“With a Texas rig, you have to drive the hook through the plastic,” says VanDam. “I like to do it with a little slack line. I drop the rod tip and hit real hard.”

Others say to tighten your line all the way before setting the hook. The problem with that is a tight line can make it easier for a bass to feel you--- and possibly drop the bait--- before you set the hook.

Whichever method you use--- tight or a little slack--- act quickly when you feel a bite on a soft plastic. And jerk hard.

With another single-hook bait, the spinnerbait, you should pull more than jerk. “Let the rod load up and pull into the fish,” VanDam explains. “Reel hard and pull.”

“Load up” means the weight of the fish is putting bend into the rod, especially the tip.

Topwaters and crankbaits, meanwhile, make it easier to connect with the fish because they have treble hooks. But be careful.

“You want to let the fish load up on a crankbait or topwater,” says Florida pro James Charlesworth. “And then you want to do a sweeping hook set. If you set too hard, you can jerk the hooks right out.”

VanDam adds, “Today’s hooks are so good, so sharp, that you don’t need to set the hook hard.”

With a topwater, the Michigan pro advises that you wait until you feel the weight of the fish pulling down before you react.

It’s tough to do that when you see a big bass wallowing all over your bait. Your first instinct is to jerk as soon as you see the fish going after the topwater. Setting the hook too soon, however, will just pull the bait away from the bass.

If you’re fishing with a spinning rod, light line, and finesse baits, you don’t want to jerk at all. Doing so might break the line. Plus, you don’t need as much force to stick a bass with a light wire hook as you do with a big worm hook.

Instead of jerking, use a “reel set.” When you feel the fish, reel as fast as you can, allow the rod to load up and pull straight up and back.

“I do a lot of smallmouth fishing with a spin rod,” says VanDam. “With this hook set, if you miss the fish, you can let the rod back down, and the smallmouth will be right there to hit the bait again.”