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Volunteers Bring Texas' Lake Livington 'Back to Life'

Too often, fisheries habitat projects by non-government groups are limited or even shut down because of a lack of funding. With that in mind, bass clubs and other organizations would do well to follow the example of Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs (LLFoR).

The goal is "to bring this lake back to life," according to Tom McDonough, project director for. "This used to be one of the best bass lakes in the United States, and we want to make it that again."

But McDonough realized that sustaining a 10-year commitment to establish aquatic vegetation on the 83,000-acre water supply impoundment near Houston will require more than occasional grants from Friends of Reservoirs and others. A funding-raising raffle helped some, but it was formation of a Business Leaders Council (BLC) that likely will sustain the project.


In just two months, LLFoR is a quarter of the toward its goal of recruiting 20 companies, local governments, and even individuals to donate $500 a year for the nine remaining years of the project.

"The BLC donations will be key going forward, as we most likely cannot apply to FoR for a grant every year," McDonough said. "This will provide us bridge funding and gives us the flexibility to do some funding of items that the federal government will not allow grant funds to be used for."

Thus far, work has focused on propagating and planting water willows for the coalition that has 23 partners, including six school districts, Texas Black Bass Unlimited (TBBU), Onalaska Bass Club, and Polk County Hookers, as well as Trinity River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW), and Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership severing as advisers.

Plantings by volunteer students and teachers were planned for May and August of this year, while McDonough hoped that anglers and others would wade into the action in between those two months. The goal is to put in 10,000 plants a year, with TBBU paying for production of a video, both to promote LLFoR's work and to provide guidance for volunteers.

All of the vegetation to this point has been water willows, but McDonough said that other species might be added as well, including bulrush.  "This plant is  grass carp resistant and can grow from the shoreline into three to five feet of water," he said.

Both the natural aging of the lake and the illegal introduction of grass carp contributed to the fishery's decline.


Wishin' I Was Fishin' Monday


Want to Catch More Bass? Here Are 'Secrets' You Should Know About the Bite


These are but a few of the secrets in "The Bite" from Better Bass Fishing: Secrets From the Headwaters by a Bassmaster Senior Writer. Here's a link to the book at Barnes & Noble. Amazon also carries it, but often is sold out.

Secret 7 : Fisheries scientists estimate that only 5 percent of fish in any given bass population are actively feeding at one time. Thirty percent are inactive and 65 percent are neutral. That why accurate casts, subtle presentations, and enticing retrieves are so important.

Secret 8:  But even if a bass isn’t “actively” feeding, it still often will grab at an easy meal if it comes within reach. Most of the time, fish and other wild animals simply do not pass up available food. Survival instinct dictates that they take advantage of every opportunity.

 Secret 9: On average, once a largemouth bass reaches 11 inches in length, more than 75 percent of its diet consists of baitfish, with the remainder consisting a crawfish and insects. That will vary, of course, depending on the forage base of each specific fishery.

Secret 10: Bass bite for other reasons too, among them reflex, curiosity, competition, and protective instinct for their spawning beds and/or territory.

          Long-time pro Roland Martin also believes that they bite out of ignorance: “It’s getting increasingly harder to find bass these days that have never seen an artificial lure,” he says. “But there are still a lot of lakes in Mexico and Canada where these ‘ignorant’ bass exist. And I’ve been able to find a few small farm ponds that were underfished and contained the same eager, stupid bass.”

More "secrets" about the bite upcoming at Activist Angler.

Check out all my books at Amazon.


Will Sugar-Supported Politicians Help or Hinder Restoration of Coastal Waters?

Nutrient-rich waters discharged out of Lake Okeechobee continue to foul and degrade Florida's coastal waters to the east and west with algae blooms.

Before the ecosystem was altered by man for our convenience, for development, agriculture, and flood control, high water flowed south to replenish the Everglades and, eventually, Florida Bay.

That's what needs to happen again to save the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River systems now being destroyed. It also would benefit the Everglades and Florida Bay.

But much of that land to the south is owned by sugar farmers, just as much of the nutrients polluting that water is from those farms.

And many Florida politicians are owned by Big Sugar. For example, U.S. Sugar Corp. is the fourth largest donor to Gov. Rick Scott's political committee.

"The American political system is dominated by big money, and big money talks," said Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation. "But we are hopeful in this crisis that the governor and other decision makers see through any of that."

Find out more about the politics of this issue here.


Little Horseshoe Lake Yields Second Record Smallmouth for South Dakota

Little Horseshoe Lake in northeast South Dakota was more of a shallow slough than a fishery until the 1990s, when above normal precipitation increased surface area and depth, creating habitat capable of sustaining a sport fishery.  

And what a sport fishery it has turned out to be, as the state record for smallmouth bass was broken there in April for the second time in less than three years.

This time, Lyal Held of Barnesville, Minn., took the honors, catching a pre-spawn bronzeback weighing 7-3, with a girth almost as great as its length. Before being certified and released, it was measured at 19 1/2 inches long and 19 inches around.

"I've never seen anything so fat. It was so fat its eyes were bulging. It was a freak,"  said Held, who was fishing with Casey Ehlert, who captured the battle on video.

In fact, after a state record weighing 7 pounds was caught at Horseshoe in October 2013, the two had been studying the fishery and strategizing on how to break the mark, with the intent to record the adventure.

And only a hour into the trip in pursuit of a trophy,  the Minnesota angler tied into the smallmouth on a Yumbrella rig with Kalin's 3.8-inch Sizmic Shads, three with hooks and two without, as per South Dakota regulation.

"When the fish jumped, and I saw it's girth, I knew right then that this fish had the potential to be a state record," he said.

Held added that the duo had spent considerable time fishing Horseshoe "and had some bad days. But we knew the state record came out of there."

Eventually, they found a "honey hole," he said. And that morning, Ehlert caught two personal bests  before Held tied into the record.