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Entries in California (54)


One of California's best fisheries for big bass, Clear Lake, is in a slump according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Average size bass caught in this northern California fishery during tournaments in 2016 was about 3 pounds,  which probably was as good as, if not better than, any other lake in the country.

But in a recent tournament with 38 anglers, winning weight was just 16 pounds, with 9 pounds good enough for second.  "Many of the fishermen said this was the poorest fishing they had ever experienced on Clear Lake," the newspaper reported. "They also said the water was extremely brown in color throughout the lake."

Black bass are not native to California, but were introduced there more than a century ago. Recognizing Clear Lake's trophy potential because of its warm, shallow water and abundant habitat, the Department of Fish and Game started stocking Florida-strain bass in 1969. Current lake record was a 17.52-pound trophy caught in 1990. Southern California lakes, including Castaic, Casitas, Dixon, and Miramar, meanwhile, have yielded lunkers of more than 20 pounds.


Bullards Bar Spot Finally Recognized as Record By Both California and IGFA

California and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) finally are in agreement. The 11-pound, 4-ounce (11.25)  Alabama spotted bass caught by Nick Dulleck in February 2017 on Bullards Bar Reservoir is both a world and state record.

For IGFA, which recognized the catch in May, the previous world record had been 10.38 pounds, also taken at Bullards Bar. But a 10.95-pound fish caught at the same fishery in 2015 had been recognized by California. IGFA had disqualified that fish because its original weight was reported as 11.2.

In recent years, reports have surfaced regularly of other fish being caught that would have been state records, but the reporting process was so cumbersome that anglers didn't want to participate. In particular, they didn't want to kill the fish, either for DNA sampling or because a biologist wasn't immediately available to certify the catch.

Dulleck, however, was prepared, rolling video from cast to release, including weighing the fish on a certified scale in front of witnesses. He is now working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to make state certification easier for other anglers.

"I didn't want this record to just be about me," he said. "I've worked with the IGFA and the California DFW a lot through this whole process. They have been great to work with. If I can help make the whole process better for all anglers, then I really want to do that. Then I will have done something that matters." 


Christmas Trees Bolster Fish Habitat Across Country

From coast to coast and border to border, Christmas trees are the holiday gifts that keep on giving for fish and fishermen. Bass clubs, municipalities, and power companies participate in this giant, annual attractor/habitat enhancement project, along with state and federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service.

“A lot of lakes we work with are manmade and there’s not much fish cover in them, so we have to figure out how to put fish habitat in those lakes,” said Kevin Meneau, a fisheries biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).  “Christmas trees are one of the best ways to do that in winter.”

In the St. Louis area alone, trees are submerged in 60 lakes, with each fishery receiving them every three years. Shenango River Lake, meanwhile, is but one of many lakes targeted in Pennsylvania, as the Corps teams with local communities. To the South, the Lake Wedowee Property Owners Association has worked with Alabama Power for six years to anchor trees in more than 70 locations.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife collects hundreds of trees each January for placement in Three Springs, Shanty Hollow, Barren River, and Green River Lakes, among others. And in California, the Corps sinks trees in Pine Flat Lake.

"We put them in the water here until they basically disintegrate and it gets a full life cycle out of the tree,"  said Adam Thompson, Corps senior park ranger, adding that discarded Christmas trees are the most cost effective way to sustain fish habitat annually.

"These trees create a perfect safe haven for the fingerling bass to hide from the larger predator bass," he said.

Additionally, the trees provide woody cover that makes excellent habitat for invertebrates, ideal forage for these smaller bass, along with panfish, added Missouri's Meneau. Of course, larger fish follow, as the entire food chain gets a boost.

Ideally, the trees are anchored with cement blocks and submerged in at 4 to 7 feet. This typically gives newly spawned bass in shallow water quick access to cover.

Of course, predatory bass and other species also are attracted to the brush piles, which provide cover for ambush, as well as a source of food. In turn, that makes them magnets for anglers.

Eventually, the trees become water logged and sink completely. But Meneau said that the tops usually are visible for five to six weeks after placement. This gives anglers time to mark them with GPS.


Another Double-Digit Spotted Bass Caught in California


What may be a world record for spotted bass was caught Friday by Cody Meyer on Califorinia's Bullards Bar Reservoir. This is from his Facebook page:

"What an amazing day. I went fishing with my buddy JR Wright, and ended up catching a 10.80 spotted bass today. It has the potential to be a World Record. I am really thankful that I have sponsors who make the best gear in fishing. A fish like this on light line took every bit of technology I had in the boat. I was using one of my prototype Daiwa Corporation - USA Tatula rods which is a signature series coming out soon, and a Daiwa Exist reel, 6-lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon Tatsu line, a Strike King Lure Company Ocho. I spotted it suspended over 100-feet of water using Garmin Panoptix. Being able to see them out in front of us before we moved over them made it possible. In total, our best 5 went for over 40 pounds."

Right now, the IGFA record is 10.5 (10 pounds, 6 ounces). But California recognizes an 11-pound, 3-ounce fish (about 11.2) caught in 2015 as the state record. Additionally, a couple of more unofficial 11 pounders have been caught in California waters recently.

Like the largemouth and smallmouth, the spotted bass is an introduced species in California.


California Delta Bass Threatened by Water Infrastructure Bill

The United States Senate recently passed a comprehensive new water infrastructure bill, containing language that will likely be alarming to be many bass anglers — especially those who value the incredible fishery on the California Delta.
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), which passed the Senate by a vote of 78-21, had already been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier last week and is now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.
While it contains many positive elements pertaining to water diversion in treasured American waterways like the Florida Everglades, a line buried in the massive document calls for federal and state conservation officials to “remove, reduce or control the effects” of several non-native species in the California Delta. The list of species features 10 fish, including the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass.
The move could have dire consequences for a bass fishery that is known as one of the nation’s best.
“We’re not just talking about eliminating creel and bag limits like they’ve done on the Columbia River (in Oregon),” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. national conservation director. “They’re talking of going way beyond that now. There’s talk of spraying aquatic vegetation and destroying habitat that’s used not only by bass, but my many other types of wildlife as well.
“If they start destroying habitat — congregating fish into one small area — and then start using nets and electrofishing boats to remove fish, it would be an awful scenario.”
The California Delta is a vital spawning pathway for multiple species of salmon that are prized by the commercial fishing industry. The salmon — many of which are listed as endangered species — migrate from the ocean up the Sacramento River and its tributaries to spawn. Then the juvenile fish have to make their way back out to the ocean through the river.
Many with an interest in the salmon industry have long believed that largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass greatly reduce the salmon population by eating those juvenile fish. But studies have shown that bass prey on a very small percentage of the salmon fingerlings, Gilliland said.
The salmon runs have been heavily affected by dams and water diversion for farming purposes.
B.A.S.S. and other conservation entities, including the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), have expressed concern in recent days that the language about non-native species was added to an important piece of legislation — a mammoth document — almost as a hidden footnote to appease the pro-salmon crowd.
“I think that was put in there to be politically correct,” said Gilliland, who also serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the ASA. “They want to do what they can to protect those salmon runs and bring them back. They have a big economic impact in not just California, but some of those runs provide for commercial fishing all the way up the Pacific coast. There’s obviously a huge value to that.
“But there’s also value to the recreational fishing side of it for stripers and bass and catfish and other non-native species. Congress is not valuing that any. To people who care about those other species, they’re basically saying ‘We don’t care about you.’”
Gilliland said several alternatives have been recommended that would not require the eradication of non-native predators, but all were dismissed.
“A lot can be accomplished on this front with water diversion and timing of the releases out of the dams in regard to where the salmon are in their run,” Gilliland said. “There needs to be some strategy in terms of when they stock salmon versus where the bass are, depending on seasons. That’s also a big thing.”
Earlier this year, a petition was filed by the California agricultural industry aimed at removing bag and length limits on black bass in the Delta. That plan was defeated by a coalition comprised of B.A.S.S., the ASA, the California Sportfishing League, Coastal Conservation Association California, Coastside Fishing Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Fishing League Worldwide, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Water4Fish.
If there’s a silver lining to the new federal legislation, Gilliland said the language added to the bill isn’t as harsh as it could have been.
“The original language called for ‘eradication of non-native predators,’” he said. “But the language that made it into the bill says to ‘remove, reduce or control the effects’ of non-native predators.
“That leaves some wiggle room. We think there are some other alternatives that are built into this process. We need to make sure the powers-that-be are aware of those and that this thing doesn’t just become a runaway train."

----- B.A.S.S.