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Silver Carp Dying in Missouri River

Silver carp are dying in the Missouri River near Vermillion, S.D. And they’ve been found dead elsewhere as well.

 That’s good news, of course. We have far too many of these exotic invaders in far too many of our rivers.

But what concerns resource managers is that they don’t know the reason or reasons for these die-offs. Possibly they are related to water quality. Or maybe they are occurring because of a disease. If it’s the latter, the disease could pose a threat to other species.

Read more here.


Popular Lake Trout Threaten Native Species in Flathead Lake

Introduced lake trout post a threat to survival of native bull trout in Montana's Flathead Lake. Photo from

Could recreational fishing be prohibited in the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River?

That’s unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility, as various factions struggle with how to protect the native population of bull trout in Montana’s Flathead Lake.

The introduced lake trout has become very popular with anglers, but it also poses a predatory threat to both the bull trout and the westslope cutthroat trout.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is the wild card in all of this,” said Tom McDonald, manager of the Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“We need to be proactive, or do nothing at all,” he continued. “What we’ve done over the past 13 years is not enough to guarantee that (bull trout) will not decline in the future.”

FWC is the “wild card” because it administers the federal Endangered Species Act. If the feds decide to move the bull trout from threatened to endangered status, one option in a species recovery plan could be to ban recreational fishing on the lake.

Read the more here.


New Video Shows Boat Owners How to Combat Spread of Invasive Species

Zebra mussels hitchhike on outboards and boat hulls.

Zebra mussels and quagga mussels crossed the Rocky Mountains in or on boats and trailers. Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, and other exotic plants move the same way.

Infestations of these invasive species degrade waterways, harm fisheries, and cost us millions of dollars annually to combat.

 The Invasive Species Action Network has produced a video to show boat owners how they can reduce the odds of spreading these troublesome species. Check it out here.


Fishing for a Friend

(Owner of National Bass Guide Service, Steve Chaconas  catches bass and snakeheads on the Potomac River and is a fishing friend of mine. This is an excerpt from his essay in my new book, Why We Fish.)

About 10 years ago we discussed retirement as we observed two old guys, fishing and in mild argument. We felt we would be they, someday. Now we were planning for our future together, fishing out our retirement. For the years to follow, we fished no matter the weather. Snow, wind, rain, sun, it didn’t matter. Everyday was great. Dave always would ask if I was having a good time. We always had a good time. 

As well as our plans were laid out, God had another idea for Dave. Just before we were getting ready for a week of Potomac bassing, Dave found out he had cancer. 


Another Troublesome Algae Season for Fisheries

Blue-green bloom in 2011 was worst in decades for western Lake Erie. Credit: MERIS/NASA; processed by NOAA/NOS/NCCOS

It’s that time of year --- algae season. No, not “allergy.” 


While troublesome jellyfish infestations are on the increase in our oceans, harmful algal blooms are growing in size and frequency in fresh water during summer and early fall.

And there’s even one of the latter now plaguing the salty water of Florida’s Biscayne Bay, according to the Miami Herald:

“Biscayne Bay, famed for its clear water and trophy bonefish, has been tainted by an algae bloom that may rank as the largest ever recorded in the bay.

“The bloom, which has left large swathes of the bay looking like pea soup and smelling like a Porta-Potty, appears to pose no human health risks and hasn’t produced any noticeable fish kills — at least not yet.

“But if it persists too long, it could damage fragile sea grass beds, disrupt the marine food chain and make boating, fishing and sand-bar bikini parties considerably less pleasant.”

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the first alerts ever have been issued for blue-green algal blooms, according to the Courier-Journal:

“First, it was Taylorsville Lake to get a warning — the first such alert ever for a Kentucky lake. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Kentucky Division of Water area warning recreational users of potentially toxic situations at Rough River Lake and Barren River Lake.

“According to Naturally Connected, the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection blog, there’s a difference between different type of algae:

“The more typical green algae, which are not harmful to humans or animals, come in many forms and may look like underwater moss, stringy mats or floating scum.

Cyanobacteria, on the other hand, looks like slicks of opaque, bright-green paint, but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies of bacteria. The color of the algae may also appear as red or brown.

“All three lakes remain open, but these precautions are recommended:

  • “Avoid contact with visible algae and do not swallow water while swimming.
  • “Take a bath or shower with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with water in ponds and lakes, especially before preparing or consuming food.
  • “Prevent pets and livestock from entering the water or drinking untreated water from these sources. Livestock, pets and wild animals can be poisoned by the toxins produced by some algal blooms. Small animals can ingest a toxic dose quickly. Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.
  • “Remove fish skin and organs before cooking and do not consume or allow pets/animals to consume the organs or skin.”

Finally, NOAA is telling us that blue-green blooms in western Lake Erie will be worse this year than last:

“NOAA and its research partners predict that the 2013 western Lake Erie harmful algal bloom (HAB) season will have a significant bloom of cyanobacteria, a toxic blue-green alga this summer. The predicted bloom is expected to be larger than last year, but considerably less than the record-setting 2011 bloom. Bloom impacts will vary across the lake’s western basin. This marks the second time NOAA has issued an annual outlook for western Lake Erie.

“Harmful algae blooms were common on western Lake Erie in the 1960s and 1970s. After a lapse of nearly 20 years, they have been steadily increasing over the past decade.”

What’s happening that’s encouraging jellyfish and algal blooms in our waters worldwide? Opinions among scientists vary. But one reason almost certainly is that these blooms are being fed by nutrient overload that pours into our rivers and oceans as runoff from agricultural lands and discharges from sewage plants.