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Florida's MarineQuest Set For Saturday In St. Petersburg

MarineQuest is the annual open house for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. This fun, free event will introduce you to Florida's unique environment, as well as current fish and wildlife research.

Click here for more information about presentations, exhibitors, directions, parking, etc.


Did Hurricanes Damage Fisheries in Texas, Florida?

Thus far, resource managers are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of powerful Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hammered east Texas and the entire Florida peninsula, as damage to fisheries seems minimal. Long-term impacts, however, particularly in the Sunshine State, could be more significant. Biologists will assess and monitor for months.

Harvey did little or no damage to bass fisheries in east Texas, including Toledo Bend, according to Todd Driscoll with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  

"Based on what we know now, it appears that Harvey effects weren’t that severe on the Sabine, Neches and Taylor systems," he explained.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

"Given all the flood-related damage, very few are fishing in these areas, but from the limited reports I’ve heard the local anglers are catching fish. There have been no reports of any fish kills due to Harvey.          

"Historically, saltwater intrusion from hurricane-related surge is what has wreaked havoc on the fish populations in these systems," he added. "With Harvey, these systems escaped the saltwater surge. It seems that the historic flooding did not significantly affect the bass populations, but we will know more later this fall after our electrofishing survey, and when local anglers get back on the water."

In Florida, meanwhile, fish died on both the Withlacoochee and St. Johns Rivers, kills not unexpected – or catastrophic – considering the vulnerability of those systems. Minor die-offs continue to be reported elsewhere as well.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

Read my full story about this at Under the Nation tab, click on Conservation.


New Arkansas Bass Plan Includes Smallouth, Spots

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has released its blueprint for improving bass fishing. Unlike previous versions in 1990 and 2002, this latest Reservoir Black Bass Management Plan focuses on smallmouth and spotted bass, as well as largemouth.

In announcing this latest update, AGFC said the mission of plan "is to facilitate the management of a fishery--- fish, habitats, and people--- and provide background and guidelines for AGFC's management of Arkansas reservoirs and lakes while utilizing the best available science and practicing adaptive management."

According to the plan, variables that resource managers must consider include sampling, habitat, health and disease, tournament fishing, supplemental stocking, population characteristics, and human dimensions.

Goals include the following:

  • Managing black bass fisheries using the best data available for decision making, including current and historical standardized sampling data, the scientific body of literature, and this plan.
  • Striving to better understand black bass anglers and to increase interaction with them to make them aware of our efforts, incorporate their preferences into management decisions, and foster greater collaboration and trust from both parties.
  • Using science-based methods to evaluate reservoir habitat quality, and prescribe both chemical and physical methods for habitat enhancement where necessary.
  • Maximizing efficiency and effectiveness of the AGFC culture system to produce sufficient quantities of fish to meet management goals. Evaluating the contribution of stocked fish to reservoir fish populations to ensure that resources are maximized.
  • Seeking to obtain the personnel, equipment, and other resources necessary to carry out the provisions of this plan.

Want To Be A Better Angler? Check Out Better Bass Fishing

Sales for my first book, Better Bass Fishing, really have picked up recently. Not sure why, but very happy to see it. Book didn't get much publicity when it first came out so few people knew about it.

Best thing about this book is that most of it is "ageless." By that, I mean that the information doesn't get outdated because it's about the "big picture" instead of specifics.

This book tells you about bass intelligence and behavior, as well as seasonal movements. It explains how and why weather influences the bite. And it reveals attitudes, behaviors, and routines that will make you a better angler. Plus, pros and guides share their secrets on when and how to use general types of baits, including topwaters, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics. Here's an example:

Secret: Topwaters aren’t just for warm water.

"You can catch bass consistently on top in water that is 50 degrees or above,” says lure designer and topwater expert Sam Griffin.  “Usually in colder water, you want to fish extremely fast or extremely slow, not in between.”

The popper is a good choice for colder water, he adds, because you can keep it in one place longer and because its tail sits down in the water, making it easier for the bass to take.

Here are a couple of reviews from Amazon (sometimes temporarily out of stock) and Barnes & Noble:

"Probably one of the best books ever written on bass fishing. I got more out of this book than I have the last 10 books I have read on the subject. I would love for the author to follow up with a 2nd book on bass. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to fish for bass or even those of us who have been for many years. There's something for everyone in this book."

* * * *
"The information can be continually used as a resource for years to come. The best thing about this book is that the information is current. So many of the other books out there have information that is from the 80 and 90's."


Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium Opens at Bass Pro Shops Headquarters

Former President George W. Bush is in center and former President Jimmy Carter on far right.Johnny Morris opened the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium at his Bass Pro Shops world headquarters in Springfield, Mo., in late September. The massive property is a tribute to fish and wildlife conservation  in our country, as well as entertaining tourist attraction, and education facility.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush attended the gala opening, as did celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Costner, along with fishing legends Bill Dance, Roland Martin, and Jimmy Houston.

Mark Wahlberg in Wonders of Wildlife aquariumFollowing is a description of the museum as provided by Bass Pro Shops:

Massive: 340,000 square feet with 1.4 miles of immersive trails, interactive surprises and creative exhibits, including 1.5 million gallons of fresh and saltwater aquariums;

Global: 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds represent more than 800 species from around the world;

Immersive: Fully immersive wildlife galleries feature 4D dioramas that transport guests to the wildest places on earth through sights, sounds, smells and climates. You’ll feel the chill of the Arctic, the cold winds of the Himalayas, the dry sun of the African Savannah, and more.

Conservation-focused: Partnerships with more than 40 leading conservation organizations help share the story of conservation from  Native Americans to Lewis and Clark and modern-day wildlife management. Countless artifacts make it real, including Hemingway’s boat and personal possessions from our conservation president Teddy Roosevelt, to name a few.

Fun: Johnny’s signature creativity and attention-to-detail ensures there are surprises around every corner to amaze guests of all ages. From stepping inside a massive “open ocean” ring-shaped aquarium, to trekking across a sprawling 50,000-square foot re-creation of the African Savannah and going underwater and eye-to-eye with piranha, you will encounter special touches and experience adventures that must be seen to be believed.