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Oregon Bass Anglers Fight Back Against Illegal Introductions

For years, long-established bass populations have been blamed for the demise of salmon and trout populations in the Northwest. Little evidence exists to support the accusations. The truth is that these cold-water fish have declined mostly because of habitat destruction and dams blocking their migration routes, and bass, introduced during a less enlightened time, thrived in these altered habitats.

But bass and bass anglers are high profile --- and easy targets.

Bass anglers also are conservation-minded. They don’t want established bass fisheries destroyed because of a false argument. And they don’t want bass spread to waters still free from the non-native species. They know that illegal introductions present a huge challenge for fisheries managers in protecting native species and ecosystems.

Consequently, three Oregon bass organizations --- B.A.S.S. Federation Nation (BFN), The Bass Federation, and Black Bass Action Committee --- have teamed up to form Turn In Illegal Introductions (TI3). It’s a program designed to reward those who report illegal introductions. By calling 800 452-7888, anyone can anonymously report the violation and be eligible to receive up to a $3,300 reward.

“The collaboration of the three largest bass fishing organizations in Oregon to create and fund the beginnings of the program is seen as a positive step to regain the trust of the public that believes that such organizations are in favor of many introductions,” said Chuck Lang, BFN state conservation director.


Can We Stop Invasion Without Limiting Access?

In the West and Upper Midwest, many are understandably concerned about the spread of zebra and quagga mussels into new waters. These exotic species can do tremendous damage to native ecosystems and water-supply systems.

The dilemma is what to do about this threat that does not also impede public access to public waters. More and more, programs that provide for boat inspections and/or cleaning stations seem to be the answer. Some of those being implemented are optional; others are mandatory. The problem with this strategy is cost; states and most local communities simply do not have the money to sustain such projects long term.

Consequently, a growing number want to limit public access. Period. For example, a Realtor at Lake Tahoe is arguing for a regulation that will allow only locally owned and registered boats on that fishery.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We cannot allow a recreational pursuit to destroy property values all around the Lake simply because a few out of area boaters are careless or unconcerned about decontaminating their watercraft properly. There are now many lakes in Nevada and Northern California within a one-day drive of Lake Tahoe that are suffering the ill effects from the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels, meaning it is only a matter of time before a contaminated boat slips into Lake Tahoe.

“While out of area boaters may complain about a stringent new regulation, the fact of the matter is we all need to work together to protect this jewel which is the driver of the Lake Tahoe economy. There are actually a number of positive economic benefits to moving in the direction of a Tahoe Only Boats program. First of all, the local marinas and boat companies will immediately see an enormous increase in business for both watercraft sales and rentals. This will lead to the hiring of more staff for boat sales, service, deliveries and transportation.

“If the only boats permitted in Lake Tahoe are locally owned and registered, there will be a dramatic increase in the sale of watercraft, accessories, fuel and safety equipment. It would be very easy to implement a program where Tahoe Only Boats are licensed and registered and stored in approved facilities. Watercraft retailers and storage businesses in Reno and Carson City will also see a jump in sales and rentals if these new regulations are employed.”

Read the full story here.

If I lived at Lake Tahoe, I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t agree with the argument.

Regretably, unless someone comes up with an effective and low-cost way to prevent the spread of these shellfish, I'm afraid that limiting access will be the only answer.


Why We Fish: Recovering in the Aftermath

We go fishing to recover from presidential elections.

Once upon a time, most Americans depended on newspapers to find out what was happening in the world. And in the early days of television, the networks broadcast national news for just 15 minutes a day. In other words, for most of this nation’s history, we easily could escape the propaganda assault.

Not anymore. Twenty-four-hour news channels, the internet, and cell phones have ushered us into the age of information overload, and, too often, we forget that every electronic device has an “off” switch.

For more than a year, we’ve endured a constant barrage of campaign rhetoric from both sides, much of it negative. Commercials, ads, posters, pins, billboards, phone calls, and debates have beaten us up mentally and psychologically to the point that we’re not sleeping well, our blood pressure is elevated, and we’re eating and/or drinking too much to cope with depression and stress.

As anyone who fishes knows, it’s good for what ails you, especially in today’s world, and especially now, in the aftermath of one of our nation’s most contentious presidential elections. 

And it's even better when you take a child with you.



Dredging Next Strategy in Attempt to Restore Florida's Lake Apopka

A new chapter in the decades-long request to restore Lake Apopka will begin next spring, with a $4.8 million dredging project.

To date, about $187 million has been spent trying to correct the environmental abuse heaped upon Florida’s fourth largest lake and once one of the nation’s best bass fisheries.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) are teaming up on this effort, which will suck about an estimated 50 acres of muck from areas near Newton Park in Winter Garden and Magnolia Park near Apopka.

Along with enhancing water clarity and quality, the dredging should improve navigation in the 30,000-acre lake.

“The state can’t afford to dredge the whole lake, but removing patches of the puddinglike black goo from strategic areas could aid fish populations and accelerate the lake’s recovery by helping eel grass and other native plants re-establish roots on the lake bottom,” said Tom Champeau, FWC fisheries chief.

Improving access is important too, added David Walker, SJRWMD’s basin program manager. “The idea is to carve some sort of channel that gives access out to the lake, even in low water conditions, and clean out the muck,” he said.

As of right now, the muck will be removed in a couple of ways. A much more expensive approach, termed “experimental,” involves quickly drying the muck and stuffing it into “geotubes.”  The latter then will be anchored around the dredged area, in hopes of preventing fluid muck from surging back into the cleaned area.

Additionally, muck will be pumped out via pipeline and spread on public land, where it will dry into an organic cap, intended to protect wildlife from pesticides in the dirt below it.

Lake Apopka declined and its bass fishery crashed because of nutrient overload from citrus processors, sewage plants, and runoff from “muck” farms. Shoreline development aided its demise, as filtering wetlands were destroyed. Fed by nitrogen and phosphorus, algae blooms turned its dying waters pea green.

(Reprinted from B.A.S.S. Times.)



Water Plan Threatens Oregon's Prineville Reservoir


If approved by Congress, a water allocation plan for Oregon’s Crooked River could damage both the fisheries and public access at Prineville Reservoir, according to Chuck Lang, conservation director for the Oregon B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.

“The speed and timing and volume of the drawdowns for salmon recovery have not been revealed to the public, but they are all critical elements that will determine the success or failure of the fisheries behind the dam,” he said.

“It will take only a few failed spawn periods to wipe out the largemouth bass population, for which there are no hatchery replacement fish available.”

Additionally, drawing as much water as the plan calls for would leave boat ramps useless until lengthened, he added, and, with a lower water column, boats and wind likely would stir up sediment, which has been accumulating for more than 50 years.

“The result will be algae blooms and an unusable lake for much of the summer and fall.”

Lang said that some in Oregon’s Congressional delegation share his concerns, but would be reluctant to say so publically because of political repercussions.

When the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act was introduced in Washington, D.C., it was hailed by many as a grand compromise that benefitted the city of Prineville, farmers, and wildlife.

“This bill ends 40 years of fighting and paralysis over water in the Prineville Reservoir. This is historic and a great opportunity for economic growth in the Crooked River region,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, one of the bill’s sponsors.

 “I thank all the stakeholders for their unflagging efforts to develop this agreement. This bill provides many benefits: the City of Prineville will have access to additional water that’s critical to support new industries; local farmers and ranchers will get more secure and expanded access to irrigation water; and additional water would be available to support fish and wildlife, including the world-class fly fishery and newly reintroduced steelhead.”

But Lang counters that bass and other warmwater anglers were not invited to participate in the planning process when it was moved from Prineville to Washington, D.C.

(Reprinted from B.A.S.S. Times.)