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Entries in fisheries management (174)


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.


Texas Considers Simplifying Bass Regs.

Texas fisheries managers are considering simplifying bass regulations statewide.

“Largemouth bass are one of the first species we started managing in the state, and we’ve done a great job managing our bass fisheries through time,” said Dave Terre, chief of Inland Fisheries for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“Our process has been to use different kinds of regulations for bass to accomplish specific management goals. With these potential changes, we still hope to attain the same management goals, but we are trying to reduce the number and kinds of special regulations with the goal of making them less complicated, more easily understood and enforceable.”

Under the recommendations that TPWD recently previewed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 12 of 18 lakes with special regulations would revert to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit, which governs nearly 80 percent of the state's waterbodies. The other six would see changes appropriate to the population dynamics of those fisheries.

Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant City, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine, and Sweetwater would be managed under the statewide length limit.

Meanwhile, TPWD is considering a change from the 14-to-24-inch slot length limit to a 16-24 slot for Fayette County Reservoir, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, and Lake Monticello. Additionally, Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum length limit with a bag limit of five fish of which only two can be less than 18 inches. Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven would change from catch and release only to a five-fish daily bag and a 16-inch maximum length limit. The 16-24 slot and 16-inch maximum limits include provisions for anglers to possess bass 24 inches or longer for possible submission to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“Our goal is for anglers to see less variation of the largemouth bass rules when they visit Texas lakes,” Terre said. “But we are doing this without sacrificing our standards of making the bass fishing great. We hold that high and true for our fisheries.”

Before these changes were considered, he added, district fisheries biologists looked carefully at the special regulations to determine if they met current largemouth bass goals and objectives at each reservoir. In some cases, such as those lakes with 14-18 slot length limits and  16- and 18-inch minimum length limits, biologists found the regulations had little or mixed results on the bass population when compared to the statewide limit. Reservoirs having a 14-24 slot length limit or catch and release only were moved to other successful regulation types to reduce regulation complexity without compromising fishery management goals.

Early in 2018, Inland Fisheries staff  officially will present these possible changes to the commission. If the commission approves, the proposed changes will be published in the Texas Register, which begins the process of official public comment.


Ray Scott's 'Old Man' Tournament

Here's a holiday treat for you. For awhile, I was the ghost writer for Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S. He would tell me a story and I'd turn it column for B.A.S.S. Times. I always enjoyed my talks with Ray, whether on the phone or at B.A.S.S. events. And, at 84, he remains a gifted story-teller--- and salesman.

He also was kind enough to contribute a "story" to my book Better Bass Fishing.

*     *     *     *     *

You’d better hang onto your hats for this one, boys and girls. As the father of catch-and-release for bass, I, Ray Scott, once killed 1,350 bass.

Actually, I didn’t do it by myself. I had 99 old men and one lady helping me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning for this story about how it’s the exceptions that sometimes prove the rules and how keeping --- and eating --- bass sometimes is a good thing.

Back in the spring of 2001, I told my wife, Susan, that I was going to hold a tournament for old men and I saw her eyebrows go up. That’s because she knew there would be lots of activities involved. And because she remembered those Eagles of Angling tournaments we had back in the early 1990s. We had all kinds of celebrities to the house for those events, including President George Herbert Walker Bush. It was a lot of work, but, as Susan would agree, worth every minute of it.

We held those four tournaments on my 50-acre lake to raise money for the nearby country crossroads Pintlala Baptist Church, and when all was said and done, we had donated $1,060,000 toward the construction of a new sanctuary.  Not bad for a bunch of fishermen.

This time around, I was going to have a tournament for anglers aged 62 and older. I’d charge $500 a head. They’d fish from the bank. And they’d have to use 4-pound line because I didn’t want them hurting my big fish.

And they’d be required to keep the ones 12 inches or smaller. We’d kill those and give them to charity.

How could the man who had extolled the virtues of catch-and-release for 30 years sponsor such an event? Well, as I said earlier, sometimes it’s the exceptions that prove the rules.

Catch-and-release has changed the face of fishing for the better, no doubt about it.  But it’s not just because it’s a wise conservation practice that helps us sustain heavily pressured fisheries.

Putting a fish back gives a man a proprietary interest in that fish and in that lake. When he has that, he gets mad when he sees someone polluting “his” water and hurting “his” fish. Catch-and-release is a philosophical exercise that’s critically important for the future of fishing.

But, dang it, sometimes in small waters --- particularly private waters that are fertilized and nourished --- you get too many little bass. In the spring of 2001, that was what had happened to my lake. I was catching too many small bass, and I knew that they were a hindrance for a quality fishery.

So, I put out the press release for the tournament, and, before I could turn about, I had my 100 entries, individuals who were willing to pay to come and help me solve my problem. I guess it was a bit like Tom Sawyer convincing his friends to pay him so that they could help paint the picket fence.

One of entries was a man who called me and said, “What are you doing with my lake?”

He then asked if he could enter and I asked him if he had $500. He said that he did, and so former President George Herbert Walker Bush came back to fish “his” lake.

And having my old friend at the tournament gave me another idea. I announced that other “sponsors” could come and mingle with President Bush and have their photos taken for $5,000. I already had decided that the money we raised in this tournament would go to help the teachers at our little county Pintlala Elementary School, established in 1922.  

Because of tight budgets, the teachers had to use personal funds for school supplies. We raised $132,000 with that tournament to ease their burden. The special account is still providing needed monies to this day.

After we removed all those little bass, I saw improvement in the quality of the fish the next year. Now we put back only bass that are 3 pounds and larger and the lake is better than ever. Especially in small, private waters, you just have to harvest sometimes.

Of course, if I ever do have problems again with too many small bass, I’ll have another tournament.

(Stan Sloan was the winner of the "old man" tournament." He also won Scott's first event, the All-American Bass Tournament at Beaver Lake in 1967).


Texas' TrophyCatch Expands Opportunities For Anglers


For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. The program also has a new logo and look that conveys the excitement of catching a lunker bass.

“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator.

“This year for the first time ever anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science. We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”

The four new levels of achievement are as follows:

Lunker Legacy Class: Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31. Additional prizes may be included in both of these prize drawings prior to their entry deadlines.

Lunker Legend Class: Anglers who enter a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Elite Class: Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Class: Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

A new logo and new tagline, “Bigger Better Bass,” highlight the branding changes to the program, which also includes new Toyota ShareLunker branded merchandise for prizes, updated marketing materials and a new website and mobile application to make it easy to enter your catch in the program and keep up with the latest ShareLunker news

Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their smartphone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.

In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important – we need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will also attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state. We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program.”

For program updates, photos and to keep up with Texas lunker catches, join the ShareLunker community online at Facebook.

More details on the shopping spree and other prizes for ShareLunker entries will be finalized and shared in the near future.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.


Florida's TrophyCatch Celebrates Five Years

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program celebrated five years of bass conservation at its annual Hall of Fame ceremony held at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Orlando. In the past five seasons, TrophyCatch has awarded prizes for the catch and release of more than 6,868 largemouth bass.

“We want to thank all of our partners and anglers for their commitment to conservation,” said Tom Champeau, FWC’s Director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

“We now have 47 Hall of Fame anglers in the TrophyCatch program, and this event honors their skill in catching a bass of a lifetime and submitting their data to the FWC to assist in the management of our trophy bass fisheries.”

Sixteen Hall of Fame anglers were recognized for their catch and release of a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or heavier in Florida. The Hall of Fame anglers each received Bass Pro Shops gift cards, Spiderwire merchandise, a custom fiberglass replica mount made by New Wave Taxidermy and a plaque from American Registry commemorating their catch.

The Season 5 Champion, Dominic Montalto, received the TrophyCatch trophy for catching and releasing the heaviest bass of the season at 16 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in a neighborhood pond in Lee County.

The TrophyCatch “Big Bag Prize” was awarded to Arthur Jackson for his catch and release of the most bass with the heaviest combined weight in Season 5. He caught and released 16 bass with a total combined weight of 141.625 pounds. Jackson received a Shimano prize pack, along with a Lake County Tourism prize pack of a three-day, two-night stay in Lake County with a guided fishing trip with professional angler Tim Frederick.

TrophyCatch is a partnership between FWC biologists, anglers and fishing industry leaders such as Bass Pro Shops, that rewards the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. In order to be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to, showing the fish’s weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water.

FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research, to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass. TrophyCatch is supported by many generous partners, such as Bass Pro Shops.

The FWC encourages anglers to join TrophyCatch as citizen-scientists that assist in fisheries management and the conservation of Florida’s lakes and rivers. A new TrophyCatch mobile app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices