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Thursday
May282015

Future of Saltwater Fishing Is at Stake; Speak Up Now to Ensure Access

Next week, marine fisheries management will be the focus of Congress. Don’t assume your representative will cast his or her vote in favor of recreational fishing – ask him/her to do so today. 

Bill H.R. 1335 will be voted on by the entire U.S. House of Representatives. Its intent is to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act – the law that governs how our marine fisheries are managed. Proper management equals healthy fisheries – and that means more days on the water for you and your family. 

H.R. 1335 includes several provisions to improve fishing’s future. Specifically, it would improve recreational fishing data collection, ensure marine fisheries are fairly allocated and stop unnecessary closures based on arbitrary limits. 

In addition, several amendments that will further improve the bill will also be considered.  

Tell your Representative to Vote ‘yes’ on these amendments, and ‘yes’ on H.R. 1335! Go here to send your message.

Here's why your support is needed:

Saltwater recreational fishing has a $70 billion impact on our nation's economy, supporting 454,000 jobs. However, despite the tremendous economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has never fully addressed the needs of the nation's 11 million saltwater anglers. H.R. 1335 would help to turn the tide, and would be further improved by the inclusion of amendments to be considered on the House floor.

H.R. 1335 advances saltwater recreational fisheries management.  The current bill would benefit recreational fishing by:
  • Prompting a transparent and science-based review of fishery allocations in the southeast.
  • Providing limited exceptions for establishing annual catch limits to help ensure important fisheries aren't unnecessarily closed.
  • Improving recreational data collection through greater involvement of the states.
The following three amendments are strongly supported by the recreational fishing community:
  • An amendment by Rep. Wittman (R-Va.) that gives NOAA Fisheries the authority to implement management practices better tailored to the nature of recreational fishing.
  • An amendment by Rep. Graves (R-La.) to transfer management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states, which are capable of sustainably managing this fishery while allowing for reasonable public access.
  • An amendment by Rep. Young (R-Alaska) that will improve fisheries science by better incorporating data collected by anglers into management.

 

 

Wednesday
May272015

State Record Striper Caught in Missouri

After outlasting a huge striped bass, Lawrence Dillman of Rockaway Beach became the most recent record-breaking angler in Missouri. The new “pole and line” record striped bass caught by Dillman on May 21 weighed 65 pounds, 2 ounces with a length of 49 ¾ inches and a girth of 36 inches. Dillman used 20-pound test line and a chub minnow to catch the behemoth at Bull Shoals.

“I fought the giant for over 45 minutes until I got him to shallow water,” Dillman said. “I then bear hugged the fish and got it out of the water on to the bank.”

The new giant broke the previous pole and line state-record striped bass of 60 pounds, 9 ounces caught on Bull Shoals Lake in 2011.

Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) staff verified the record-weight fish using a certified scale at the MDC Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Taney County.

“Once the fish was on the line, I knew I had a decent one, but I didn’t at all think it was a striped bass,” Dillman said. “I thought it was a spoonbill or something else. But when I got him to the bank I knew I had something amazing!”

Here's a story about an even larger striped bass that was caught on Bull Shoals a few years ago. In saltwater, meanwhile, the world record striper weighed more than 81 pounds and was caught in Long Island Sound in 2011.

Fisheries managers realized that stripers could be stocked in imoundments following the creation of South Carolina's Santee-Cooper system in the early 1940s. Biologists at first thought that stripers trapped behind the dams eventually would die-off. But they did not. Instead, they thrived. 

Monday
May252015

Lead Ban Would Be Bad News for Anglers, Economy in California

 

Click on the photo for more information and to sign a petition against a ban on lead fishing tackle.

As California considers prohibiting fishing tackle that contains lead, zinc, and copper, a report by the California Coastal Conservation Association and the American Sportfishing Association  (ASA) reveals that banning traditional fishing tackle will diminish participation, which generates millions of dollars for fisheries conservation in the state.

 “While California ranks fifth in the nation in number of anglers, we are dead last in terms of per capita participation,” said Bill Shedd, chairman of the California Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and President of AFTCO.

 “However, sportfishing is an important economic generator for our state, and banning lead tackle, as currently being considered by the state of California, is another burden that would increase the cost of fishing, hurt anglers and cost our economy millions of dollars in lost revenue and almost 2,600 jobs.”

Findings from surveys conducted of anglers and manufacturers by South Associates include the following:

  • A ban on lead fishing tackle would likely reduce angler activity in California, which would in turn negatively impact the recreational fishing industry and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
  • A survey of tackle manufacturers indicated that the price impact of producing lures, flies and terminal tackle with lead substitutes would double costs on average.
  • Only 25 percent of manufacturers surveyed indicated that it was even technically feasible to currently switch to non-lead substitutes.
  • If a lead ban were to cause prices to double for lures, flies and terminal tackle, the report says that approximately 5 percent of anglers would leave the sport or nearly 80,000 anglers.
  • The surveys used in the report also suggest that anglers who continue to fish, 18 percent would fish fewer days, each fishing 21 percent fewer days on average.
  • Combined with anglers leaving the sport, this would reduce total California angler days and expenditures in recreational fishing by two million fewer angler days, and $173 million in lost revenues.
  • The $173 million in recreational fishing revenues currently supports 2,582 jobs, $113.6 million in salaries and wages, $24.2 million in state and local tax revenue, and $26.4 million in federal tax revenues.

“This report shows that, in addition to the direct economic losses to recreational fishing-dependent businesses, fish and wildlife conservation programs in California would suffer as prices for tackle increase and overall fishing expenditures suffer,” said Scott Gudes, ASA’s vice president for Government Affairs.

“ Not many people realize that it is anglers who pay for California’s fishery conservation programs through fishing tackle excise taxes and license fees. A ban on lead tackle is not based on science. Anglers and conservation programs would be the losers.”

For more information about this and to sign a petition against a ban, visit the California Sportfishing League.

Friday
May222015

Monster Silver Carp Suggests Nightmarish Future Awaits Anglers, Native Species

What will happen to fisheries nationwide and even to outdoor recreation in general as Asian carp continue to spread, reproduce, and outcompete native species? We’ve just received a glimpse of a nightmarish possibility from Kentucky Lake, where angler Bill Schroeder foul-hooked and landed a 106-pound silver carp.

Although I’ve been unable to confirm it, I suspect that’s the largest silver carp taken in the United States, and possibly even the world. Experts say maximum weight for the exotic fish is about 60 pounds. And even now, the Tennessee state record for the silver carp, caught in 2013 on Kentucky Lake, was just 14 pounds, 13 ounces.

What’s going on? Silver carp like it here. So do bighead carp. Typically a larger fish, its maximum weigh is about 90 pounds. But in 2011, an angler targeting paddlefish hooked and landed a 106-pound specimen at Lake of the Ozarks.

And the exotic lionfish likes it here too. As it spreads all across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coast, anglers are catching larger and larger specimens of this voracious predator. In its native range, it grows to 12 to 15 inches. Just a few days ago, one was caught off in the Florida Keys that measured nearly 19 inches.

Why are these exotics growing to horror-movie size proportions in our waters? Because they are exotic species, they have no “natural” predators, as they do in their native ranges. And they’re feasting on an abundance of food in our relatively fertile and healthy waters. By contrast, Asian carp struggle to survive in their native range because of pollution and overfishing.

Will the same happen with the Burmese python in the Everglades? Introduced to the wild by an irresponsible and little-regulated pet industry, it is now gobbling up native mammals and reptiles, and likely will expand its range into more developed areas. Will it grow to unprecedented size as well?

Now consider this: Asian carp are schooling fish. Frightened by disturbances on the surface, silver carp often go airborne, striking and injuring anglers and other boaters.

But the fish we see in videos of these airborne attacks usually weigh no more than 10 or 15 pounds. Imagine dozens of 100-pound silver carp taking flight all around you as you motor to your favorite fishing hole.

Of course, no one thought about such possibilities when the carp were imported by aquaculture facilities during the 1970s. And it wasn’t until the 1990s that we really started worrying about them crowding out native species in our rivers.

And then there’s the snakehead . . . 

Wednesday
May202015