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Entries in B.A.S.S. Nation (16)

Monday
Jan082018

Thom-A-Lex Fishing Trail Opens In North Carolina

With B.A.S.S. as a key partner, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) recently opened its third educational fishing trail in two years on a state fishery. The new Lake Thom-A-Lex trail follows closely Cane Creek, which was completed in the spring, and Oak Hollow in 2016.

"The singular difference in the Thom-A-Lex trail is that the lake was part of a select group of reservoirs managed as a North Carolina trophy fishery for many years," said Bill Frazier, North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director and a guiding force for these innovative habitat projects.

"Until recently, it had special creel limits to help it produce exceptional quality fish, and it is not very well known so it did not get much pressure," he added. "It has been a long-guarded secret that we've now let out of the bag.

"I expect it to do great things once the enhancements have some time to acclimate."

Frazier is particularly pleased that the Boy Scouts of America organization was a key player in the project, as was the Lake-Thom-A-Lex Lake Authority.

 "I’ve always wanted to reach out and partner with  other traditional, youth-based organizations like the Scouts," he said. "By not doing it, we are missing an unprecedented opportunity to build on multiple strengths we both share.

"Daniel Pell, our Eagle Scout candidate who led the project, finally opened that door and I hope it is more like a flood gate," he continued. "We now have a second candidate who has stepped up to do a fishing trail in 2018. I believe this is a real coup for expanding the project and B.A.S.S. youth options in many positive ways."

A member of Troop 328, Pell found local sponsors to provide the materials for the fish attractors, helped survey the lake and select site locations, solicited volunteers to build the attractors, and helped deploy the attractors as part of his Eagle Scout Service Award project, according to WRC.

The trail consists of 13 sites scattered around the 650-acre impoundment. As with attractors on the earlier trails, they will help anglers learn about habitat needs of bass as they fish a variety of cover placed sequentially according to season.

"We hope this is the next level of reservoir habitat management and a new avenue to building the sport with younger anglers," Frazier said.

WRC's Mark Fowlkes added, "Largemouth bass and other sport fish use different habitats throughout the year. These seasonal movements and habitat patterns are instinctive and triggered by changes in water temperature, daylight hours, spawning and feeding.”

Buoy markers pinpoint the sites and a pamphlet created with funding assistance from the Sport Fish Restoration program explains these seasonal movements.

"In the spring, prior to the spawning season, largemouth bass congregate in areas such as in river and creek channels near shallow flats," WRC said.

Next, they move into shallow coves, onto flats and around points, in about 1 to 7 feet of water to spawn. Afterward, they move slowly into areas with cover or that have access to deeper waters to reside during the heat of the summer.

"As water temperatures decline in the fall, largemouth bass often move to the same creeks where they were found in the spring, searching for food. In the winter, they move to deeper water because of the short days and cold water temperatures," the agency added.

“Teaching anglers about seasonal movements of fish can help increase their angling success and make fishing more enjoyable,” Frazier concluded. “These principles can be used on other reservoirs, but it is important to remember that each reservoir is unique.”

Friday
Jul282017

Jackall Lures Joins With KAF, BASS, to Expand 'Pledge to Pitch It'

Keep America Fishing, Jackall Lures and numerous B.A.S.S. Nation chapters around the country have joined forces to expand the "Pledge to Pitch It" campaign.

A nationwide effort, the Pledge to Pitch It program encourages anglers to properly dispose of, or even recycle, worn out and used soft plastic baits. Since its launch in 2014, the campaign continues to grow in strength and prominence.

“Too often, used soft baits end up as litter at the bottom of our lakes and rivers,” said Liz Ogilvie, chief marketing officer for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the recreational sportfishing industry trade group and parent organization of Keep America Fishing.

“A bill introduced in Maine’s legislature a few years back would have placed a ban on the sale and use of soft plastic lures. That’s why, through the Keep America Fishing initiative, we created the Pitch It campaign to get anglers involved in the proper disposal of worn out soft baits by pitching them in the trash or recycling them.”

Shimano's Jackall Lures will provide up to $1,000 of soft plastic lures – including its Flick Shake worms for finesse use and the "crawling action" ScissorComb creature baits – to B.A.S.S. Nation state chapters that complete a soft bait collection/recycling program. Earlier this year, each state chapter submitted a short proposal outlining their plan for collecting used soft plastic lures to B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.

“While most anglers – and especially those involved with B.A.S.S. – do their best to keep lakes and rivers clean, we’re hoping this small incentive from Jackall Lures will help them embrace the Keep America Fishing Pledge to Pitch It program,” said Steve Ferrara, Shimano’s fishing division Vice President.

While the plans differ from state-to-state, they all focus on collecting used soft plastics and keeping them out of the rivers and lakes. Illinois Bass Nation, one of the chapters spearheading the effort since 2014, collects, melts down, and recasts collected baits as trophies. They are shooting to break their 2016 record of 134 pounds of collected lures.

Recreational anglers who haven’t yet signed the Pitch to It Pledge to properly dispose of their worn out soft plastic baits are encouraged to do so by visiting www.PledgeToPitchIt.org.

Monday
Jun122017

North Carolina Adds More Fishing Trails

North Carolina now has its second Educational Fishing Trail, with a third on its way to completion.

In March, volunteers worked with staffers from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to build fish attractors for installation in Union County's Cane Creek Reservoir. By April 9, the trail should have been "unofficially ready to fish," according to Bill Frazier, North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation (NCBN) conservation director. He added that completion of the trail at Thom-a-Lex in Davidson County should not be far behind.

Starting with the Oak Hollow trail, which opened last year, Frazier has been the guiding force those these unique projects that allow anglers to learn about habitat needs of bass as they fish a variety of cover placed sequentially according to season.

"We hope this is the next level of reservoir habitat enhancement and a new avenue to building the sport with younger anglers," said the member of the Archdale Bass Club who also is a regulatory manager for environmental programs in a regional water utility.

NCBN teams up with the commission and local governments to plan and place the trails, with a special emphasis on youth involvement.

"Youth members of N.C. B.A.S.S. played a huge role in the creation of the Oak Hollow Educational Fishing Trail by helping us design, build and install the structures for each fishing site, using leftover materials from a previous Boy Scout fish attractor project,” said Mark Fowlkes, a NCWRC aquatic habitat coordinator. “Likewise, youth from Riley’s Catch (a B.A.S.S. affiliate youth club in the Charlotte area) have helped design the Cane Creek Fishing Trail and will be there to help build and install structures."

Youth anglers also raised funds to purchase materials and the commission used money from the Sport Fish Restoration Program to purchase buoys, he added.

Frazier pointed out that the trails, thus far, have involved no cost to local communities. "We want them to see this as a huge asset for them," he said. "We need the tourism folks at the state level to step up and share the vision of how big this can really be."

Small, municipal lakes are "hugely underutilized resources that need just a little help to be stellar resources," he added.

Meanwhile, anglers like what they see at Oak Hollow. Following a March competition there, marina manager Lamar Lee said, "This was the best tournament we'd had in years, both in number of participants and fish caught. Now that the word has gotten out, it should be a busy season for us." 

Friday
May052017

Tournament Anglers Boat Big Bass at North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake

North Carolina's Shearon Harris Lake claimed legendary status as a bass fishery in 1996, when Dennis Reedy won a tournament with a 10-fish limit that weighed 72 pounds. Since he finished a distant third with 35 pounds, Shane Burns well remembers that day.

But Burns and fiance Bonnie Kelly made an even more spectacular splash on the 4,100-acre reservoir in early March when they won back-to-back tournaments with 40-pound-plus limits of 5 fish.

"I just seem to keep figuring it out better every year," said Burns. "Not many weigh in a limit with five fish overs out there."

By "overs," Burns means bass above the 16- to 20-inch protected slot on  the fishery that boasts hydrilla and provides cooling water for the Harris Nuclear Plant.

"It is not specifically managed as a trophy fishery but is in a cluster of ponds in the Capitol area that seems to persistently breed above average fish," said Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation. "Hydrilla is managed pretty extensively but other weeds have gotten a foothold. Notably alligator grass and primrose."

In the first event, competing against 88 other teams, Burns estimated that he and Kelly caught about two dozen overs, as they weighed in 41.93 pounds. "Everything we caught was an over," he said.

In a smaller event the following weekend, they managed an even more impressive 46.89 pounds.

"The fishing wasn't as fast and furious," the veteran angler said. "But we had a limit of 32 to 34 pounds within the first 45 minutes. I caught a 10.38 later and then a 10.91. We had eight fish over 7 pounds and I counted 30 overs."

Even more incredible, Burns went back out with a friend on the day after each tournament and enjoyed equal success.

How did he do it? Just before the first tournament, Burns found a transitional spot. "I intercepted those fish on the way to spawn," he said.

His primary area was about 100 yards long, and featured a main lake point that dropped out and then rose back up to a hump. "I was marking fish in 30 feet of water," he said. "But they wouldn't bite that deep. We caught them in 23 to 26 feet."

Only three teams fished deep in the first tournament, he added, and they finished first, second, and third.

Burns and Kelly used 3/4-ounce willowleaf spinnerbaits and football head jigs for the first win.  For the second, they needed only jigs.

"These were the most unbelievable days of my life and getting to share them with Bonnie was extra special," he said.

Sunday
Jul102016

Robotic Casting Competition Explores Ways to Help Disabled Anglers, Honors Memory of Young Angler

 

Four years following his tragic death in a truck accident, Riley Laymon's vision endures with innovative ways to provide a brighter, more inclusive future for sport fishing.  In its latest endeavor, Riley's Catch sponsored a robotic casting competition for engineering students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

"The four levels of competition were design, build, compete, and sell," said Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation and the tie that binds it to Riley's Catch, a youth fishing club based in the Charlotte area. "It was not just some machine bouncing a ball or running an obstacle course. It provided a product connected to a real need from the beginning."

And that need is a casting device that can be mounted to wheelchairs, piers, or other props to help make fishing possible for the disabled. (Video on Riley's Catch Facebook page.)

"The one thing every team absolutely nailed was the need for fully or partially handicapped users," Frazier added. "They considered everything from Bluetooth to voice activation from both laptops and smart phones."

The 14 teams also factored in dexterity issues and even multiple rod options, as they competed for both accuracy and distance. With a cast of 106 feet, The Outcasters were declared the winner.

"Almost every team saw the ultimate best application and opportunity as a resource for wounded warriors," said the conservation director. "This really got my attention. Developed the right way, I can see these devices becoming a whole new outlet, and I can see a marriage with B.A.S.S. Conservation's lake enhancement projects."

And Riley would have liked that. Before his untimely death, he was working on a plan to start a fishing club at Weddington High School. In a letter to his favorite teacher, he wrote, "I think it would be cool to get our school and maybe some other schools to get teams for friendly competition. These guys that wanna help are both strong Christian men and are all for students getting out and fishing and think it's a good way to keep all of us out of trouble and have a good time."

Founded by his parents, Tom and Lisa, Riley's Catch "exists to empower students to live greater lives by using the outdoors in building strong hearts, minds, and bodies. "

Its four pillars are fun, friendship, faith, and fishing. For two years, it has sponsored the "Life of Impact Leadership Experience & Riley's Cup Fishing Tournament," which highlights creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills, along with mentoring by outdoor professionals.

"These are the same kids who hosted the state championship last year," Frazier said. "The group acquired a large YMCA camp, housed, and fed them (competitors) for the entire weekend. They even got youth teams from out of state to come visit. And their technology project was the film of the B.A.S.S.Trail project (habitat/fishing course at Oak Hollow) that is out there on YouTube."

Riley's Catch kids fish, he added, "but that is the least they do. They seek to engage young people at an early age and provide them with a platform to grow as individuals and citizens. They provide events that expose them to technology and mentors that show them how life is integrated and gives them opportunities to think about what they want to do and how to get there.

"They are not a traditional group. They are thinking much bigger."