My Facebook pages

Robert Montgomery

Why We Fish

Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies

Pippa's Canine Corner 

 

 

 

This area does not yet contain any content.
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun212016

When Do Fish 'Sleep'? Never!

Bass live in a world very different from ours. We have skin. They have scales. We have feet. They have fins. We sleep about 8 hours a day. They never sleep.

What!? Never sleep!

That’s right. Many scientists believe that bass and most other fish don’t sleep, at least in the way that we define it. Perhaps that is why they are so cranky early in the morning when you throw a topwater bait over their heads.

Certainly it doesn't help that bass don't have eyelids, which means that they can't close their eyes.

So, instead of fish-napping, they simply “rest” in an upright position around a rock or log or grassbed. Many anglers believe that bass and other fish are more likely to go into a period of reduced metabolism and activity during the day when the moon is full and  then feed at night.

A few species, such as the clown loach, actually lie on their backs or sides when they want to rest.

If you were a bass, you probably wouldn’t want to sleep either. Your life would be too short to waste in bed. The oldest bass caught was believed to be between 22 and 24 years old. But the average bass lives only about 10 years, which makes one bass year equal to about eight human years.

During those 10 years, they eat hundreds of minnows, crawfish, and other critters. They use tiny teeth to capture and hold this food. Not once, though, do they ever chew it. Instead, they swallow it whole.

 Because of such habits, your mother probably would not approve of you inviting them to dinner.

And what do bass drink with their one-bite meals? Why, water of course, even though that also is what they breathe. Just like us, fish need water in their bodies. They also absorb it through their skins.

Even saltwater fish drink water, but, with the help of their gills, get rid of the salt. That’s why a fish from the ocean doesn’t taste salty when you eat it.

Since bass breathe water, as well as drink it, they can’t drown. Right?

Wrong.

Fish can drown, but not in the same way that people do. In water, they might drown--- or suffocate--- if a stringer or some other object prevents their gills from working. Pollution and dirt also can interfere. Thousands of fish  once drowned because of beer spilled into a Colorado stream.

Out of water, a fish’s gills can not control its oxygen intake, and so it “drowns” in air. That’s why it’s so important to return a bass to the water as quickly and gently as possible.

A bass’ table manners might shock your mother, but it’s a sport fish worthy of being caught more than just once.  

Sunday
Jun192016

Sunday
Jun192016

Signs Look Promising for Restoration of Elephant Butte Bass Fishery 

Cooperative stocking effort at Elephant Butte by New Mexico Game and fish and local community.

Results aren't definitive, but "signs" are promising, as a collective effort to restore Elephant Butte's bass fishery continues.

Signs posted by New Mexico Game and Fish (NMGF), asking anglers to voluntarily refrain from fishing in spawning areas is latest effort. Sadly, spring drawdowns might have negated the strategy.

"The largemouth bass are spawning so shallow that the nests may be high and dry before the eggs hatch even if they are left alone," said Earl Conway, New Mexico B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director (CD).

Still, both he and NMGF biologist Kevin Gardner believe the effort will help draw more attention to "the challenges bass face in irrigation reservoirs.

"Based on the amount of chatter I see on social media and a few emails I have received, we certainly met the objective of getting people more interested in the situation," Conway added.

Elephant Butte was built on the Rio Grande a century ago solely  as a water supply reservoir for El Paso and to provide irrigation, both in the United States and Mexico. With drawdowns occurring annually for crops at about the same time bass spawned,  the sport fishery somehow managed to endure for decades, mostly thanks to a good forage base.

But then several years of droughts and low water levels caused the bass population to decline precipitously.

In recent years, however, Conway has spearheaded the "adapt-a-cove" project to improve habitat, while former CD Ron Gilworth directed most of his efforts at stocking. Private funds paid for 20,000 four-inch bass in 2015, and NMGF followed with 40,000 early this year.

"If we must deal with these early releases every year, we may have to try providing suspended spawning platforms again," said Conway, who added that they were only marginally successful previously because crappie took them over within a couple of years.

"It was great for them," he added. "But the spawning largemouths bass could be found 50 yards away on the shore under any abandoned marine cable they could find."

New Mexico State University will soon begin a study if these if stocking and habitat enhancements make a significant difference in the quality of the fishery.

On the positive side, Conway said, "We can see tremendous improvements in the coves where we did the habitat projects and in the coves where nature helped out with a bumper crop of willows and tumbleweeds.

"We are throwing everything we can think of at the lake, and the fishing is getting much better without a whole lot more water or changes in water management," he continued. "Reports of lots of smaller fish and heavier tournament weights are the metrics we are tracking."

 

Friday
Jun172016

Be a Better Angler by Avoiding Dehydration This Summer

On a bright, sunny day, a splitting-headache suddenly forced to me to stop fishing  years ago, even though the fish were big and eager to bite. I quickly took an aspirin. As a downed it with a long swig of water, I realized how thirsty I was.

Two pints later, the headache was gone, and I had learned a lesson that I would not forget. Even if you don't "feet" thirsty, keeping hydrated is vitally important.  By the time you recognize thirst, it's too late. Debilitating effects already will have started, interfering with your fishing, as well as possibly endangering your health.

In Better Bass Fishing: Secrets From the Headwaters by a Bassmaster Senior Writer (The book is in limited supply at Amazon, but more copies should be available soon. Link is to Barnes & Noble.), I don't just cover the nuts and bolts of how and when to catch more fish, I offer insights on how to better care for yourself so you will be a more energetic, and thus more successful, angler. Here are some of my "secrets" for preventing dehydration.

Secret: A healthy body typically requires 64 ounces of fluid a day. But when you’re in the sun and sweating, you need even more. Water is the best choice, with power drinks second. Avoid drinks with lots of sugar and caffeine. The latter actually dries out your system.

Secret: On hot days, drink plenty of water before you get on the lake. And keep downing fluids throughout the day. If you wait until you’re thirsty before you drink, you already will be feeling the weakening effects of dehydration. The weaker you are, the less attentive you will be and, thus, the less effective you will be at catching fish.

Secret: “Cold” does not quench your thirst and re-hydrate your body. “Wet” does. Our obsession with having “ice cold” drinks often contributes to dehydration. That’s because you can only sip a freezing beverage--- unless you want to suffer brain freeze.  That sip might feel refreshing, but it is not rehydrating your body. Allow that drink to warm a bit and finish it off right away, instead of putting it back in the ice chest to stay “nice and cold.”

Secret: Dehydration isn’t just a summer hazard. Whenever you are outdoors and active, your body needs fluid to sustain itself. Drink plenty of water in the winter too.

Thursday
Jun162016

Catch and Release is 'Cruel'; Yet Another Anti-Fishing Strategy

 

Here is something that you didn’t know: You are a hypocrite if you practice catch and release.

That’s right. If you care enough to turn a fish loose after you catch it, then you should be smart enough to realize that you shouldn’t catch it in the first place.

Don’t laugh. That’s a strategy by animal rights activists in this country to kill recreational fishing. Twice now it’s been used in comments at my Activist Angler website. The latest was in response to a post of mine that ridiculed PETA for distorting facts to support its anti-fishing ideology.

(Go here to see what PETA is saying.)

I was accused of being so steeped in a “pro-fishing, pro-industry dogma” that I have lost perspective. “Attempting to demonize people who are concerned about the ethics of sport fishing is a clear act of bigotry,” said commenter Rob Russell.

“Any thoughtful angler will reach a point where he or she desires to lessen their impacts on fish. When you engage in premeditated C&R, when your only goal is ‘sport’ (gratification), how do you rationalize putting a fish’s life at risk?

“If you are not concerned about this, then you have some thinking to do.”

Well, Rob, I have been thinking about it, and I am concerned. And if you fish, you should be concerned too. As irrational as this ploy seems, it already has worked in Europe.

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 makes catch-and-release illegal because “it is in conflict with the dignity of the fish and its presumed ability to suffer and feel pain.” A similar rule has been in place since the 1980s in Germany, where anglers also must take a course in fish handling before they can obtain a license.

“The argument runs (in Germany) that it is legally acceptable to go fishing only if one has the intention to catch fish for food,” say the authors of a disturbing study, “A Primer on Anti-Angling Philosophy and Its Relevance for Recreational Fisheries in Urbanized Societies.”

In other words, you can have fun catching fish in Germany, but don’t tell anyone--- and you must keep the fish. Tournament fishing is not allowed and economic benefits are not a sufficient justification for fishing.

 “It all boils down to the individual benefits experienced by the angler, and here food provision is currently the only acceptable reason,” the authors add.

Think that can’t happen here, a country of nearly 40 million licensed anglers? Think again, and don’t be misled by the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans approve of legal fishing and support using fish for food.

The authors of that study discovered that when people are asked whether they approve of recreational fishing for sport, answers change dramatically. Twenty-five to 30 percent view angling for sport as cruel in more urbanized states such as Colorado and Arizona, while about 20 percent feel the same way in more rural states, including Alaska and the Dakotas.

And then there are the useful idiots. They fish but are so narrow-minded that they support anti-fishing activists in this campaign.

The second commenter at my website said this: “Sport fishing for catch-and-release should be outlawed! We are working to keep fish for real fishermen who enjoy the taste and food. We need to keep these so called ‘sport fishermen’ out of Minnesota lakes!”

How do we combat this strategy? We don’t engage in the false argument that catch-and-release is just one step on the road to enlightenment and that, if we really care, we must stop fishing for sport. That’s like trying to answer the question “Do you still beat your wife?” and not sound guilty. An attempt to answer either instantly puts the responder on the defensive.

The reality is that catch-and-release is a conservation practice, not an action prompted by concern for the welfare of an individual fish. Since B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott popularized the practice during tournaments in the 1970s, it has been embraced by anglers worldwide as a way to sustain fisheries. And it’s working. For example, Florida anglers keep less than 10 percent of the bass that they catch, with the vast majority released so that they can continue to reproduce, as well as be caught again.

And let’s not forget the value that we derive from catching and releasing those fish.  Yes, fish as food nourishes the body, but fishing for fun nourishes the spirit. During this chaotic and angry time in our nation’s history, nothing is more important.