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Entries in bass fishing (46)


Bassmaster Lists Best Bass Lakes


Bassmaster Magazine has released its list of the top 100 bass lakes.

Following are the top 10:

1. Lake St. Clair, Michigan

2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas

3. Clear Lake, California

4. Lake Guntersville, Alabama

5. Lake Erie, Michigan/Ohio/New York/Pennsylvania

6. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee

7. Falcon Lake, Texas

8. Lake Okeechobee, Florida

9. San Joaquin Delta, California

10. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas/Louisiana

Click here to see the story.

Then click on “Photo Gallery," and you can see photos of the top 100, as well as the comments.

Oh, yes, the comments. If there’s anything that anglers don’t agree on, it’s the best place to go fishing.


Bass Bring in Bucks for Lake Guntersville Communities

Photo by George W. Ponder III

Bass are the best when it comes to generating income through recreational fishing at Lake Guntersville, according to preliminary findings from a study by Auburn University.

For the first 10 months of 2012, more than 200,000 angler fishing days translated into $13.4 million in directed related expenditures. Of this effort, 66 percent of anglers targeted bass, with crappie accounting for 19 percent, sunfish 6, catfish 3, and “anything” or other fish 5.

“We estimated the economic impact of recreational fishing expenditures and tax revenues generated for the four major recreational fisheries at Lake Guntersville to the local towns, counties, and state,” explained graduate student Chris McKee.

“Bass dominated during all seasons,” he said, adding that data was collected through monthly creel surveys and aerial counts of boat anglers.

More than 500 of the nearly 700 anglers interviewed said that they were fishing for bass, 125 for crappie, 29 for sunfish, and 10 for catfish.

Of the 1.29 million hours spent fishing at the 69,000-acre reservoir in northern Alabama, 965,000 of them were devoted to bass.

Tournaments of all kinds accounted for 21 percent of those hours, with 56 percent of competitive anglers coming from Alabama and 32 percent from border states.

Thirty-four percent of bass trips were related to tournaments, with more than half of those for pre-fishing.

Bass anglers traveled an average of 13.5 miles one way to fish Guntersville, but 39 percent of them came from out of state, and 40 percent of those stayed overnight. Average extended stay was 4.4 days.

Overall, 42 percent of Guntersville anglers were residents of the three counties surrounding the reservoir, while 27 percent were nonlocal Alabama residents, 15 percent were from border states, and 16 percent were from nonborder states.

When finalized, these results “should demonstrate that the Lake Guntersville fishery contributes significant funds to local and state businesses and to government tax bases,” McKee said. “In turn, this could help secure funding for projects that will maintain and improve the recreational fishery at Lake Guntersville, as well as the supporting infrastructure.”

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


ESA Protection for Clear Lake Minnow Could Threaten Bass Fishery

Photo from Lake County Marketing Program

Those who fish and live near California’s Clear Lake have good reason to fear a proposal to list the hitch, a type of native minnow, under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Passed with the best of intentions in 1973, the ESA has proven to be a poorly worded, over-reaching federal mandate often used --- and abused --- by environmental organizations. They wield it to push a preservationist ideology, with saving plants and animals from extinction simply a convenient front for raising funds.

By contrast our rights to use both public and private lands and waters are the collateral damage, with little recourse except years of expensive litigation, an option that few of us can afford.

At Clear Lake, one of the best bass fisheries in the nation could be threatened by this listing, as well as the well being of communities that rely on the economic engine of recreational fishing.

How good is this 43,785-acre natural lake? Well, until it was surpassed by Texas’ Falcon in 2008, Clear Lake owned all of the heavyweight B.A.S.S. tournament records. In 2007, it surrendered a four-day weight of 122 pounds, 14 ounces to Steve Kenney.

It is ranked as the 10th best bass fishery in the country by Bassmaster Magazine.

Additionally, agriculture around the lake could be a casualty.

“The one fact that surprised many in the audience was that local economic conditions can't be taken into consideration while determining if a species is endangered,” said the Lake County Record-Bee newspaper, reporting on a public meeting about the listing proposed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

 “In other words, even if the listing of a species as endangered would have devastating consequences on a local community it would have no effect on the listing process.

“That did not sit well with many at the meeting. Many worry if the hitch is declared endangered it would impact the use of the lake by fishermen and boaters. The local farming community, which uses water from the lake, is also worried about the consequences of the hitch becoming an endangered species.”

What is used to determine whether a species is appropriate to list as endangered or threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the National Marine Fisheries Service?

“The best scientific information available,” reports the FWS in its “ESA Basics” fact sheet.

As many critics are quick to ask, what if the best available isn’t very good? The spotted owl controversy provides the perfect example.

In 1991, FWS gave the northern subspecies of the owl ESA protection as a “threatened” species. “Best scientific information available” suggested it was declining because of habitat loss. As a consequence, much of the Northwest’s logging industry was forced to shut down on both private and public lands, killing thousands of jobs and collapsing local economies.

But the spotted owl population continued to decline.

Today, that “best evidence” suggests the spotted owl is threatened by its more aggressive cousin, the barred owl, moving into its territory. And wildlife managers are developing plans to kill thousands of barred owls.

If the hitch should be listed, it’s entirely plausible to think that largemouth bass might be similarly targeted. After all, it is not native to Clear Lake, or even California for that matter.

Yes, bass have been in the fishery for more than a century and the lake has been altered dramatically over time by development, which has contributed to the hitch’s decline. But because of their high profile, bass are a favorite target in the West. Preservationists also insist on blaming them for the decline of salmon in rivers that have been altered almost beyond recognition by dams and diversions.

On the other hand, a restoration plan for the hitch might not be directed at diminishing the bass population. Maybe it will be about habitat improvement, and that even could be good news for bass and other Clear Lake species.

But the history of the ESA and its enforcement is full of examples where common sense does not prevail, including the ordeal of Montana rancher John Shuler. He shot a grizzly bear from his porch in self defense, although the FWS didn’t see it that way and fined him $7,000. Fortunately, the Mountain States Legal Foundation agreed to represent him at no charge in the eight-year battle that would have cost him $250,000.

A federal judge finally ruled in Shuler’s favor. But how many others, like the timber industry, lost out and continue to lose out to “best scientific information available” with no recourse?

Those who fish and live around Clear Lake should keep that in mind as they consider whether to support an ESA listing for the hitch.

(This opinion piece appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Follow the Shad for Bass Fishing Success in Fall

Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek share insights into how and where to catch bass in fall at Keep America Fishing.

Here’s an excerpt:

“In order to understand the bass migration, you must first understand the bait migration. In most lakes across the country, shad are the main forage for the bass. After summer, the colder water brings the baitfish out in search of food of their own. The main source of food for the shad is plankton, and this brings them out of the main lake and into channels and creeks.

“The most important part of bass fishing in the fall is knowing where to find these schools of bait. If you can find the schools, you can also find the bass.”

Read the full story here.

But Don't Forget . . .

Secret: Many pros believe that most of our reservoirs have two distinct populations of bass. One population stays offshore except to spawn, relating more to deep-water structure and feeding primarily on shad. The other might migrate into deeper water during summer and winter, but prefers to feed in shallow water during spring and fall. What this means is that you almost always can find fish deep, and deep fish receive far less pressure from anglers than do those in the shallows.

--- From my book, Better Bass Fishing, available here or at Amazon.


Dredging Next Strategy in Attempt to Restore Florida's Lake Apopka

A new chapter in the decades-long request to restore Lake Apopka will begin next spring, with a $4.8 million dredging project.

To date, about $187 million has been spent trying to correct the environmental abuse heaped upon Florida’s fourth largest lake and once one of the nation’s best bass fisheries.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) are teaming up on this effort, which will suck about an estimated 50 acres of muck from areas near Newton Park in Winter Garden and Magnolia Park near Apopka.

Along with enhancing water clarity and quality, the dredging should improve navigation in the 30,000-acre lake.

“The state can’t afford to dredge the whole lake, but removing patches of the puddinglike black goo from strategic areas could aid fish populations and accelerate the lake’s recovery by helping eel grass and other native plants re-establish roots on the lake bottom,” said Tom Champeau, FWC fisheries chief.

Improving access is important too, added David Walker, SJRWMD’s basin program manager. “The idea is to carve some sort of channel that gives access out to the lake, even in low water conditions, and clean out the muck,” he said.

As of right now, the muck will be removed in a couple of ways. A much more expensive approach, termed “experimental,” involves quickly drying the muck and stuffing it into “geotubes.”  The latter then will be anchored around the dredged area, in hopes of preventing fluid muck from surging back into the cleaned area.

Additionally, muck will be pumped out via pipeline and spread on public land, where it will dry into an organic cap, intended to protect wildlife from pesticides in the dirt below it.

Lake Apopka declined and its bass fishery crashed because of nutrient overload from citrus processors, sewage plants, and runoff from “muck” farms. Shoreline development aided its demise, as filtering wetlands were destroyed. Fed by nitrogen and phosphorus, algae blooms turned its dying waters pea green.

(Reprinted from B.A.S.S. Times.)