Category Archives: Fishing Information

The Value of Fishing in North Dakota

The Value of Fishing

(Today’s feature, from Greg Power of the North Dakota Game & Fish Commission, is written for anglers in his home state, but many of the thoughts he offers could apply to many states nationwide in terms of the value of our fisheries.)
from The Fishing Wire

Have you ever wondered why the diamond on a ring may cost $10,000 or more, yet it has no material utility other than to shine? Or why a teaspoon of salty fish eggs may run $100, even if the majority of people would prefer nothing more than just the cracker on which the eggs are served?

Economists use various terms for these peculiarities, but in the end it frequently comes down to societal values. These values are often determined by demand and markets based on consumption and desire. Value is a broad term that is inherently difficult to fully understand, but is driven by a balance of human wants and needs.

Readers of North Dakota OUTDOORS are likely outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing and hunting. If you pick apart why we participate in these recreational activities, the word “value” will surface. But due to history, backgrounds, income and so on, we “value” our resources differently.

For example, while some people are willing to pay a lot of money for a North Dakota bighorn sheep auction license, many others are not willing to hunt prairie dogs even though no license is needed.

After a long winter of snow and cold, the value of fishing in spring for northern pike that have moved into shallow water, some anglers would argue, is high.
In simple dollars and cents, tracking value is doable as defined metrics that are often used. According to a 2012 North Dakota State University economic study, on average, resident anglers spent $178 per day of fishing. Cumulatively, fishing in North Dakota generates considerable money, as the annual gross business volume of fishing totals $885 million. That’s a lot of money by any standard, and it is obvious that a high percentage of North Dakotans participate in fishing and spend a lot of money doing it.

Interestingly, this same study also assessed how much anglers value fishing. Survey respondents were asked to place a monetary value on a single day spent fishing. According to the study, these values do not imply spending levels, but rather indicated a measure of the importance for the participant of time spent fishing in the state.

The average North Dakota angler valued a day of fishing in our state at $178. Of real interest was that these were independent determinations, one asking how much they did spend fishing, the other asking how much they valued fishing (in dollars), and both groups came up with the same sum of $178 per day.

The value of fishing is far more than just about money. Societal shifts over time often change the significance of value. For example, there was time in human development where availability of fresh water was not an issue for inhabitants, but they did expend a lot of time procuring salt. Fast forward to today, and we often witness on many levels shortages of fresh water, but seldom give any thought to how to find salt.

Changes over time have also influenced angler interests and how individuals value fishing. If you go back 35 years, the North American (including Lake Sakakawea, North Dakotas’ largest walleye fishery) average harvest rate for walleye (hours fished per walleye harvested) was 8.5. Today, on average, it takes less than 3 hours to harvest a North Dakota walleye. (Incidentally, the average angler will harvest 25 walleyes over the course of the year with fillets valued at nearly $500).

If fishing/catching would revert to one walleye every 8.5 hours of fishing, its highly likely many anglers would no longer fish. Today’s anglers still value fishing, but it needs to include “catching” far more frequently than what was the norm a generation or two ago.

Another change in the value system is the desire from some anglers to conserve large fish (especially walleye, and to a lesser degree, northern pike). It’s hard to argue that walleye fishing on North Dakota’s Big Three – Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River – isn’t better today than it was decades ago. And despite respectable walleye harvest during that time, our fishing regulations have remained the same. Yet, the opinion of some anglers to conserve large walleye has changed.

Often nowadays when anglers legally harvest a number of large walleye and take them to a fish cleaning station, they are met with disapproval by fellow anglers. If the same event would have occurred 20-30 years ago, they would have been met with high-fives and backslaps. Even without good supporting biological rational, it’s obvious that some people value conserving large fish today more than yesteryear.

The evolving thought process of anglers has also shifted in recent years in terms of wanting to protect the intrinsic value of fish. When it comes to game fish, this has been most apparent with northern pike. Many anglers enjoy catching pike, but lose interest when handling the fish.

The value of fishing, be it from shore, in a boat, on waters large and small in North Dakota, is far more than just about money.
Unfortunately, there is a small minority in the fishing community who consider all species other than walleye as trash fish, pike included. These individuals will even catch, keep and dispose of these pike in the weeds, cattails and elsewhere. This wanton waste of a valuable resource is looked upon poorly by a growing number of the angling public and these unwanted actions surely devalue the significance of fishing.

To that end, anglers should treat fish, whether kept or released, with care. The Game and Fish Department has some information resources on proper fish handling techniques on its website that all anglers should review. The worth of a walleye, pike, bass or other species is more than simple table fare, and all should be treated with respect.

Some argue that simply fishing in North Dakota, if not undervalued, is often underappreciated. Considering the bargain cost of a fishing license ($16 for an annual individual license), year-round angling opportunities and fewer fishing regulations than most states, fishing in North Dakota is truly a bargain.

Again, the value of fishing to the North Dakota angler varies dramatically, depending on the perspective of the 160,000 residents who fish.

Many anglers define the value of fishing by the number of hours or days on the water, while others value targeting big fish, or filling the livewell. Then there are those who simply value the smile on a kid’s face when the bobber dips below the surface.

No matter the motivation, most anglers generally value what North Dakota has to offer when it comes to fishing.

Golden Time for Fall Fishing in Wyoming

Now is the Golden Time for Fall Fishing in Wyoming According to the WGFD.
from The Fishing Wire

Cheyenne – October is the golden month for fall fishing. The fish are active, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department fish managers around the state agree it’s the best time to get outside with your rod.

Brown trout spawn in autumn so expect good action. A trip to the North Platte never disappoints, and there is plenty of public access. The Miracle Mile, Cardwell, Gray Reef and Saratoga reaches of the North Platte are all Blue Ribbon waters, holding more than 600 pounds of trout per mile. Anglers can expect to catch fish on streamers, nymphs and dry flies this time of year. The Miracle Mile is especially popular with fall anglers since October is when large brown trout from Pathfinder Reservoir begin moving into the river.

Brown trout seekers who visit the Salt River near Jackson will be rewarded with strong populations through December or January. The Salt River runs almost entirely on private land, but there are numerous public access areas for fishing. The Green and New Fork rivers are good options, too, that offer plenty of fishing access. Dry flies such as grasshoppers are still working during the day.

Some smaller North Platte tributaries near Laramie will also be rewarding. Laramie Regional Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton recommends visiting Big Creek, Brush Creek, Douglas Creek, French Creek, or the lower Encampment River. And, as usual, the Laramie Plains lakes will be hopping as temperatures cool. Good fishing is predicted at Meeboer, Gelatt Lake, Twin Buttes and Lake Hattie. Wheatland No. 3 is also expected to be hot again this season. At Hattie and Wheatland 3, anglers should watch for fall-spawning rainbow trout populations that swim close to the shore.

Rainbows are also flourishing and growing large in Boysen Reservoir this year. Game and Fish is stocking almost double the amount than in year’s past, and people have noticed an increase in quality and numbers.

For an all-around good trout experience, the North Tongue River, Middle Fork Powder River and Sand Creek are northern destinations not to be missed. Also, the Green River below Fontenelle Dam will have plenty of rainbow, Snake River cutthroat and Bear River cutthroat trout eagerly feeding on nymphs, San Juan worms and minnow patterns. The Finger Lakes near Pinedale are a good destination for lake trout — try Fremont, Boulder, Halfmoon and New Fork. Lake trout will move into the shallows starting in October as the nights dip into the 30s. Soda Lake continues to fish well and will be open to fishing until Nov. 14. Healthy looking browns and brook trout over 16 inches are common.

Anglers who target warm-water species should plan to head to waters around Sheridan, Casper and Lander. Healy Reservoir, near Buffalo, is a great destination for bass, with some largemouths over 20 inches and 5 pounds. Keyhole, in the northeast, has good water levels and the summer treated the fish well. Casper and Lander area waters should hold active walleye thanks to higher-than-normal flows from good snowpacks around the state.

“At Glendo, the main forage fish in the lake — gizzard shad — begin to die off in September and October, and the walleye and channel catfish really key in on this,” said Matt Hahn, Casper regional fisheries supervisor. “Anglers should plan on trolling crankbaits that resemble shad or vertical jig schools of suspended fish with jigging spoons.”

Hahn also points walleye-seekers to Pathfinder and recommends casting large swimbaits to the shore, especially in the upper end of the lake.

Farther west, Boysen Reservoir cleared in the late summer and Craig Amadio, the Lander regional fisheries supervisor, has heard excellent reports from the field.

“Walleye fishing is the best it’s been in a long time, and I expect that to be the case this fall. Walleye in Boysen are feeding on bigger fish now — perch and rainbow trout. A lot of anglers will troll open water using crankbaits and planer boards,” Amadio said.

October isn’t too late for an adventure. Many alpine lakes offer quality golden trout and cutthroat trout if you’re prepared to fish in the snow. Higher elevations are known for storms as early as September. Thumb Lake and Atlantic Lake are a couple good golden trout waters, and the Wind River Range has goldens in the Sweeney Lakes and Hobbs Lake. Chasing tiger trout is an option for anglers wanting to reel in something different; visit Upper Silas Lake, Willow Park Reservoir and Cow Lake.

An added bonus of fall fishing is the solitude. Many avid sportsmen and women have exchanged rods for rifles by October. For those looking for a peaceful angling trip, visit Grayrocks and Hawk Springs in the southeast for walleye, crappie and bass. Boysen is also expected to be less crowded as hunters head afield. Robb Keith, Green River fisheries supervisor, reminds anglers that the Hams Fork River downstream of Kemmerer City Reservoir is home to a variety of trout species and has public access through a Game and Fish fishing easement along the river in a stretch of private land below the reservoir. Bring your streamers as the fall progresses, dry flies and grasshoppers won’t do here.

If elbow room and aggressively feeding fish sound like a good combo, the Shoshone River below Buffalo Bill Dam should be on the list. Between Buffalo Bill Dam and Willwood Dam there are 2,500 trout per mile and relatively good access for both wading and floating. Big Horn Lake and the Bighorn River will also be less crowded and the sauger big and active — the biggest tipping 5 to 6 pounds, with an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Sam Hochhalter, Cody regional fisheries supervisor, recommends everything from jigs and crankbaits to night crawlers and live minnows to bring in a big one.

What Are Grass Shrimp?

Grass shrimp: Small bait, Big Results
Today’s feature comes to us from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.
from The Fishing Wire

If you fish for panfish and haven’t tried grass shrimp yet, then you need to know: You’re missing out! Freshwater grass shrimp are an excellent bait for all species of sunfish, come free and are usually easy to collect.

There are a variety of species of grass shrimp, and as the name implies grass shrimp are usually associated with vegetation. They reach about two inches in size. But all you need to know as an angler is that grass shrimp catch fish! Although used primarily as a panfish bait, few freshwater fish will turn their nose up at a grass shrimp including bass up to several pounds.

So how do you get this great bait? In most lakes, it’s fairly easy. You’ll need a sturdy-framed, long-handled dip net with a mesh size of 1/4″ or so. A larger mesh will let shrimp escape, while a finer mesh will become clogged with vegetation and silt and not drain well. Any kind of reinforcement of the net bag around the frame is a major plus, because this net will really be “beating the bushes.” Bait and tackle shops sell a variety of nets that will work, but if you have trouble finding an ideal net, this certainly won’t prevent you from catching shrimp. As long as the mesh size is about right, almost any dip net should work at least moderately well.

Next, you’ll need a lake or canal with some vegetation in it. Emergent shoreline grass is ideal, but any shoreline vegetation that you can readily run your net through should produce results. “Beat” the net through the vegetation in several consecutive sweeps through the same spot, pushing the vegetation down as you sweep (the vegetation usually pops back up unharmed). Then plop the net on the ground and pick through the vegetation accumulated in the bottom of the net bag for your tiny quarry.

The shrimp go into a standard small bait bucket or “minnow bucket” with latching lid, available at most bait and tackle shops. Two versions of these plastic buckets are available, one just the standard bucket and the other a ventilated bucket that rests inside a larger bucket. The ventilated bucket design makes water changes easy—just pull it out of the main bucket, let the water drain, and then submerge it in the lake to refill it before placing it back in the main bucket. You can also leave such a bucket in the water, but some of the grass shrimp you catch will be small enough to work their way out of the holes—ditto for draining the bucket if the day’s catch of shrimp is running small. Grass shrimp are a hardy bait, and only an occasional water change is needed to keep them healthy as long as they are kept cool and out of the sun.

Because of both the small size of a sunfish’s mouth and the diminutive size of the grass shrimp, use a #8 or #10 Aberdeen hook when fishing shrimp for sunfish. Hook the bait through the bend in the tail. Keep your bobber equally small; it takes almost no flotation at all to suspend a grass shrimp. One-inch, cylindrical foam bobbers work well. These also put up little resistance when a wary sunfish takes the bait; it will be more likely to hang onto the shrimp rather than dropping it. Position the bobber about three feet above the hook for starters, but adjust for a deeper presentation if you don’t get any bites pretty quickly. Use a tiny split shot to sink the shrimp to the desired depth.

Of course, grass shrimp can also be fished on the bottom—where the bigger bluegill and redear sunfish often congregate. (A general rule when going after bream is to fish deeper if all you are catching are small ones.) Use only enough weight to cast your bait where you want to place it, and keep it there—that’s usually just a couple of split shot or at most a 1/8 ounce egg sinker set a foot or so ahead of the bait. Set the hook as soon as you feel a bite—fish will swallow grass shrimp without hesitation, so there’s no need to delay when the strike comes.

So there you have it. Grass shrimp may not always work better than live worms or crickets, but they do nearly always work at least as well. And they’re as fun to catch as they are to fish—give them a try!

Keys To Catching Clarks Hill Bass

Keys to Catching Clarks Hill Bass eBook

Ten spots on Clarks Hill Lake for each month of the year, with GPS Coordinates, description, lures to use and how to fish each one
By: Ronnie Garrison – ISBN: 978-1-940263-00-7

From Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month series of articles and the eBook series “Keys to Catching Georgia Bass”

2013 © Ronnie Garrison – All Rights Reserved
Maps – 2013 © Georgia Outdoor News – All Rights Reserved

How to Use This Book

The articles for this series of books, Keys to Catching Georgia Bass, were written over a span of 15 years. Conditions change but bass tend to follow patterns year after year.
For example, Clarks Hill has gone through a series of years with low water then full again. After a couple of years of low water, grass and bushes grow that will be flooded in shallow water when the lake fills. But after a few years that cover rots away. Bass will still be in the same areas, you just have to fish the cover in them that is available when you fish.

Some years the water is clear and some years stained to muddy during the same months. The patterns and places in these articles will still work, but you may need to adjust the color of the bait to the conditions.
New baits and tackle companies come along every year but you can always find old favorite baits or similar baits from a new company that were produced by a defunct company, or use the new ones that are similar in action.
The GPS Coordinates given for each spot will get you very close to what you want to fish. An old brush pile on the coordinates may be gone, but you can bet another one will be in the same place or very nearby.

Some spots are on more than one map for more than one month. You can bet that is a good spot, if more than one good fisherman chose it! Some spots are good year round, over many months.

The eBook is $4.99. I may have some copies printed but the price would be about $10.00. If you want a printed copy please email me at ronnie@fishing-about.com to reserve a copy if I do have them printed.

Social Media and Fishing

Social Media and Fishing

Since you are reading this on-line there is a good chance you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or are active on some other form of social media. Social media and fishing go together in a lot of ways.

I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account and spend way too much time on Facebook. But I am learning that you have to be discriminating on what you click on. Just because something has an interesting title, or a picture of a fish does not mean it is worth looking at on Facebook.

Some things are an instant turn off to me and keep me from clicking on the post. Anytime a fisherman is shown in a picture holding up a bass or any other fish, and the fisherman has his mouth open wide, I instantly wonder if he is so surprised he actually caught a fish his open mouth shows his shock, or if he is trying to catch flies.

If there is just a picture of a fisherman smiling or grinning like he is happy to be holding up a big fish it gets my attention, but if there is no caption, no information about the picture it is a turn off and I know if I click on it I still won’t get any information. If you post a picture of you and a fish at least tell where you were fishing. A little about what you were using and how you caught it helps, unless you make your post an advertisement. Saying you could not have made the catch without using one of your sponsor’s products is just plain silly. That bass would not have hit your crankbait unless you were using a certain brand of rod? Sure thing.

Even worse than no information is the current trend of posting a dozen or so hashtags for sponsors or something -again, no info, just a string of words with a “#” in front of them that tell you absolutely nothing about the picture – worth nothing but a fast scroll on to something informative.

Even worse than a mouth open gaping pose with a fish are some buzz words. If they are in the title or caption I will not look at them. Thankfully, they are usually not used with fishing posts.
“Life changing” is another buzz comment I refuse to look at on social media. If my life is so miserable a Facebook post can change it, I am beyond hope. Better to just go fishing! And if something is “epic’ why do I have to hear about it on Facebook? According to the “Urban dictionary” epic is the most over-used word on the internet, followed by ‘’fail,” another buzz word I ignore. And if it is an “”epic fail” you better watch out!

“Game Changer” in a heading makes me change to another topic so I guess it really is a game changer. “Life Changer” is even worse. For some reason I kinda doubt a picture on the internet is going to change my life! Arnold said “Make My Day” and it became iconic, but no web page is going to make my day. I have a life.

Social media is fun but there are definitely some things I don’t like. How about you?

What Does the Ike Foundation Have To Do With Fishing?

Iaconelli Excited About Foundation’s Early Success
from The Fishing Wire

Yamaha Pro’s Mission Is To Get More Kids Fishing

Even though Michael Iaconelli’s recent week at the Bassmaster Classic® on Lake Hartwell kept him tightly focused on a winning fishing strategy – the Yamaha Pro finished 6th – he still found time to spend several hours each evening working on The Ike Foundation, a new non-profit organization devoted to getting more young people involved in the sport of fishing.

Literally years in the planning, Iaconelli and his wife Becky announced the formation of The Ike Foundation in January, and thus far, response from both the fishing industry as well as the public, has been overwhelmingly positive. Yamaha Marine Group was among the first to become involved, and is working with Iaconelli to coordinate upcoming activities.

“To get started, Becky telephoned dozens of different organizations and asked them their greatest need, and the biggest problem was simply a lack of fishing equipment, basic items like rods, reels, and lures, for kids to use,” says Iaconelli. “Yamaha provided a collection site in their booth at the Classic Outdoor Show, and we were thrilled at how much equipment, as well as financial support, visitors donated.

“Initially, The Ike Foundation plans to provide different civic, charitable, and youth fishing organizations with fishing tackle, and thanks to the response at the Classic,® we have already shipped our first product loads to several of these groups.”

The Yamaha Pro is supplementing public donations with his own rods and reels, accumulated during his 16-year professional career. He’s hoping other tournament pros who have also accumulated a garage full of tackle throughout their careers will also donate to The Ike Foundation.

Complete information about donating equipment is available at
www.theikefoundation.org. Registration forms for clubs and organizations that want to become involved with the foundation are also available on this website.

“It’s exciting to finally get this started,” says Iaconelli. “It’s something Becky and I have been thinking about and planning for the past 10 years, and it’s very personal to me, because I grew up just outside Philadelphia, in an area where not a lot of kids fished. I was very fortunate to have parents and relatives that got me involved.

“As the foundation grows, we want to move beyond just donating equipment. We want to target specific geographic areas that don’t have any existing fishing organizations, and come in and create special events ourselves. We really want to concentrate on non-traditional areas, but we’re not limiting ourselves to bass fishing, or even freshwater fishing.”

One way the Yamaha Pro plans to spread awareness of the foundation is through a 13-part fishing program named ‘Going Ike’ he will begin filming after the conclusion of this year’s Bassmaster® Elite season. At each filming location, Iaconelli wants to connect with different youth fishing clubs to help them become involved in the sport. ‘Going Ike’ will initially be broadcast digitally because he can reach such a wide audience, and will start airing during the first quarter of 2016.

Iaconelli began to recognize the lack of youth fishing activity while filming his former television program, “City Limits,” which concentrated on identifying fishing opportunities in urban areas across the nation. At practically every location, he remembers, kids stopped by to watch in amazement; most had never held a fishing rod and had no idea fish of any species were even present where he was filming.

“It didn’t matter where we were filming,” emphasizes the Yamaha Pro. “The kids were really interested, but they’d never had the opportunity or the equipment to try fishing for themselves, even though it was so accessible. We want to help give them that opportunity with The Ike Foundation, and the easiest way to start is by getting them fishing tackle.

“If we can get just a couple of kids involved and turn them into fishermen, then I’ll know it’s all been worthwhile.”

What Are Otiliths and How Do Biologists Use Them To Determine Ages of Fish?

Biologists use otiliths to determine the age of fish
from The Fishing Wire

Ever wonder how biologists figure out how old a fish is and how fast it’s growing? Here’s how they do it, from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.

Otoliths show fish ages

Otoliths show fish ages

Pictured is an otolith from a largemouth bass. The bottom is the cross-section, revealing the rings of this 8-year-old fish.

Age is one of the most important pieces of data researchers collect about both freshwater and saltwater fish. Biologists use bones in the inner ear of the fish called otoliths, or ear stones, to determine how old an individual fish is. These bones have rings very much like a tree trunk, and every year environmental triggers cause a new ring to form. Biologists remove the otoliths from the fish and count the rings. There are several things researchers can gather from this information.

Size at age: Size at age graphs are created by comparing a fish’s age to its length. This tells researchers how fast the fish are growing and at what age they become big enough to catch. The information from size at age can be used by management officials as part of the decision making process on length limits and to evaluate the quality of the food sources and habitat in a water body.

Year Classes: Researchers can also use age data to follow groups of fish born each year called, year classes. For example, biologists observed large year classes of bass following drawdowns on lakes Toho and Kissimmee. These fish went on to produce many trophy bass and biologists were able to document long-term improvements resulting from management practices.

Mortality: Biologists can estimate the rate that fish die from the number of individuals collected from each year class. This is used to predict how many fish will be available to anglers in future years.

Largemouth bass can reach 16 years old in Florida. After about 8 pounds, some say you can guess the age at about a year per pound. This is nothing more than a good guess though, as FWRI biologists have seen 10 pounders that range from just 4 to 14 years old. Black crappie can make it to 10 but rarely make it past 6 years old. The same goes for most of the bream, like bluegill and shellcracker.

Should Anglers Keep Some of the Fish They Catch?

Encouraging anglers to keep fish

Editor’s Note: In many states, it’s been a long, uphill battle to convince anglers to release fish so that more can reach larger sizes. But in certain types of habitat-smaller waters with average low temperatures and minimal food production-the only way to get more big fish is to harvest lots of small fish, thus leaving more food for the survivors. Utah is currently working towards this type of a solution for many of their waters. Here’s the story, from the UDWR.

——-

Wildlife Board approves rule changes for 2015

SALT LAKE CITY – Biologists hope rule changes approved by the Utah Wildlife Board will encourage anglers to keep more fish in Utah.

you should keep fish in some cases

you should keep fish in some cases

Keeping the fish you catch – up to your legal limit – is the key to providing fish with the food they need to grow.
Photo by Richard Hepworth

“A chance to catch a larger fish is the number one thing active Utah anglers have told us they want,” says Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “Unfortunately, at many of the state’s waters, anglers are releasing too many fish. If they’ll start keeping fish, up to their legal limit, the growth rate of the remaining fish should improve.”

Cushing says when a water has too many fish in it, the fish run out of food. And that limits how big each fish can grow. “In addition to helping the fish population,” Cushing says, “keeping fish will add something to your diet that’s extremely healthy and good to eat.”

To encourage anglers to keep more fish, the Wildlife Board recently approved several rule changes for the 2015 season. The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

You can see all of the changes the board approved in the 2015 Utah Fishing Guidebook. The free guidebook should be available online by early November.

No home possession limit

Members of the board hope eliminating the ‘home’ possession limit-the number of fish an angler can have in his or her freezer at home-will help anglers develop a new ‘mindset’ that encourages them to keep more fish.

DWR biologists originally recommended that the possession limit be eliminated for every fish in Utah except salmonoids-trout, kokanee salmon, whitefish and grayling. The board, however, eliminated the home possession limit for every fish species in the state.

A creel survey, which measures the number of fish anglers keep, was completed at Willard Bay Reservoir in 2011. A similar survey will wrap up at Starvation Reservoir this fall. The DWR will conduct creel surveys at both waters in 2015. Results of the earlier surveys will then be compared with results of the 2015 surveys to see if eliminating the possession limit made a difference in the number of fish anglers kept.

No yellow perch limit at Fish Lake

The board also approved a DWR recommendation to eliminate the daily yellow perch limit at Fish Lake.

“In surveys,” Cushing says, “anglers have indicated that the number one reason they go to Fish Lake is to catch big lake trout. Right now, the yellow perch population in the lake is so large that trying to introduce a species for lake trout to feed on isn’t going to work.”

Cushing says reducing the number of yellow perch will increase the amount of zooplankton available for other species to eat, including kokanee salmon that biologists want to introduce to the lake. A self-sustaining population of kokanee salmon would provide an excellent food source for lake trout in the lake.

The idea to eliminate the yellow perch limit originated with an advisory group of anglers assembled by the DWR.

Brook trout limit increased at Boulder Mountain reservoir

The board also approved a recommendation to increase the daily brook trout limit at Oak Creek Reservoir, one of 80 lakes and reservoirs on the Boulder Mountains in southern Utah.

Starting Jan. 1, the limit at Oak Creek will increase from four brook trout a day to 16 brook trout a day.

“The reservoir has an increasing population of brook trout, and fish are growing much slower,” Cushing says. “The fish are not getting as big. When the limit increases on Jan. 1, we hope anglers will take advantage of the increased limit and remove some additional fish. If they don’t remove enough fish, we’ll have to chemically treat the reservoir and then restock it with sterile brook trout that can’t reproduce.”

Another change on the Boulder Mountains involves placing limits on each of the mountain’s 80 lakes and reservoirs. Currently, lakes and reservoirs are grouped together, based on where on the mountain they’re located. Then, a limit is applied to every lake or reservoir in the group.

“Listing each water that has a limit that’s different from the general statewide limit, and what the limit is for that specific water, will eliminate a lot of confusion among anglers regarding what the limit is at each water,” Cushing says.

An advisory group of anglers who enjoy fishing on the Boulder Mountains helped the DWR draft the proposal the board approved.

How To Find Fish In Transition with Electronics

Finding Fish In Transition
from The Fishing Wire

How experts use Humminbird technologies to put the bead on fall and winter fish

Eufaula, AL – Typically, as fall arrives, many of us head for the tree stand or blind, turning our attention to birds and bucks. Yet, what’s happening on the water this time of the year can be equally as awesome as what’s happening in the field.

Electronics help catch bass

Electronics help catch bass

Vahrenberg verifies the presence of a kicker fish on the tree identified with 360 Imaging.

Here’s how a handful of fishing’s top experts find and pattern bass, walleyes and panfish during the fall and winter – and how you can do the same.

Open-Water Bass: Fall & Winter

Missouri-based tournament pro Doug Vahrenberg says his fall and winter bass game has never been better thanks to the trifecta of Humminbird’s LakeMaster mapping, Side Imaging and 360 Imaging.
“As the water cools and bass school up in the fall, they’ll begin to move from the main lake into creek arms. And you’ve got main lake fish on the flats adjacent to those creek arms. Both have one thing in common: they’re looking for lunch.”

Vahrenberg says it all comes down to surveying a lake quickly because fall bass can be here today, gone tomorrow. With two ONIX units at the dash – one set to full-screen Side Imaging, the other to Humminbird LakeMaster mapping – Vahrenberg is similarly on the prowl for baitfish and bass.

“I typically have my Side Imaging set to look 100 feet right and left. On a new lake I’ll increase that range to 130-150 feet until I find bait and ambush targets like trees, stumps, and submerged cover most anglers can’t see, especially in shallower stained water. Then I mark anything that looks like a good ambush site with a waypoint.”

Hummingbird 360

Hummingbird 360

Humminbird 360 Imaging reveals the submerged tree in shallow, stained water that produced Vahrenberg’s bass (shown), only 25 feet from the boat.

He adds: “Seems like fall bass like flats close to a channel swing. They’ll move up from deeper water and push the bait into two-, three- or four feet of water and feed. With LakeMaster mapping you can find those spots where the channel swings in close to the bank. A lot of times your screen will be absolutely full of bait so I like to concentrate on those areas right before or after the giant wads of bait. Helps make the presence of your bait known.”

Once he’s located a channel swing, good cover, baitfish – even the bass themselves – Vahrenberg will jump from the console to the bow.

“As soon as I start pinging Bow 360 every waypoint will show up on my bow ONIX unit and I can motor right to ’em. Seems like if there’s a lot of cover, the fish tend to be isolated. Where there’s no cover, fish tend to group up in ‘wolf packs’. That’s where 360 Imaging really helps locating the stuff that you can’t see. The beauty is that it does all the work for you. You’re not controlling anything with your foot – all you have to do is look at the screen and think about where to cast next.”

ONIX split-screen

ONIX split-screen

This ONIX split-screen reveals the presence of baitfish in Side Imaging, 2D Sonar and Down Imaging.

From fall through winter, Vahrenberg breaks down his presentations into two preferred categories.

“I always have one stick rigged up with a creature or jig and craw combo to flip the isolated fish on cover. Those fish will position right behind the timber, waiting for lunch to swim by. On lakes with less cover I’m fishing fast search baits to connect with the wolf packs – square bills, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, lipless cranks – and searching out aggression bites. A shad pattern is always good but if there’s an overabundance of forage, I’ll switch over to a bluegill pattern, which is often just different enough to get bit. Look at it this way, if you’re eating a chicken breast every day and somebody offers you pizza …”

During winter, Vahrenberg reverses his fall routine and starts at the back of creek arms, moving outward to the first or second channel swing – or from the edge of the ice back to the main lake. “Even more so in the winter, bass will associate to the channel swings – and deeper water – but look along the edges. Again, LakeMaster mapping and the imaging technologies can really help you find the right stuff.”

Pre-Fishing For Early Ice: Walleyes & Perch

In northern Minnesota, the open water season is typically over by Thanksgiving. Yet, by the time the turkey and cranberry are being passed around the table, ice fishing guide/tournament Brian “Bro” Brosdahl has much of his winter ice fishing strategy already mapped. Many years, he’s already fishing on hardwater by turkey day.

“Sure, I’ll drop waypoints on structures in the fall but what I really do is fast-forward my thinking to winter, knowing that walleyes and jumbo perch will associate to shoreline points, saddles, humps, and weed bed edges on flats during early ice,” says Brosdahl.

Like Vahrenberg’s Missouri bass, Brosdahl says the biggest reason early-ice fish associate to these areas – especially on larger bodies of water like Minnesota’s Mille Lacs, Winnibigoshish and Leech – is the presence of baitfish. “Walleyes and perch both gorge on shiners, although the bigger walleyes seem to prefer whitefish.”

Brosdahl says Humminbird Lakemaster mapping greatly reduces the time it takes him to “pre-fish” a lake in the fall for ice fishing in winter.

Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch

Brosdahl and the big jumbo perch pay-off of scouting with Humminbird LakeMaster and Side Imaging technologies. Photo by Bill Lindner.

“But you can’t just motor around in the fall, mark bait and fish and drop waypoints. Most of the fall fish will have moved by first-ice. So, what I do is highlight depths with Lakemaster’s Depth Highlight feature – typically somewhere between 12 and 14 feet on bigger lakes – and then start dropping waypoints on those areas that will be their next move after fall.”

“You still have to look for inside turns, saddles and especially those steep breaks for walleyes. But remember: If there are walleyes in the area, they’ll push the perch up onto adjacent flats and the gradual breaks.”

Brosdahl was one walleye fishing’s earliest adopters of Side Imaging. “Same time as I’m watching my LakeMaster map, I’m watching Side Imaging for hard- and soft bottom edges. Both walleyes and perch will ride those edges all winter long. With Side Imaging these spots are unmistakable. Plus, as more of your ‘A list’ spots like rock piles and sunken islands get winter fishing traffic, I find myself fishing hard-to-soft bottom transitions in places easily overlooked.”

Once a surveyor for LakeMaster himself, Brosdahl says mapping waters with Humminbird’s new AutoChart Pro software has been a lot of fun. “Of course, this time around I don’t have to share my findings with anyone!”

“Kind of cool that I can go to a lake that doesn’t have HD one-foot contours and really dial in on spots for winter. Plus, AutoChart Pro gives me bottom hardness mapping so I those hard-to-soft spots really jump out. And there are some tiny lakes that have never been mapped. That’s where AutoChart really shines.”

One pass of Humminbird 360 reveals more than 10 manmade crappie cribs in a single pass. Range set to 120 feet in every direction.

manmade crappie cribs

manmade crappie cribs


He adds: “Another thing: Internet connectivity – even phone reception – can be pretty spotty in the areas I fish. Pretty cool that you can create the map on a PC without having to connect to the web. Plus, I know my data’s kept private.”

Tournament Talk: Winter Panfish

Currently, Wisconsin-based Kevin Fassbind and Nick Smyers are in second place as they prepare to fish the NAIFC 2014 Series Ice Fishing Championship on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake, December 20, 2014.

A big part of their ongoing strategy is open-water scouting tournament grounds, like Mille Lacs’ Isle and Waukon bays.

“We’ve found Humminbird Side Imaging helps us identify the best weeds and hard-bottom areas. We’ll idle back and forth through a bay, looking 120 feet off each side of the boat. When we see holes in weed beds, inside turns and good bottom, we simply drop waypoints for winter. The way the system works is pretty easy – just pop the SD card out of the Humminbird 999 on the boat and drop it into the Humminbird 688 ice combo. Then it’s all right there,” says Fassbind.

Beyond marking waypoints on open-water, the duo has also experimented with Side Imaging on the ice. Using a pole-mounted Side Imaging transducer spun manually around in a hole in the ice, Fassbind and Smyers have had some success using the technology in a way it wasn’t intended.

“When we were fishing the NAIFC event on Lake Maxinkuckee, Indiana, we found a 20′ x 20′ patch of weeds with some logs, and Kevin pointed me in the direction and told me to start drilling. Boom, drilled one hole and I was on it,” says Smyers. “But it was difficult to get the image we wanted. Yet, we could see how this kind of technology could give us a huge on-ice advantage for locating manmade structures like cribs, Christmas tree piles, even fish.”

Along those lines, the duo is planning on implementing Humminbird Bow 360 into their tournament arsenal this year.

“What we were trying to do with Side Imaging is something that 360 Imaging already does better. With a little bit of rigging for ice, I really think it’s going to help us locate structure and fish even faster, which could be huge for main-basin crappies and deep-water perch. Punch a waypoint on fish and then go drill it. Instead of drilling hundreds of holes, we’ll be drilling a precise few. Not sure how much grid scouting we’ll be doing any more,” says Smyers.

Kevin Fassbind

Kevin Fassbind

Competitive ice angler Kevin Fassbind and teammate Nick Smyers use a combination of open-water and on-ice scouting with Humminbird technologies to stay on top of the leaderboard.

No matter where in the country you fish, the take-home message is clear: put in some time scouting with today’s technologies and you too can increase your odds for stellar fall and winter fishing.

For more information visit humminbird.com, contact Humminbird, 678 Humminbird Lane, Eufaula, AL 36027, or call 800-633-1468.

About Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc.
Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors and consists of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird® is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota® is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as offers a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

Does Florida Relesing Hatchery Raised Snook Help Me Catch Fish?

Florida’s Snook Population Gets a Boost from Release of Hatchery Fish

On Friday, Aug. 15, scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released hatchery-reared juvenile snook into the wild as part of an ongoing program designed to find the most effective methods to replenish and enhance wild snook populations.

Stocking Snook

Stocking Snook

Scientists net snook raised in Mote’s hatchery facility near Sarasota, Florida, for stocking in area waters. (Photo Credit Mote Marine)

The species is one of Florida’s most popular sport fish and plays an important role in drawing recreational anglers to the state. According to the American Sportfishing Association, Florida is the top-ranked state in economic output from recreational fishing, which draws $8.6 billion to the economy annually. Saltwater fishing alone generates 80 percent – $6.8 billion – of that income.

Snook, along with red drum, are the main test species for restocking efforts statewide. This project – which involves tagging and then releasing more than 2,200 snook into Sarasota Bay during over three days – is designed to determine whether snook that have been conditioned for release at Mote have better growth and survival rates in the wild.

This event is a key example of Mote’s efforts to develop and support public-private partnerships for the conservation and sustainable use of our marine resources. The snook release is possible now thanks to a private donation to Mote and from funding provided by FWC. For more than 25 years, Mote and FWC scientists have partnered on studies designed to increase the effectiveness of stock enhancement in Florida; their work on the topic is followed globally.

Snook In Hatchery

Snook In Hatchery

Snook are Florida’s premiere inshore gamefish, but have proven a challenge to grow in hatcheries in numbers large enough to affect wild populations in past efforts. (Photo Credit Mote Marine)

Past Mote and FWC research conducted through pilot snook releases that took place between 1997 and 2006 has shown that hatchery-reared fish released into the wild can indeed contribute to the local fishery with the fish growing to adulthood. And, in fact, tag data recovered following these small-scale pilot release experiments showed that using the knowledge we gained, we were able to improve the survival rate of stocked fish by more than 200 percent.

“We’ve found over time that we can improve the survival of hatchery snook released into the wild by 10 times just by choosing the right habitat,” said Dr. Kenneth Leber, Associate Vice President for Mote’s Directorate for Fisheries and Aquaculture. “We also know that there are limits on how many fish you can put in each habitat before you start to lose hatchery snook. These pilot studies we’re doing now are further defining the best methods for snook stock enhancement.”

Fingerling Snooki

Fingerling Snooki

This baby snook must survive predators, anglers, cold weather and red tide for at least four years before it will become a spawning adult. (Photo Credit Mote Marine)

Such findings are key to developing large-scale stocking techniques that are financially and environmentally feasible that can help rapidly boost populations of species affected by overfishing or natural phenomenon like the 2010 winter cold spell that resulted in the deaths of millions of snook and the closure of the fishery. Snook populations have only recently rebounded on the Gulf Coast from that event enough that FWC was able to reopen the fishery earlier this year.

This latest experiment will look at the survival in the wild of 2,000 juvenile snook that were born and raised at Mote Aquaculture Park in eastern Sarasota County. The Park is Mote’s aquaculture research and development test-bed where we are developing new methods for spawning, hatching and rearing marine species for restocking purposes and for human consumption. Many of these studies are conducted in partnership with FWC biologists.

“FWC and Mote Marine Lab have worked together since 1985 to advance marine stock enhancement in Florida,” said Chris Young, Director of FWC’s Stock Enhancement Program. “We’re excited to continue our partnership with Mote Marine Lab in support of these snook releases.”

Releasing Snook

Releasing Snook

Scientists have discovered that releasing snook in remote backwaters with lots of mangroves gives them the best chance of survival. (Photo credit Mote Marine)

For this release, FWC and Mote biologists inserted PIT tags – passive integrated transponder tags – in the juvenile snook before release. These small, 23 mm-long tags are about the size of a pencil eraser and each one transmits a unique identifying number. The transmissions will be picked up by underwater antennae placed by scientists near the release site in the wild. These antennae will listen for the released snook as they swim by and each time a tagged snook passes through the array, a receiver will record the movement.

Scientists will also use seine nets to periodically gather snook and evaluate growth rates, compare performance between wild and hatchery snook and determine whether the released fish are contributing to overall snook abundances.

One key to the study is the conditioning that some of the snook have undergone prior to release, Leber said. “We have a control group of fish that have been raised in traditional aquaculture manner – in bare tanks using artificial feed. We also have a group of conditioned fish that have been fed live prey for three days prior to their release. We’ve also placed structures into their tanks, which mimics the structure fish will have in the wild. We think these two factors will help hatchery-reared snook be more prepared for life in the wild – with a better ability to hide from predators and ready to hunt for prey of their own.”