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Entries in Rodman Reservoir (11)


Dead Fish, Dry Reservoir Show What Lies Ahead for California, Florida

Thousands of fish died suddenly when Mountain Meadows, a Northern California reservoir, "ran dry overnight."

"Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight," reported CBS Sacramento.

Yes, some specific act--- possibly someone opening the dam--- drained the impoundment managed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. But in truth, Mountain Meadows and many other California fisheries have been on the inevitable path to drying up for decades because of the state's unsustainable demand for water. And it's only going to get worse.

The same thing is going to happen in Florida, where unchecked development and growth soon will outweigh that state's finite supply of freshwater.  Yes, that state is surrounded by water on three sides, but it's salt water.  The lower half of the state is arid, as is the case for California, and far too many people require far too much water. They waste much of it too. For example, millions of gallons go to water grass, which never would there naturally.

"Waterfront" property in Clermont Chain in 2013, before lakes started to refill.

In Florida, the Clermont Chain provides a prime example of what is to come for the rest of the state. Right now, this central Florida waterway is back to near normal water levels.  But until this 15-lake system started to refill in the fall of 2014, the water level sank lower and lower for years. Local officials tried to blame drought, but residents, many of whom had lost their "waterfront" property, weren't buying that.  They blamed too many diversions, both legal and illegal.

“Clermont Bait & Tackle that was here for generations is gone now,” said Dave Burkhardt, who has lived on Lake Crescent for 27 years and is owner of Trik Fish line company.

“Guides are gone and so are marinas and boat businesses. Hundreds of people who are paying taxes for waterfront property don’t have water anymore.

“And yet this is supposed to be a highly protected system (officially designated an Outstanding Florida Water).”

Adding to the insanity in the Sunshine State, Florida Defenders of the Environment and other environmental groups continue to press for destruction of Rodman Reservoir, one of the state's top bass fisheries and most diverse ecosystems, because they hate the idea that it was manmade. It also happens to be one of the few impoundments in the state that could be used for water storage.

With a year of abundant rain and some of those diversions reportedly shut off, the Clermont Lake is back to near normal. But for how long? In Florida, developers still can basically do what they want when they want, meaning they can keep building more and more houses in areas where the water supply simply cannot sustain unlimited growth.

And which reservoir in California will be the next to run dry overnight, with thousands more fish dying, because of too many people, too many cities, too many farms and too little water?


Jacksonville Extorted to Join Campaign to Destroy Rodman

Several years after I became a conservation writer for B.A.S.S., the Rodman debate prompted me to question some environmental groups and their causes. As I did so, I realized that facts mean more than ideology for me, and that the facts supported not destroying the impoundment on the Ocklawaha River.

Two decades later, those facts tell me the same thing:

Florida’s Rodman Reservoir is a world-class fishery, a popular recreation area, a wetlands-rich ecosystem, and an invaluable water storage basin in a state that shows no sign of slowing growth. But for the environmentalists, ideology continues to trump reality. That ideology holds that man is not a part of nature and anything that he does defiles it.

Many times, the latter is true. But Rodman is the exception that makes the rule, as man’s meddling combined with Florida’s unique topography and climate to create a resource richer and more diverse than the river above and below it. Environmentalists, however, refuse to acknowledge the value of this 9,000-acre remnant from an ill-conceived canal project that was cancelled 50 years ago. They want it gone. Period.

Their latest effort involves extorting the City of Jacksonville to join them in their quixotic quest. For economic gain, the city’s leaders want to dredge the lower St. Johns River so that the port can accommodate larger mega-container ships coming through the Panama Canal. The St. Johns Riverkeeper threatened to sue to stop the dredging unless . . . .

That’s right, unless Jacksonville gets on board with the mission to destroy the reservoir on the upstream tributary of the St. Johns, 60 miles away, the Riverkeeper will oppose the project. Of course, the city has absolutely nothing to do with the reservoir or its management. Its value lies in its lobbying power in the Florida Legislature, which has steadfastly refused to authorize destruction of the fishery.

The argument for this unholy alliance is that taking out the dam at Rodman will somehow mitigate the damage done to the lower St. Johns by dredging. The hypocrisy is staggering. But the tactics of environmental zealots no longer surprise me. They pursue their causes with religious fervor and nothing --- not facts, not common sense, not popular opinion --- will deter them in their mission, whether it is to create no-fishing zones in our oceans, stop fracking, or destroy Rodman Reservoir.

"Make no mistake, when our economic development team is trying to recruit businesses to come here, they are selling the quality of life in Northeast Florida," said Daniel Davis, president and CEO of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The St. Johns River is key to that quality of life and we need to pull together to protect it. The business community now is fully a partner in this effort to clean and protect the St Johns River."

Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, meanwhile, added that the millions of gallons of water that would flow into the river once the dam is breached will mitigate the decreased water quality and other aquatic impact of dredging the ship channel from 40 to 47 feet.

"For nearly three years, we have worked diligently to protect the St. Johns River from the inherent risks of dredging," she said. "This unique partnership creates a new opportunity to fortify our river. While restoring the Ocklawaha will not address all of the dredging impacts, it would provide significant ecological benefits to the St. Johns."

Even the Times-Union newspaper joined in the misinformation campaign, editorializing that, by taking down the dam, “the water level would drop and a total of 20 springs stopped up by the reservoir would flow again. Also, wetlands would be restored.”

The truth is that no springs are stopped by the reservoir, nor is the Ocklawaha prevented from discharging into the St. Johns. The dam simply regulates flow. Blowing it out would result in a huge, but brief slug of water cascading downstream. After that, flow would return to essentially what it is now. Long-term effect would be minimal at the mouth, where the dredging would occur.

Additionally, far more wetlands would be destroyed than restored, as would fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and millions of dollars in economic benefits annually to the communities near Rodman.

Of course, all of these mean nothing to the true believers because they are the ill-gotten by-products of man’s defilement of nature.

Still, I suspect that this gambit will be no more successful than previous attempts to destroy Rodman, thus negating the agreement. And, if that is the case, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Riverkeeper has to say about the city’s plan to dredge. 

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


'Environmental Extortion' Used in Attempt to Destroy Rodman Reservoir


Over the years, environmental groups have tried many tactics to destroy Rodman Reservoir, a world-class bass fishery and popular outdoor recreation area in Florida.

Their latest, however, arguably is the most creative. They have enlisted the aid of the Jacksonville business community to help them put pressure on Florida’s legislature to remove the dam on the Ocklawaha River, a tributary of the St. Johns.

Terms of their odd-couple alliance do not sit well with many, including Save Rodman Reservoir (SRR), which accuses the St. Johns Riverkeeper of using the 9,000-acre impoundment in Putnam County as ransom.

SRR spokesman Kae Andry said, “It is also very troubling and inexcusable that no one in the Putnam County Commission or Putnam County Chamber of Commerce was included in the discussions that led to this coalition of business and environmentalists. Do Palatka and Putnam County not count because they are poor?”

Veteran outdoor writer and Jacksonville resident Bob McNally added this at

“To me, this type of political deal-making is nothing short of environmental extortion, using Rodman Reservoir as a pawn to appease those who want the dam removed, while business and political forces get their way by dredging the lower river from 40 to 47 feet.”

Business interests in Jacksonville want that dredging done so that the city’s port can accommodate new and larger mega-container ships coming through the Panama Canal. The Riverkeeper, however, threatened to sue to prevent the dredging because of environmental concerns.

Discussions followed, and the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Jacksonville Port Authority, and the City of Jacksonville agreed to work with environmentalists to destroy Rodman in exchange for a go-head on dredging. In other words, taking out the impoundment will be “mitigation” for the damage done on the lower river.

One of the first to sound the alarm about this new threat was Roger Weaver, president of the Jacksonville Johns Bass Trail, a club for jon boats only. He and his members made phone calls and sent e-mails sounding the alarm, including to SRR and B.A.S.S.

“We also went to the Rally for Rodman at the dam,” he said. “And we are putting on a tournament at Kenwood boat ramp on Feb. 15, with 80 percent as prize money and 20 percent going directly to Save Rodman.”

Additionally, the 19th annual Ed Taylor SRR Bass Tournament is set for April 18 at Kenwood Landing, and, with this new attack on Rodman, robust attendance is critical for this annual fund-raiser.

The tournament is named in honor of SRR’s long-time leader, who died in late 2013. Larry Harvey, the new president admits that filling Taylor’s shoes as Rodman champion will be difficult, but he looks forward to the challenge.

“We are reorganizing many areas of Save Rodman,” he said. “We have a great board and great support people ready for us to call when the battle begins.

“The battle that I am speaking of is the battle to stop those who want to tear up this wonderful ecosystem . . . The reservoir is vital to the residents of Florida, Putnam County, and Marion County. It provides jobs, recreation, food, a beautiful place to live, and a peaceful existence.”

Additionally, he added, Rodman features abundant wetlands that act as a filter for the water before it flows through the dam and into the St. Johns River.

More than 50 years ago, Rodman was built as part of an ill-conceived Cross Florida Barge Canal, which was intended as a shortcut for ships going from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf of Mexico. The project was killed well before completion, but the reservoir on the Ocklawaha River remained.

For more than two decades, environmental groups have lobbied and petitioned for the dam to be destroyed and the river “restored.” SRR was created to defend the impoundment which has become a wildlife magnet, one of the state’s most popular recreation areas, and  a trophy bass fishery. Additionally, it appears more and more likely that reservoir will be needed for public water supply as the state’s population continues to grow.

But all of those benefits mean nothing to the St. Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and now, evidently, the City of Jacksonville.

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


Georgia Angler Catches Hall of Fame Bass at Rodman

Georgia angler Dwight Whitmore with 14-1 largemouth that he caught and released at Rodman Reservoir.

As the St. Johns Riverkeeper extorts the city of Jacksonville to help in a campaign to destroy Rodman Reservoir, the 9,000-acre impoundment on the Ocklawaha River continues to confirm its reputation as a world-class bass fishery.

Georgia angler Dwight Whitemore recently caught and released a 14-pound, 1-ounce largemouth there while fishing with guide Sean Rush.

“This lake is truly one of the best bass fishing and wildlife sanctuaries in the world,” said Rush, who added that he loves showing his customers the eagles and other wildlife that live there.

“During a remarkable three-day bass trip with Rush, the visiting Georgia anglers caught-and-released 66 bigmouths, which included two fish each weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces; an 8-pound, 8-ouncer; and others weighing 9-pounds-2; 9-pounds-12; 10-pounds-10; 11-pounds-9; plus the massive 14-pound-1 behemoth,” reports Bob McNally in The Times-Union.

 “When I got hold of that fish I knew it was a monster, and we started going crazy in the boat,” Rush said. “I told my anglers it would weigh between 12 and 15 pounds, and they just went wild, high-fiving and back slapping. They knew it was a fish most anglers only dream about catching.”

Once boated, the fish immediately was entered in Florida’s TrophyCatch program.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports:

Although not required to verify a Hall of Fame fish (larger than 13 pounds), FWC fisheries biologist Travis Tuten came off holiday leave with his kids to witness the catch, obtain additional measurements and take a fin clip for genetic analyses. They were also able to video the live release of the first Hall of Fame entry for Season 3 of TrophyCatch (visit to see the video).

As a Hall of Fame entrant, Whitmore will receive a free replica of his bass, produced by New Wave Taxidermy, $200 in gift cards from TrophyCatch partners like Bass Pro Shops, a Fitzgerald rod and a sweatshirt-sunglasses combo from SpiderWire™. Right now, he also is in contention for the TrophyCatch championship ring that will be awarded by the American Outdoors Fund for the largest verified bass at the end of Season 3 (Oct. 1, 2014 to Sep. 30, 2015).

During their three-day trip, Whitmore also caught and released four additional bass that are eligible for other TrophyCatch awards, and his buddy caught two more.

People can participate in this citizen-science effort and help encourage live release of trophy bass by registering at TrophyCatch. Simply registering makes people eligible for a Phoenix bass boat, powered by Mercury and equipped with a Power-Pole anchoring system and Navionics charting.


Strong Start for Second Year of Florida's TrophyCatch


This Lake Okeechobee largemouth would have qualified as a TrophyCatch, but Activist Angler caught it before program began.

From Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

The first year of TrophyCatch has ended, and the awards were all given out, but now the challenge is on for year two. TrophyCatch rewards anglers for catching, documenting and releasing largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds in Florida.

The second year is off to a great start, with 63 Lunker entries (8-9.9 pounds) and 26 Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds) recorded in less than  four months, and more than twice as many entries in December 2013 compared with December 2012. The first Hall of Fame entry (greater than 13 pounds) is awaiting verification.

Besides checking out the gallery, you should also review the rules and prizes. Then be sure to follow us on Facebook to see all the latest entries and get updates on special events.

The peak season is still in front of us, and FWC biologists have worked to narrow down a list of top sites to recommend to bass anglers for 2014 based on data from anglers, scientific sampling and an understanding of habitat trends and local conditions. By participating in TrophyCatch, you can help these biologists to further improve management and conservation of trophy bass.

By releasing them alive (a mandatory condition of TrophyCatch) you will help sustain the fishery for the future and be rewarded. Rewards start, for Lunker Club entries (8-9.9 pounds) with $100 in gift cards, from partners like Bass Pro Shops, Rapala and/or Dick’s Sporting Goods, and are complemented by custom apparel by Bass King Clothing, a personalized certificate and window decal.

Below is a list of top bass fishing sites. For more details, go here, and click on “Fishing Sites/Forecasts” to find more details, lots of specific local fishing tips, local contacts, specific rules, access points, attractors, ramps and quarterly updates.

West Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho; 18,810 acres) is adjacent to Kissimmee. Lake Toho is known for producing excellent crappie and bream fishing as well as trophy largemouth bass. Angler surveys from August to November 2013 indicated bass anglers experienced an exceptional catch success rate of 0.96 fish per hour, which was the sixth consecutive year angler success was excellent.

Lake Kissimmee (34,976 acres) is the largest of five big lakes in the Kissimmee Chain. As a result of aggressive habitat management by the FWC, anglers enjoy a diverse and expansive plant community. Angler surveys in spring 2013 showed an angler catch success rate of 0.56 fish oer hour (double the statewide average), with an estimated 177 bass 24 inches or greater caught and released during the survey.

Lake George (46,000 acres) is the second largest lake in the state, and is located northwest of Deland and east of Ocala. Lake George, a natural lake in the St. Johns River, has extensive aquatic vegetation, primarily eelgrass, that provides excellent habitat for bass.

Lake Monroe (9,400 acres) is a shallow lake north of Sanford near Orlando. For the past several years, electrofishing surveys by biologists have documented some of the highest numbers of lunker bass for the St. Johns River chain.

Rodman Reservoir (9,500 acres) near Gainesville and south of Palatka, was impounded in 1968. It has been known for trophy largemouth bass ever since. Much of the fishery’s success is attributed to abundant habitat in the form of stumps and submersed vegetation, and periodic drawdowns occurring every three years. Although drawdowns on Rodman are primarily to control invasive aquatic vegetation, biologists have observed strong largemouth bass spawns associated with reservoir drawdowns. Following the large spawns, bass provide the majority of the angler catch.

Lake Tarpon (2,500acres) is near Tampa/St. Petersburg in Pinellas County. Biologists using a boat electrofisher in spring 2013 caught bass at a rate of 2.7 bass/ per minute, a rate considerably higher than typical. Most bass were 12 to 16 inches long; however, quality and trophy fish are present in good numbers.

Istokpoga (28,000 acres) is between the Kissimmee Chain of lakes and Lake Okeechobee in Highlands County near Sebring. Past angler surveys have estimated more than 1,000 bass over 8 pounds being caught in less than a year’s time. Further, an impressive 46 bass caught from Lake Istokpoga were entered into the TrophyCatch program during the past year – the most entries from a public resource during that time period. Another 15 bass from Lake Istokpoga were entered into the BigCatch program (an FWC angler recognition program that only requires a photo and statement that the bass exceeded 24 inches or eight pounds, making documentation easier, resulting in a certificate but no significant rewards).  

Tenoroc Fish Management Area (8,400 acres) near Lakeland provides a special opportunity to bass fish in Florida’s famous phosphate pits. These 7- to 227-acre lakes were created by draglines during phosphate mining operations. As a result, lake bottoms have irregular contours with depths to 35 feet. Tenoroc is northeast of Lakeland and can be accessed from Highway 33 just south of Intestate 4. Call the Tenoroc Headquarters at 863-499-2422 for more information or to make reservations. The area is open to public fishing Friday through Monday. Anglers must check in and out at the office, deposit their valid fishing license and pay $3 for a daily fishing permit.

Winter Haven Chain of Lakes, especially the southern portion,may well be Central Florida’s best-kept bass fishing secret. Polk County is home to 554 named lakes, the state’s certified record Florida Largemouth Bass (17.27 pounds), and sells more freshwater fishing licenses than any other county. The chain comprises 14 lakes, from 25 to 1,160 acres, and more than 4,000 acres of fishable waters.

Mosaic Fish Management Area (1,000 acres), near Fort Meade in Polk and Hardee counties, is definitely worthwhile. Anglers had an average catch rate of over one bass per hour last year. There are 12 phosphate pits, from 10 to 200 acres, with depths down to 30 feet. The FMA is open to public fishing from Friday through Monday. No reservations can be made, so lake permits are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 863-648-3200 for more information.

Lake Weohyakapka (Lake Walk-in-Water; 7,500 acres) is south of Orlando and east of Lake Wales. FWC biologists sampled and released 27 bass weighing more than 8 pounds during the past year.

Lake Okeechobee (470,000 acres) is Florida’s largest lake and the second largest body of freshwater in the contiguous United States. A 100-yard-wide rim canal circles the lake, and secondary canals and cuts link to it, resulting in hundreds of miles of fishing water. October 2013 electrofishing samples yielded excellent catch rates for the lake, with abundant bass over 18 inches. The past four years have yielded the highest success rates, each over 1.25 bass per hour, in the 36-year history of the lake’s creel survey.

Everglades Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3 (1,125 square miles) are marshlands intersected by more than 200 miles of canals. Originally designed for flood control and water supply, the area provides some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the country.

First Season Winners

Bob Williams of Alloway, N.J., earned the TrophyCatch Championship Ring for the first season. It was presented at Bass Pro Shops in Orlando last month by Keith Alan, from the American Outdoors Fund, and Tom Champeau, director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. His winning catch was a 13-pound, 14-ounce largemouth from Rodman Reservoir. He previously earned a free ($500 value) fiberglass replica of his catch and other awards totaling approximately $1,000.

A $10,000 check was handed to Peter Perez at a special ceremony at West Lake Tohopekaliga by Experience Kissimmee representatives Debby Guertin and Terry Segraves, along with Champeau. Perez caught the largest TrophyCatch verified bass from Osceola County to win the prize. His winning 12-pound, 3-ounce bass was caught last March in a neighborhood pond on a Rat-L-Trap.

The winner of the 2013 Phoenix 619 bass boat, powered by Mercury, was surprised angler Frank Ay. His prize was presented to him following a club tournament on Lake Okeechobee by professional bass angler Bobby Lane, Champeau and KP Clements, the TrophyCatch coordinator. Ay won the $40,000 grand prize via a random drawing from among 4,000 anglers that registered for TrophyCatch the first season.

To Enter

For the second year, which began Oct. 1, documenting a TrophyCatch has gotten simpler. Start by registering for free here, and you will be automatically entered to win a Phoenix bass boat, powered by Mercury and equipped with a PowerPole.

This year the only required photo is one of the entire bass (head to tail) on a scale, with the weight visible. Always attempt to get that shot, but if it isn’t perfect, supplement it with a close up of the scale, a photo of the entire fish on a bumpboard or tape measure, and maybe even a shot of the bass’s girth. This will help a verification team of fisheries biologists determine if the fish is eligible for recognition.

You can also submit a bragging photo and perhaps a release photo on the website. Every verified entry gives you 10 more chances for the Phoenix boat drawing in October.