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Reef fish, Coral at Risk as Lionfish Dominate South Florida Waters

How much damage are exotic lionfish doing to native species and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico? Here’s what says:

Lionfish have no known predators because they do not belong in these waters. There is nothing here to eat them, and nothing to stop them from consuming all of South Florida's reef fish. 

Lionfish were once among the top 10 imported tropical fish for aquariums, but when the lionfish grew too large aquarium owners began dumping the fish into the waters of the Atlantic.  Now they are breeding at a pace so rapid that scientists and volunteers are feverishly trying to fight the invasion.  To do this they are studying and collecting the lionfish, trying to eliminate a species now found in deep as well as shallow waters.  

Dr. Mark A. Hixon, professor of zoology, and a team of graduate and undergraduate students from Oregon State University have demonstrated that a single lionfish can reduce the population of juvenile fish on small coral reefs by 80 percent in just five weeks.  One large lionfish can consume 20 smaller coral reef fish in a 30-minute period.

Lionfish are carnivores that can eat other fish up to two-thirds their own length.

The  loss  of  the herbivorous fish  on  the  reefs  will  set  the  stage  for  seaweed to potentially overwhelm the coral reefs and disrupt the stability of the environment in which they exist. Once established, lionfish will destroy our reefs and throw our entire ecosystem out of balance  leaving  our  coral  reefs  to  die  and seaweed to take over.

Go here to learn more.


A Good Idea Spoiled by 'The Sky Is Falling' Idiocy

Today is Earth Day 2013.

 I think Earth Day is a great idea for creating awareness and emphasizing the importance of our ties to nature and the environment. And I believe that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of our planet.

But let’s take a look at what was predicted on the first Earth Day in 1970 and consider how many people continue to foolishly follow Doomsday prophets such as Al Gore --- including those who now govern our country. 

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” 
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” 
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

And my favorite:

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Go here to read more.

And here is some more good stuff.


The Reel Truth Revealed in Better Bass Fishing


It’s been awhile since I shared with you some of the great how-to information in my book, Better Bass Fishing.

Here’s a portion of the section about caring for your reels:

Secret: Good maintenance advice to remember is to grease the gears and oil the bearings. But too much oil can be just as bad as too little. Too much will make the bearings sluggish. Just a drop is best.

Also, avoid using aerosols. Sprayed on oil is more likely to leave a messy film and more likely to evaporate, leaving no lubricant.

Here are some general maintenance tips for levelwind reels from Lake Fork Tackle Repair:

Outside of reel: Wipe the entire reel to remove dirt, salt, and crud. Use a cotton swab to reach into tight places.

Hub or brake drum: Use a cotton swab and alcohol to clean the brake hub or brake drum, as well as the spool edge. Then apply a small bit of oil to the inside of the hub or drum.

Spool shaft: Clean in similar fashion to that used for hub. Apply drop of oil to ends of shaft.

Bearings: If the bearings are dirty, clean and apply a drop of oil. If they are not dirty, simply add oil.

Cast Control Cap: Remove cap inner parts and clean with cotton swab. If copper part is dented, turn it over and apply one drop of oil.

Levelwind or worm gear: Clean with a swab or pipe cleaner. Add a drop of oil on each end.

Handle knobs: Apply one drop of oil.

Secret: Lighten up on both your drag and your hookset if you have put braided line on your baitcasting reel. Braided line typically is much stronger than monofilament and has less stretch. If you don’t adjust accordingly, you could rip a hook right through the mouth of a big fish or tear a large hole that allows the hook to fall out.

Secret: After making the first cast of the morning, be sure to “break” your drag free by pulling a few inches of line from the spool. This will ensure the drag system is in proper working order when it is needed. The drag system of a reel can stick after sitting for a few days and that extra tension on the line during a fight might be all that’s needed for your line to break when you are battling a big fish--- Matt Beck

*        *              *

 Also, my new book, Why We Fish, will be out in a few weeks, published by Norlights Press. It’s a collection of essays exploring all of the reasons that we go fishing, from the practical (catch fish, catch lots of fish, catch big fish, etc.) to the philosophical (get back to nature, relax, quality time with friends and family, nostalgia, etc.)

Most of them were written by me, but I’ve also included contributions from others, including Bill Dance. In addition, my friend Ross Gordon at Mystery Tackle Box asked his Facebook followers to reveal why they go fishing, and I’ve included some of the best responses from that.


Colorado Heads List of Most Endangered Rivers

The Colorado heads the list of American Rivers’ most endangered rivers for 2013.

Others include Flint, San Saba, Little Plover, Catawba, Boundary Waters, Black Warrior, Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks, Kootenai, and Niobrara, with special mention to the Merced. Mining is considered the major threat to four of them, including world-famous Boundary Waters.

Of the Colorado, American Rivers says this:

According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (December 2012), there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the Basin’s current water demands, let alone to support future demand increases from growing populations in an era of climate change.

The Colorado River is often called one of the most controlled and plumbed rivers on the planet. More dams and diversions are planned, especially in the upper basin in Colorado. Currently multiple projects are being proposed along the Front Range of Colorado that would remove more than 300,000 acre feet of new water from the Colorado River and its tributaries– all of this would be removed even before the river reaches Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Read more here.


Obama Administration Won't Explain Specifics of National Ocean Policy

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs is trying to find what’s really going on with the administration’s National Ocean Policy (NOP).

And --- big surprise! --- the administration is being less than transparent.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the NOP is a plan created by Executive Order to “zone” uses of the oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes. Intentionally vague language allows for the zoning to extend inland as well. In other words, the feds will tell us where we can and cannot fish.

Earlier this week, the administration released its final plan for implementation of the NOP, prompting the subcommittee to convene an oversight hearing.

At that hearing, our elected representatives learned little from the Obama-appointed bureaucrats, including Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. For example, after being pressed to name who from CEQ or other agencies was involved in the development and implementation of the plan, she refused to specify one person or staff member who has contributed to this effort.

I can’t name specific people who developed the plan, but I can tell you unequivocally they belong to preservationist environmental groups that are not allies of recreational fishing.  They are the same crowd that pushes for “marine protected areas,” where no sport fishing is allowed, and they will use the NOP to create them wherever they can.

Following the hearing, Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, chair of the Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to Sutley and John Holdren, co-chair of Sutley of the National Ocean Council.

“Over the past two years, the Obama Administration has repeatedly limited public transparency and frustrated attempts to obtain information about the cost, legal authority, activities, and staffing involved with developing and implementing regional ocean zoning plans and other parts of the National Ocean Policy,” Hastings said.

 “Ms. Sutley’s testimony before the Subcommittee did little to provide clarity or allay concerns about the funding sources, regulatory impact, mandatory nature, and role of States, local governments, Tribes, and interested groups in implementing the National Ocean Policy. This is unacceptable, especially now that the final plan has been released.”

Here’s some background from the Natural Resources Committee:

 On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13547 to adopt the final recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to implement a new National Ocean Policy, which includes a mandatory Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning initiative to “zone” the oceans. In this unilateral action, he established a top-down, Washington, D.C.–based approval process that will hinder rather than promote ocean and inland activities and cost American jobs.

The final implementation plan raises more questions than answers and provides even less information on what the Obama Administration will impose under the guise of a National Ocean Policy and the impending regional management plans.

Due to concerns about the impact of the National Ocean Policy on economic and recreational activities in ocean, coastal, and inland environments, the House of Representatives in both the 112th and 113th Congresses passed amendments by bipartisan votes to halt funding for President Obama’s National Ocean Policy. The Natural Resources Committee has held multiple hearings and sent a series of letters to the National Ocean Council to conduct oversight and get answers to the many questions surrounding this policy.