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Entries in fisheries management (95)


Alabama's Weiss Lake Gets Needed Habitat for Bass, Crappie

Alabama's Weiss Lake, believed by some to be the "capital crappie of the world," received a much needed habitat boost this summer, courtesy of Alabama Power, the Weiss Lake Improvement Association, and the Cherokee County High School Fishing Team. They teamed up to build and install 130 fish attraction devices (FADs) to supplement the declining woody cover in the aging 32,000-acre reservoir.

"As the lake has gotten older the past 50 years, we've seen a massive loss of natural cover in the lake," said Mark Collins, a fishing guide who helped organize the event.

High school anglers and guides made the FADs by sticking lengths of bamboo into concrete blocks filled with mortar. Using Alabama Power boats to transport the attractors, volunteers then dropped them near Little River Marina in places known to be hold bass and crappie.

"It's easier for fish to find them if we place them in sports where they are already," Collins said. "When algae grows on the bamboo, the bait fish will follow and soon after we'll catch all kinds of fish around the FADs."

Alabama Power's Mike Clelland added, "Each of the spots where FADs are deployed is recorded by GPS and can be found by visiting It doesn't help anglers if they can't find them."

Clelland was especially pleased that high school anglers assisted. "One of our goals at Alabama Power in our stewardship programs is to reach out more and more to these student organizations to get them involved and teach them about conservation."


Bass Are Good for Business

Hey, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, take note of this:

Some cold-water anglers don’t want their states to manage for sustainable warmwater fisheries if those fish, including bass, are not native. But a study conducted in Maine suggests that states better serve their constituencies and benefit economically when they do.

In surveying about 100,000 anglers, Southwick Associates determined that many want to fish for bass. Yes, 60 percent of Maine residents pursue brook trout, but 44 percent target smallmouth bass  and 34 percent largemouth bass.

More significantly, nonresident fishermen pursue smallmouths and brook trout equally, 47 percent, with largemouths at 35. Why is that significant? Nonresidents tend to spend more money per trip, starting with their licenses. A resident pays $25 for a season license, while a nonresident pays $64.

Additionally, 85 percent of resident anglers took a one-day trip to fish during 2013, but just 10 percent of nonresidents. That means visitors took more multi-day trips and spent more money on guides, motels, fuel, and meals.

“Eighty-eight of nonresident anglers who fish open water make it an overnight trip,” Southwick revealed. “Seventy-eight percent of nonresident anglers who ice fish take an overnight trip, compared to 37 percent of residents.”

By the way, Oregon recently eliminated bag and size limits for bass in the Columbia, John Day, and Umpqua rivers, even though research doesn't support the change and thousands of warmwater anglers have been alienated by the disrespect show to them and their fisheries. In short, the commission caved to pressure from the federal government, neighboring Washington, tribes, and native fish activists.



Oregon Removes Limits on Smallmouth Bass; Angry Anglers Consider Options

Following a disappointing decision by fisheries managers, Oregon bass anglers are considering their options--- and sounding off about the removal of limits on smallmouth bass in the Columbia, John Day, and Umpqua Rivers.

The ruling by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, they argue, was based more on politics than science.

"Needless to say, it's very frustrating," said Lonnie Johnson, conservation director for the Oregon B.A.S.S. Nation, who believes that the decision was pre-ordained because of pressure by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, neighboring Washington, tribes,  and preservationist groups who do not like the "non-native" fish.

"To me, it devalues the resource,” added Bud Hartman, a long-time member of the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club. “It says to the angling public that these fish don’t mean anything.”

B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland attended the commission meeting to voice the organization's opposition to removing limits. In the aftermath, he said this:  "In my opinion it sends a poor message, that warmwater species are of little value and that the agency's priorities are so focused on native species (i.e. endangered salmon stocks) that even a world-class smallmouth bass fishery can be sacrificed."

And writing in the Oregonian newspaper, veteran outdoor writer Bill Monroe theorized that the move threatens "a long history of support from about a quarter of their constituency."

Johnson acknowledged that support for the Department of Fish and Wildlife by warmwater anglers likely will be damaged, because they're paying license fees to an agency that disrepects them. At a meeting following the decision, he said, "At first the consensus was that we needed to separate ourselves from ODFW permanently. Just walk way.

"But as the initial visceral response eased, the rhetoric eased also. My feeling is that, however distasteful, it is easier to work from within the system than from outside. Several folks probably will step away, but most will grit their teeth and persevere."

Gilliland, meanwhile, hopes to rebuild a relationship with the agency, while making it clear "that a great deal of trust was lost during this process and both sides will need to work at it."

Preservation and native fish groups have been pushing for removal limits on bass and other warmwater non-native species for some time, arguing they are harming native salmon by predation. But little evidence supports that. Habitat loss and degraded water quality are the primary causes of declines in these coldwater species. Consequently, ODFW framed its action as "simplifying" regulations.

“There are lots of confusing regulations and conservation needs,” said Mike Gauvin, recreational fishing program manager. “First and foremost, though, we’re doing this to simplify and streamline the regulations.”

But on behalf of bass anglers, Johnson offered an option that was just as simple: Make the statewide bag limit 5, with one over 15 inches.

Of course, the recommendation was rejected, as the commission removed limits for bass, walleye, and catfish. As it did so, though, Johnson said that one commissioner acknowledged that the action was going to anger a large constituency. Gauvin responded that it sends a good message to the salmon recovery community.

"That sort of wraps the whole thing into a single sentence," said Johnson.

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


NOAA Continues to Ignore Economic Value of Recreational Fishing

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration continues to ignore the economic value of recreational fishing, and, as a consequence of that, it likely will continue to ignore/undervalue it in its management decisions for species such as Gulf of Mexico red snapper. And that  will translate into allocations that unfairly restrict recreational fishing.The following is a commentary from Jeff Angers at the Center for Coastal Conservation about that federal favoritism for commercial fishing:

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its annual “Fisheries of the United States” report this week — but once again, when it comes to the economic value of recreational fishing, NOAA entirely missed the boat (excuse the pun).

"That’s because NOAA’s report overlooks the economic impact of recreational fishing entirely — just like last year (and for two years before).

"According to NOAA, commercial fishing generated $5.4 billion in revenues last year. That’s great for our economy and for the commercial fishing sector — as far as it goes.

"But what about the economic contribution of recreational fishing?

"Nada, zero, zip. At least according to the bureaucrats at NOAA.

"It’s as if recreational fishing doesn’t even happen.

"The last time NOAA even looked at the value of recreational fishing, back in 2011, it estimated the economic value at $23.4 billion. For the arithmetically challenged, that’s more than four times the contribution of the commercial sector — and that’s based on 2011 numbers.

"NOAA’s fisheries report is emblematic of the bigger problem in Washington, DC: a tendency to underplay and under-appreciate the much greater economic impact of recreational fishing.

"When Congress reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act, let’s make sure the real story gets told: just taking into account the agency’s 2011 estimates, the $23.4 billion annual economic contribution of recreational fishing dwarfs the $5.4 billion now being touted by NOAA as the value of the commercial sector.

"Federal fisheries policy ought to reflect that fact — not ignore it."


National Policy Needed to Help Stop Spread of Grass Carp

This grass carp was illegally stocked in a lake where it wasn't needed, and the health of the fishery has suffered as a consequence. Photo by Robert Montgomery

Although grass carp have been found in every one of the Great Lakes except Superior, resource managers don’t believe that the exotic fish have established a self-sustaining population.

But the Mississippi Interstate Resource Association (MICRA) recently warned that “state grass carp regulations are varied and inconsistent, and a national policy strategy is needed to effectively minimize the risks of additional fertile and sterile grass carp introductions into the Great Lakes.”

MICRA reached that conclusion as result of a study funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to look at grass carp use, production, and regulations. It also made recommendations to help minimize risk not only to the Great Lakes, but other waters not yet infested by unintentional introductions of this aquatic invader.

Those recommendations include the following:

  • Production, shipment, stocking, import, and export of diploid (fertile) grass carp should be prohibited except by licensed facilities.
  • States that allow production of triploid (sterile) grass should develop a set of minimum standards, permit requirements, and recordkeeping for diploid broodstock.
  • States that allow importation of triploid carp should adopt consistent regulations that allow only FWS-certified fish.  Also, increase random inspections and enforcement of regulations in these states.
  • FWS should work with states, producers, and other partners to develop testing procedures for quality controls and law enforcement in support of random inspections.

Grass carp, a species of Asian carp, were first imported into the U.S. in 1963 as a tool to manage nuisance aquatic vegetation, including exotic hydrilla, in ponds and impoundments. But flooding allowed many to escape into rivers and streams and, by 1970, they were reported in the Mississippi River basin.