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Robert Montgomery

Why We Fish

Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies

Pippa's Canine Corner 

 

 

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Sunday
Apr222018

'Bad' Weather

Not surprisingly, raging storms account for some of my most vivid memories. Perhaps at the top of the list is the time I watched softball-size hail pound down, only to bounce 10 or 15 feet into the air. Yes, it caused all kinds of damage to homes and cars, including my own. Yet I felt privileged to see what most people haven’t and never will: the spectacular consequence of updrafts pushing hailstones back up through thunderclouds until they grew to almost four inches in diameter, before pelting the Earth with a fury that seems almost—but is not— malevolent.

Yes, indeed, weather can be dangerous. But it isn’t “bad.” Weather is what it is: A meteorological symphony orchestrated by nature and a reminder that, as much as we would like to think otherwise, we are not in control around here.

I love “bad weather,” as long as I’m not in danger from a tornado or hurricane. I love the crack of thunder and the flash of lightning. I love snow that blows sideways and ice pellets that rattle off the windows. I love the showy side of nature. And, even though I’m not a student or a teacher anymore, I still feel a little tingle of joy when I hear snow days announced on the radio. Maybe there’s something to that Pavlov theory after all.

Excerpt from Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature. Photos are mine, as was the decked crunched by huge branch from an old oak tree.

Friday
Apr202018

Decisions. Decisions. I think that I'll just buy all three.

Friday
Apr202018

Powerful Opposition Kills Public Access Reform In Louisiana

A bill that would have restored anglers’ rights to access public waters in Louisiana was voted down in the state legislature this week by a vote of 37-59.

Proponents of House Bill 391, including B.A.S.S., the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation and the Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition (LaSC), were disappointed but not surprised at the loss, said Gene Gilliland, national conservation director for B.A.S.S.

“Everyone knew going in that this was likely to be a contentious issue and that it might take several years to find a good fix,” he explained. “When the vote came to the full House of Representatives, wealthy landowners and energy companies with deep pockets and armies of lobbyists persuaded legislators from many parts of Louisiana that are not even affected by this issue to vote against the bill.”

Gilliland said the bill’s author, Rep. Kevin Pearson (R., Slidell), told him his bill was perhaps the most talked about piece of legislation in this session, and although it was voted down, it raised awareness of the problem statewide.

HB 391 would have restricted the ability of private landowners to prohibit boater access to navigable waters flowing over or through their lands. Almost alone among the 50 states, Louisiana permits private property owners in tidewater areas to bar public access to those waters and to do so without posting them against trespassing.

“Almost everywhere else, the law says that, ‘If you can float it, you can boat it,’” Gilliland pointed out.

“Louisiana is one of the only states in the nation where you can be traveling by boat on public, navigable waterways, and suddenly with no warning find that you are not,” according to the LaSC. “As a result, families out for a day of fun have been subjected to armed challenges from guards hired by big landowners and told to leave the unmarked, seemingly open water.”

Because of the inconsistencies in access, B.A.S.S. announced last year that it would no longer conduct professional bass tournaments in Louisiana’s tidal regions, including the Louisiana Delta, which has hosted four Bassmaster Classics, and others where public access is being increasingly restricted. In the upcoming Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas, competitors have been told they cannot fish in Louisiana waters.

Gilliland said Pearson made it clear that B.A.S.S.’s decision to stay away from Louisiana until this issue is resolved played a major role in raising awareness among the public and his fellow legislators.

“Although the bill is dead for this year, Rep. Pearson is fully committed to making a run at this issue again next year,” Gilliland said. “We hope that prior to next year’s session there will be meetings of all the concerned stakeholders, including B.A.S.S. and the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation.

“We want to build a consensus on how public access to the waters of Louisiana can be preserved for recreation and commerce, while respecting landowners’ rights.”

The LaSC said in a statement this week that it is encouraged by the fact that 37 state representatives voted for the reform despite “powerful opposition” and little time to prepare for a legislative push.
 
It added, “This was always going to be a multi-year fight, and we are optimistic that the progress made in this year’s legislative session has moved up the expected timeline.”

Thursday
Apr192018

Beware Of E15 This Summer

A proposal by President Trump to allow the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol) gasoline year-round has set off alarm bells at the nation’s largest boating advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines, voids many marine engine warranties, and is currently banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency during summer months over concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Under the President’s April 12 proposal, however, a waiver to the Clean Air Act would permit the sale of E15 in the summertime at the same roadside gas stations where most recreational boaters refuel their trailered vessels.

“We are very disappointed,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “The proposal to sell E15 during the boating season is a recipe for misfueling in the highest order and a giveaway to the big ethanol and corporate farming interests at the expense of America’s middle-class boaters. The little E15 warning label currently required on gas station pumps does next to nothing to protect boaters’ engines, and if a waiver is granted, it would dramatically increase the chances of E15 getting into a boat’s gas tank.

“With ethanol, boaters continue to pay the price with increased repair bills, lower fuel economy and poor reliability. Instead of more ethanol, we need more effective misfueling-prevention measures that will educate and protect all consumers,” added Kennedy.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conclusively demonstrated that E15 damages boat engines, and 92 percent of readers of a boating industry publication reported in 2017 that they have seen damage caused by ethanol. A 2016 Harris Poll found that 64 percent of consumers were not sure or did not pay attention to the type of gas they used.

Boaters have long suffered under the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandate to increase the volume of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. BoatUS is asking boaters for help on the issue by posting a message to their congressman’s or senator’s Facebook page urging for RFS reform.

Passed in 2005, RFS requires the blending of biofuels, such as corn-ethanol, into the nation’s gasoline supply. To keep up with this mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace, but only for some vehicle engines. 

The more than half-million-member boat owners group supports fuel choice, including smart biofuels development such as isobutanol, and the availability of ethanol-free fuels that are increasingly more difficult to find. “As more ethanol-blend fuels fill up the pumps, the fuel that most boaters want for safe operation is being pushed out of the market,” added Kennedy.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Young Oklahoma Angler has 'Prehistoric' Day

With his father's help, Zaniel Cole, 8, has done the unthinkable in Oklahoma. Not only did Zaniel snag a 100-pound paddlefish, but he also managed to snag a rare shovelnose sturgeon the very same day! 

"Although they are the most abundant sturgeon in North America, shovelnose sturgeon numbers have declined over the past century and they are rare in Oklahoma. So, catching a shovelnose sturgeon the same day as a 100-pound paddlefish is a notable thrill," said the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).


Shovelnose sturgeon are not federally protected in Oklahoma, but they are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Category II. This means there is insufficient information to adequately evaluate the population status or species trend in Oklahoma. Harvest of shovelnose sturgeon is legal with a limit of one per day. However, any shovelnose sturgeon caught in the state is required to be reported to ODWC.  

Zaniel and his father, Adam, released the shovelnose sturgeon and reported their catch to the agency.

Paddlefish and shovelnose sturgeon are distant cousins in the order Acipenseriformes and date to the time of the dinosaurs, which is why they are referred to as "prehistoric fishes."