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Entries in Texas (51)

Friday
May162014

Texas Angler Catches Record-Size Guadalupe Bass

 Marcos de Jesus, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

A Guadalupe bass with broad shoulders “appears to qualify as a new state record and world record in several categories,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

While floating the Colorado River below Austin on Feb. 1, Bryan Townsend caught the 3.71-pound fish on a crawfish-pattern fly and a 7-weight fly rod. That should supplant the 3.69 caught in 1983 at Lake Travis.

Generally, 2 pounds is considered large for a Guadalupe, a river species unique to the clear, fast-flowing rivers of central Texas. Townsend’s fish, though, was a chunk, with a girth almost equal to its length (17.25 inches), but DNA testing confirmed that it was a pure Guadalupe.

Because that section of the river has yielded quite a few large Guadalupe-like fish in recent years, TPWD’s Marcos DeJesus decided to do a little research.

“So far as we can conclude, they seem to be pure Guadalupes,” he said.

“The Colorado River below Austin, from Longhorn Dam to La Grange, has been a special bass fishery for many years,” DeJesus continued. “Productive waters and excellent habitat have helped support a healthy black bass population composed of largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass.

“Recently, with reduced pulses due to drought, aquatic vegetation exploded all over this river segment. Flood events in October flushed a lot of it downstream, making it easier to fish.”

Townsend caught the big Guadalupe while fishing with guide Shea McClanahan, who immediately recognized its world-record potential. He phoned a friend who helped coordinate a meeting on the river with DeJesus, who brought an ice chest and an aerator.

“Our clients are 99.9 percent catch-and-release,” McClanahan said. “I don’t even have a stringer. We don’t kill fish.”

The biologist measured and weighed the fish, as well as took photos and a fin clip for genetic testing. They then took the bass to Cabela’s in Buda, the closest place with a certified scale.

Afterward, Townsend donated the fish to TPWD for live display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, where it can be seen in the theater’s dive tank.

“It was just an awesome day on the water, and getting the record was a true group effort,” Townsend said. “Guadalupe bass are such an incredible fish, and I’ve just fallen in love with that river. It’s all worked out wonderfully.”

According to TPWD, the angler will submit applications based on the fish’s weight for water body, state, and world records. He also will apply for records based on length and tackle used for state catch-and-release, fly-fishing; and world record catch-and-release, fly-fishing.

Designated the official state fish of Texas in 1989, the Guadalupe is found only in the Lone Star State, with its range including the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. Generally green in color, it doesn’t have the vertical bars typical to smallmouth bass and its jaw doesn’t extend beyond the eyes, as in largemouths. Also, its color reaches much lower on its body than in spotted bass.

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

 

Thursday
Apr172014

The Anglers Lodge Seeks Business Partner(s)

Lake Amistad largemouth.

If you’ve ever dreamed about owning a home or --- even better --- a fishing lodge near one of the world’s best bass lakes, Carl Wengenroth has an offer for you.

Carl owns The Anglers Lodge on Lake Amistad, near Del Rio, Texas, and he’s looking for an investment partner or partners. “I want to get the bank out of the picture,” he said.

To do that, he needs $730,000 within three weeks, and he will negotiate regarding specific terms, such as partnership percentages. For sure, though, the investor would enjoy free fishing, meals, and accommodations as often as he’d like. And Carl added that he can arrange for free hunting as well.

The Anglers Lodge sits on just under 10 acres, with 23 rooms, a café, and tackle store. It’s a 2- to 3-minute drive from four launch sites at Amistad, which is surrounded by federal land. Long-range plans call for acquisition and expansion onto an additional five acres.

With Carl, an investor would be partners with one of the real champions for bass conservation. He teaches fish care to bass clubs across Texas. And he recycles used baits into new ones. Success with that prompted him to create River Slung Custom Baits.

Lake Amistad is a 65,000-acre impoundment on the Rio Grande at its confluence with the Devils River. Here is what Bassmaster.com has to say about the scenic fishery on the Mexican border.

If you are interested in learning more, you can call Carl at 830 719-9907 or send him an email at anglerslodge1@yahoo.com.

Monday
Apr142014

Strategies Improve for Controlling Hydrilla; Giant Salvinia Grows as Threat to Fisheries

Hydrilla has joined Eurasian milfoil as an invasive exotic plant that threatens northern fisheries. It now has been found in Kansas and Missouri, and the Nature Conservancy is reporting “a number of populations on the doorstep of the Great Lakes.”

Giant salvinia, meanwhile, has emerged as a significant danger to some southern waters, especially in eastern Texas and Louisiana.

Yet much of the news these days is good for anglers in regard to troublesome aquatic plants, particularly hydrilla. Resource managers assert that they have learned from past mistakes and now strive to control this fish-attracting invasive, rather than obliterate it.

“We’re not trying to wipe it (hydrilla) out anymore,” said Howard Elder, aquatic plant biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “We’re trying to find a happy median.”

Bill Caton, leader of the Invasive Plant Management Section at Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that “spot treatment” is preferred.

“It’s like treating weeds in a flower bed,” he said. “It’s much better if you don’t let it get out of control. If you do, then it costs you more, you have to use more herbicides, and you have more dead vegetation to deal with.”

Caton acknowledged that sometimes the aftermath of a herbicide treatment for hydrilla and other invasives still “can look bad” to anglers.

“But the public is just looking at the immediate impact of the treatment and not thinking about the results,” he said. “Treatments are like prescribed fires. They can look bad, but they’re often the only alternative that we have for providing good fish and wildlife habitat and preserving places for people to fish.”

Mechanical harvesting, he added, “is too expensive and destroys everything,” including fish and invertebrates trapped in the plants.

Grass carp, meanwhile, are an option in some states, including Texas and South Carolina.

“We knock the hydrilla back with herbicides and then use grass carp for control,” Elder said.

For the massive Santee Cooper system, the exotic grass-eaters are the preferred primary tool, and Chris Page, manager for the aquatic plant program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, believes  balance has been achieved with this method as well.

“We do maintenance stocking of one fish per eight acres,” Page said. “That’s about 20,000 fish. And we’re going to put in another 10,000 to manage an additional 400 acres of (hydrilla) coverage.”

Such a formula is a far cry from the 700,000 fish stocked in the 160,000-acre system from 1989 to 1996, he explained.

“I understand the problem that the public had with that. There were too many carp for several years.”

But as they better manage hydrilla, state agencies also are challenged with new threats to fisheries, including crested floating heart (see below) and giant salvinia.

Unlike hydrilla, giant salvinia has no redeeming value as fish habitat, and it can double in area in 10 days or less. It destroys primary productivity in a fishery and acidifies water until only a desert remains under its canopy.

In Texas, giant salvinia is established in 12 lakes. It also has spread to Louisiana, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as other states.

“Hydrilla is a greater threat overall because it is so popular and so widespread,” Elder said. “Giant salvinia is not as easily distributed and it prefers acidic waters, which is why it is a threat in east Texas.”

This latest invader also is more difficult to control with herbicides than hydrilla, and carp won’t eat it. That’s why both Texas and Louisiana are raising weevils that will feed on the exotic plant.

New Invader

There’s a new bad kid on the block: crested floating heart. It’s been in Florida for awhile, and now is causing problems in South Carolina.

Chances are good that this native of Asia also is established in other states, but hasn’t yet been identified. With flat, floating leaves and white flowers, it resembles the native banana lily, according to the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) at the University of Florida.

“I think that this could be a bad one,” said Mike Netherland, an aquatic plants expert for the Army Corps of Engineers.

As with so many other exotic plants now degrading our waterways, it likely “escaped from a water garden somewhere,” according to Chris Page, program manager for aquatic plant management in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Within four to five years, crested floating heart spread from 10 to 15 acres to 2,000 in the 160,000-acre Santee Cooper system, he added.

“We’ve done some (herbicide) treatment in coves, where there’s no water movement,” said Page, adding that effective application is difficult in open water.

“It’s the most aggressive floating-leave plant that we’ve encountered on the lakes,” said Larry McCord, supervisor of analytical and biological services for the Santee Cooper power and water utility. “It is rooting in high-energy areas along the main shoreline and can grow quite successfully in 10 to 12 feet of water.”

In Santee Cooper’s lakes Moultrie and Marion, this invasive exotic has the potential to spread over 40 percent of the acreage, McCord explained. Plus, reports from Asia suggest that grass carp won’t eat the plant, not good news for a waterway where they are used to control hydrilla.

Once established, cresting floating heart blankets the surface, blocking light penetration to beneficial submersed plants.

In Florida, according to CAIP, the invader is considered a Category II ecological threat. That means it has increased in abundance, but has not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species (hydrilla).

(A variation of this article was published in B.A.S.S. Times a few years ago.)

Friday
Mar072014

South Florida Top 'Dream Destination' for Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

According to a survey conducted by AnglerSurvey.com, South Florida remains the top dream destination of would-be traveling anglers with 43 percent of those surveyed choosing it as the location they would most prefer to fish if they had the opportunity.

Here's more from parent company, Southwick Associates:

South Florida was followed by Costa Rica with just over 18 percent of respondents selecting the Central American country as the place they would go. Next on the list was Mexico with 12 percent, followed by the Bahamas with just over 12 percent and Panama with more than five percent.

Nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they had no preference, while 11 percent said they wouldn’t choose any of those places. Additional destinations written in by anglers included both salt- and fresh-water fishing locations such as Texas, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama and a handful of others.

 While all of the asked about destinations offer superb fishing—49 percent of responding anglers said that was one of the chief reasons they chose their respective dream fishing location—there are other factors that may have helped South Florida edge its competition. In addition to perceived great fishing, other top reasons for choosing the place respondents selected include less hassle to get there with 22 percent selecting that motivation, 21 percent cited feeling “more secure” at the location as a concern and 20 percent pointed to the cost of travel as a factor.

 “By virtue of being tropically located, but still a part of the United States, South Florida certainly offers a certain appeal to a lot of anglers not wishing to deal with the cost or additional concerns of international travel,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “Efforts by all travel destinations to improve convenience, contain costs and hassles and provide a strong sense of security can boost their sportfishing tourism dollars.”

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and/or AnglerSurvey.com. Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

Tuesday
Mar042014

Tourney Raises Funds for Conroe Restoration

During the past two years, the Lake Conroe Big Bass Extravaganza, sponsored by Legend Boats, has raised $6,000 for habitat restoration on this Texas fishery. Most of the funds will be directed toward the PVC habitat structure program, according to Derek Taylor, conservation director of the Seven Coves Bass Club (SCBC).

“Legend had heard of our conservation efforts on Lake Conroe at the 2010 Toyota Texas Bass Classic,” Taylor said. “They contacted us about assisting with the development of a big bass tournament at Lake Conroe.

“We were both humbled and honored that our dedicated conservation work was being noticed nationally in the fishing industry, and that a great company like Legend Boats wanted to work with us.”

Plagued with infestations of exotic vegetation and then an overpopulation of grass carp, Conroe suffered degraded habitat and a declining bass fishery for years. Then Seven Coves started to work, partnering with a variety of local, state, and national entities to restrict invasive plants and restore the fishery. Much of the effort has been directed at raising and planting beneficial native vegetation.

“This project benefits the environment by reducing harmful exotic vegetation in a sustainable manner, increasing sustainable native habitat for fish and other wildlife, sequestering harmful nutrients, reducing bank erosion, and stabilizing bottom sediments,” explained Mark Webb, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist.

During the second extravaganza this past April, Grant Rogers caught a 9.86-pound largemouth to win a custom Legend bass boat, as well as a $400 hourly prize.

Four prizes were awarded each hour, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the two-day event.

“While many volunteered to work the 130-angler event, SCBC members who fished the event also took home 13 checks for more than $3,800,” Taylor said.

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