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Entries in Louisiana (36)

Tuesday
Aug082017

New Plan 'a Good Start' for Improving Louisiana Coastal Habitat

A 2017 Coastal Master Plan that will "improve coast-wide habitat for wild crawfish, largemouth bass, alligator, and mottled duck . . . " has been approved by the Louisiana State Legislature. This updated state blueprint prioritizes $50 billion in coastal restoration and risk reduction work during the next 50 years to address land loss, as well as sea level rise and encroachment into marshes.

In arguing for the plan earlier this year, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "Save coastal Louisiana, and you save 37 percent of all the coastal marshes in the continental United States. You save the habitat that produces 21 percent of all commercial fisheries' landings by weight in the lower 48 states and is home to approximately 75 percent of all commercially harvested fish species in Louisiana that use our wetlands for at least one stage of their life cycle."

Already, he added, important progress has been made since Hurricane Katrina's devastation in 2005, with more than 31,000 acres of land reclaimed, using more than 115 million cubic yards of material dredged from rivers and the Gulf of Mexico. Also, more than 274 miles of levees have been improved and 52 miles of barrier islands and shorelines restored in a more sustainable fashion.

"It's a good start," he said. "But just a start."

Approval of the 2017 plan received enthusiastic praise from a coalition of local and state conservation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

In a joint statement, they said, “The 2017 Coastal Master Plan process is truly an innovative, unparalleled effort that all Louisianans can be proud of--- and our state desperately needs to implement the plan as quickly as possible. The master plan is grounded in science, balances coastal restoration with protection, and is publicly-informed. Louisiana has again provided a model for how coastal communities around the world can adapt to land loss, rising seas, increased storms and other climate change challenges.

“With sediment diversions as a cornerstone of the master plan, Louisiana stands ready to harness the power of the strongest tool available to build and sustain land – the Mississippi River. The state should continue this momentum by constructing sediment diversions as quickly as possible and take advantage of this amazing resource that is being wasted."

Wednesday
Jun212017

Lunker Helps New York Youth Take Lead in Bassmaster Junior National Championship

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. — The Bassmaster Junior National Championship is a team bass tournament, and all but one of the 51 teams are made up of two anglers between the ages of 7 and 13.

The one solo angler, Rein Golubjatnikov proved Tuesday that one is more than enough when he brought in a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces. The 13-year-old New Yorker seized the first-round lead in the two-day junior championship on Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake in northwest Tennessee. The tournament has attracted anglers from 28 states and Canada — all of whom advanced through the B.A.S.S. Nation ranks to the championship.

None were as impressive as Golubjatnikov, whose bag was anchored by an 8-2 lunker that easily was the heaviest bass of the day. Golubjatnikov said he fought the big bass for nearly two minutes as it worked its way underneath his boat before he could net the bass. It was a considerable battle as the eighth grader tips the scales himself at only 85 pounds.

To put the “boy vs. bass” struggle into perspective, the equivalent would be the average adult man battling a 20-pound bass. He’s used to catching big bass, as he advanced to nationals on the strength of a 22-4 bag on New York’s Cayuga Lake. The 8-2 heavyweight he caught Tuesday, however, was a personal best.

“They don’t have bass like that in New York,” Golubjatnikov told the large crowd gathered in downtown Huntingdon for today’s weigh-in.

They do in Carroll County’s 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake though, and Golubjatnikov (whose boat captain/coach is his dad, Ken) said he fished a variety of lures in shallow and deep water on Tuesday. Rein targeted baitfish for most of the day, and he had a 4-pounder to go with his 8-plus kicker on Day 1.

Considering the results, he said he’ll stick with the strategy on the final day of the championship on Wednesday.

“I was really excited,” he said. “It was really cool to catch a fish that big. It was like a once in a lifetime thing.”

Rein is fishing alone this week as school is just letting out this week in Pittsford, N.Y., where he lives. He was able to take his final exams early, but he knew he likely would fish alone if he made the nationals (which he did for the third consecutive year as New York’s youth champion). He finished seventh in last year’s junior championship when he paired with Garrett Lawton to catch a two-day total of 8-1.

One day into the 2017 tournament and he’s nearly doubled that output — by himself.

Golubjatnikov has competition hot on his heels, however. The Louisiana duo of Jordan Sylvester and Jacob Tullier caught a limit that weighed 15-1. Sylvester boated a 5-7 bass to anchor the team’s bag and put them only 12 ounces behind the leader. It was the second-heaviest bass caught on Tuesday.

“I think tomorrow’s going to be fun,” Sylvester said. “We’re going to go out and try to do the same thing we did today.”

Golubjatnikov and the Louisiana pair were the teams to weigh double-digit bags on Tuesday. The tandems of Bradlee Parish and Tyler Guin of Mississippi and Colby Carrier and Abe Lafrance of Maine both weighed 9-15 totals, but the Mississippi boys are in third place officially because they boated five bass on Tuesday. Carrier and Lafrance caught four keepers.

Florida’s Fisher Cusic and SammyJay Acree are in fifth place with 9-12.

In all, the 101 junior anglers caught 195 bass on Tuesday for a total weight of 271-2. There were 28 limits among the 50 teams that came to the scales. Only one team zeroed.

Today’s weights will carry over to the final day of fishing on Wednesday. The team with the best two-day total will split $2,000 in scholarship money, though if Golubjatnikov still leads the field after the final weigh-in, he will have the entire prize to himself. Members of the second-place team will share $1,000 in scholarship funds.

Monday
May302016

You Think Asian Carp Are a Problem? Look at What the Feds Almost Put in Our Waters

If you think that we’ve made a mess of our lands and waters through intentional and unintentional import of exotic plants and animals, you are correct. For example, we now spend billions of dollars annually to control and mitigate the damage done by just four recently introduced species: bighead carp, silver carp, quagga mussel, and zebra mussel.

And in attempts to minimize problems, the government often has made them worse. During the 1940s, the state of Louisiana touted the South American nutria as a way to control water hyacinth, a fast-growing exotic that was crowding out native vegetation in wetlands. Today, the nutria is eating away those same wetlands, contributing to saltwater intrusion and coastal erosion.

In the early 1960s, the states of Alabama and Arkansas allowed import of grass carp to control aquatic vegetation in aquaculture ponds. By 1970, escapees had established populations in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Today, these troublesome grazers are established in at least nine states and have been sighted in more than 40. Ask just about any bass angler, and he will tell you that the grass carp is public enemy No. 1.

And speaking of carp, we have the federal government to thank for one of the worst management decisions ever in regard to our fisheries. In 1877, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries began intensively cultivating and stocking common carp. In fairness, it was prompted to do so both by public pressure and by overharvest of native fish stocks. By the turn of the century, however, it already was regarded as a nuisance.

“Moreover, their rapid spread appeared to threaten both water quality and native species, as commissioners nationwide noted a deterioration of formerly clear and fertile lakes and waterways upon the arrival of carp,” says the National Park Service.

But you don’t know the half of it. Actually, things could be worse. Much worse. Instead of nutria eating away those Louisiana wetlands, we could have hippos. And who’s to say that these massive “water horses” which can weigh up to 4 tons and eat up to 100 pounds of vegetation a day, wouldn’t have spread east, west, and north?

They are “relatively tolerant of cold conditions,” says the Glen Oak Zoo, which also points out that “many individuals live to 40 years.”

Oh yeah, they also are generally believed to have killed more people in their native Africa than another animal, including lions and crocodiles.

All things considered, I’ll take the nutria, thank you. It tops out at about 12 pounds and is not as likely to charge me at the launch ramp.

But in 1910, Frederick Russell Burnham, a famed American scout and world adventurer, proposed replacing our nation’s depleted wildlife population --- we had hunted deer, turkey, and buffalo nearly to extinction --- with animals that he had encountered in southern Africa.

His proposal lined up nicely with the search for a solution to the growing problem of water hyacinths in Louisiana waters, as well as America’s need for more meat. Writing about this little known piece of American history, Jon Mooallem in American Hippopotamus, says that Rep. of Robert Foligny of New Iberia “liked to plug up problems with big solutions.”

Thus, Foligny introduced H.R. 23261, also known as the “Hippo Bill,” to “appropriate $250,000 for the importation of useful new animals into the United States.” The Washington Post assured readers that they would see shipments of hippos within a few years.

Fortunately for all us, a boatload of hippos never docked in New Orleans. But it wasn’t because of the unexpected discovery of good judgment in Congress. Rather, one representative said that the beasts should not be introduced because unscrupulous hunters would sneak onto the farms and hunt them for trophies.

Yeah, that’s the reason not to import aggressive animals that boast 20-inch teeth and can run at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour.

What turned the tide, though, was that the Department of Agriculture decided to transform swamps and other undeveloped areas into agricultural land to grow more beef cattle.

Thank goodness. Otherwise, we might we watching “Hippo Die-Nasty” instead of “Duck Dynasty” on television.

Tuesday
Mar152016

Lousiana Anglers Unite to Oppose Closures

A battle is heating up once again in the cultural and legal swamp of controversy regarding who owns and who has access to the canals and backwaters of southern Louisiana.

What may be different this time is that bass anglers seem intent on organizing on behalf of public access. They've created an organization, Louisiana Sportsmen Coalition, and a petition that garnered more than a 1,000 signatures before it was even written. And they intend to pursue a state legislative fix to this complex problem, as well as national support from fishermen and anglers' advocacy groups.

"We want to make sure that we're organized and have clearly defined what we want," said Sean Robbins, president of the Lake Verret Bass Club. "We want to do this right so people will take us seriously." 

This issue, mostly related to canals dug for access to oil and gas drilling sites, has been intensifying for years, as adjoining acreage was purchased and the waterways blocked. In 2003, pro angler Gary Klein was shot at by a landowner during the Bassmaster Classic. In 2007, a  U.S. District judge ruled that anglers could motor into flooded areas, but not fish them.  

Most recently, popular fishing canals were blocked near Lake Verret and in the Orange Grove area of marshes around Houma, according to Robbins. Some property owners want to keep out what they believe to be trespassers, Robbins theorized, while others are looking to make a profit by selling "memberships" to fish the waters that the claim are theirs by virtue of owning the land under it.

"Waters that have historically been open to public use are increasingly being gated off, making it more difficult to access productive fishing waters," he said. "It's time to stand up and fight to protect our right to recreationally fish canals connected to public waterways."

Robbins added that other clubs have voiced support for the petition and the campaign, as well as "a ton of guys who want to be included, who want to be a voice."

To find out more about the petition and joining the fight for access, check out Louisiana Sportsmen Coalition on Facebook.

Sunday
Mar062016

Louisiana Anglers Organize to Fight for Access

A battle is heating up once again in the cultural and legal swamp of controversy regarding who owns and who has access to the canals and backwaters of southern Louisiana.

What may be different this time is that bass anglers seem intent on organizing on behalf of public access. They've created an organization, Louisiana Sportsmen Coalition, and a petition that garnered more than a 1,000 signatures before it was even written. And they intend to pursue a state legislative fix to this complex problem, as well as national support from fishermen and anglers' advocacy groups.

"We want to make sure that we're organized and have clearly defined what we want," said Sean Robbins, president of the Lake Verret Bass club. "We want to do this right so people will take us seriously." 

This issue, mostly related to canals dug for access to oil and gas drilling sites, has been intensifying for years, as adjoining acreage was purchased and the waterways blocked. In 2003, pro angler Gary Klein was shot at by a landowner during the Bassmaster Classic. In 2007, a  U.S. District judge ruled that anglers could motor into flooded areas, but not fish them.  

Most recently, popular fishing canals were blocked near Lake Verret and in the Orange Grove area of marshes around Houma, according to Robbins. Some property owners want to keep out what they believe to be trespassers, Robbins theorized, while others are looking to make a profit by selling "memberships" to fish the waters that the claim are theirs by virtue of owning the land under it.

"Waters that have historically been open to public use are increasingly being gated off, making it more difficult to access productive fishing waters," he said. "It's time to stand up and fight to protect our right to recreationally fish canals connected to public waterways."

Robbins added that other clubs have voiced support for the petition and the campaign, as well as "a ton of guys who want to be included, who want to be a voice."

To find out more about the petition and joining the fight for access, check out Louisiana Sportsmen Coalition on Facebook, as well as this article at Louisiana Sportsman.