Category Archives: Conservation

What Are Guadalupe Bass?

Guadalupe Bass – A Conservation Success Story
By Tim Birdsong, Chief of Habitat Conservation, Inland Fisheries – Texas Parks & Wildlife
from The Fishing Wire

The official state fish, Guadalupe Bass, has been restored to the South Llano River. Guadalupe Bass are endemic to the South Llano River and other clear, spring-fed rivers of the Texas Hill Country. They are threatened by loss of habitat and hybridization with non-native, introduced Smallmouth Bass that are native to the Great Lakes of North America and portions of the Ohio, Tennessee, upper Mississippi, and Saint Lawrence rivers. Smallmouth Bass have been introduced throughout North America, Africa, and Eurasia to enhance sport fishing opportunities.

This conservation success story for Guadalupe Bass begins with an ill-fated, experimental introduction of Smallmouth Bass to the South Llano River in 1958-1960. The introduction proved unsuccessful in establishing a self-sustaining Smallmouth Bass fishery, but resulted in an unforeseen and unintended consequence of creating a hybrid population of Guadalupe Bass and Smallmouth Bass. This hybridization went unnoticed in the South Llano River until similar situations resulted from stocking of Smallmouth Bass in other Hill Country rivers.

In 1974-1980, Smallmouth Bass were stocked by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in the Blanco, Guadalupe, Medina and San Gabriel rivers, and in Cibolo and Onion creeks. Once hybridization was detected and threats to Guadalupe Bass were recognized, TPWD ceased efforts to establish Smallmouth Bass fisheries in Hill Country Rivers and instead began to devise a strategy to prevent the local extirpation and possible extinction of Guadalupe Bass. Initial conservation efforts included establishment of a refuge population of genetically-pure Guadalupe Bass in the Sabinal River in 1988. In 1992, TPWD initiated a Guadalupe Bass hatchery program that has since produced and stocked 2,355,807 Guadalupe Bass in Hill Country Rivers. TPWD also partnered with local landowners, non-governmental organizations, fishing clubs, river authorities, and other partners to restore and preserve habitat conditions for Guadalupe Bass in rivers throughout the Hill Country.

In 2010, TPWD focused its attention on the South Llano River and the hybrid population that resulted from the historic Smallmouth Bass introduction. In partnership with numerous local cooperators, a plan was hatched to restore Guadalupe Bass to the South Llano River. Between spring 2011 and spring 2017, more than 700,000 genetically-pure Guadalupe Bass were stocked in the South Llano River. Today, less than 2 percent of the Guadalupe Bass population now consists of hybrids.

In addition to the South Llano River stocking program, project cooperators organized river conservation workshops attended by approximately 750 landowners and local community partners in the watershed. Over 78,000 acres of ranchlands implemented stewardship practices to help preserve fish habitats. Restoration projects in the watershed restored 7,754 acres of spring, stream and riparian habitats, directly benefiting water quality and habitat conditions for Guadalupe Bass. These and other conservation efforts in the South Llano River watershed have successfully restored Guadalupe Bass populations and helped promote local stewardship practices that will ensure the river is able to sustain Guadalupe Bass populations into the future. Learn more about efforts to conserve Guadalupe Bass in the South Llano River or watch this video produced by TPWD a few years ago featuring former TPWD Angler Education Instructors Guy Harrison and Mike Andrews.

Can Spawning Fish Influence River Profiles?

Sex that moves mountains: Spawning fish can influence river profiles
By Eric Sorensen, WSU News
from The Fishing Wire

fishPULLMAN, Wash. – It turns out that sex can move mountains.

A Washington State University researcher has found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. His study is one of the first to quantitatively show that salmon can influence the shape of the land.

Alex Fremier, lead author of the study and associate professor in the WSU School of the Environment, said female salmon “fluff” soil and gravel on a river bottom as they prepare their nests, or redds. The stream gravel is then more easily removed by flooding, which opens the underlying bedrock to erosion.

“The salmon aren’t just moving sediment,” said Fremier. “They’re changing the character of the stream bed, so when there are floods, the gravel is more mobile.”

Alex Fremier, associate professor at the WSU School of the Environment and author of “Sex that moves mountains” in the journal Geomorphology, with a rainbow trout on Lake Pend Oreille.
The study, “Sex that moves mountains: The influence of spawning fish on river profiles over geologic timescales,” appears in the journal Geomorphology.

Working with colleagues at the University of Idaho and Indiana University, Fremier modeled the changes over 5 million years and saw streams with spawning salmon lowering stream slopes and elevation over time. Land alongside the stream can also get steeper and more prone to erosion.

“Any lowering of the streambed translates upstream to lower the entire landscape,” said Fremier.

Different salmon species can have different effects, Fremier said. Chinook salmon can move bigger pieces of material, while coho tend to move finer material. Over time, this diversification can lead to different erosion rates and changes to the landscape.

The paper is another way of looking at the role of living things in shaping their nonliving surroundings. Trees prevent landslides; beavers build dams that slow water, creating wetlands, flood plains and habitats for different trees and animals.

In 2012, researchers writing in Nature Geoscience described how, before the arrival of trees more than 300 million years ago, landscapes featured broad, shallow rivers and streams with easily eroded banks. But tree roots stabilized river banks and created narrow, fixed channels and vegetated islands, while log jams helped create the formation of new channels. The new landscape in turn led to “an increasingly diverse array of organisms,” the researchers wrote.

Similarly, said Fremier, salmon can be creating new stream habitats that encourage the rise of new salmon species. On the other hand, streams where salmon drop in number or disappear altogether could see significant long-term changes in their profile and ecology.

“The evolution of a watershed can be influenced by the evolution of a species” Fremier said.

Read more like this at Washington State University News here

Mote Snook Shindig

Mote Snook Shindig catches valuable fisheries data
Mote Marine in Sarasota, Florida, has an on-going snook rearing, stocking and tagging program, and each year recreational anglers assist in the research–by fishing!

By Hayley Rutger, Mote Marine
from The Fishing Wire

More than 40 anglers participated in the 2017 William R. Mote Memorial Snook Shindig, a research-based catch, sample and release tournament on Nov. 3-4. This unique tournament involves the public in monitoring for snook released in fisheries enhancement studies.

Jennifer Castilow and Dr. Nate Brennan of Mote Marine Laboratory measure a snook. Credit Cheri Tardif.
Snook are one of the most sought-after catches in Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry, which draws more than $7 billion to the economy annually. However, increased fishing pressure, habitat loss, and natural challenges such as cold weather and red tides have contributed to declines in snook populations. Thus, for more than 30 years, Mote Marine Laboratory and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scientists have partnered in research designed to evaluate whether hatchery-raising and releasing snook into the wild can be an effective fishery management tool.

“The Snook Shindig is the only scientific tournament in which anglers focus on hatchery-reared and wild common snook,” said Dr. Kenneth Leber, Mote Senior Scientist. “Our goal is to estimate the contribution of previously tagged-and-released snook to the Sarasota Bay snook fishery, and to learn valuable information such as how different habitats affect snook growth, survival and migration patterns. Our research and this important tournament can help us understand how stock enhancement may help this snook population recover from large mortalities in the wild.”

Over decades, Mote scientists have released more than 61,000 snook into Sarasota-area waters. Past Snook Shindig results have revealed that changes in snook-release strategies, based on Mote pilot studies, have improved survival of stocked snook by as much as 200 percent.

Snook born and raised at Mote Aquaculture Research Park (MAP) in eastern Sarasota County are fitted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and released for research on responsible restocking practices. PIT tags provide a “barcode” identifying individual fish and containing other specific data, which can be “read” using a special scanner.

During this year’s Snook Shindig, 224 snook were caught and released. Though none of these were recaptured fish with Mote tags, all fish caught, measured and released yielded valuable data.

“From this year’s fish, we’re able to learn about the size distribution of the fishery in our area,” said Dr. Ryan Schloesser, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Mote. “If we don’t see our hatchery snook in the catch, that may mean that there are far more wild snook out there — so they’re likelier to be caught — and it may also mean that our hatchery-raised snook haven’t yet grown to the sizes likeliest to be caught in the area of the tournament. We think it’s a combination of these factors. We released 5,620 PIT-tagged snook in the past two years, and they may just need to mature into the size being caught. We hope to find out at our future Snook Shindigs!”

During the Nov. 4 awards dinner in Mote Marine Laboratory’s WAVE Center on City Island, Sarasota, Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby greeted guests.

“Thank you all for making this a memorable, meaningful Snook Shindig by fulfilling the essential role of citizen scientists,” Crosby said. “For more than 60 years, Mote’s independent researchers have worked with caring and knowledgeable community members like you to bridge our scientific discoveries with local, traditional knowledge and decision making at all levels, to support conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. You are part of a time-honored tradition that aims to preserve this beloved fishery for future generations. We couldn’t succeed without you.”

Crosby recognized presenting sponsors Carol and Barney Barnett, who have donated $3 million to help Mote implement its Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative — a science-based, community-wide, grassroots partnership initiative aimed at fisheries conservation and sustainable use in Sarasota Bay. The Barnetts’ leadership gift challenges others to match this critical support toward this important initiative.

To support Mote’s Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative, contact Erin Kabinoff at ekabinoff@mote.org or (941) 388-4441, ext. 309.

Crosby also recognized two pioneering senior scientists at Mote: Dr. Ken Leber, manager of Mote’s Fisheries Ecology & Enhancement Program, and Dr. Kevan Main, manager of Mote’s Marine & Freshwater Aquaculture Research Program, for their tireless and visionary efforts to improve snook aquaculture and enhance this critical fishery. Leber and Main were presented with fish art prints by Steve Whitlock.

Mote fisheries scientists thanked and recognized the entire team of dedicated volunteers, sponsors and attendees who helped make this year’s Snook Shindig possible, including Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff in attendance, fisheries conservation advocate Capt. Scotty Moore, this year’s featured artist for the Snook Shindig graphic, Steve Whitlock, and others (full sponsor list below).

“It was exciting to see a real range of ages participate as citizen scientists; many of the youth came up to give us a big hug and said they are going to go fishing next weekend,” said Mote staff scientist Carole Neidig, who coordinated the team effort for this year’s successful event.

Don’t Love Forests To Death

Forests – Don’t Love Them To Death

James L. Cummins
from The Fishing Wire

Editor’s Note: James L. Cummins, vice president of the Boone and Crockett Club, has released an Op-Ed on the mistreatment of our public lands with special attention on the negative effects on our national forests. We felt the topic timely and appreciate B&C allowing us to redistribute it.

“Love It to Death” is the third album by the Alice Cooper band, which was released in 1971. Loving it to death is how we, as a nation, seem to be treating much of our public lands, especially our national forests.

Lolo Peak Fire near Missoula, Montana 2017
More people are engaging in and having a greater influence on natural resource issues than ever before. People want to do what is best, yet are not necessarily familiar with what that is. There is a growing belief that “letting nature take its course” with no human interference is the best philosophy for managing natural resources. Many people are mistakenly or intentionally calling this way of thinking conservation, though it is more closely aligned with preservation.

These misconceptions are helping to shift the management of wildlife and its habitat from a “hands-on” conservation approach to a “hands-off” preservation approach that has serious negative implications, such as the wildfires we are witnessing across the United States. Imagine if we approached health care for humans the same way as we approached the health of our natural resources. Our life expectancy would be cut by at least a third. Relatively simple surgeries would be no longer. So, our quality of life would suffer. Is that what we want? I certainly don’t.

Conservation and preservation are both concerned with the betterment of the environment. Conservation focuses on using and managing natural resources to benefit people. Preservation is a philosophy that generally seeks to keep natural resources in a pristine state by excluding management and limiting how they are used by people. Conservation is the overarching concept with preservation being one of many management options within a broad conservation approach.

Conservation was developed and nationalized by the Boone and Crockett Club and its founder, Theodore Roosevelt, beginning in the late 19th century. One of the Club’s founding members, Gifford Pinchot, also the first chief of the Forest Service, is credited with first using the term “conservation.”

One of the best-known advocates of preservation was John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club and fought for Yosemite to become a national park in 1890. He believed scenic forests and mountains were sacred, sublime places that should be used only for enjoyment and inspiration and not as a resource for goods. Muir and other early preservationists saw only one choice for saving awe-inspiring landscapes – keep people out unless they were there for appreciation and solitude. It was the beginning of a national controversy that pitted Muir’s idea of preservation against conservation. We are still having this national debate 125 years later.

Nationally acclaimed wildlife biologist, Dr. Bruce D. Leopold, once said, “Nature just can’t take its course because frankly, there is no location on Earth where humankind has not had an impact. From radioactive materials and dust in polar ice, to ever-expanding distributions of invasive species, the evidence is clear that disruption of natural processes is a global phenomenon. Humans are a significant component of natural ecosystems (contributing the good and the bad) and the notion of suddenly removing their influence is both illogical and impossible. Natural ecosystems are just too altered to be left alone.”

In August 2017, over 650,000 acres were burning in the Western U.S. Most of these fires were on public lands, particularly federal lands. By September 1, seven hundred wildfires raged in the state of Montana alone, ravaging some 1 million acres of public and private lands. The Club evacuated its own Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch in Montana on September 12 as two wildfires were approaching the 6,300-acre property. Across the state, evacuations were taking place, structures were being burned, people were breathing hazardous air, federal and state resources were stretched thin and the state of Montana was out of money. Most tragic…two young firefighters lost their lives. And now, California is on fire.

What caused this wildfire phenomenon? Why, over the course of the last two decades, have wildfires intensified to the point of being natural disasters? What are the impacts on the people, landscape, wildlife, economies, and state and federal budgets and personnel? What can be done to correct this destructive situation going forward?

National forests comprise a large segment of the ecosystems in the western United States. Most have evolved with fires, insect and disease outbreaks and blow-downs to retain biodiversity and forest health. But, times have clearly changed. More people are living further out into wild-land urban interfaces. To protect lives and homes this has logically led to a forest policy of suppressing natural fires and insect outbreaks. This intolerance of fires combined with decades of relying on our forests for timber production and then dramatically scaling this back, have helped produce very “unnatural” conditions of fuel build up ripe for the wildfires we’re seeing today.

These unnatural conditions are resulting in wildfires that are destroying human lives, forests, wildlife habitat and homes and contributing to changing climate. Wildfires emit carbon that contributes to poor air quality. Healthy forests, as well as forest products, are a carbon sink, sequestering carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.

More than 60 million acres of national forests are at high risk of wildfire or in need of restoration. In the past 10 years, over 65 million acres have burned. Approximately 10 million acres burned in 2015, killing 11 firefighters. Federal foresters estimate that an astounding 190 million acres of land managed by the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are at an unnatural risk to catastrophic wildfire.

On our national forests alone, since 2000, wildfires average 6.9 million acres burned annually. In 1995, fire made up 16 percent of their annual appropriated budget. In 2015, fire made up 52 percent of their appropriated budget. That is a decrease in 36 percent of their funds that would be used for other activities, including research, forest improvements and maintenance.

Conservation can reverse these conditions through a variety of actions, such as harvesting trees and using controlled burns to mimic natural disturbances. These disturbances reduce build-ups of forest litter (fuel) and overgrowth to encourage a variety of successional stages for wildlife, biodiversity and the prevention of larger, hotter, more devastating fires from occurring that can destroy even old-growth forests. Preservation takes the opposite approach. It seeks to halt management actions and multiple use on the mistaken assumption the forests can and will return to their former “natural” condition.

The conservation principles of sustainable use and active management has the greatest chance of producing the goods and services that people want, as well as retaining long-term ecological integrity. Conservation provides the means and knowledge to produce timber from the most productive growing areas to meet much of the demand for wood products while allowing less intensive management over the majority of the forested landscape. This enhances biodiversity while localizing the impacts of our demands for these products. We have the ability to locate and manage intensive industries (such as energy development) and urban growth so that it aids conservation — consolidating daily life and extractive industries in some places allows other places to produce the benefits of wilderness, scenery and wildlife habitat.

Managing forests makes them resilient and able to withstand fire, pests and diseases. Management eliminates or reduces the impact of catastrophic wildfire; protects riparian areas important for stream health (shade, filtering, etc.) and fish species such as trout; and protects water quality due to fires followed by rains sediments washing downstream and damaging important drinking water supplies.

Using 21st century techniques by land management professionals – and not direct mail specialists and litigators – we have the technology and know how to restore America’s cherished landscapes back to a healthy, natural condition. Through the use of environmentally smart thinning, prescribed burns and other scientifically validated management practices, overstocked forests can be returned to a natural balance, reducing the risks of catastrophic wildfire and insect and disease infestations along with the associated expenditure of dollars.

It is time we returned the management philosophy of Roosevelt and Pinchot – conservation that is – to our national forests. Pure preservation is not working in many places. In order to leave the next generation of Americans a national forest system that is in the best health possible, we need to make sure it has the best care possible. Right now they are running a pretty high fever from a spreading cancer because we are loving them to death. The time for treatment is NOW, not after we have lost another million acres of wild places and the wild things that live in them.

Recovery plan for Atlantic Salmon

NOAA Reviews Recovery Plan for Atlantic Salmon
The Atlantic salmon is one of NOAA Fisheries’ Species in the Spotlight.
from The Fishing Wire

Background

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), also known as the “King of Fish,” were once found in north American waters from Long Island Sound in the United States to Ungava Bay in northeastern Canada. Atlantic salmon are anadromous fish, spending the first half of their life in freshwater rivers and streams along the East Coast of North America and the second half maturing in the seas between Northeastern Canada and Greenland.

Today, the last remnant populations of Atlantic salmon in U.S. waters exist in just a few rivers and streams in central and eastern Maine. These populations constitute the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon, which is listed as endangered under the ESA.

To address the critical status of this imperiled species, we are marshalling resources and reaching out to vital partners to stabilize their populations and prevent extinction.

Threats

The final listing rule highlights the importance of dams and marine survival as causes of the current demographic plight of Atlantic salmon. A host of other threats also limit Atlantic salmon’s survival including aquaculture practices (which pose ecological and genetic risks), changing land use patterns (e.g., development, agriculture, forestry), climate change, degradation of water quality (e.g., contaminants, nutrient enrichment, elevated water temperature), non-native fish species that compete with or prey on Atlantic salmon (e.g., smallmouth bass), loss of habitat complexity and connectivity, water extraction, among others.

Recovery

Through recovery planning we understand the threats and have identified a range of management actions that must be taken to address their decline. Some of the efforts that we are involved in include:

Work with dam owners as well as state and tribal partners to find solutions that allow Atlantic salmon access to freshwater habitats.
Conserve and restore other species (e.g., river herring) that salmon may depend upon.
Negotiate with international partners to minimize impacts to U.S. origin fish in distant-water fisheries.
Invest in science to ensure we implement conservation measures that will be most effective in restoring salmon populations at the lowest possible cost.

NOAA Fisheries is working with dam owners and local interests to develop solutions at dams that will allow for salmon recovery. NOAA Fisheries provided significant resources ($22.5 million) for the oversight, funding, and monitoring of two mainstem dam removals on the Penobscot River, which were part of the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

In addition, NOAA Fisheries staff continue to work with hydropower owners to craft plans for effective downstream and upstream fish passage at nearly all major hydropower dams within the designated critical habitat area for Atlantic salmon. The ultimate goal is to restore access to all necessary habitats for Atlantic salmon so that the fish are able to complete their life cycle moving from marine to freshwater and vice versa.

What Can You Do?

Landowners and the general public can contribute significantly in Atlantic salmon recovery by implementing best management and land stewardship practices that afford protections to Atlantic salmon, native fisheries and their habitats, including riparian land and water quality. They can:

Remove or provide passage around blockages, including round culverts and dams that prevent or impair the movement of Atlantic salmon and Maine’s native fish community.
Maintain and protect forested riparian areas that provide shade, nutrients, and cover necessary to support Atlantic salmon and Maine’s cold water and migratory fish community.
Avoid removing wood from Maine waterways and their banks because wood provides important habitat for Atlantic salmon and Maine’s native fish community to feed and seek shelter.
Maintain native vegetation along waterways to minimize erosion of topsoil to maintain healthy forests while reducing inputs of sediment into streams. Sediments fill in spaces between rocks that are used by Atlantic salmon and native fish communities as sites for laying eggs and by juvenile fish as shelter from predators.Encourage or participate in programs to conserve land and water resources that promote abundant, suitable habitats for Atlantic salmon and also assure that water resources continue to provide recreational and fishery opportunities into the future.

Shark Fin Ban Hurting Conservation?

U.S. Shark Fin Ban May Harm Shark Conservation
from The Fishing Wire

Two leading marine scientists say banning shark-fin trade in the U.S. will have little impact on protecting sharks: Here’s their take, from Mote Marine Labs in Sarasota, FL.

A new study in the scientific journal Marine Policy shows that banning the sale of shark fins in the United States can actually harm ongoing shark conservation efforts.

Study authors Dr. David Shiffman of Simon Fraser University’s Earth2Ocean research group and Dr. Robert Hueter from the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory say that the proposed Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017, a bill currently in committee in U.S. Congress, is a misguided and ineffective approach to protecting sharks.

To request a copy of the paper, “A United States shark fin ban would undermine sustainable shark fisheries,” journalists can contact Hayley Rutger: hrutger@mote.org. Here is the abstract and citation.

The proposed Act states that “no person shall possess, transport, offer for sale, sell, or purchase shark fins or products containing shark fins,” with a few very specific exceptions. If passed, the Act would make it illegal for U.S. fishers and businesses to sell or purchase shark fins.

The Act is not focused on shark “finning,” which has been illegal in U.S. waters since the 1990s. Finning is the inhumane, wasteful practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and tossing the animal back to die. U.S. shark fisheries are managed carefully, based on scientific data, and fishers are permitted to harvest non-depleted shark species, transport the whole animal back to shore and detach fins afterward — which is NOT finning. However, in some other parts of the world, finning contributes to the global fin trade and sharks are less sustainably managed.

In their new paper, Shiffman and Hueter review scientific and economic data to understand the possible implications of a U.S. ban on fin trade, including fins legally harvested in U.S. fisheries. Their key findings include:

Insignificant global impact of U.S. fin-trade ban: “…banning the sale of shark fins in the United States would likely not result in a significant direct reduction in global shark mortality, because the United States exports approximately one percent of all the shark fins traded globally, and imports an even smaller percentage of the global fin trade,” paper authors note.
U.S. shark fishing is well regulated. Preventing sale of U.S. caught fins opens more market share for less sustainable fisheries that may practice finning. “Of 16 global shark fisheries identified as biologically sustainable and well managed, 9 involve United States shark fishermen, accounting for 76.3% of total landings from these 16 fisheries,” the authors note.
U.S. ban could cause waste without reducing shark mortality. “Moreover, banning the sale of shark fins would not make it illegal to continue catch and kill sharks in the United States. It would only regulate how the parts of dead sharks can be used. Forcing fishermen to discard fins from sharks caught in sustainably managed fisheries would contribute to wastefulness in fisheries and undermine the ‘full use’ doctrine that is a component of the UN FAO International Plan of Action for Sharks, without reducing shark mortality.”
Costs to law-abiding U.S. fishers: “The proposed fin ban would therefore eliminate about 23% of the ex-vessel value of legally caught sharks, causing economic harm to rule-following fishermen and undermining decades of progress towards sustainable shark fisheries management in the United States.”
Instead of ban, sustainable harvest sets more realistic example for other nations: “A ban on the trade of shark parts from a sustainable fishery would not only eliminate a model of successful management from the global marketplace, but would also remove an important incentive for other nations to adopt that model. A nationwide ban on buying or selling fins would tell international trading partners that the United States will not support their shark conservation efforts regardless of future improvements to their fisheries sustainability.”

If a fin ban is not a viable solution, what can be done to help sharks? Dr. Robert Hueter at Mote, who has more than 40 years’ experience in shark science and conservation, offers a five-point approach designed to benefit shark populations while strengthening the U.S. economy:

Increase the penalties for shark finning, which the Florida state legislature has recently done.
Stop the import of shark products from countries that don’t practice sustainable shark fishing, especially those that still permit finning. Some authority to do this already exists, and there are at least two efforts underway to legislate further authority on Capitol Hill.
Incentivize our domestic industry to process American-harvested fins here within the U.S., rather than ship them to Hong Kong for processing (as happens now), thereby improving traceability of legal fins and supplying the demand of our own Asian cultures here in the U.S. with products “made in America.”
Continue to monitor our shark populations, conduct regular stock assessments and support strict measures for sustainability.
Educate the public about the real problems sharks face and empower people to do the right things in supporting shark conservation.

In addition, both authors of the Marine Policy paper suggest focusing more attention on the overall shark meat trade, which is worth $550 million worldwide and has been growing, compared with the fin trade alone, which is worth $330 million worldwide and has been declining.

Shark Fishing Tips

Shark Fishing Tips from NY DEC
from The Fishing Wire

Sharks are some of the sea’s most well-known but misunderstood inhabitants. They simultaneously provoke fascination and hysteria wherever they appear. Excessive fear of their ferocity and aggression has tainted people’s relationship with sharks, threatening their populations around the globe.

Sharks belong to the class of cartilaginous fishes that also includes rays and skates. They are primitive fishes whose skeletons lack true bones and instead are made of cartilage, the same material our ears and nose are made of.

There are over 500 species of sharks known through the world and are found in all seas, from near shore estuaries to the open ocean beyond the continental shelf. They are found in temperate, tropical and arctic latitudes as well as depths up to 6,000 feet.

New York’s marine waters are home to a variety of native shark species, as well as migratory species during the warmer months. During shark week, we will explore some of the lesser known sharks species found in New York’s marine waters and celebrate this misunderstood ocean predator.

‘Sharking’ in New York

Today, recreational and tournament anglers go shark fishing, also known as ‘sharking.’ Before heading out to try your luck at sharking, you must first register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry and apply for a federal Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit

When fishing for sharks, you should be able to identify what species you are prohibited from taking. For a list of shark species you are prohibited from taking, as well as those you are allowed to take, visit Saltwater Fishing Regulations for Sharks.

If you catch a prohibited shark species while fishing from shore, please do not drag the shark onto the beach. If you hook a prohibited shark species you must return the shark to the water at once, without unnecessary injury to the shark. The easiest way to do this is to cut your leader as closely to the hook (as safely as practicable), while the shark is still in the water. Non-stainless circle hooks will rust free from the shark’s mouth in a short period of time.

For best practices, view NOAA’s Atlantic Recreational Shark Fishing: Handling and Release of Prohibited Species video.

If you’re going shark fishing please be familiar with prohibited shark species, and always follow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) guidance, “If you don’t know, let it go!” For more information on how to identify shark species, visit NOAA’s Atlantic Shark website.

When fishing for sharks with baited hooks, you are required to use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks.

Non-stainless steel hooks deteriorate over time, reducing harm to a fish if you are unable to retrieve the hook. A circle hook’s point is turned back toward the shank, forming a semi-circle shape. A circle hook is preferred to a J-hook for sharking. A circle hook is more likely to lodge in a shark’s mouth. A J-hook is more likely to be swallowed and damage a shark’s internal organs.

Keep your circle hook’s point in line with the shank. When a hook’s point bends sideways away from the shank, it becomes offset. Offset hooks can potentially injure a shark when you are removing the hook.

Ecological Role

Sharks have been roaming the seas for over 400 million years, predating the dinosaurs! They have survived many mass extinctions, including the event that extinguished the dinosaurs about 6 million years ago. Sharks have survived successfully for so long due to their ability to evolve. As a result, sharks have become the ocean’s top predators, also known as apex predators. Most sharks are aggressive apex predators that consume fish, turtles and marine mammals. The exceptions are the whale sharks, the basking sharks and the megamouth sharks, which are all filter feeders that consume plankton.

Apex predators are at the top of the food chain and generally have no natural predators. They play a vital role in maintaining a healthy population of organisms they prey upon. Ecosystems are extremely complex. Even small changes can have significant consequences in a variety of ways. Removing or reducing the population of an apex predator has the potential to upset the population balance of both prey and predators. This can have far-reaching negative consequences throughout the ecosystem.

Sharks had always been the apex predators of the oceans, until humans began refining our ability to harvest marine resources. Technology has improved many aspects of human life, but it has also given us the capacity to over-harvest finite resources.

Shark Conservation

Historically, sharks have largely been an underutilized resource in North America. Small, limited fisheries have existed for many years in areas along the U.S. coast. Large, well organized fisheries have occurred occasionally, but have been relatively rare and short lived.

The earliest known local commercial shark fisheries on the east coast occurred in the 1930s using long lines, chain nets and gill nets. Most of these fisheries were near shore and localized. Sharks were mainly harvested for their liver oil for the production of vitamin A and their hides for leather. Prior to the 1970s, there was little utilization of shark meat for human consumption in the U.S. Improvements in methods for handling sharks at sea, along with a marketing program promoted by the government, increased demand and consumption of sharks. Today, commercial fishing for sharks uses primarily long lines and gill nets.

Recreational fishing along the U.S. east coast was popularized in the 1970s. Advances in boat construction, efficiency and size of marine engines, fishing tackle and electronics technology, along with the ability of the public to purchase and own boats, made shark fishing much more accessible to recreational fisherman.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized a fishery management plan and began managing the U.S. shark fishery in 1993. Measures adopted included commercial quotas, a commercial observer program, regulations regarding the retention of shark fins in proper proportion to carcasses, recreational bag limits, and prohibition of sale of recreationally caught sharks. As sharks continued to be overfished, subsequent addendums in later years included size limits for both recreational and commercial fisheries, permitting and reporting requirements, expansion of the observer program and limited commercial access.

*Special thanks to all our photograph contributors.* Many organizations who helped us with photographs are conducting exceptional work in shark research and conservation. For more information on how DEC administers permits for research and handling of native New York shark species, visit our Special Licenses Page.

Detroit River Fishing

Detroit River Fishing – Some Good Environmental News for a Change
James D. Swan, Ph.D.
from The Fishing Wire

Mainstream media daily bombard us with tales of woe, corruption, scandal, crime, crises, conflict, and disaster. We need to hear some good news, and clearly the recovery of the Detroit River is some good news.

At an average rate of 175,000 cubic feet per second, the Detroit River surges through a strait less than a mile wide for 32 miles, passing five million people as it flows between Lake St. Claire and Lake Erie. As it enters Lake Erie, the river widens and the waters slip past two cigar-shaped islands. Along the Canadian shore lies 2.5 miles long Bois-Blanc Island, a former amusement park that today is a resort community. To the west in American waters is a 12 mile-long cigar-shaped island, Grosse Ile, the quiet home of more than 10,000 people.

A history of the Detroit River reveals how becoming “civilized” can influence water quality. In 1701 the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit on the west bank of this strait. Within a couple decades, each winter the hay, straw, and manure from all the stables in Detroit were hauled out onto the frozen river and dumped on the ice. Spring thaws would then carry away downstream like one giant flush of the city’s toilet.

As Detroit grew from a trading post into a city, waste dumping increased. In 1823 Peter Berthelet was authorized to build a wharf from the shore out to deep water and install a pipe to supply water that would be free from contamination by the debris commonly dumped into the river.

By 1909 the pollution of the Detroit River had become so bad that an International Joint Commission of representatives from the United States and Canada was formed. Four years later the both countries admitted they were dumping untreated sewage into the river and they agreed to build sewage treatment plants. A 1929-30 follow-up study concluded the river was no longer polluted. My father, who lived nearly all his life on Grosse Ile, recalled how in the late 20’s he and his friends used to be able to see the bottom of the river when they dove off the bridge on the west side of the island.

As Henry Ford’s dream of creating the automobile manufacturing center of the world materialized, World War II drove Detroit into round the clock manufacturing of vehicles and the quality of water in the Detroit River again declined. A l946-48 International Joint Commission reported that the Detroit River was seriously polluted by some 1,739,120,040 gallons of municipal and industrial wastewaters that were flushed away on an average day! Oil slicks on the river were reported 1/3 of the time. Once abundant species, such as whitefish, blue pike, trout, and sturgeon, virtually disappeared from the Detroit River and Lake Erie, and those remaining often tasted oily. Major public-access sites displayed public health warning signs. You could still catch some fish from the bank, but not the same assortment of prime species as a few decades earlier, and they often tasted like oil.

A reminder of the bad old days for the Detroit River. James Swan photo.
Two decades later, in waste waters came an infusion of nitrates and phosphates from common household detergents stimulatong the growth of aquatic plants in the river and lake. These aquatic plants became so luxuriant that by mid-summer, boating was impossible in large areas. And as the plants died off in the fall, large amounts of vegetative material sank to the bottom, covering the bottom with a thick mat of rotting ooze. Starting in the late fifties, large areas of the river and lake became biological deserts for all but carp and goldfish.

In l964 an International Joint Commission report declared that the lower 26 miles of the Detroit River were “polluted bacteriologically, chemically, physically, and biologically so as to interfere with municipal water supplies, recreation, fish and wildlife propagation and navigation.” Wildlife biologist Dr. George Hunt estimated that as many as 10,000 ducks, geese, swans and gulls used to die nearly every winter from oil spills in the lower Detroit River.

Little wonder that in 1970 a cover story on Time magazine declared Lake Erie dead.

Earth Day 1970 finally drew focus on the serious pollution problems of that time, and an international movement began to clean up the Detroit River. So much progress has taken place in the Detroit River since then that in 2001 an International Wildlife Refuge was established in the lower Detroit River, with its initial offices on Grosse Ile.

Some examples of recovery accomplishments:

1) In the 1970s there was a nearly complete reproductive failure of bald eagles. In 2013, there were 18 active bald eagle nests in the vicinity of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

2) The falcon population in Michigan was decimated in the 1950s. Falcons were reintroduced in Detroit in 1987 and since the early 1990s falcon reproductive success has steadily increased. Falcons now nest under the Ambassador Bridge

3) In 2009, a pair of osprey built a nest in a cell phone tower adjacent to the Gibraltar Wetlands Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge; the first time that osprey have successfully nested in Wayne County since the 1890’s.

4) Since the early 1960’s there’s been a 96% decline in nesting pairs of terns along the Detroit River. In 2012 two common terns fledged on restored Belle Isle habitat on Belle Isle; the first fledging since the 1960’s.

5) A hundred years ago, sturgeon were abundant in the Detroit River and Lake Erie. No sturgeon spawning was recorded in the Detroit River from 1970s to 1999. In 2001 sturgeon reproduction was documented on the U.S. side near Zug Island and in 2009 sturgeon reproduction was documented near Fighting Island on the Canadian side of the river

6) In 2006 whitefish spawning in the Detroit River was documented for the first time since 1916

7) The walleye population in Lake Erie was rated as in “crisis” in 1978. By 2012, fishery biologists estimated that 22.2 million walleye (age 2 and greater) were present in Lake Erie, resulting in a total harvest through sport and commercial fishing of 2.48 million walleyes. It’s estimated now that 10 million walleye ascend the Detroit River from Lake Erie each spring, The Detroit River and Lake Erie are now considered the “Walleye Capital of the World.”

8) Beaver were hunted to near extinction in lower Michigan during the “fur trade era.” During the 1940’s-1970’s, beaver couldn’t have survived in the Detroit River because oiled fur becomes matted and loses its ability to trap air to maintain body temperature. In 2008, two beaver built a lodge at DTE’s Conner Creek Power Plant. Beaver are now found in the headwaters of the Rouge River, and in 2013, beaver were seen at DTE’s Rouge Power Plant.

9) Steelhead and salmon are now found in the Detroit River and Lake Erie and some spawn in tributaries.

10) Wild celery (an important food for diving ducks) in the Detroit River declined 72% between 1950 and1985 because of oil and other pollution. It’s increased 200% since 1985.

11) The entire length of the Detroit River is now safe for water contact sports.

I’d add that when I was growing up on Grosse Ile, I saw one deer on the island before I left for college. There now is a deer season on the refuge.

The man to speak with about the current status and future of the Detroit River is Dr. John Hartig, Manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/detroitriver/

A life-long resident of Southeastern Michigan, John grew up in Allen Park in the 1960s, and would pedal his bike down Southfield Road to fish the Detroit River. When he’d come back home, Hartig recalls “The neighbors would say, ‘You’re not going to eat that fish are you?'”.

According to Dr. Hartig, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international refuge in North America and one of only 14 priority urban refuges in the nation charged with bringing conservation to cities. It covers 48 miles of shoreline along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie – stretching from southwest Detroit to the Ohio-Michigan border and as far east as Point Pelee National Park in Ontario. The Refuge focuses on conserving and restoring habitats for 350 species of birds and 117 species of fish. USFWS currently owns or cooperatively manages 6,202 acres of unique lands and partners with Michigan Department of Natural Resource on conservation of 7,897 acres of state-owned land. A Canadian registry of lands includes 3,797 acres of Essex Region Conservation Authority lands and 981 acres of City of Windsor lands. In total, 18,877 acres of land in southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario are now being cooperatively managed for conservation and outdoor recreation for nearly seven million people living in a 45-minute drive.

The cornerstone of the Refuge is the 410-acre Humbug Marsh in Trenton – the last mile of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River.

As a result of considerable public outcry over potential development of Humbug Marsh, it was purchased by USFWS and preserved in perpetuity as the cornerstone of the Refuge. Humbug Marsh is considered an internationally important wetland because of its ecological importance in the Detroit River corridor and the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. Oak trees around the marsh have been aged at over 300 years old and were alive when Cadillac founded Detroit in 1701, and there’s a local healthy deer herd in that area.

Refuge Gateway Center (top) under construction will help educate the next generation while the 740-foot dock for the Great Lakes school ship (below) will also help teach them about conservation- and fishing. Photo by Tandem with permission.

An automotive manufacturing facility in Trenton that produced brakes, paints, and solvents for 44 years was located adjacent to Humbug Marsh. It was cleaned up to industrial standards and sat vacant as an industrial brownfield for over 10 years. In 2002, Wayne County Parks purchased this brownfield in Trenton to become the future home of the Refuge Visitor Center and to improve outdoor recreational opportunities including shore fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, kayaking, and more. It’s taken 10 more years to cleanup this former industrial brownfield and meet public use standards.

Through this restoration project there’s been: a net gain of over 16 acres of wetlands in an area that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development; restoration of 25 acres of upland buffer habitat; control of invasive plant species on over 50 acres of upland habitats, including control of invasive Phragmites along 2.5 miles of shoreline. It’s also resulted in merging the 44-acre Refuge Gateway with the 410-acre Humbug Marsh into one ecological unit. Citizen involvement has occurred throughout the project, including public meetings, design charrettes, planting trees and wetland plugs, building trails, birding tours, and nature hikes to achieve local ownership/stewardship. It’s the only project in the world to successfully clean up an industrial brownfield to serve as an ecological buffer for a “Wetland of International Importance.”

At the Refuge Gateway under construction are: a 12,000 square foot LEED-certified, Visitor Center (two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, and one-third of the building devoted to hands-on and minds-on activities for children); a 740-foot dock for the Great Lakes school ship that will use the adjacent waters as a living laboratory for children; a universally-accessible 200-foot fishing pier; a canoe and kayak launch; three wildlife observation decks; and an outdoor environmental education classroom. There are three miles of hiking trails that will be connected to over 100 miles of greenway trails. When the visitor center and amenities open in 2018, it will attract hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, changing the image of the river and the refuge from a polluted “rust-belt” dump to a conservation treasure.

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance and the Friends Organization for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge are currently leading a two-month, on-line fundraising campaign to complete the school ship dock and fishing pier at the Refuge Gateway in Trenton. See link

Their goal is to raise $50,000 in two months to complete this project by August 31. If they do, they’ll receive $50,000 in match funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Donations are welcomed.

One good example of conservation success like the Detroit River recovery can start a national, and international movement that can change the world, maybe even force the media to tell us more good stories.

Stocking Plans for Lake Guntersville

Stocking Plans for Lake Guntersville (AL) Progressing
By stocking Florida strain bass in the big Alabama lake, local anglers are hopeful Guntersville can be restored to former glory as one of the top bass lakes in the nation.

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Captain Mike Carter and wife Sharon, organizers of the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group, held a meeting in Scottsboro this past Sunday in which Carter advanced plans to go ahead with state-approved stocking of 50,000 Florida strain largemouth bass fingerlings into the north end of the lake next May.

The stocking will be entirely financed by local communities and private donors, with no state tax or license money involved, Carter said. He’s hopeful the infusion of new bass stocks will help to restore the lake to former glory as a fishing lake–it was once ranked as the top bass lake in the nation, but has dropped dramatically in recent years in the rankings.

Carter said he had hoped to get the stocking underway by fall to see earlier returns of catchable size fish, which will require at least two to three years from the stocking date, but the ADCNR district biologist Keith Floyd recommended that the stocking take place in late spring, when he said research indicates the tiny largemouths would have a better chance of not being eaten by other fish, and would also have a better chance to learn to feed themselves without immediately having to deal with the cold water of winter.

Carter said the group plans to put donated funds into a tax-deductable account, so that private parties who donate can get a tax deduction for their funding.

Carter said the fish would be stocked in the shallows of a number of feeder creeks. Though it’s sure that the majority will be eaten by other fish, it’s likely that enough will survive to have a major impact on the fishery in the future, not only with anglers catching the stocked fish, but with their contribution to the gene pool.

Florida bass are noted for growing faster and reaching much larger sizes that the northern-strain bass that are found naturally in the TVA lake system. Florida strain fish stocked in some California lakes have exceeded 20 pounds in recent years, and they regularly produce fish of 13 to 15 pounds from Texas lakes. Pure Florida’s are found mostly from Gainesville, Florida, southward–those in the northern part of the state are primarily intergrades with northern strain bass, biologists say.

Carter said he’s hopeful that the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group can become a continuing funding source for added stocking in the future, with donations allowing restocking every two to three years. The pure-strain Florida fish are obtained from a Montgomery hatchery that specializes in raising them for stocking in private ponds nationwide.

“It’s not just about fishing and fishermen,” says Carter. “When we have nationally-known fishing here, the communities around the lake make a lot of money based on tourism, property values go up, and the tax base grows a lot faster than it would otherwise–it’s a real investment in the future of our area.”

Visit the Lake Guntersville Conservation Group Facebook page here. Carter, who is an active fishing guide on the lake, can be contacted at 423-802-1362.

Big Catfish

Give CPR to Big Catfish
Today’s feature comes to us from Greg Wagner of Nebraska Game & Parks, on the importance of releasing large catfish to fight again, whether they’re caught in Nebraska or anywhere across the nation.

By Greg Wagner, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
From The Fishing Wire

Did you see that? She released that big catfish back in the water! But, why? She should have taken that big fish home, cleaned it and ate it!

Why do some people get perplexed when they see someone release a massive, master angler-sized catfish? After all, catfish, especially larger ones, sure taste good, don’t they?

So why is it every time we see an angler report or post a mention or picture of a large catfish they have put back in the water, a spirited discussion, no scratch that, a huge dispute ensues over what is ethical?

So how do we move beyond flaming the angler who chooses to release a sizeable channel, blue or flathead catfish?

Allow me to inform you on why I am so passionate about and concerned with that whopper being taken home for the fryer.

First, let me say that I have never judged any licensed angler who has kept a large catfish to eat, and I won’t as long as that licensed angler is obeying the laws and regulations set forth by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

But, let’s go deeper into the issue of catching and releasing voluminous catfish family members.

Unlike other game fish, the growth of catfish is very slow. Actually, catfish are among the slowest growing freshwater fish in our part of the country.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department age and growth studies indicate that a 40-pound blue catfish could be 25 years old! A 30 inch blue catfish in Oklahoma and Missouri averages 10 to 12 pounds and is most likely around 14 years old! And, in Nebraska, Daryl Bauer of the Game and Parks Commission’s Fisheries Division adds that a 10 pound channel catfish is most likely dozens of years old!

So, it takes a while for catfish to reach trophy and spawning sizes with some not even surviving adulthood under ideal or normal conditions. Also, with catfish, larger specimens pass on physical traits and survival instincts to thousands of young. Essentially, proper catch and release fishing improves wild catfish populations by allowing more fish to remain and successfully reproduce in an aquatic ecosystem in greater numbers. Keep in mind that mature catfish can lay anywhere from 4,000 to 100,000 eggs in cavities, and breeding males can fertilize as many as nine spawns a season if the eggs are removed from the spawn site each time.

Furthermore, In-FishermanvMagazine’s Doug Stange, says statistical evidence suggests that once catfish attain a larger size they may continue grow exponentially by weight. One key, he says, to catching bigger catfish in any water body, is to limit the harvest of large fish, in favor of releasing them to be caught again and again. The practice of catch and release fishing provides an opportunity for increasing numbers of anglers to enjoy fishing and to successfully catch a memorable catfish.

Your blogger shows you a hefty channel catfish caught and then immediately released in a private sandpit lake in western Douglas County, NE. Photo by Rich Berggren/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Catch and release fishing works but only if you learn to properly handle and care for big catfish.

Brad Durick, renown channel catfishing guide on the Red River of the North in North Dakota, and longtime Nebraska Game and Parks Fisheries Biologist, Daryl Bauer, both unequivocally agree.

Here are their eight things to remember when putting a lofty catfish back in the water to ensure the best chances for its survival:

Grab that rubber net. Unlike most fish species, catfish aren’t armed with skin-protecting scales. Instead, they have skin and secrete a viscous slimy substance that acts as an antiseptic. So for landing big catfish you need a knotless, rubber or rubber-coated net that won’t abrade their skin or remove their vital slime layer. A rubber-coated net with micro-mesh and a flat bottom panel is a optimum because it gently supports the fish without contorting its body in abnormal angles. Without a net, a large, wild catfish flopping on the boat floor, bank or dock is asking for trouble — broken equipment, sprained ankles and severely injured fish.

Wear rubber gloves. In the case of handling big catfish, a variety of rubber gloves specifically designed to make gripping fish easier without removing their slime, should be worn. They should always be wetted first, before grabbing a fish, in order to be minimally abrasive. Gloves also have the added bonus of protecting anglers from catfish spines, sandpaper-like teeth and even hooks!

No vertical holds! Fully support the weight of that big catfish fish with both hands and hold it horizontally. Keep hands away from gills and gill openings. Grip the narrow body section just below the tail with one hand and then basically cradle the fish’s head and shoulders with the other, avoiding pectoral and dorsal fins completely. If the fish decides to shake, you simply keep a firm grip on the tail and keep its head balanced until it calms down. It’s an safe, easy grip that just works.

Use good quality circle hooks. A huge part of proper catch and release for substantial catfish involves the use of circle hooks and and preferably higher quality, tournament grade circle hooks. Good circle hooks are a must for hooking catfish safely and securely. Employing tournament grade circle hooks, allows nearly all of big catfish to be hooked in the corner of the jaw. This allows for a quicker hook removal, causes less stress on the fish and shortens time that the fish has to be out of the water.

Carry long-handled needle nose pliers. Long-handled needle nose pliers let you to remove hooks with better control and limit your “hands on” contact with big catfish. Fish that are barely hooked or hooked in the lip can usually be freed with your hand, but it’s a good idea to always have a pair of long-handled needle nose pliers for those harder to reach hooks.

Take quick pics. Take a few quick Smartphone or iPhone pics (photos) of the big channel, blue or flathead catfish you landed to preserve the memory of that trophy catch, and then put the fish gently back in the water right away. Practice conservation, practice CPR — Catch, photo and release! Just think, next week, the large catfish you released could be the biggest catfish some other lucky angler ever caught!

Be prepared. Are your rubber gloves or rubber net and pliers within reach? Is your camera ready? Anything you can do to get that big catfish back in the water as soon as possible helps to improve the odds for survival. If you have everything you need handy you won’t have to keep the fish out of the water for very long.

Little, long and cut. Catch and release fishing for weighty cats works if three basic tactics are remembered and followed: Play the fish as little as possible, keep the fish in the water as long as possible and cut the line if the fish has swallowed the hook.

Good fishing!

“Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once” – Lee Wulff, Widely Acclaimed Fly Fisherman.