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Funds Needed to Combat Invasive Species in Nebraska, but 'Nobody Cares'

In Nebraska, those who care about protecting the state’s waters from invasive species are trying to raise awareness and obtain funding to do battle. The legislature tasked the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission with the job, but provided no money.

As proposed in Legislative Bill 63, introduced by Sen. Ken Schliz, $1.2 million from taxes generated by motorboat sales or leases would fund a program to monitor and control aquatic invasive species.  

“What it comes down to is that the bill's sponsors feel that this allocation of sales tax revenue on boats is the best way to get the measly $1.2 million to at least get some education programs going, start some inspections, and maybe get a few wash out-stations set up at some lakes around the state,” a source told Activist Angler.

Teeg Stouffer, executive director of Recycled Fish, was one of those testifying on behalf of the proposal in a committee hearing.
“There were a bunch of testimonies for our bill and none against it, so these Senators would really have to have an agenda to not pass it out of committee and onto the floor,” he said.

He also made another observation, one that troubles, but does not surprise me:

“When I walked into the hearing room at 1:05, I was the first one there for a 1:30 hearing. Perhaps 1 out of 10 seats wound up being filled in the room.

“Meanwhile, there was a sea of people clogging one hallway --- more than could fit in a hearing room. That’s the difference between a hearing on a gay adoption bill and a natural resources bill.

“The thing that's a shame to me is that most people will never have anything to do with gay adoption, but we all drink water, eat food, and power our homes. Zebra mussel infestations could decimate our irrigation systems and heap more hardship on our farmers, which translates to higher food prices. Zebra mussels could 10x our water bills, and 10x our power bills. Nobody knows. Nobody cares.”


New Hampshire Latest Front for Loon-atic Assault on Fishing

In case you missed it, preservationists and their political allies in New Hampshire are pushing for a broader lead ban as part of an ongoing campaign to restrict recreational fishing. They profess that their objective is to protect loons. It is not, as no evidence indicates that loon populations are at risk because the birds ingest lead fishing tackle.

This is part of the same offensive that includes an attempt to ban the use of plastic baits in Maine, as well as implement “marine protected areas” in the nation’s coastal waters, where fishing would not be allowed. Some also are using concerns about the spread of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels --- real threats--- as means to force restrictions on access to inland waters. 

Recreational fishing is under assault, no doubt about it. And you can either help defend it or stick your head in the sand until it’s too late.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 89 would ban the use of any lead sinker or jig weighing 1 ounce or less. That would make use of just about any small fishing lure illegal in state waters.

Keep America Fishing makes these points:

  • This bill would expand an already restrictive policy on the use of lead jigs with no scientific data to back up such a ban.
  • The ban would have a significant negative impact on the state’s economy and fisheries conservation, but a negligible impact on the waterfowl populations it seeks to protect. In fact, New Hampshire’s loon population is increasing.
  • This ban is more restrictive than the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s levels for lead in paint, children’s toys, plumbing fixtures and non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting.
  • Technology does not permit manufacturers to supply alternative metals 100 percent free of lead so the practical impact of the legislation is to ban all sinkers and jigs less one ounce or less.
  • This size range represents the most commonly used sinkers.

And it adds, “By banning lead completely the state is effectively banning fishing!

“Join us by signing the petition and protect recreational fishing by stopping this overly restrictive and unrealistic ban on fishing tackle!”

 Go here to voice your opposition.


Commercial Tournament Highlights Carp Threat to Sport Fisheries

Commercial fishermen bring in catch during tournament. AP photo.

The threat that Asian carp pose to the north --- Great Lakes, upper Missouri River impoundments, inland Minnesota waters from the upper Mississippi, etc. --- makes most of the headlines these days.

But these prolific nuisance species also are moving south and east through the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers systems. And the severity of the invasion in these waters is evidenced by the results of a recent first-of-its-kind commercial fishing tournament at Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

Eleven teams brought in 82,953 pounds of Asian carp. That’s short of the 200,000-pound goal, but 41 tons are more than enough to reveal the extent of the problem.

The reports the following:  

"It validated some of the things we had thought, that good skilled fisherman can come in there and take out 10,000 pounds a day, all you have to do is create a market," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini said on Thursday. The fish can be harvested to produce fertilizers, pet foods, and fish oil products, he said. They are also edible.

State officials are concerned about the rapid spread of the fish in Barkley and Kentucky lakes. The carp breed faster than some native species and eat up the algae and zooplankton that other fish depend on.

The Asian carp infiltrated the Mississippi River in the 1970s after getting loose from fish farms. Federal officials, worried about the species reaching the Great Lakes, are conducting a study to investigate how Asian carp DNA got into rivers and canals in the Chicago area.

Ron Brooks, Kentucky's fisheries director, said one species of the problem fish, the silver carp, is prone to leaping out of the water when agitated by boat noise, which can injure boaters and skiers.

Brooks said state officials will make tweaks to the next tournament to attract more fishing teams.

The two-day tournament winner was Barry Mann of Gilbertsville. His team hauled in 28,669 pounds and won a top prize of $10,000. The commercial teams used nets since the carp don't bite on baited hooks. More than 20 teams signed up but just 11 teams brought in fish for weighing, Marraccinni said.

The removed carp were taken to a processing plant in Mississippi, where they will be harvested for fish oils and used in pet foods, Marraccini said.

Here’s a video about the tournament.

To learn more about the threat that Asian carp pose to the east and south check out

Asian Carp Also Threaten Southern Fisheries.


Another State Record Largemouth Caught in Oklahoma

Dale Miller with Oklahoma state record largemouth caught at Cedar Lake. ODWC photo.

Bass anglers have been making big news frequently in Oklahoma these past few months.

The latest is the second state largemouth in less than a year from Cedar Lake. Using an Alabama rig, Dale Miller caught the 14-pound, 13.7-ounce lunker on March 13. It measured 26 1/8 inches in length and 23 inches in girth.

“Last month, I bought a fishing license, and this month I have the state record for the largemouth bass,” said the angler from Panama, Okla.

Miller’s fish surpasses a 14-pound, 12.3-ounce bass caught by Benny Williams, Jr. on March 23, 2012.

"Catching the state record largemouth bass in Oklahoma is a huge deal, but it's even more significant that the state record largemouth has now been caught two springs in a row in less than 12 months' time from the same lake," said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). "It speaks to the quality of fishing we have in our state. It speaks to our Florida largemouth bass stocking program. And it speaks to our state's anglers."

This latest record follows the state playing host to the Bassmaster Classic in February and two 40-pounds-plus stringers caught at Arbuckle Lake in January. (See Oklahoma Stocking Turns Arbuckle into Big Bass Fishery.)

ODWC says this:

The last two state record largemouth bass as well as several from the state's Top 20 Largemouth Bass List have been caught in the southern and southeast regions of the state. Fish are cold-blooded, so their metabolisms work faster in warmer conditions and they grow more rapidly. Lakes in the southeast region of the state tend to warm up earlier and cool off later in the year than in other regions, which affords these fish a longer growing season.

According to Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department, Cedar Lake has been known to produce big largemouth bass for anglers in recent years --- not only because of its southeastern location, but also because it has a history of receiving Florida strain largemouth bass through the state's stocking program.

"They grow pretty fast down in that part of the state due to the long growing season," Gilliland said. "Cedar Lake has produced several double-digit fish in the last five years. The U.S. Forest Service played a role in the success story when they renovated Cedar Lake several years ago. This renovation created a "new lake environment" that along with the Florida-strain genetics, long growing season, good habitat and abundant forage has led Cedar Lake to become an outstanding bass fishery."

Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight. For a complete list of record fish and the procedures for certifying a state record, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" or log on to


Paintings, Prose Make Prosek's Book a Keeper

You don’t have to be a trout angler to enjoy Trout of the World, an updated edition of the book first released in 2003.

I am evidence of that statement. I don’t often fish for trout, but found this both a beautiful and fascinating book, written and illustrated with water colors by James Prosek. He’s added 30 new paintings, as well as an updated preface to the 10x7 book with 233 pages.

You almost certainly knew that trout live in the waters of Russia, and probably you would not be surprised to know that they also swim in the rivers of Afghanistan. But did you know that trout exist in the mostly arid African nation of Morocco? Prosek reveals that they live in “rugged mountain terrain, and their native habitat is very difficult to access.”

Each  of the 100 paintings is accompanied by an historic profile of the fish, as well as the author’s personal reflections. According to the publisher, “Prosek savors the beauty of various fishing spots, and contemplates the fate of the species and man’s role in the extinction of animals.”

The book retails for $35 and is published by Abrams Books