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Wednesday
Apr292015

Survey Reveals Carp DNA Throughout Chicago Waterway System

If Asian carp aren’t in the Great Lakes, they can’t get much closer. Sampling of the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) last fall revealed carp eDNA throughout the system, including near a lock in downtown Chicago, just one block from Lake Michigan.

“Prevention needs to happen now and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other key decision-makers should take swift action,” said the non-profit Alliance for the Great Lakes (AGL), which charges that the Corps lacks direction, as revealed in its Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

“DNA evidence is an early detection tool to understand the potential movement of carp, and testing results have consistently found DNA hits on a path closer and closer to the Great Lakes over the past several years of testing,” the group added.

The Corps report outlined eight possible ways to stop migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes, with the most expensive being an $18.3 billion separation of the CAWS from Lake Michigan. Meanwhile, the Alliance supports measures to temporarily reduce risk, including construction of a new channel and control technologies in the approach to Brandon Road lock and research on reconfiguration of locks in general.

But long-term issues with Chicago’s water system infrastructure must be addressed to keep the carp out, emphasized Jennifer Caddick, AGL spokesperson.

“It’s complicated. You can’t just build one dam and solve the whole problem,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but we need intensive focus.”

If/when Asian carp become established in the Great Lakes, consequences could be catastrophic for the multi-billion-dollar sport fishery. That’s because the exotic fish are fast-growing, prolific, plankton eaters. They likely would outcompete the many young and adult native fishes that rely on phytoplankton and zooplankton for their primary forage.

Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey has identified 22 rivers in the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes that would provide suitable spawning habitat for Asian carp.

Monday
Apr272015

Missouri Girl Wins March Outdoors Unlimited Photo Contest

Posing with a hefty crappie, Missouri mighty mite angler Kynlee Stocking won the March youth photo contest in Outdoors Unlimited Magazine. Her father, Dillion, snapped the prize-winning shot 

Kynlee will receive tackle packs from Daiichi Hooks and Snag Proof Lures, as well as a copy of my latest book, Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature.  Kynlee has not revealed whether she will share them with her father.

Friday
Apr242015

The Best Gift for a Fisherman . . . 

“I have fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret.” Roderick Haig-Brown

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.  Steven Wright

“The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” 

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land.  It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.” Chuck Clark

“Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job.” Paul Schullery

There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.  Paul O'Neil

Thursday
Apr232015

TPWD Makes Changes to Bass Regulations

O.H. Ivie lunker

Changes to bass regulations have been made for Braunig, Calaveras,  O.H. Ivie, and Nasworthy by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

At Braunig and Calaveras, the 18-inch minimum is changed to the statewide 14-inch, while daily bag limit remains at five fish.

“Since 1999, few bass 18 inches and larger have been collected in department electrofishing samples,” TPWD said. “In recent surveys of anglers, only 4 to 5 percent of angling effort was expended for bass at both reservoirs, and angler catch rates were poor. The 18-inch limit did not improve angling in the reservoirs, and the proposed change is expected to have minimal impact on the bass populations or angling in either reservoir.”

At O.H. Ivie, the 18-inch minimum for smallmouth bass and three-fish daily bag is changed to the statewide 14-inch minimum and five-fish bag.

“Because abundance of smallmouth bass is low and the fishery minimal, the 18-inch limit on smallmouth bass has not been effective,” the agency said, adding that anglers have expressed the desire to keep incidentally caught smallmouths for tournament weigh-ins.

At Nasworthy, the 14-inch minimum is changed to a protected slot of 14 to 18 inches, while daily limit remains five.

“Local staff has made presentations to three San Angelo bass clubs about the bass growth problems and potential regulation changes, and these bass anglers support making a regulation change,” TPWD said. “They also expressed willingness to harvest fish under 14 inches if it would help the overall population.”

On Falcon, another popular bass fishery, the agency changed the daily bag limit of one alligator gar to five.

“Most Falcon anglers --- gar and non-gar anglers --- desire an increase in the daily bag limit,” TPWD explained.

Wednesday
Apr222015

Cause of Fish Die-Off on South Fork of Shenandoah Remains Mystery

Fisheries managers are hopeful that a significant die-off of larger smallmouth bass in spring of 2014 will not have a long-term impact on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

“Impacts from this year’s mortality/disease events on the Shenandoah were fairly heavy,” the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) revealed. “However, DGIF sampled the fish community in the fall of 2014 and found an abundance of 9- to 11-inch fish and a lot of very young smallmouth bass.

 “Barring any future disease outbreaks, the 9- to 11-inch fish should grow into the 11- to 15-inch range over the next two years.”

 But fisheries managers remain at a loss to explain what caused the death of an estimated 20 percent or more of adult smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish and what contributed to lesions and other abnormalities on additional fish.

 “Determining the cause of these mortality/disease events has proven to be extremely difficult,” VDGIF added. “Scientists have and continue to conduct in-depth studies on fish health, pathogens, water quality, and contaminant exposure, and recently have begun looking at possible toxins related to bacteria.”

Biologist Brad Fink said, “Things were looking pretty good from 2011 on, until we started getting reports from anglers that there weren’t as many fish.”

Spring mortality and disease events have occurred several times on the Shenandoah during the past decade, and also showed up on the Upper James River from 2007 to 2010. But they have been less common since 2010.

In 2014, VDGIF also noted affected fish on the North Fork of the Shenandoah, but the percentage was lower than on the South Fork. Additionally, the agency said, “Things were fairly quiet on the Cowpasture, Jackson, and Upper James River.”

The incidents have not been uniform in location or severity, with smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, and rock bass the species most vulnerable. Affected fish typically exhibit open sores or “lesions” on the sides of their bodies, while dead and dying fish often show no visible external abnormalities.

Here’s a look back at a die-off that began in 2003: Questions remain 10 years after Shenandoah River fish kill