This area does not yet contain any content.
Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.














Anglers in Gary, Indiana, Need Your Help to Regain Access to Lake Michigan

Using a Google map, Silas Sconiers shows where Gary anglers have lost access to Lake Michigan.

The fishermen of Gary, Indiana, need your help. Over the years, as the city declined and then casinos moved in, they’ve lost shoreline access to Lake Michigan.

Silas Sconiers has been fighting for years to regain that access, contacting Gary’s mayors, as well as officials at U.S. Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, the National Park Service (NPS).

“The city of Gary has 22 miles of shoreline, with piers and wharfs and a shuttered power plant,” he says. “We use to enjoy fishing all along the lake front. But one by one, due to plant closures and politics, we no longer have access.

“Gary is the only city on the entire Great Lakes in the United States and Canada without a public access fishing spot!”

Political barriers especially anger Sconiers, who believes both incompetence and corruption have led to this situation.

“Our city leaders have not exercised any due diligence regarding our riparian rights to access the piers and wharves, which they have control over but lack the competency to carry out the task at hand,” he adds.

“They seem to lack the understanding of their duties and what it all encompasses and they do not know anything about quasi-public facilities and have no business entering into negotiations with Fortune 500 companies.”

Sconiers created this commentary to express his frustration with Gary city officials.

But while he has made no headway with city officials, Sconiers has learned that the NPS provides financial assistance to Gary, and it there that he hopes to make progress.

Regretfully, he also is playing the “race card,” which, at first, seems a strange tactic, since both the general population of Gary and its city officials are predominantly African American. But Sconiers points out that “we are being denied the right to fish in Lake Michigan like all other races are enjoying.”

To help Gary’s anglers regain access to Lake Michigan, send your e-mail of support to NPS at, with a copy also to the Department of Justice at In the subject line, put this: “No Equal Opportunity to Fish in Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana.”

Sconiers can be contacted at

And check out this story --- Where Work Disappears and Dreams Die --- to see what it’s like to live in Gary these days.



Fizzing Can Save Stressed Bass

Throughout the Mid-South, the Alabama Rig produced big strings of big bass from late fall to pre-spawn.

“At Guntersville and Kentucky Lake, it was the No. 1 pattern,” said Dustin Evans, a Tennessee angler who fishes the Bassmaster Weekend Series and other circuits.

“It’s such an effective technique when the bass are lethargic,” he added. “It produces larger fish, too, with lots of 3 ½ to 5 pounders and 6 plus not that uncommon.”

That’s the plus side of the ‘Bama rig for winter fishing. The down side is that bass caught on this variation of the saltwater umbrella rig typically are suspended around shad in 20 feet of water or more. Pulled from such depths, they should be vented to prevent fatal barotrauma.

But proper fish care hasn’t kept up with effective fish catching, according to Evans, and Toby Lillard, another Tennessee tournament fisherman.

“Anglers need to do a much better job with venting as they use the Alabama rig more,” he said.

The two suspect that similar scenarios will occur during hot-weather fishing.

“The ‘Bama rig will play a role this summer with bass on the ledges,” Lillard said. “In 8 feet or deeper, they’ll be subject to barotrauma.”

Popularity adds to the problem caused by effectiveness of the rig, which is not allowed in the Elite Series.

“Most definitely there are more guys fishing the Alabama rig because it’s easy to gain confidence with,” Evans said. “But venting should be embraced too.

“Every angler should be responsible for venting his fish. And every tournament director should have someone who can do it.”

Gene Gilliland, an Oklahoma biologist and fish care expert, echoed their concern. “If the Alabama rig results in more fish being caught in deep water from June to August, then the odds will be higher for greater mortality. Anglers must realize what they should do to prevent that.

“If there are longer lines of 20-pound bags, both anglers and tournament directors need to brush up on their fizzing skills. Lots of them have never had to deal with this kind of thing before.”

As members of the Ventafish pro staff, both Evans and Lillard have made it their mission to educate other bass fishermen about barotrauma, and they have stepped up that effort with the advent of the ‘Bama rig. They set up instructional booths at tournament registrations and offer classes to bass clubs, as well as help fizz fish before they are released following weigh-ins.

“Untold numbers of fish don’t get fizzed at small tournaments and you see them floating down the lake,” Evans said. “Fizzing gives those fish a chance.”

Barotrauma typically results from a change in pressure when a fish is pulled up from 20 feet or more. The swim bladder inflates, often pushing into the throat, with bulging eyeballs another indicator. But fish taken from shallower water also can develop the condition.

“Many fish from less than 20 feet of water need to be fizzed,” Evans explained. “I believe that they are suspended fish and they stress out in the livewell and their gas bladder expands.”

Whatever the cause --- pressure change and/or stress--- anglers should recognize symptoms that may be more subtle than bulging bladder and eyes.  

“If their tails or out or their heads are up (in the livewell), they’re losing the fight,” Evans explained. “In a couple of hours, they’ll be belly up. But fizzing can save their lives.”

He added that he doesn’t wait for visible signs when he catches bass that are deep and/or suspended. “I don’t even hesitate. I know from my experience ledge fishing that those fish need to be fizzed.”

Some anglers insist that they don’t need to vent their bass because they care for them so well in the livewells, providing plenty of cool, oxygenated water. But that cool water, which slows down the metabolism of cold-blooded bass, sometimes simply delays onset of barotrauma.

“When they’re dumped back into warm water, they’ll get stressed and need to be fizzed,” Evans said.

“I think that barotrauma is more depth related than temperature related,” Gilliland added. “But warmer temperatures can make it much, much worse.”

Still don’t want to fizz?

“Venting can make a huge difference in tournament outcomes in terms of dollars and earnings,” said Brian Jones, a tournament angler with a degree in fisheries management and the third member of the Ventafish team. “You get penalties for dead fish.

“And if a fish is stressed in your livewell, it is putting more ammonia into the water, which will stress all of the other fish. You can save a whole bag of fish by venting the ones that need it.”

How to Fizz

Both B.A.S.S. and the Ventatfish team recommend venting fish through the side, deflating the bladder with a needle prick.

“I don’t endorse any particular product, but I endorse side venting only,” said Noreen Clough, National Conservation Director.

In addition Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers an instructional video --- “Treating Barotrauma in Largemouth Bass (Fizzing)” --- on its Facebook page.

“It’s an easy method,” said Evans. “Just a pinprick in the side, and you hear the air come out.

“I tell people to try it on a keep fish in practice and see how easy it is.”

Lillard added, “With mouth venting, you could hit an organ and kill the fish. The key is the size target that you are aiming at. With side venting, you have a silver-dollar size target and all you’re sticking the needle in is white meat and the air bladder.”

Both Ventafish and Team Marine USA sell venting tools on their websites. Anglers Choice, Ohero, and others are available at online outlets and in stores.

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


Feds Charge Two With Selling Snakeheads, Walking Catfish

Potomac River guide Steve Chaconas often catches snakeheads.

Here’s a story with a happy ending regarding invasive aquatic species--- maybe.

Two Michigan men are facing federal charges and a possibility of up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000 for the illegal sale of snakeheads and walking catfish.

At a primitive, gut level, I’d like to lock ‘em up and throw away the key, same as I would like to do with those who intentionally start wildfires and those who uglify our lands and waters with their trash.

Now, here’s my question to officials: Why did it take you so long? According to the timeline in the story, the investigation started in 2009, with a confidential informant buying illegal fish from these guys.

And here’s my concern: Between then and now, how many snakeheads and walking catfish did they sell to others, who might have released them?

Read the article here

And in a related story, a snakehead has been captured in British Columbia, after being sighted in a park pond several weeks before.


Exotic Species Invade U.S. Waters in Aftermath of Japan Earthquake, Tsunami

Here’s an invasive species nightmare scenario for you:

In the wake of a huge storm, a massive dock washes up on the shore of another country, bringing with it as estimated 100 tons of exotic species.

What would be the consequences?

We are about to find out.

A 66-foot dock ripped from its moorings during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011 has washed upon Oregon shores. Oregon State University (OSU) scientists estimate that it carries about 13 pounds of organisms per square foot.

“This float is an island unlike any transoceanic debris we have ever seen,” said John Chapman, OSU marine invasive species specialist. “Drifting boats lack such dense fouling communities, and few of these species are already on this coast. Nearly all of the species we’ve looked at were established on the float before the tsunami. Few came after it was at sea.”

Hitchhikers that now could become established on the U.S. Pacific Coast include urchins, starfish, anemones, amphipods (flealike crustaceans), worms, mussels, limpets, snails, algae, four to six species of barnacles, and filter feeders called solitary tunicates.

And this from Live Science:

Estimates from the Japanese government and NASA suggest the monstrous tsunami swept up 5 million tons of debris, with about 70 percent sinking to the seafloor; the rest (1.5 million tons), like this huge dock, has been floating across the ocean. And although tsunami debris has likely been washing up on the west coast for months, the researchers were shocked to see such a rich raft of life make it all the way across the open Pacific, where food is scarce, to Newport, Ore. 

"It is as if the float drifted over here by hugging the coasts, but that is of course impossible," Chapman said. "Life on the open ocean, while drifting, may be gentler for these organisms than we initially suspected. Invertebrates can survive for months without food and the most abundant algae species may not have had the normal compliment of herbivores. Still, it is surprising."

OPB News adds this:

Experts at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have fifty-some species stored in a subzero freezer. OSU marine ecologist Jessica Miller said they have identified some species and shipped others to scientists around the country and in Canada.

“Sea squirts or tunicates, a group called ascidians, we sent some samples out to an expert, and then Gayle Hansen, here at OSU who works with a Japanese colleague, she’s been sorting her way through the algal species,” she said.

Miller thinks an invasive brown alga might try to settle in the Pacific Northwest.


Former Global Warming Supporter Refutes Preservationist Ideology

Yeah, I know. Polar bears and penguins live thousands of miles apart. That’s what you have trouble with about this picture?

Not long ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of the manmade global warming movement, acknowledged that he had been unduly “alarmist.”

As do I, he still believes that we are contributing to climate change, but he admitted that his doomsday predictions --- and those by Al Gore --- were incorrect.

And now he’s followed up with an interview that is going to make those in the preservationist wing of the environmental movement gnash their teeth and pull out their hair.

For example, Lovelock supports natural gas fracking.

“Gas is almost a give-away in the U.S. at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it. Let’s be pragmatic and sensible . . .”

By the way, the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, said unequivocally that no evidence exists that groundwater has been polluted by the hydraulic fracturing procedure. That doesn’t sit well with the preservationists either.

Lovelock also mocks the idea that economies can be powered by solar panels and wind turbines.

“We rushed into renewable energy without any thought,” he said. “The schemes are largely, hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”

And he flatly denies the idea that “the science is settled” regarding manmade global warming.

“One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”

Read the full story here.