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Tell Congress That You Support Access Act for Fishing, Hunting

We’re losing our waters. Both development and government regulations--- pushing by anti-fishing groups--- are taking them away. In fact, one in five anglers has lost access to a favorite fishing spot during the past year, according to surveys.

That means federal properties --- lands and waters owned by all of us--- are more important than ever for recreational fishing.

In early 2013, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act (S. 170, H.R. 1825) into both chambers of Congress. This bill would facilitate the use of, and access to, federal public lands and waters for recreational fishing, hunting and shooting. 

Keep America Fishing says, “To help ensure that current and future generations are able to access and fish in our nation's federal lands and waters, please send a message to your legislators today urging them to co-sponsor this important legislation.”

Go here to take action through Keep America Fishing.


Largemouth Bass No Longer a 'Surprise' Catch for Lake Erie Anglers

For years, largemouth bass were a “surprise” catch for those pursuing smallmouths on Lake Erie, according to biologist Kevin Kayle.

Not anymore.

In 2012, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources discovered that angler effort for largemouths, for the first time, surpassed that for bronzebacks in the Western Basin and nearly matched it among Ohio’s “open water” fishermen.

Kayle added that biologists knew that angling pressure for largemouth bass was increasing in harbors and river mouths, such as Sandusky Bay. But the largemouth’s increased popularity overall was an unexpected finding.

As recently as 2004, angler effort for largemouths didn’t even show up on a graph with 50,000 hours as the minimal number on the chart. By contrast, effort for smallmouths was more than 200,000 hours that year.

Five years later, effort for largemouth bass finally reached the 50,000 hours level, while effort for brown bass fell to just under 100,000.

In 2012, open-water effort for the two fisheries nearly intersected at 50,000, while largemouths moved past smallmouths in the Western Basin.

The reasons for this? Kayle explained that biologists are investigating. “This has just gotten on our radar,” he said.

But he has some ideas. For example, more nutrients have combined with increased clarity to boost plant growth. “Juveniles get protected by the vegetation,” Kayle said.

A reduction in silt and sediment washing down the rivers also has contributed to this habitat enhancement. “We’ve seen improved land-management in the watersheds, things like buffer strips and reducing CSOs (combined sewer overflows) from municipalities,” the biologist said.

And finally, protective regulations implemented to protect bass during the spring spawn might have directed angler effort away from smallmouths and toward largemouths. 

“The largemouth fishery always has been a catch-and-release fishery,” Kayle said. “Not many ever have been harvested.”

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


Tournament to Benefit West, Texas, Firefighters and EMS

Set for June 22 on  Lake Fork, a bass fishing tournament will benefit the volunteer fire department and EMS of West, Texas.

Fourteen people, 12 of them firefighters, were killed there in a fertilizer explosion on April 17. Another estimated 200 were injured in the blast that wiped out a residential section of this community about 20 miles north of Waco.

Here's a link for more information.


B.A.S.S. Nation Clubs to Compete for Aquatic Plants Management Award


GProjects by B.A.S.S. Nation members, such as this native water willow restoration in Georgia, will be eligible for a new award starting this year: the AERF-APMS/B.A.S.S. Conservation Aquatic Vegetation Management Award.. Photo by B.A.S.S.Gerald Adrian knows all about hydrilla, an invasive non-native aquatic plant that bass anglers often target as cover for fish. He can also explain why over-proliferation of hydrilla and other invasive aquatic species can spell doom for a top bass fishery.

Adrian, a representative for the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation (AERF) and Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS), aims to educate the public about the impact of invasive plants. He believes the best way to do so is to expand contacts through the grassroots of the bass angling world.

When Adrian approached B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Noreen Clough with his idea, that goal was the impetus for the new AERF-APMS/B.A.S.S. Conservation Aquatic Vegetation Management Award. The award, worth $2,000, will be presented annually to the B.A.S.S. Nation club that conducts the most outstanding project that addresses control of invasive aquatic plants while promoting the conservation or propagation of native vegetation, or both.

“I am very pleased that the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation and Aquatic Plant Management Society recognize the good work that B.A.S.S. Nation conservation volunteers are doing in restoring native aquatic vegetation and combating invasive plants in our public waters,” Clough said.

“Whether it is putting in native water willows or pulling out noxious weeds, building floating islands or participating in aquatic vegetation management meetings, our B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and their volunteers are committed to keeping our waterways healthy. That the foundation recognizes this through a generous awards program makes B.A.S.S. very proud that our efforts are rewarded. It’s a great partnership.”

AERF will fund the award, while APMS will provide a travel stipend for the winning club’s conservation director, or president, to travel to the APMS annual national meeting to give a presentation on the project. The 2014 National APMS meeting — the first at which the winning club will report — will be held in Savannah, Ga.

“This is a long-term commitment for us,” Adrian said. “It’s important for everyone to be aware of the benefits of controlling invasive plants. This gives us a grassroots connection with the anglers that are concerned about these plants and lets us provide an avenue of education for B.A.S.S. members. A lot of anglers think they should let hydrilla grow because it’s good for fishing.”

Adrian explains the negative impacts of hydrilla, which began its U.S. invasion in Florida in the 1960s. It displaces native plants, and it can create an unhealthy aquatic ecosystem.

“Hydrilla can occupy an entire lake,” Adrian said. “It can take a lake over and spread completely across a lake if it’s shallow. A canopy like that reduces oxygen in the water and makes it difficult to forage. Once it gets to a certain point, it impacts a fishery. Large fish can’t move around and get to their prey. What you end up with is a whole bunch of small bass in a lake.”

With a bigger picture of the effects of hydrilla and other non-native plants,  those critical grassroots anglers and weekend fishermen will understand “why we do what we do” in battling non-native plants throughout the country, Adrian says.

The projects, which will be judged by Clough, along with Dr. Mike Netherland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center and a representative from AERF-APMS, must be submitted to B.A.S.S. conservation by Oct. 31 of a given year, beginning in October 2013, to be eligible for the award, which will be presented during the following year’s Bassmaster Classic.

Criteria for the award include:
· Although the award will be given annually, the project must be a multi-year project with clearly defined and demonstrated short-term goals and long-term objectives.
· The project must include a monitoring plan to determine long-term success.
· The B.A.S.S. Nation club must demonstrate that members have worked cooperatively with the state fisheries and/or wildlife resource agency, the municipality and the project administrator (e.g., Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, etc.).
· Adding a youth component to a project will be a competitive enhancement.
· The project submission must include before and after photographs.
· The project must take place on waters with public access.

From B.A.S.S.


Beaver Encounter Fatal for Fisherman

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I thought that I could pick up a water snake without getting bitten because it had a fish in its mouth.


Before you can say “Jay Silverheels” the snake spit out the fish and bit my hand.

A boy of that age is obliged to exercise such poor judgment; it’s in his DNA. I also shot a wasp’s nest with a water gun and was rewarded with six stings to the elbow.

Eventually, most of us outgrow this desire to challenge and/or intrude on aspects of nature better left alone. We learn to co-exist, to avoid picking up snakes and shooting wasp nests.

Some do not.

A fisherman in Belarus was one such person. On his way to a lake with friends, he saw a beaver by the side of the road.

No, this is not a joke. I’m serious here.

Anyway . . . when he saw the beaver he decided that he wanted to have his picture taken with it. As he tried to grab it, the rodent bit him several times, with one of the bites severing an artery. The fisherman bled to death.

Read more here.

By the way, a big part of “stupid things people do with dangerous animals” is keeping them as pets.  Check out this report of Exotic Animal Incidents.

Here’s a sample:

"2012, PASO ROBLES, CA - A Javan macaque kept illegally as a pet in Paso Robles bit a woman caring for it causing severe injuries on her arm and finger. The macaque is believed to belong to the woman's boyfriend.

"The macaque was kept in a small dog crate inside the couple's trailer and was being fed Frosted Flakes. California Fish and Game is handling the investigation and the owner could be charged with unlawful possession of a restricted species. The macaque has been taken into quarantine for 60 days."

I'm guessing that he was tired of Frosted Flakes.