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Entries in fish habitat (43)


Healthy Bass Less Likely To Stockpile At Tournament Weigh-In Sites

Nationwide studies suggest that how far tournament-caught bass disperse from a weigh-in site is directly related to their condition, according to Todd Driscoll, fisheries biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

"In general, it appears that if largemouth bass are released after tournaments in good shape, only short-term stockpiling occurs at release sites, as most fish disperse form release sites within 2 to 3 months and up to 40 percent of these fish may return to original capture sites," he said.

While displaced fish have demonstrated homing abilities up to 13 miles, he added, few make it back to their original territories if they are moved more than 6 miles.

"In contrast, as tournament-related stress increases, bass will disperse less," the biologist explained.

Additionally, specific rates of movement following individual tournaments likely are affected by available habitat, food availability, fish size, water temperature, and location of release, such as main lake or cove.

Meanwhile on one of the country's most popular tournament lakes, Texas' Sam Rayburn, a study indicates "that population-level impacts of tournament-related bass relocation and concentration are likely low.

"No question, stocking at release sites does occur, as we estimated that 31,050 bass were transported to weigh-in sites during the one-year study," Driscoll said.

"But we also estimated that tournament anglers transport only 5 percent of the total largemouth bass population of legal-length in one year. Simply put, only 1 out of 20 bass are subjected to relocation and potential crowding at release sites each year."

Just how popular is tournament fishing at Rayburn? TPWD estimates that 52 percent of that fishery's anglers participate in at least one competition per year, compared to only 6 percent of all Texas fishermen.

"We also estimated that there are over several hundred bass tournaments per year at Sam Rayburn, with tournament fishing comprising 36 percent of the total annual fishing effort (including practice fishing), and 46 percent of the bass fishing effort," Driscoll said.


Habitat Work Continues on Illinois' Lake Shelbyville

With the ongoing fish habitat project at Illinois' Lake Shelbyville, the owner of Chip's Marine wants to do more than just improve the fishing.

"I hope to get Scouts and high schools involved," said Martin "Chip" Christensen. "That's my dream.

"I want to get kids involved in habitat work. And it's up to us to teach them about courtesy and stewardship while they're doing that. If we want this sport to stay vital, we have to give back."

Christensen is but one of several  key players in the recently formed Lake Shelbyville Fish Habitat Alliance, which  includes the Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), as well as fishermen.

But alliance member Kevin Robertson credits the marina owner with being the catalyst for habitat improvement on this 11,000-acre impoundment on the Kaskaskia River. "The project has grown from Chip's vision and desire to see Lake Shelbyville improve," he said, adding that Christensen "footed the bill" for the first Shelbyville variations of Georgia cubes placed in the fishery.

"I built one," the marina owner said. "I have time to give back so I built a prototype and it was approved. Then we started raising money and the Corps provided supplies.

"I donated the location, where we  built them, and (money) when we were short. But it's just taken off from there, and we've had a lot of help."

Alliance members are hopeful that even more help soon will be on the way in the form of a grant from Friends of Reservoirs.

"If we get $30,000, and we're building cubes for $65, we will be able to put in 461 structures," said IDNR fisheries biologist Mike Mounce. "I think we have a really good chance of getting the grant because of the partnerships we've made."

Through July, 101 fish-attracting cubes had been added to Lake Shelbyville, with another 50 scheduled for the fall. Additionally, the alliance, with help from the Illinois Natural History Survey, is assessing their effectiveness for attracting largemouth bass and other species.

Nearly 50 years old, Lake Shelbyville has lost much of the woody habitat created when the area was flooded and the river impounded. "Most of it has rotted away," Christensen said. "Then you've got water level fluctuations and ice that destroys it."

That flood and freeze cycle has eroded shorelines and eliminated vegetation and brush.

But Christensen, Mounce, and others are confident that they can  bring back the fishery by replenishing the habitat with grants, donations, and, most of all, help from area anglers.

"We've had a great response from fishermen," said biologist Mounce. "It's vitally necessary. We wouldn't get an eighth of this done without them."

Update: Since this article was written for B.A.S.S. Times, Alliance received grant and habitat work is ongoing. Members had a  habitat "build" day on Saturday, March 3, with four more planned for the year.


Habitat Added For Tiger Bass At Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake received much needed shallow-water habitat enhancement this past fall, just in time to benefit the first spawn of F-1 Tiger bass in the 20,000-acre impoundment this spring.

For the past three years, private funds have paid for the state-approved stocking of the Tiger, a cross between Florida bass and a strain of northern largemouth bred especially for its aggressive feeding behavior. The Tiger begins reproducing in its third year, so offspring from that first stocking likely will find shelter from predation in the 105 Mossback fish structures.

"In most areas, shorelines at Smith Mountain Lake do not have much cover for these small fish anymore so they are more vulnerable to predation and the survival of some species of young fish has declined since they require places to hide while they are young," said Dan Wilson, fisheries biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

Assisted by volunteers from the Smith Mountain Lake Association, staffers from VDGIF and Appalachian Power, which funded the project, placed clusters of the structures in 4 to 10 feet of water. 

Wilson said that rocks and pilings in the shallows are not intricate enough to protect young-of-the-year bass that need spaces to hide in and evade larger fish.

“With projects like this, we can provide needed habitat that works well for the fish without restricting the usage by lakes residents and others who enjoy recreating on the lake," he said.


Canadians Say Asian Carp Are In Lake Huron

Canadians are saying that they have conclusive evidence that Asian carp now are in Lake Huron. Considering that lake's central location among, that would mean the invaders have easy access  to Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Superior, although the latter might be too infertile and cold for them to thrive there.

Or, if this report is true, carp already could be in Michigan and moved into Huron from there.

Still, this also could be much ado about nothing in terms of the Asian carp that post the greatest threat to the Great Lakes. Those are bighead and silver.

In Canada, grass carp also are commonly referred to as Asian. While they certainly would not be a welcome addition to the lakes, they don't pose the threat to the sport fishery that the other two do. Grass carp feed on aquatic vegetation, which would diminish beneficial fish habitat. But they don't quickly dominate a water body as the other two do.

Bighead and silver, meanwhile, are filter feeders, gobbling up phytoplankton and zooplankton, the base of the food chain for the young of most sport fish, as well important food for shad and other native filter feeders. Also they are prolific, growing large quickly and crowding out other species with their numbers and mass.

Here's one of the Canadian articles about the discovery:

A delegate to last week’s Coastal Municipal Forum says there is now conclusive evidence that Asian Carp are now in Lake Huron.

Dave Myett, a councillor with Saugeen Shores, says the Ministry of Natural Resources has told them they’re able to test the water and determine what kind of fish has passed through by the presence of their DNA. And they say they have found the presence of Asian Carp DNA.

Myett says at this point they can’t tell how many there were or their size. He points out they’re a very elusive species so anyone that either finds a dead one or catches one should notify the ministry.

Myett also points out that given their size and they’ll ability to procreate once they reach a body of water they eventually out eat and dominate other species.

The forum was hosted by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation

“We have been led to believe by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that there is conclusive evidence that the DNA has been detected of the Asian Carp in Lake Huron,” says Myett. “They can test the water at the source points and they can tell what kind of fish has passed through there by telling if the DNA is present in the water.”

“They seem to be an elusive species,” says Myett. “They’re rarely seen on the shoreline or caught. They’re very hard to catch. If someone finally finds a dead one or catches one in a net or fishing, then I’m sure the Ministry would very much like to hear about it.”


New Fishadow From Fishiding Provides Lifelike Cover

If you own a pond, live on a lake, or manage a fishery, you really should know about the great habitat innovations being created by Fishiding, a sponsor of Activist Angler. If you’re an angler, you can learn a lot about what attracts fish at the website of the company that builds cover out of recycled materials.

One of the newest products is the Fishadow. This moving, flowing and vertically standing wall of cover comes to life underwater. Standing 60 inches tall and spanning 50 inches wide, the 80 or more 2"-4" wide fingers wave  with life and current. Made from thin and durable reclaimed PVC placed vertically, gravity holds no grip on the realistic "kelp like" limbs waving softly in the wave and current action.

Once dropped in, the limbs relax and flow back and forth creating massive surface area, as well as infinite and ever-changing Fishiding spaces. From large outside edges to tiny crevices, this unit protects underwater creatures from seeing through the cover. It is dense in the center with room for fry and panfish to hide. It's flexible enough to change shape with the flash of a tail, opening space up within, for predators to feed.

Weighing in at 19 pounds, this $75 model requires nothing but water. No bending or primping on this model. Just open the box and drop in lake. It simply can't fall over.

Recommended for depths of more than 8 feet, this habitat is designed with the secondary breakline in mind. With spacing utilized by mature forage fish, placing it in water from 6 to 10 feet along a break will attract predator fish. The flexibility in this model allows baits to glide through as fish pounce from the darkness. All components are securely fastened, with integrated cemented base. No tools or weights needed.

“What started with the simplest idea and one crib model has helped turn the industry’s focus in the direction of artificial fish habitat products, lasting for many years to come,” said owner David Ewald.

“Our focus always has been to improve habitat for fish. We are now learning how many other water- and fishing-related benefits these products possess.”

Coincidentally, results from a three-year study in North Carolina reservoirs recently confirmed what fisheries biologists suspected: Artificial structures are better at attracting and holding fish over a long period of time than structures made of natural materials.