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Why We Fish

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Saturday
Aug132016

When You Throw Out That Bait . . . You Just Never Know!

Catching two bass on one cast with a crankbait is rare, but does happen occasionally, especially if bass are schooling and/or in a feeding frenzy. After all, the bait has at least two sets of trebles, increasing the potential for hookups.

On Mexico's Lake El Salto when big fish were in such a frenzy during an all-day rain, I caught a 5-pounder and 7-pounder together on a Magnum Fat Free Shad. And years ago, I wrote an article for Bassmaster Magazine about a tournament anglers who caught his limit--- 5 bass!--- on one cast.

But two bass on a single hook?  The odds for that have to be infinitesimal.

Yet that is just what Jake, a Florida angler, did recently on a pond in central Florida. Using a Yum craw bait rigged Texas style on a 3/0 hook, and using 12-pound Trik Fish line, he hooked a small bass.

He says that he "was playing with him next to the boat in very clear water when I saw the big bass come up from the bottom and nail it.

"I let him take it for like three seconds and then I nailed him!"

Jake estimates that the  bass weighed 7 to 8 pounds.

Was the lunker going after the soft plastic or the smaller bass? My guess is that it wanted the Yum craw.

But who knows? As the success of large swimbaits have shown us, sometimes big bass prefer a mouthful to an appetizer. It might have been trying to eat the smaller fish.

Sadly, that doesn't always turn out so well for either.  With the spines on its dorsal fin providing resistance, the  smaller bass, bluegill, or crappie can get stuck in the mouth/throat of the larger predator,  and both fish die. Also on Lake El Salto, I've seen large, dead bass floating on the surface, with tilapia lodged in their mouths. My partner and I found one before it died, removed the tilapia, and the bass swam away.

Meanwhile, check out what happened to bass pro Greg Hackney while fishing for crappie a couple of years ago.

Incidents like this are why we fish, and why I wrote Why We Fish, including the essay "You Just Never Know." Here's an excerpt:

"Finally, way back during my college years, I was bringing in a small bass that had eaten my topwater. As I reeled it the last couple of feet to shore, a tremendous explosion showered me with water and a fierce yank nearly pulled the rod from my hands. I never saw what ate the little bass and nearly hooked itself on my lure, but that brief moment in time will be forever with me.

"When you throw out that bait . . . you just never know."

Friday
Aug122016

Monster Muskie! Was It a World Record?

 

This muskie might have been a world record--- or very close to it. But we'll never know.

The anglers who caught it, Canadians Tom and Tim Berger,  photographed, quickly measured it, and released it into Lake Huron's North Channel on the Ontario border.

"We've seen and caught a lot of big fish up there, but nothing like this," said Tim.

The monster muskellunge measured 60 inches long, with a girth of 31 inches. To put that into perspective, the International Game Fish Association's all-tackle world record muskie checked in at 67-8 pounds, measuring 60 1/4 inches long and 33 1/2 inches in girth.

“This fish was so thick all the way back to the tail. We couldn’t bend it  to get it in the net completely," Tom said.

Often targeting big fish, the two also have caught a 54-inch muskie in Lake St. Clair.

“I’ve caught a lot of muskies. We’ve caught several in the 50-inch range,” Tim said. “I’ve never seen or had one this large up there. It was the fish of a lifetime for us.”

In Minnesota, meanwhile, Robert Hawkins caught a 57-inch muskellunge on a fly last November at Lake Mille Lacs. It also was measured, photographed, and released.

“I didn’t see the fish take the fly,’’ said Hawkins, who owns Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in Lake Elmo. “But when I felt her hit, I had a pretty good strip-set, I thought. Then, when I saw her turn sideways, I knew she was the biggest muskie I’d ever hooked.’’

Thursday
Aug112016

What's to Like About August? Nothing!!!!!

The following is an excerpt from a humorous look at my least favorite month, August, in Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature.

What don’t I like about August? For starters, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, sweat bees, and flies. August is a banner month for them all here at my house in the woods. Only then do I barbeque before an audience of thousands, none of them human and all of them believing that I am the entrée. Only then am I crawled on, sucked on, and stung so many times that I feel them scurrying up my legs, scooting along my back, and whining in my ears --- even when they are not.

Twice I have had to put the sticky side of masking tape to my body to lift off hordes of ticks so small that a half dozen would fit on the head of a pin. More than a little hair has been jerked off with them. But a bald body is a small price to pay in this war.

January and February might be cold. March and April might be unpredictable. November and December might be gray and foreboding. But, with proper attire, at least they all are tolerable. And at least I can concentrate on the task at hand, whether it is flushing quail, stalking squirrels, or tightlining catfish.

Buy the book and read more about why I hate August at Amazon.

Wednesday
Aug102016

Alabama Team Planting Aquatic Vegetation to Improve Bass Production in Reservoirs

 

With hundreds of fish attractors in place, Alabama's new Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Team now is looking at improving spawns and fry survival.

"Since the program started (2015), we've put out a little more than 1,000 structures," said Kyle Bolton, habitat coordinator for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF). "Most of those have been used for fish attraction as opposed to fish production. We are starting to move into fish production enhancement things like planting native vegetation."

Efforts include test plantings of buttonbush in Lake Martin, Logan Martin, Smith Lake, and Weiss Lake.

 "They're all over Smith Lake, but we're trying to plant them in areas where they're void of them," Bolton said.

Additionally, WFF partnered with Alabama Power to transplant water willows on Lake Martin.

"We're shooting to do that again this year on both Smith and Martin," the habitat coordinator explained.  "Water willow provides refuge for all types of juvenile fish. Hopefully that refuge will allow those fish to recruit to catchable size."

Fish attractor projects for 2016 include deploying 100 spider block structures each in Lewis, Smith, Little Bear, and Cedar Creek.

Attractors already in place include bamboo structures in West Point, Weiss, Jordan, and Logan Martin, with plans to also add them to Upper Bear Reservoir on Bear Creek. The Weiss project included assistance from Alabama Power, Weiss Lake Improvement Association, and Cedar Bluff High School Bass team.

Volunteers are a critical part of the team because of funding limitations. "We try to get bass clubs, schools, local homeowners, and boat owners associations involved in these habitat enhancement projects," Bolton said. "A key aspect in any habitat program is developing partnerships."

The federal Sport Fish Restoration program provides most of the financing, with money from sales of freshwater fishing license plates also assisting.

Fish attractors are not pinpointed with buoys or other markers. But their locations are available through GPS coordinates that can be accessed on Outdooralabama.com's interactive map.

"It will also tell you how many fish attractors were put out, the depth, and the date the attractors were installed so you can tell if they have been in there long enough to attract fish," Bolton said. "It usually doesn't take long."

Update on Fish Attractors

"We just put out 100 spider blocks at Smith Lake, and next week we're putting another 100 each at Cedar Creek and Little Bear Reservoirs in north Alabama," Bolton told Activist Angler on Aug. 4.

"One-hundred-fifty porcupine fish attractors each are bound for Martin, Yates, Mitchell and Smith Reservoirs sometime in the next couple of months! We're staying busy."

Monday
Aug082016

War on Bass Heats Up in California; Your Help Needed

A new proposal to liberalize limits on largemouth bass and striped bass in the California Delta is a misguided attempt to conceal real threats to salmon fisheries, said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.

“This is another shot by the anti-bass groups in California to eradicate non-native predators from the California Delta,” Gilliland said. 

“Federal legislation has already been proposed to remove black bass and striped bass, both of which have co-existed with salmon in the Delta for more than 100 years. Now these groups are setting their sights on state regulations. Bass and stripers, both very popular sportfish, are being blamed for the demise of the salmon stocks. But bass are the scapegoat. 

“Water management is the issue and liberalizing the limits on stripers and black bass will have little to no effect on the recovery of the endangered species. Fishery experts agree that this is a foolish idea and furthers drive that wedge between angler groups when the real issue is water.”

The California Delta is home to a world-class black bass fishery, has hosted numerous Bassmaster tournaments and is the home water for many touring pro anglers. 

“Water managers who care little about the fishery, its economic impact or value for the quality of life it brings to the region want to eradicate all non-native species as a show of good faith towards the salmon anglers,” he said.

He urged B.A.S.S. members and other anglers to sign a Keep America Fishing petition and implore the California Fish & Wildlife Commission to reject the proposed length and bag limit changes on stripers and black bass The Commission meets soon to deliberate the rule change proposal. The petition must be delivered before August 11, he noted.