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Invasive Species Spread Through Ignorance, Negligence

This article in the Crookston Times sadly illustrates how public ignorance and negligence spread invasive species that threaten our waterways and fisheries: 

Bemidji, Minn.  —  A watercraft inspector discovered zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil on a boat trailer exiting Lake Bemidji this month, though they didn't originate here.

The zebra mussels and watermilfoil appeared to be dried and dead, said Henry Drewes,  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries manager. He said if that's the case, DNR officials wouldn't expect the incident to result in an infestation, something that Beltrami County has thus far been able to avoid.

"What it tells you, though, is that boats coming from infested waters, despite all the publicity, people are still not being vigilant enough about cleaning their watercraft before they move them," Drewes said.

The boat discovered Aug. 2 had recently been in the Twin Cities in Lake Minnetonka, one of the most infested waters in Minnesota. The boaters were from North Dakota.

"I think it also illustrates the mobility of people and their equipment," Drewes added.

The boaters cleaned the boat and were issued a $500 fine.


Taxidermist Mounts New Attack on Asian Carp

Taxidermist Mike Pusateri joined the battle against Asian carp when he was approached by Mike Matta, a charter captain. At an upcoming event, Matta thought that more than photos and videos were needed to drive home the threat that these invaders pose to native fisheries in the Great Lakes and other waters.

“They wanted something with impact, something physical in three dimensions to show people exactly what they were talking about with these fish,” Pusateri said. “I had never done a mount of an Asian carp – I’m not sure anyone had ever done one – but it seemed like something that was really important.”

And that proved to be the case. Pusateri since has done carp mounts for EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Sea Grant organizations, as well as many universities and state agencies.

“Maybe I became a bit of a celebrity at the taxidermy conventions, but I’m just hoping my work will help combat the problem,” Pusateri said. “When I talk to the fisheries guys, they seemed stumped by this problem, and kind of scared by it. They say these fish eat so much that the other species just die out.”

Read more here.


Gilliland Named to Lead B.A.S.S. Conservation Program

I’m really happy to share the news that Gene Gilliland has been chosen to replace retiring Noreen Clough as National Conservation for B.A.S.S.

Gene is a fisheries biologist and a bass fisherman, as well as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on proper care of fish during tournaments.

I’ve known Gene for decades and believe that B.A.S.S. could not have made a better choice.

Here is the announcement from B.A.S.S.:

Gene Gilliland, a widely respected bass biologist and conservation advocate from Oklahoma, has been named B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director. Gilliland replaces Noreen Clough, the longtime conservation director who retired earlier this month.

“In addition to his extensive experience in fisheries management, Gene has been a leader in the B.A.S.S. Nation, an outdoor journalist, an avid tournament angler and a tireless proponent of youth fishing,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “He is a charter member of B.A.S.S., and he has been involved in the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation program for two decades.

“America’s bass fishermen are fortunate that Gene has accepted our invitation to fill this vital role.”

Gilliland is currently assistant chief of the Fisheries Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. He will retire from the department on Dec. 31, 2013, and join B.A.S.S. immediately afterward. Gilliland began work with ODWC in 1982 as a fishery biologist, later rising to regional supervisor and then assistant chief of fisheries in 2010.

Gilliland said he relishes the opportunity to have a positive influence on bass fishing and on its resources.

“Everyone, from the novice angler to the dedicated B.A.S.S. member to the professional at the Bassmaster Elite Series level, has a stake — an obligation — to protect our aquatic resources,” Gilliland said. “Our challenge is to educate them, then motivate them to take action that will make a difference.”

As national conservation director, Gilliland will represent America’s bass anglers on national boards and councils involved in resource conservation. In addition, he will oversee the efforts of the 47 B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and work to make conservation principles relevant to every B.A.S.S. member. He will also be responsible for maintaining and improving fish care practices on each of the Bassmaster tournament circuits. Gilliland has assisted in fish care at the Bassmaster Classic each year since 1994, including the 2013 Classic in Tulsa, Okla., when 100 percent of the bass weighed in were released alive in Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

Gilliland credits Clough as a valuable mentor. “She worked with the B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and developed a vision for the conservation program’s future. Personally, she helped me better understand how to navigate government bureaucracy and get things done to improve fishing,” he said. “B.A.S.S. Conservation works with partners on so many levels — local, state, regional and national — to address the threats that our freshwater resources face. One of our biggest challenges will be helping the general public understand that what is good for the fish is good for them, too.”

Gilliland has a B.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Fisheries Biology from Oklahoma State University. He is a coauthor, along with Hal Schramm, of “Keeping Bass Alive, a Guidebook for Tournament Anglers and Organizers.” He is a regular contributor to the “Bass Biology” column in B.A.S.S. Times magazine and has been published in numerous other outdoor publications.

An avid tournament angler since high school, he joined the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters in 1993 and served as the club’s president from 1999 until 2010. He was Oklahoma B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director from 2005 to 2010 and was named Conservation Director of the Year in 2009. He helped incorporate the CastingKids program into boat and tackle show programs in Oklahoma, he helped organize the Oklahoma City Junior Bassmasters club in 2005 and served as the state’s B.A.S.S. Nation youth director in 2007 and 2008.

Gilliland joined B.A.S.S. in 1969 because of its focus on friendly competition, youth fishing and protecting the resource.

“I want to continue the conservation legacy that Ray Scott and the B.A.S.S. conservation directors before me have established,” he said. “B.A.S.S. Conservation has always been a voice for anglers, fighting to preserve and enhance aquatic resources for the future of fishing. I want to make sure that our voice is still heard loud and clear.”


Better Than a Hat

If we are to believe those who make movies and television programs, one of an angler’s favorite possessions is a hat adorned with flies, spinners, and sometimes even a crankbait or two.

Truth be told, I don’t own a hat like that, and I’ve never seen any other fisherman wearing one.

While I don’t have a “fishin’ hat,” though, I do own a “fishin’ bag" that I'm particularly fond of.

It was the first thing that I bought with my own money, right after I started babysitting for 50 cents an hour.  It cost $1, back when a buck could buy you something. As I recall, for that same amount, I also could buy 10 comic books at Talbert’s News Agency, and I could get into the Liberty Theater to see “Guns of Navarone,” with enough left over to buy popcorn and a Coke.

But this particular $1 bill was tucked into an envelope and sent to a mail-order company out in Colorado for a World War II surplus gas mask bag, made of heavy-duty green canvas. I bought it to carry the popping bugs and foam spiders that I was going to throw with my new Sears & Roebuck automatic fly reel and fiberglass rod. After all, a guy couldn’t carry his fly stuff in a metal tackle box. 

(This is the beginning of an essay in my new book, Why We Fish. It's received 15 five-star reviews at Amazon so far, and Bill Dance calls it a "masterpiece." Please check it out. You'll be glad you did!)


'Silent Invaders' Asian Carp 2013

Here’s the best video that I’ve seen about Asian carp generally, and silver carp specifically. From NorthAmericanFishing, it includes history, biology, and assessment of the threat, as well as some spectacular shots of the silver carp going airborne.