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Entries in B.A.S.S. Nation (14)

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."

Wednesday
Aug132014

Stocking Helps With False River Recovery

Photo from The Advocate

Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation volunteers helped  the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (DWF) with the next stage of recovery for False River this spring, as they used their boats to distribute 6,000 Florida-strain fingerlings.

“This is just one phase of an ongoing rehabilitation project that includes spawning habitat improvements, dredging, island building, and minimal water level fluctuation,” said Alex Perret, state conservation director.

Mike Wood, director of Inland Fisheries, added, “This is what a lot of anglers have been waiting for, and we’re working for them. We’re stocking the lake with Florida-strain bass because they have the genetic potential to be larger-sized fish.”

Recovery began in 2012 with adoption of a plan by resource managers to address the decline of the oxbow fishery. Its ailments included silt buildup, diminished water quality, and overabundance of aquatic vegetation, with the loss of fish spawning and nursery habitat.

One of the first steps was to lift the ban on commercial fishing, in hopes of reducing the population of carp and other rough fish that have thrived in the degraded lake. Last fall, 60 tons of gravel was spread to create six spawning beds, each 30 feet wide and 4 inches deep.

“We did these in shallow parts of the lake so the sun can reach the bottom,” said Wood. “All of this is just a small part of a much bigger project. None of these things individually can fix the river on its own.”

Tommy Bryan, one of the fishermen from Twin Rivers Anglers who helped stock bass, added, “You can’t imagine the economic impact this lake will have on the community if it gets its quality back. There used to be dozens of boat launches all over the river. But when the fishing fell off, the boat launches sort of just went away.”

Next, DWF plans to build island terraces to reduce improve habitat, as they reduce runoff and turbidity.

“The siltation issues haven’t gone away,” Wood explained. “This is really going to have to be a long-term project, a compilation of a lot of different things to get a healthy False River.”

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

 

Monday
Mar312014

New Mexico's Conway Honored for Conservation Efforts

New Mexico Conservation Director Earl Conway.

Fisheries in New Mexico are improving because of Earl Conway. And as they are, his efforts have shown other state conservation directors how much can be accomplished through initiative and persistence.

For contributions both to his own state and to B.A.S.S. Nation, Conway was honored as Conservation Director of the Year during Bassmaster Classic Week here.

That award and four others were presented at the Conservation Awards Banquet sponsored by the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation and the Aquatic Plant Management Society.

“Earl has done a really great job of working with agencies, cities, schools, and others,” said Gene Gilliland, new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. “He has run into roadblocks everywhere he has turned and found ways around them.

“He has leveraged grants to get more grants and found outside sources for funding in places conservation directors would never think to look. And he has built partnerships.”

Conway said that he was “surprised and humbled” by the award.

“There are so many others that I know worked harder, sacrificed time with their families, and gave up many days on the water to accomplish real ‘boots on the ground’ projects while dealing with policy issues in their region,” he said.

The New Mexico director added that he is motivated by his passion for both conservation and fishing and “equally tenacious when it comes to funding and executing challenging and innovative projects that address the problems we have with our irrigation reservoirs.”

The New York B.A.S.S. Nation (NYBN) and the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation (CBN), meanwhile, received Berkley Conservation Institute awards.

NYBN won the Conservation Award for its Ramp Monkeys and water chestnut removal, while New Mexico earned honorable mention for its floating islands project and Florida for ReBaits, a program for recycling used plastic baits.

Ramp Monkeys were members of youth clubs who removed plant debris from launch areas and cleaned, drained, and dried boats and trailers as they left the water.

CBN earned the Angler Recruitment/Retention Award for innovative marketing strategies to gain new members.  They included an Uncle Sam poster with the words “The BN Wants You,” maps to help potential members find the clubs nearest them, and a PowerPoint explaining what the organization is all about.

The New Hampshire B.A.S.S. Nation won the FishAmericaFoundation/B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund Award and will use the $5,000 prize for a radio telemetry study. Simms Fishing provided the funds with a 2012 donation.

“The results will be used to evaluate appropriate bass tournament rules as well as provide the public with a better understanding of the effects of tournaments on their resource,” said Gilliland. “The project has potential far beyond New Hampshire.”

Georgia’s Lake Oconee Bassmasters received $1,500 for winning the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Foundation/Aquatic Plant Management Society/B.A.S.S. Conservation Aquatic Vegetation Management Award. The money will be used to help establish native aquatic vegetation in that fishery, as well as Lake Richard B. Russell and Lake Jackson.

Additionally, Nationwide Insurance announced its donation of $5,000 to the FishAmericaFoundation/B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund. That money will be distributed in grants to clubs and chapters, based on project merit.