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Entries in aquatic plants (11)

Thursday
May182017

Milfoil Hybrid Could Cause Even More Problems for Northern Fisheries

Management of problematic aquatic vegetation could get even more difficult, especially in northern bass waters. Recent findings in Minnesota's Minnetonka and Christmas lakes lead researchers to theorize that a milfoil hybrid could be more invasive and tougher to control than the Eurasian variety.

The hybrid is a cross between Eurasian and northern watermilfoil, a native plant.

Using cutting-edge genetic screening techniques, scientists from the University of Minnesota and Montana State discovered that the hybrid was more prevalent in areas treated with herbicides than those with little management. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) said that herbicides might actually promote hybrid growth "and some hybrids may show greater tolerance to treatment."

Additionally, MCWD's Eric Fieldseth said, "As a pilot study, this research gets the ball rolling on understanding hybrid watermilfoil, its impact, and how it can better be controlled. These findings are an important first step toward developing more effective milfoil management strategies."

Researchers also found multiple, genetically distinct genotypes of invasive, hybrid, and native watermilfoil. That underscores the need for understanding the genetic makeup of invasive plants in a fishery before devising a plan to manage them and then following up with more genetic screening to guide future management, MCWD explained.

"With this much diversity in the population, a successful milfoil management strategy may not be a 'one size fits all' approach," added, Ryan Thum, professor of plant sciences and plant pathology at Montana State.

"We're looking forward to seeing how these results compare with what's happening in other parts of the region," he said. "This research could have broad implications for managing milfoil in lakes throughout the Upper Midwest and beyond."

Sunday
Aug212016

Grass Carp Invasion Also Threatens Great Lakes Fisheries

Most don't know one carp from another. All are exotic.The photo above is a 30-pound-plus grass carp illegally stocked in a small lake.

Common carp have been in this country for so long (more than a century) that many think they are native. They are not. They were imported by the federal government. Rooting around on the bottom, they have destroyed and degraded many fisheries.

Fish farms in the South and Mid-South imported Asian carp (bighead and silver), and they escaped into rivers, spreading throughout much of the country. Through filter feeding, they gobble up forage needed by many native species, including juvenile sport species.

Grass carp were imported to eat problematic aquatic plants, including hydrilla and Eurasian watermilfoil, also exotic species. Often they were overstocked. Sometimes. they were stocked where they were not needed. Often they were stocked illegally. And they too have escaped and spread.

To add to the confusion, Canadian media and fisheries officials frequently refer to grass carp as Asian carp.

*    *    *    *

Although silver and bighead are the Asian carp of most concern these days for the Great Lakes and its tributaries,  disturbing discoveries have been made lately regarding a third--- the grass carp.

First, a graduate student at the University of Toledo found eggs in the Sandusky River, which flows into Lake Erie. That confirms the existence of a reproducing population of this fast-growing species, which doesn't compete with native fish, but does obliterate beneficial aquatic vegetation.

Additionally, Canadian commercial fishermen recently netted a grass carp weighing more than 60 pounds from the St. Lawrence River, far above Lake Ontario.

Anthony Ricciardi, a biology professor at McGill University, doesn't think that the river has a reproducing population, but suspects that others are in the St. Lawrence as well.

"We actually thought the Asian carp was confined," added Quebec biologist Michel Legault. "But we know that in recent years the grass carp has been found in a small section of Lake Erie. And last summer, nine grass carp were caught in the Toronto area. This is not good news."

On the Sandusky, meanwhile Toledo researchers intend to learn more about the grass carp spawning there, in hopes of finding a way to minimize it.

"Given the similarities in reproductive strategies, this ongoing research on grass carp spawning may help us minimize the risk of bighead carp and silver carp from establishing a foothold in the Great Lakes, said Patrick Kocovsky, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "What we learn here also might apply to potential control strategies in tributaries to the Mississippi River.

Today, most grass carp used to control invasive aquatic plants are triploid, meaning they can't reproduce. But fertile grass carp are believed to have first escaped from  an aquaculture facility in Arkansas back in the 1960s. They since have migrated throughout the Mississippi River drainage, as well as spread through authorized, illegal, and accidental introductions to 45 of the 50 states.

Wednesday
Jul202016

Volunteers Bring Texas' Lake Livington 'Back to Life'

Too often, fisheries habitat projects by non-government groups are limited or even shut down because of a lack of funding. With that in mind, bass clubs and other organizations would do well to follow the example of Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs (LLFoR).

The goal is "to bring this lake back to life," according to Tom McDonough, project director for. "This used to be one of the best bass lakes in the United States, and we want to make it that again."

But McDonough realized that sustaining a 10-year commitment to establish aquatic vegetation on the 83,000-acre water supply impoundment near Houston will require more than occasional grants from Friends of Reservoirs and others. A funding-raising raffle helped some, but it was formation of a Business Leaders Council (BLC) that likely will sustain the project.

 

In just two months, LLFoR is a quarter of the toward its goal of recruiting 20 companies, local governments, and even individuals to donate $500 a year for the nine remaining years of the project.

"The BLC donations will be key going forward, as we most likely cannot apply to FoR for a grant every year," McDonough said. "This will provide us bridge funding and gives us the flexibility to do some funding of items that the federal government will not allow grant funds to be used for."

Thus far, work has focused on propagating and planting water willows for the coalition that has 23 partners, including six school districts, Texas Black Bass Unlimited (TBBU), Onalaska Bass Club, and Polk County Hookers, as well as Trinity River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW), and Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership severing as advisers.

Plantings by volunteer students and teachers were planned for May and August of this year, while McDonough hoped that anglers and others would wade into the action in between those two months. The goal is to put in 10,000 plants a year, with TBBU paying for production of a video, both to promote LLFoR's work and to provide guidance for volunteers.

All of the vegetation to this point has been water willows, but McDonough said that other species might be added as well, including bulrush.  "This plant is  grass carp resistant and can grow from the shoreline into three to five feet of water," he said.

Both the natural aging of the lake and the illegal introduction of grass carp contributed to the fishery's decline.

Thursday
Jan142016

Giant Salvinia Found at Texas' Lake Fork

A noxious invasive plant that has plagued Louisiana and Texas waters for more than a decade finally has found its way to Lake Fork, the Lone Star State's No.1 trophy bass lake. Possibly giant salvinia was brought in accidentally by boat or trailer from Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, or Caddo.

"We do everything we can within the limits of manpower and budget that we have to work with," said Larry Hodge, spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). "The problem is that everybody who has a boat is a potential vector."

"We've found infestations like this on other reservoirs  in East Texas and have gone in and physically removed the plants, all that we can find," he added. "If you catch it early, sometimes you can get rid of it, at least temporarily."

On Nov. 18 in Chaney Branch, agency biologists confirmed the presence of this fast-growing, free-floating fern that can double its coverage in a week, as it blocks access and displaces native plants, which can't grow under its dense mats. 

"The infestation appears to be confined to this branch and a another small cove west of the dam and occupies an estimated 3.25 acres," TPWD said. "Judging by the distribution and age of the plants, it appears it has been in place for several months."

The Sabine River Authority (SRA) immediately close boat ramps at Chaney Point South and Secret Haven to reduce the risk of spreading the plant.   It also checked at bridge crossings and along shorelines for additional plants.

Additionally, SRA and TPWD crews have physically removed plants, as well as placed about 1,100 feet of floating boom across the creek, in hopes of containing the infestation within the 90-acre cove.

TPWD also plans to conduct a chemical treatment, using glyphosate. "All efforts will be made to protect beneficial plants, while focusing on killing the invasive giant salvinia," the agency said, adding that it will continue to look for the plant in other areas of the lake.

"We've had a lot of rain and high water this year and a lot of wind," said biologist Kevin Storey. " I suspect this will affect Lake Fork for years."

Friday
Aug072015

Florida Fishery Restored by Dedicated Volunteers

The way it used to be: Gator sunning in the muck at Lake Trafford. Photo by Naples Daily News

Those who doubt that hydrilla can destroy a fishery need look only to Florida’s Lake Trafford.  Nearly 40 years ago, the invasive plant covered its 1,500 acres, and efforts to control the plant with herbicides resulted in a buildup of muck that reached 6 feet deep in places. 

That organic debris smothered native plants and hard bottom, fed algal blooms, and led directly to several fish kills, culminating with a massive die-off in 1996.Less than 20 years later, however, Lake Trafford also is a testament to what anglers and other involved citizens can do to make a difference. The fishery once again is vibrant and healthy, as evidenced by three TrophyCatch bass (8 pounds or better) being caught there earlier this year.

“A number of dedicated people, past and present, put in a lot of effort and energy to help bring this fishery back,” said Jon Fury, deputy director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “Seeing a largemouth bass entered into TrophyCatch from this lake is very gratifying.”

That effort began with Annie Olesky, who started a campaign to raise money to remove the muck.  Sadly, the wife of Ski Olesky, owner of Lake Trafford Marina, died just before the multi-million-dollar project began in 2005. Financed by Friends of Lake Trafford, FWC, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Collier County Tourist Development Council, the project began with 6.4 million cubic yards of muck being dredged from the lake.

“The removal of the muck was a key step,” said FWC biologist Barron Moody. “It impacted the ability of fish to spawn. It also reduced nutrient loading and improved water clarity so sunlight can get to submerged vegetation.

Plantings of bulrush, pondweed, and other native plants followed, as did stocking of 500,000 largemouth fingerlings by FWC. But those recent TrophyCatch bass weren’t the result of those 2010 and 2011 stockings. They were a few of the hearty survivors.

“In our sampling, we’ve seen that the hatchery fish aren’t that large,” Moody said. “They’re more in the 2- to 3-pound range.”

Additionally, hydrilla remains in the lake, but FWC and the water district are hopeful that they can keep it under control this time.

“I am so very proud of the partnership built between our local community, Collier County, the FWC, and partner agencies,” said FWC Commissioner Liesa Priddy, “The grassroots efforts by the local community, businesses and the people of Collier County set in motion the process that brought us to this successful conclusion -- this celebrated catch.”