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Smallmouth Bass Moved to Improve Fishery at Flaming Gorge

Anglers teamed with state and federal agencies late this spring in an innovative effort to improve numbers of smallmouth bass on the north end of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, a Green River fishery on the Utah-Wyoming border.

“Since burbot became established in Flaming Gorge, the numbers of smallmouth bass have declined on the Wyoming side of the reservoir due to predation on small bass and competition for food,” explained Ryan Mosley of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR).

“Although burbot are found in the canyon (Utah) portion of the reservoir, their numbers remain relatively low,” he added. “As a result, smallmouth bass are very abundant, with bass hiding behind almost every rock during the summer months.”

On May 30, forty anglers from Utah B.A.S.S. Nation and other angling groups teamed with UDWR, Wyoming Game and Fish (WGF), the U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management to take advantage of this abundance on the south end. They caught 359 smallmouths by hook and line and transferred them to transport boats. After they were measured and tagged, the fish were moved to one of two sites 30 to 40 miles uplake for release.

“Both UDWR and WGF are interested in assessing growth, movement, and survival of these tagged smallmouth bass in Flaming Gorge, assisting the agencies in monitoring the success of the transplants and future management of the fishery,” Mosley said.

While in Colorado . . . 

Under a plan proposed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), regulations regarding harvest of smallmouth bass will be relaxed as part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery program. It must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies before being implemented.

“We developed the management plan with input we received at a public meeting in 2010 and comments we have received since then,” said aquatic biologist Lori Martin. “Public feedback was critical to form what we feel is a very good vision for future fisheries management of Rifle Gap.”

Present regulation includes a two-fish limit and a 15-inch minimum size, with a spawning closure. Under the new management plan, the limit would be five, with no minimum size and no spring catch-and-release only season.

The plan was developed to diminish predation and thus aid in recovery of the native razorback sucker, bonytail chub, humpback hub, and the Colorado pikeminnow, found only in the Upper Colorado basin. As part of the strategy, an in-stream fish screen was built in Rifle Creek, downstream of the reservoir, to prevent non-native sport fish from escaping.

Smallmouth bass and walleye have been self-sustaining in the reservoir since they were stocked by the former Colorado Division of Wildlife in 1972. No additional bass, walleye or any other cool/warm water species have been added since.

Northern pike were illegally introduced between 1993 and 1999, causing conflict among anglers, CPW said. “Some anglers covet the northern pike and the opportunity to catch a trophy-size fish in western Colorado. Anglers fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, and trout are adamantly opposed to CPW managing Rifle Gap for northern pike.”

The proposed plan would keep unlimited bag and possession limits for pike, with bowfishing and spearfishing as methods of legal take.

(These articles appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)



Friday Fishing Wisdom

“To him, all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.” --- Author unknown

“The worse your line is tangled, the better is the fishing around you.” ---Author unknown

“I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.” --- W.C. Fields

 “Some men would rather be photographed with their fish than with their wives.” Gwen Cooper and Evelyn Haas


Wheeler Impressive, But Guntersville Still Best for Big Bass in Alabama photo

Wheeler Lake continues its ascendancy as a world-class bass fishery according to results from Alabama’s Bass Anglers Information Team (BAIT) Report, published annually by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF).

Impressive results that bass clubs reported from there were a surprise in 2012, but not in 2013, according to WFF’s Damon Abernethy.

“Although Wheeler has never been a poor fishery, there was a time in the late 80s and early 90s when it rivaled Lake Guntersville,” he said.

Then Largemouth Bass Virus took its toll there, as did the disappearance of aquatic grass.

“There would be years when it improved, and then it would slack off again,” Abernethy added. “We do have biological evidence the bass virus, along with the loss of the grass, impacted the fishery. It was a kind of double whammy.”

But in 2012, angler success “shot through the roof,” he said. “I didn’t really expect that to continue this year, but it did. And it was even better.”

While Wheeler came out on top overall, Abernethy doesn’t think that it has surpassed Guntersville.

 “Our tables can be a little bit deceiving unless you pay close attention,” he explained. “Guntersville has a 15-inch minimum length limit, which affects a lot of things. It’s going to depress your percent success and number of fish caught because they are having to throw back the smaller fish. And it’s going to artificially inflate your average size.

“I think everybody will agree that Guntersville is the best bass lake in the state, but it never performs well in the overall quality indicators simply because of the length limit. For the hours it takes to catch a bass over 5 pounds, it’s still at the top and it usually is. Guntersville is still a phenomenal fishery.”

Read more about Wheeler at


Rubio Fisheries Bill Praised by Saltwater Community

Representatives of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers and the industries they support, which collectively have a $70 billion annual economic impact, commended Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his work on the Florida Fisheries Improvement Act, introduced today.

The bill creates a strong base to ensure that the recreational fishing and boating community’s priorities are addressed during reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act, the overarching law managing the nation’s saltwater fisheries.

“Sen. Rubio worked closely with our community to understand our needs and concerns,” noted Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We know it will take a bi-partisan commitment to enact this into law, and we have been equally impressed with the work of Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) to include our priorities in his draft Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act reauthorization.”

Rubio said, “Florida’s fisheries deeply impact the economic well-being of our state, as well as many Floridians whose way of life depends on them. But our fisheries are also a national treasure that feed Americans across the country, provide jobs across the food industry chain, and have become a favorite pastime for millions who provide direct and indirect benefits to our local, state and national economies.

 “This legislation ensures necessary improvements to management and data collection are made to fully optimize our fisheries and help advance Florida’s interests when it comes time to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, I know there is more work to be done, and I will continue to work with Floridians and my colleagues in Congress to prioritize reauthorization of the MSA in the next Congress.”

Recreational anglers’ primary priorities are identified in the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management’s report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.”  The Commission, headed by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats President Scott Deal, identifies six key policies that would achieve the Commission’s vision, including adoption of a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management; allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation, and creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines.

“We are pleased to see many of the Morris-Deal priorities addressed in Sen. Rubio’s legislation, reflecting his commitment to give long overdue attention to improving recreational fisheries management,” said Angers.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with Sen. Rubio and Sen. Begich to incorporate several other priorities in the final version of any legislation, including a fix for the broken management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf.”

Contributors to the work of the Commission include American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Berkley Conservation Institute, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and The Billfish Foundation


New Regulations in California Could Include Tackle Ban

California is at it again. This time, fishing tackle made with lead, copper, and zinc could be banned as a result. And what happens in California will affect anglers all over the country.

From the California Sportfishing League:

"The State has proposed new regulations targeting lead sinkers and fishing gear. As a consequence, fishing equipment made of lead, zinc and copper could be outlawed, forcing manufactures and suppliers to flee California’s market altogether and drive up the cost of fishing gear as much as 20-fold! If fishing is listed as a product of interest, every other State in the Nation will soon follow.

"We need your help. The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) will be holding workshops on September 25th and 29th, and your voice needs to be heard. The public comment period closes October 13th, so don’t wait! Join our fishing coalition today! Attend these important workshops."

Go here to sign the petition to oppose the ban.