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BASS across North America

10/21/2004

ARKANSAS

Forrest Wood of Flippin, Ark., founder of Ranger Boats, has been appointed chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). Wood was first named to the commission in 1998 by Gov. Mike Huckabee. The first commissioner from Marion County, Wood will serve as chairman until June 30, 2005.

While fishing at Lake Wedington earlier this year, Nathan Taylor of Farmington broke a state record. But it wasn't a bass he landed. It was an 80-pound grass carp. The fish measured 52 inches in length and 28 inches in girth. Surprisingly, Taylor was using a Zoom Trick Worm when the fish hit it. With 14-pound-test line, the fight lasted approximately 45 minutes.

Fishermen and hunters will gain convenient access to Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge with the construction of a new road and parking lot by the AGFC. The hard-surface road on the eastern edge of Union County will be a mile long and will lead to an access point on the west bank of the Ouachita River. It can be reached from U.S. Highway 82 between Crossett and El Dorado, and the site will include a parking lot for vehicles and trailers.

With assistance from local anglers, the AGFC stocked 104,500 largemouth bass fingerlings and 28,000 smallmouth fingerlings in Lake Ouachita recently. Members of the Arkansas Black Bass Coalition helped scatter the young fish over the eastern part of the lake. The anglers also assisted with the stocking of smallmouth bass on the lower portion of Lake Ouachita between Blakely Mountain Dam and Point #1. This is the first year in a five year AGFC effort to establish a viable, self-reproducing smallmouth bass fishery in the lower end of the lake. A state official said the current brood stock of smallmouth bass was made available to the AGFC by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Those adult smallmouth bass will be maintained at the Andrew Hulsey State Fish hatchery near Hot Springs for future stockings.

ILLINOIS

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency may adopt new regulations in protecting state waterways. The new rules would require communities in selected watersheds to alter their land use plans to prevent developers from building close to the water's edge. The rules would also encourage communities within the same watershed to work together to create a comprehensive water resource plan. The rules stem largely from a decade-long state EPA battle to get out of the business of approving changes in regions served by municipal sewage treatment plants. The ability to expand sewage systems has become a hot issue as communities across the state fight to attract business investments. The state EPA has long believed its job is to protect state water quality - not oversee annexation disputes between municipalities.

Anglers in Illinois are being encouraged to report any new sightings of bighead and silver carp, two species of invasive Asian carp threatening sportfishing throughout the Mississippi and Illinois river basins and Great Lakes region. A flyer is being distributed to tackle shops statewide to assist with those efforts. If bighead or silver carp are caught, anglers are asked to note the location of the catch, freeze the specimen in a sealed plastic bag, and contact the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program by calling 847-872-8677 or the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at 309-968-7531.

INDIANA

Goldfish are thriving and threatening gamefish populations in a lake near Gary, Ind., according to Bob Robertson, a biologist for the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Robertson said the agency faced a similar problem 15 years ago and conducted a controlled kill to rid Spectacle Lake of the unwanted goldfish. But the fish were reintroduced in the lake, located about 15 miles southeast of Gary. "It only takes two," said Robertson. Currently, goldfish make up about 90 percent of the lake's fish population, said Walt Breitinger, president of the Chain of Lakes Watershed Group. The fish swim in and kick up the mud and destroy bass nests in the ground. "They can be quite destructive," said Jonathan Lowrie, a marine biologist and California-based consultant. "They're considered an invasive species." Lowrie said the goldfish also produce large amounts of mucus and can reduce oxygen to a level that can make bass sick.

Efforts to coordinate the repair of a washed out river bank and road along the Ohio River in Clarksville, Ind., have led the DNR to temporarily close the boat ramp and parking area at Falls of the Ohio State Park. The repairs are expected to be completed by Oct. 30. No public, recreational or commercial use of the ramp area will be allowed during the construction period. The ramp will be accessible for emergency purposes only.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana moved one step closer to amending the state's constitution to preserve its citizens rights to hunt, fish and trap when Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed legislation placing the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. The legislation (SB 2) was introduced by Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus co-chair, Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworthand, and was a top priority for the caucus that was created this past April. The measure passed the floor without a nay vote.

MARYLAND

Biologists and recreational fishermen are concerned about the apparent infestation of northern snakehead fish in the Potomac River, so they're offering a reward to anyone who catches one of the voracious fish. Additionally, a draft regulation by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources would bar state residents from possessing 29 types of the non-native fish and their eggs, including the northern snakehead. Live snakeheads can be kept only with a DNR permit. State and federal law currently bans only the importation of snakeheads across state lines. It's also illegal to introduce them into a state waterway. The fish are sometimes sold at Asian markets or kept as pets. The regulation is intended to stem the spread of the voracious predator by targeting those responsible for their introduction into local water. Meantime, Bass Pro Shops will give gift certificates to anyone who catches a northern snakehead in the Potomac watershed or anywhere else in Maryland. Anyone who catches a snakehead is asked to kill it, and the DNR should be notified as soon as possible by calling 410-260-8320 or 877-520-8DNR, ext. 8230.

MICHIGAN

Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries specialists announced that repair work will soon begin on the Black River Lake Dam in Gogebic County. A routine inspection last year by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Dam Safety Unit revealed structural problems that need to be addressed. Repairs to the 150-foot, earth-filled dam include filling cracks and holes in the cement box drain and spillway. Built in 1931, the dam was rebuilt in 1947 and again in 1966, in response to washouts. The 105-acre shallow impoundment is a popular destination for black crappie and largemouth bass anglers. Madison said the lake will remain open to the public for fishing during the drawdown. The lake will remain drawn down this winter to allow compaction of soils. Fisheries officials said the impoundment will be refilled and stocked next spring.

MINNESOTA

Milfoil has been discovered in Leech Lake, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The non-native invasive aquatic plant was discovered in several harbors from Stony Point to Rogers Point on the southern shore. Milfoil has now been discovered in 146 lakes and seven rivers or streams in Minnesota.

NORTH DAKOTA

Anglers who catch a tagged fish are encouraged to send the information online to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, by logging on to the department's Web site at discovernd. com/gnf. Anglers should then click on the fishing link, scroll down to the "report a tagged fish" link and simply enter the information requested. Report forms are also available at all game and fish offices. The department has several tagging projects ongoing across the state this summer. Fish tags come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

OKLAHOMA

In reservoirs over 1,000 acres in size, Konawa Lake earned the top spot in the number of bass surveyed per hour, according to creel survey results from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). Covering 1,300 acres in Seminole County, Konawa produced 170 bass per hour during the surveys. In the small reservoir category, Lake Schooler near Hugo produced 191 bass per hour of electrofishing, placing it in the No. 1 spot for lakes under 1,000 acres. This small ODWC-owned lake covers only 35 acres and was built in the 1930s. For the complete 2004 Spring Electrofishing Survey Results, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Fifteen tanks holding deadly atomic waste at a nuclear weapons complex along the Savannah River have cracked, rusted or leaked, according to federal inspection reports. Some of the cracks date to the 1950s, when the steel tanks first went into use at the Savannah River site. But inspection reports say some new leaks have been found in the past three years. In 2001, 92 gallons of radioactive waste leaked through a 40-year-old tank into a containment area. Six leak sites were found on the 750,000-gallon, 24-foot-high steel tank. The 300-square-mile federal weapons complex has 51 steel tanks holding 37 million gallons of waste, including uranium, cesium and plutonium. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., which runs the site for the U.S. Department of Energy, says some tanks are within 8 to 10 feet of the water table, raising concerns. The Energy Department wants Congress to allow it to empty most of the waste from tanks and fill them with a grout.

TENNESSEE

Teams of canoeists protesting plans for mountaintop and ridgetop mining paddled the 400-mile length of the Cumberland River where the tainted runoff would flow, reported The Tennessean. Upon reaching Nashville, the group planned to deliver a bottle of mining sediment to Gov. Phil Bredesen. The "message in a bottle" campaign was launched by Save Our Cumberland Mountains, a 30-year-old group sponsoring the event with the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. With mountaintop mining, the earth is blasted apart and pushed away to fill a valley, which also can fill a stream. The mountain is left with a flat top. The area in question includes the state's 50,000-acre Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area in east Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority owns the mineral rights there and is preparing an environmental impact statement on developing the resources. The state fined the Robert Clear Coal Corp. $15,000 for violating its permit after creeks were sullied at a Campbell County mining site across Zeb Mountain. Another $9,130 in fines was issued to the company last year after it caused a landslide.

Boat operators need to remember that any time their vessels are moving, even if they're only adrift, passengers under 13 must wear a personal flotation device. If a boat is not docked or tied to a fixed object, a young passenger is still required to wear a personal flotation device. A boat does not have to be under power for the law to apply.

TEXAS

For now, the drought is over on the parched Rio Grande River where it flows through Texas. As a result, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists rushed to take advantage of the situation by stocking more than a million fish in Amistad and Falcon reservoirs this past spring and summer. Last June, the surface area of Falcon Lake near Laredo was 22,318 acres, according to the International Boundary and Water Commission office at Falcon Dam. In late June, the lake surface covered 62,822 acres, nearly three times bigger than it was a year ago. TPWD has so far stocked about 663,000 Florida largemouth bass and 174,000 native northern bass fingerlings at Falcon. At Amistad Reservoir this year, TPWD has stocked 552,000 Florida bass and 42,000 northern bass. All of this is designed to take advantage of recent rainfall that has filled up lake arms and creeks that have been dry for years, areas that provide important fish habitat. Most of the stocked fish are fingerlings that should grow to legal, catchable size within a year or two. However, TPWD has also stocked hundreds of larger brood fish weighing 5 to 8 pounds to help jumpstart lake fisheries. "While the lake was down, we saw all kinds of plant regrowth along the shoreline, and when the water increased, that created new habitat," said Jimmy Dean, TPWD's fisheries biologist for Falcon Lake. "It's creating, in essence, a new lake." Besides Amistad and Falcon, rains have also filled reservoirs on the river's Mexican side, such as El Cuchillo, which delivers water to the densely populated Lower Rio Grande basin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying the feasibility of establishing a national wildlife refuge along the Neches River in Anderson and Cherokee counties. Public meetings were held in July to gather feedback between government officials and citizens living in the area. The refuge would be limited to about 25,000 acres and would conserve primarily bottom hardwoods and wetland forests in the flood plain of the Neches River. The area is important habitat for migratory waterfowl and resident wildlife.