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Tuesday
Dec172013

Livewell Invention Aids Fish Survival

 

A little company in rural Kentucky has quietly invented a product that could drastically reduce delayed mortality in bass following tournaments, especially during hot weather.

The easily installed V-T2, with no moving parts, creates an open air exchange when installed in the center of a livewell lid.  A three-inch sleeve protrudes into the water, directing air into, through, and out of the livewell, to cool, oxygenate, and remove harmful gases.

Judy Tipton said that she and other tournament anglers developed the simple and inexpensive ($44.99) ventilation system of out a desire “to keep our bass alive and healthy.”

“Even though we often got through the weigh-ins without a dead fishing or penalty, it was obvious that the health of our fish had declined greatly and the prospect of survival was low once they were released,” said the director of research and development for NewPro Products.

Tipton recalled an August tournament on Barren River Lake. “The release area had hundreds of dead fishing floating,” she said. “Anglers were knee deep in the water, attempting to resuscitate struggling fish, and some just poured out their fish, turned their backs and walked away.

“It was horrible. I remember thinking that I am ashamed to be a part of this. As much as I love fishing and competing in tournaments, I was not proud to be a tournament angler that day.”

Realizing that there had to be a better way, she and her associates developed the V-T2. They recognized that a closed livewell system creates water-quality problems by holding heat and harmful gases and limiting dissolved oxygen.

“Aerators are great and needed,” Tipton said. “But to save on battery power, they usually run on a timer. Fish need continuous oxygen flow the entire time they are in the livewell.

“Interval aeration creates a roller coaster of oxygen levels and a very unstable and more stressful environment.”

By opening up the livewell to the atmosphere, the V-T2 utilizes natural processes to cool, oxygenate, and remove harmful gases. Wind and boat movement enhance the benefits.

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

Monday
Dec162013

Why We Fish Featured at BookDaily

I caught this bass during a day's fishing at Florida's Sand Lake. It wasn't my best day. But as I write in Why We Fish, we don't have bad days of fishing. Some are just better than others. Photo by Dave Burkhardt

My new book, Why We Fish, is featured as "today's bestseller" in an e-mail blast that I received Dec. 16 from BookDaily. Following is the excerpt included from one of the book's 50 essays. 

The Best Day

We say that bad fishing days don’t exist. But that’s not true. What we really mean is that we never have bad days on the water, no matter how uncooperative the fish are.

Exploring the reason for that is one of the reasons that I decided to write this book, and you can check elsewhere in these pages for what I’ve discovered from my own experience and that of fishing friends and acquaintances.

But for now, let’s just say that is the reality: A bad day of fishing is an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” and “living dead.”

Some days, however, are superior to others, and one of the primary explanations for that is the fish are biting.

They’re even better when the bite is extraordinary. And the best when that bite is totally unanticipated, which leads me to my best day of fishing ever, because it was a combination of those two.

I’ve had a few other extraordinary days, including several on Mexico’s Lake El Salto, as well as a couple in Canada and Costa Rica. But hopeful expectations accompanied those days on the water.

That certainly was not the case for this early summer day angling for smallmouth bass out of Door County, Wisconsin. With several different guides who gave it their best, I had been trying to fish the Green Bay side of Lake Michigan for several days. But an unusually cold and brutal wind for June persisted out of the west, blowing right into our faces.

Continues...

 

Thursday
Dec122013

Thursday
Dec122013

Bear Facts About the Anti-Fishing Movement

Orlando Sentinel photo

What do the anti-fishing movement and the aftermath of a recent bear attack in central Florida have in common?

In a word: Ignorance.

As urbanized society moves farther from nature, more and more people tend to attribute human qualities and feelings to fish and wildlife.  And they are less likely to support activities that result in death or harm to fish and wildlife.

In other words, they view life through Disney-color glasses. They are ignorant of predator-prey relationships, of checks and balances, and of our pivotal role as dominant species on the planet. Rather, they want us all to hold hands, and fins, and paws together and sing, grunt, howl, and snarl “Kumbaya."

In Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been receiving hundreds of complaints annually about black bears for several years now, with the Longwood area being Ground Zero. The bears roam neighborhoods, tear up garbage cans, and try to enter houses. Until recently, however, no one had been injured. That all changed when a woman out walking her dog was attacked.

FWC responded by killing two bears that it trapped in the area of the attack, and some of the outrage expressed by people ignorant of how dangerous bears can be has been nothing short of bizarre, mostly because an “innocent” bear was euthanized.

Here’s what a newspaper columnist wrote:

“To be convicted in America, you must be judged guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

“Unless you’re a bear.”

And here’s an excerpt from one letter-to-the-editor:

“As a 14-year resident in the 32779 ZIP code, I had several bear encounters. I learned to live with them and follow the rules to keep us both safe.

“After reading about the bear attack and subsequent euthanasia of a female bear, I was saddened, but not surprised. Now with a second bear euthanized days later, it seems we are frightfully close to using the ‘kill ‘em all and let God sort it out’ tactic.”

See what I mean about humanizing wild animals? And I have news for the letter writer, you might “follow the rules” but a bear can’t read.

In fairness, FWC didn’t handle the situation well. In the big picture of bear management, killing two of them in an area where overpopulation obviously is a problem isn’t a bad idea. But it did not do a good job of explaining why it collected DNA samples but killed the bears before it received the results.

Florida’s big problem isn’t the bears; it’s the ignorant people who will oppose common sense methods to manage the bear population to minimize conflicts.

And, finally, here is how this all relates to fishing:

Animal rights activists are exploiting the same kinds of people who sympathize with the bears to mount a campaign against catch-and-release fishing. They argue that the degree of “pain and suffering” caused to the fish is not justified if it is caught for only the angler’s pleasure. In other words, fishing is acceptable only if it is done to put food on the table.

Of course, the ultimate objective is to end all fishing. But because of a populace increasingly removed from nature, railing against catch-and-release on bogus moral grounds is viewed as the best way to start, especially since it has been successful in some European countries, where the practice has been banned.

Previously, I thought that California would be the first state where the anti-fishing movement would try to implement a catch-and-release ban.

But I now fear that Maine might be the first. It’s already restricted use of lead and jigs, and now the state is considering a ban on soft plastic baits. If the anti-fishing folks win this one, you can bet that they will be emboldened to try something even more restrictive --- such as outlawing catch-and-release.

Then again, central Florida might be the place to start that campaign. 

Tuesday
Dec102013

One of My Favorite Places: Florida's Crystal River

Florida’s Crystal River has been one of my favorite places to fish since I first visited there in the mid 1990s.

No, it’s not place to catch trophy bass.

I like it for the variety of fish that it offers, as well as its natural beauty and wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, and a multitude of bird species.

The most interesting thing for me is how the fishery has evolved since I first went there. In the 1990s, the aquatic vegetation was abundant, especially in the canals, and so were the bass. Additionally, sea trout and jacks were common, with redfish a little less so. Snook were rare visitors, as were tarpon.

Today, that grass is all but gone, gobbled up by the manatees, who keep it browsed down almost to the roots. And without the vegetation to soak up nutrients from runoff, algae blooms through much of the system and visibility is greatly reduced. Additionally, as winters have moderated, huge numbers of snook have moved in, competing with bass for both forage and habitat.  As a consequence, largemouths aren’t nearly as numerous.

Still, it’s one of my favorite places.

 I fished there yesterday with long-time friends Dave Burkhardt, and Matt Beck, photo editor and outdoor writer for the Citrus County Chronicle. Matt probably knows the fishery as well as anyone, and we had a great day on the water with him. (Matt tells me that he is going to include my new book, Why We Fish, in his two-part, gift ideas column.)

We caught bass, snook, redfish, jacks, and ladyfish. Sadly, the bite was slow and quality fish had lockjaw. The only real angling excitement occurred when Matt lost a nice snook near a dock. (I won't embarrass him by posting the photo of the small snook that he did catch.)

But the fish were there; we saw them moving. They simply weren’t inclined to bite. We also saw manatees, dolphins, eagles and another recent arrival, the wood stork, as well as some beautiful shoreline vistas.

By the way, Audubon Florida is concerned about those birds and fish having enough to eat. Check out this article about the need to protect baitfish.