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Georgia Trophy Fishery Set to Re-Open in Spring

Georgia anglers are eagerly awaiting re-opening in the spring of a small, but prolific big-bass fishery that has been closed for nearly four years.

In November 2012,  the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shut down the 106-acre lake at Ocmulgee Public Fishing Area so that it could be drained and leaks sealed in the bed. Repairs began in March but were delayed by spring rains, with completion now expected sometime this fall.

Additionally, DNR has been growing bass at several hatcheries as well as at a three-acre pond near the lake so Ocmulgee will have an immediate population of adult fish for anglers to enjoy. If not for that, it probably wouldn't have re-opened until 2018, said biologist Tim Bonvechio.

"It was really coming on as a high profile trophy bass fishery in the state of Georgia," he added. "We hope to bring that recipe back again."

That recipe involved stocking a lower density  population of female-only bass while allowing catch-and-release only for the fishery that first opened in 2006. By all indications, it was working too.

Angler surveys from February and March of 2012 revealed that 46 bass weighing 8 pounds or more were caught and released, with 10 of more than 10 pounds and one checking in at 12-4. Additionally,  biologists logged in a 13-4 while doing an electrofishing survey.

Repairs  included rerouting the stream that runs through the middle of the impoundment and then removing two feet of lake bed where leaks were occurring. After that, the area was covered with a rugged fabric similar to what is used to prevent runoff at construction sites, with three-feet of red clay pressed on top.

Previously, the lake had been stocked with bluegill, crappie, and catfish, as well as bass. This time around, DNR won't add catfish, which would compete with bass for forage. The hope is that this will help Ocmulgee's bass grow bigger even faster.

"We want to put someone on the fish of a lifetime," Bonvechio said.


We Do We Fish?

Fishing is mystery and anticipation: We cast a line in hopes of connecting to an unseen creature in an alien world. Even better, the mystery --- the thrill --- renews with every cast.

From Why We Fish, available at Amazon.


Angler Assistance Needed to Help Improve Fish Habitat in Potomac

Volunteers are needed to help Sept. 16-18 with a bass habitat project for the Smoots Bay area of the Potomac River.

“The submerged grasses in this largemouth bass nursery have virtually disappeared over the past decade and the spawning success of these fish has consequently declined,”  said Joe Love, Tidal Bass Program Manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

“These reef balls will provide important protective habitat for juvenile fish.”

Eighty small concrete balls will be constructed as an initiative of a taskforce that includes MDNR, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), and National Harbor.

The work will involve mixing and pouring concrete into  molds, the “hatching” of the balls after the concrete has cured, and a general cleanup. CBF is providing the molds and expertise, since it has done this for other areas of the Bay.

This is a hands-on event suitable for anyone over the age of 16. Lunch and water will be provided.

“We’re also planning on sinking some wood with concrete anchors.  The wood washes up at National Harbor and the folks there are beginning to stockpile wood for us,” said Love. “I’m hoping the combination of concrete and natural wood will replace the submerged grasses that were once in Smoots Bay.”

The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc., Fish America Foundation, Pro-Formance Fishing, and the Maryland B.A.S.S. Nation are supporting partners in this project.



If you learned to love nature as a child, you’ll enjoy this collection of essays and short stories, both humorous and serious, about life lessons learned in the outdoors.


Boat to Promote Youth Fishing in Colorado Brewed Up by 'Strange Magic'

Using "Strange Magic," Blake Muhlenbruck and Frank Villa, youth director for the Colorado B.A.S.S. Nation, have brewed up a wrapped bass boat to take kids fishing.

Now sporting a "Promoting Youth Fishing" logo, the boat once belonged to Muhlenbruck, who gave it to Villa, a long-time friend and emergency medical technician with the Greeley Fire Department. He decided to do so after realizing that a debilitating work-related accident never would allow him to use the boat with the magical moniker to introduce more children to fishing.

"It seemed like we were always a boat or two short," said Villa, the father of four who founded the Centennial Bass Club's junior counterpart, the Fighting Fish Sticks. "Now I know that I have my boat and this boat for the kids to use.  And they get really excited when they get to sit in a wrapped boat."

Villa, meanwhile, admitted that he gets pretty excited himself when he sees former junior members now fishing adult tournaments and on college fishing teams. And almost certainly more are on the way, as today's Fighting Fish Sticks  number 25 to 30, considerably more than the 6 required to get the club started.

In surprising his friend with the donation, Muhlenbruck said, "There is always a need for an extra boat whether it is for the high school program you brought to life at Windsor High School, the junior youth club you started so many years ago or for your commitment to getting special needs children out on the water.

"I know that, by giving you this boat, my dreams will continue and others will begin . . . As you know, there is a strange magic when you're on the water. Catching fish is just the bonus."

With just two years to retirement when he "can really concentrate on kids' fishing," Villa added that he hopes to use the boat in a high school tournament trail that he wants to start in Colorado.

And don't forget the parades. The man whose father introduced him to fishing at age 3 or 4 hopes that seeing the boat will help get kids "out of their living rooms and onto the lakes, where we can teach them about fishing and conservation and educate them about the outdoors."

Several generous sponsors helped with the updating, wrapping and equipping of the boat, said Villa. They include ISB Research and Development, Cabela's, Island Lake Marine, IZM Creative Design, Topo Graphics, Eagle Claw, Trokar, Berkley, Tackle Warehouse, Skirmish Baits, and

Anyone wishing to support Colorado's "Promoting Youth Fishing" boat should contact him at

(A variation of this article is at