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Friday
Oct202017

Virus May Be Way To Control Carp, Mussels, Other Exotic Species

University of Minnesota researchers may be able to use a recent fish virus outbreak to combat an invasive species plaguing state lakes.

Researchers with the university's Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center are studying Koi herpesvirus to see if it can be used to control the invasive carp population, Minnesota Daily reported.

"We want to find ways to kill carp and zebra mussels and all these invasive species," said MAISRC Director Nick Phelps. "We started this particular project in 2014 — went two years and didn't see (the virus) anywhere, then saw it in seven to eight lakes in a matter of a month and a half."

 

The center first confirmed a naturally-occurring case of the virus in early August. Researchers confirmed several more cases in early October.

Carp have been in the area for more than 180 years and can disturb lake environments, said Isaiah Tolo a first-year doctoral student with the research center.

"It's a big problem here," Tolo said.

Phelps said his team hopes to release the virus into Minnesota lakes to stop the spread of invasive carp. Koi fish are a subspecies of common carp so they're both susceptible to the virus. The disease won't harm other fish because it specifically targets carp, he said.

"We've never found it in a walleye, musky or bait fish," Phelps said.

Phelps said Australian researchers have spent a decade looking into bio-control to eliminate carp. Australian researchers plan to release the virus into the environment next year, he said.

"It'll be the first time that pathogens will be used for aquatic animal control," he said. "They're pushing the envelope a bit, so we're sitting back and learning what we can from that experiment."

Wednesday
Oct182017

Possible State Record Smallmouth Caught In Montana

Mike Dominick caught this 7.51-pound smallmouth bass Sept. 23 on Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir and weighed on a certified scale. Likely state will recognize it as state record, surpassing 7.4-pounder caught in 2016 at Flathead Lake.

“I think an 8-pounder will be caught next year,” he said, noting that the fish he caught would be about 8 pounds if it was full of eggs during the spawn.

Fort Peck could easily produce that next big bass, he believes. On his last trip he caught five fish over 6 pounds. One trip he and another angler caught 30 smallmouth over 3 pounds in an hour-and-a-half and never moved the boat. The reason the fish are so beefy is the large baitfish population. He’s seen bass stuffed full of cisco, an introduced species also known as lake herring.

“They’ve got the perfect recipe for growing them, as long as the bait keeps up,” Dominick said.

Wednesday
Oct182017

Florida's MarineQuest Set For Saturday In St. Petersburg

MarineQuest is the annual open house for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. This fun, free event will introduce you to Florida's unique environment, as well as current fish and wildlife research.

Click here for more information about presentations, exhibitors, directions, parking, etc.

Monday
Oct162017

Did Hurricanes Damage Fisheries in Texas, Florida?

Thus far, resource managers are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of powerful Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hammered east Texas and the entire Florida peninsula, as damage to fisheries seems minimal. Long-term impacts, however, particularly in the Sunshine State, could be more significant. Biologists will assess and monitor for months.

Harvey did little or no damage to bass fisheries in east Texas, including Toledo Bend, according to Todd Driscoll with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  

"Based on what we know now, it appears that Harvey effects weren’t that severe on the Sabine, Neches and Taylor systems," he explained.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

"Given all the flood-related damage, very few are fishing in these areas, but from the limited reports I’ve heard the local anglers are catching fish. There have been no reports of any fish kills due to Harvey.          

"Historically, saltwater intrusion from hurricane-related surge is what has wreaked havoc on the fish populations in these systems," he added. "With Harvey, these systems escaped the saltwater surge. It seems that the historic flooding did not significantly affect the bass populations, but we will know more later this fall after our electrofishing survey, and when local anglers get back on the water."

In Florida, meanwhile, fish died on both the Withlacoochee and St. Johns Rivers, kills not unexpected – or catastrophic – considering the vulnerability of those systems. Minor die-offs continue to be reported elsewhere as well.

"Right now, there's a multi-divisional effort to assess what's happened to our water bodies and our freshwater and upland habitats as well," said Ryan Hamm with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). "But we still have high water everywhere."

FWC's Allen Martin added, "In general, impacts were less than with earlier hurricanes that ripped out vegetation. We're not sure why that didn't happen this time."

Read my full story about this at Bassmaster.com. Under the Nation tab, click on Conservation.

Monday
Oct162017

New Arkansas Bass Plan Includes Smallouth, Spots

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has released its blueprint for improving bass fishing. Unlike previous versions in 1990 and 2002, this latest Reservoir Black Bass Management Plan focuses on smallmouth and spotted bass, as well as largemouth.

In announcing this latest update, AGFC said the mission of plan "is to facilitate the management of a fishery--- fish, habitats, and people--- and provide background and guidelines for AGFC's management of Arkansas reservoirs and lakes while utilizing the best available science and practicing adaptive management."

According to the plan, variables that resource managers must consider include sampling, habitat, health and disease, tournament fishing, supplemental stocking, population characteristics, and human dimensions.

Goals include the following:

  • Managing black bass fisheries using the best data available for decision making, including current and historical standardized sampling data, the scientific body of literature, and this plan.
  • Striving to better understand black bass anglers and to increase interaction with them to make them aware of our efforts, incorporate their preferences into management decisions, and foster greater collaboration and trust from both parties.
  • Using science-based methods to evaluate reservoir habitat quality, and prescribe both chemical and physical methods for habitat enhancement where necessary.
  • Maximizing efficiency and effectiveness of the AGFC culture system to produce sufficient quantities of fish to meet management goals. Evaluating the contribution of stocked fish to reservoir fish populations to ensure that resources are maximized.
  • Seeking to obtain the personnel, equipment, and other resources necessary to carry out the provisions of this plan.