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Tuesday
Dec302014

Angling Fever is 'Catching'

 “The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air.” --- Theodore Gordon

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.” ---Ernest Hemingway

Why We Fish --- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” --- John Buchan

“For the supreme test of a fisherman is not how many fish he has caught, not even how he has caught them, but what he has caught when he has caught no fish.” – John H. Bradley

“You've got to think lucky. If you fall into a mudhole, check your back pocket - you might have caught a fish.” --- Darrell Royal

“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.” – Arnold Gingrich

Monday
Dec292014

Michigan to Start Online Scheduling for Bass Tournaments

Photo by Ron Kinnunen

Beginning Jan. 1, if you want to schedule a bass tournament at a state-managed access site in Michigan, you can do so online. The Michigan Tournament Fishing Information System web application is intended to reduce scheduling conflicts. But it also could improve management of the state’s bass fisheries if organizers will use it to report catch data.

Here’s more from Michigan DNR:

"This system is designed to help both tournament organizers and recreational anglers and boaters avoid ramp conflicts. In addition, tournament organizers can electronically report their catch data and help Fisheries Division effectively manage our valuable fisheries resources.

"By policy, Fisheries Division will not assist nor become involved in promoting fishing tournaments. However, Fisheries Division recognizes that bass tournament catch and effort data can provide important information about bass populations across the state of Michigan."

Sunday
Dec282014

West Virginia Uses Hardwoods for Fish Habitat

 WVDNR photo

Fisheries managers suspect that hardwoods might provide better habitat in the state’s aging reservoirs than Christmas tree brushpiles, and now they are doing something about it.

“A lot of our reservoirs are habitat-limited,” said Nate Taylor, a fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

“Many of the impoundments were created in the 1960s and 1970s, and the flooded trees that attracted fish during the lakes’ early years have long since decomposed. The goal behind our program is to re-create some of that fish-attracting habitat.”

East Lynn Lake, a 1,000-acre reservoir managed by the Army Corps of Engineers in Wayne County is the test site.

“We marked 25 trees (near the water) and submitted them for (Corps) approval,” the biologist added. “They gave us the go-ahead on 17 of the 25. The main goals were to create habitat in areas where people were most likely to fish, and to avoid creating navigation hazards for boaters.”

The large trees with broad canopies then were felled into 10 to 20 feet of water, and secured to their trunks with steel cables to prevent them from floating away during high water. A sign at each site identifies the deadfall as a “WVDNR Fish Habitat Project.”

“We wanted people to know that each tree was part of an official government project,” Taylor said. “We had a trained forester felling these trees, employing all the proper safety equipment. We don’t want anyone else trying this and getting hurt or killed in the process.”

The widespread branches of hardwoods will provide cover over a much larger area than brushpiles, and they won’t decompose as quickly as the softer woods of Christmas trees.

Additionally, the latter can be difficult for anglers to locate, and collecting, transporting, and anchoring them is more expensive than simply cutting down shoreline hardwoods.

“As far as payout, hardwood trees are the way for us to go,” Taylor said.

If the hardwood habitat at East Lynn proves as successful as biologists believe it will, then DNR likely will expand the strategy to other Corps impoundments. 

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Sunday
Dec282014

Despite Phase-Out, Pollutant Persists in Fish

Despite being phased out a dozen years ago, a persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates bass and other fish in the Great Lakes, and urban rivers, according to a recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.

“This just shows that PFOS still dominates,” said Craig Butt, a Duke University chemist. “Even though production stopped more than a decade ago, it’s still the main perfluorinated acid in the environment.”

PFOS is a suspected endocrine disruptor that has been linked to low birth weights, reduced immune system function in children, and high blood pressure during pregnancy. EPA hasn’t established a “safe” dose for humans, but Minnesota health officials recommend eating only one meal of fish per week if PFOS concentrations are 40 to 200 parts per billion, and only one meal per month if 200 to 800 parts per billion.

About 11 percent of the fish samples from U.S. rivers and 9 percent from the Great Lakes exceeded 40 parts per billion.

The 3M Company, a major manufacturer of PFOS, voluntarily stopped production in 2002, after scientists discovered the chemical was building up in water, wildlife, and people. PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds were used in oil- and water-resistant coatings for clothes, carpet, paper, cookware, and flame-retardant foams.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Monday
Dec222014

Shimano Grants Offered to Help Improve Your Fishery

Members of the Lake Oconee Bassmasters were among volunteers who potted, transported and planted 2,000 water willows in West Point Lake as habitat for bass.

Back in the Dark Ages, the Texas-rigged plastic worm was the go-to bait for competitive and recreational anglers alike. And most “habitat projects” by bass clubs consisted of dropping bundles of Christmas trees, which attracted fish but did little to improve the fishery.

Departure from the former is evident. Check out the baits that tournament anglers use to win. Look in any serious fisherman’s tacklebox.  Texas-rigged worms still are popular, but they’re not the go-to bait anymore.

And just as anglers adapted their tactics to keep catching bass, they recognized that habitat work needs to be more about enhancing fisheries than temporary fixes that congregate fish to make them easier to find. But projects that actually improve a lake long-term are more involved and consequently more expensive. To make them happen, conservation-minded fishermen need financial assistance.

Enter the Shimano/B.A.S.S. Youth Conservation Initiative, started early in 2014 and accepting grant applications through Jan. 15 for 2015. Both state chapters and B.A.S.S. Nation clubs can apply for assistance with conservation projects that will involve Junior clubs or high school and college fishing teams. One project in each of the six B.A.S.S. Nation divisions is eligible for assistance ranging from $500 to several thousand dollars.

Projects chosen for 2014 in New Mexico, Georgia, and Connecticut typify how habitat work has matured over the years, as they teach youth the importance of stewardship, help ensure the sustainability of habitat and ecosystem functions long-term, and enlist support by management agencies and other organizations.

“The New Mexico project really typifies what we hope to achieve with this program,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director.

“They’re thinking along the lines of improving an entire reservoir, not just putting in fish attractors. They’re using both plants and artificial habitat. They’re working with BOR (Bureau of Reclamation), Game and Fish, state parks, and other organizations.”

And this ambitious effort to make Elephant Butte a better fishery now has $40,000 in funding, thanks to Conservation Director Earl Conway, who also secured assistance from Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen, and the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Program.

“They hit some snags with permitting, which delayed things,” Gilliland explained. “But they’re buying materials, they’re doing a pilot study, and refining what they want to do next spring, so they will be ready.”

That work tentatively will include establishing shoreline vegetation, floating wetlands, suspended spawning beds, and submerged habitat, both permanent and portable. Additionally, Conway has enlisted nothing short of a small army of adult and youth volunteers to assist with the effort.

In Georgia, meanwhile, the B.A.S.S. Nation is using Shimano funds to help restore West Point Lake to its former glory.

“I hear people talking about how great the fishing was back in the 80s,” said Jake Mims, a member of the Chapel Hill High School fishing team. “Maybe this is the first step to making it great again.”

Thus far, volunteers from four B.A.S.S. Nation clubs, six high schools, and the University of West Georgia have planted 2,000 water willows. The Lake Oconee Bassmasters grew the willows from cuttings taken from plants that the club helped establish in Lake Oconee six years ago.

State Conservation Director Tony Beck said the habitat is needed to help largemouths survive predation from an expanding population of smaller, but more aggressive spotted bass.

Ideally, the plants will spread on their own, once they are established.

“We’re hoping that nature takes over to make the project much larger,” Gilliland explained. “It increases the return on investment.”

Up in Connecticut, the goal is not only to improve fisheries in community lakes, but, in doing so, get more people involved by increasing their chances for success.

Echo Lake was chosen as the first of several enhancement projects because of the town’s interest and because the Mohawk Valley Basscasters had worked previously with the Watertown Fishing Club. Volunteers assembled spiderblock structures and then placed them in eight areas accessible by shoreline anglers.

Additionally, the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation produced a video guide and installation plan for other clubs to follow.

Besides spawning long-term benefits, these Shimano-funded projects “give adult club members the opportunity to be mentors in more than just fishing,” Gilliland said. “And they get kids involved in conservation in a meaningful way to develop an appreciation for the resource.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)