Monthly Archives: December 2016

Two Club Tournament At Jackson Lake

At Jackson Lake last Sunday 12 members of the Flint River Bass Club and the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our end of the year joint tournament. In eight hours we landed 42 bass weighing about 61 pounds. There were six five-fish limits and two fishermen didn’t have any fish. Ten of the keepers were largemouth.

Niles Murray blew us all away with five weighing 12.30 pounds and big fish with a 3.57 pounder. Raymond English had five at 9.15 for second, third was Randall Sharpton with five weighing 6.63 pounds and George Roberts was fourth with five at 6.46.

Niles said he caught his fish on a spinnerbait. Raymond said most of his hit a crankbait. I tried both but caught only three keepers. That was very disappointing on a rainy day, but at least it was very cold, too.

Gifts for the Angler

Cool Last Minute Gifts for the Angler
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Dromida FPV XL Drone

Commercial fishermen have long known the value of aerial surveillance in spotting fish–in clear, calm weather, it’s possible for an observer in a small plane to see masses of fish that are miles distant, and these are often fish that would be difficult or impossible to locate for fishermen on the surface.

While hiring spotter planes is still the realm of the commercial industry due to the cost, these days recreational anglers can readily take advantage of the aerial view of clear water with the ubiquitous camera drones now available, some for only a few hundred dollars.

The potential uses are endless, ranging for locating schools of bait likely to hold blackfins or wahoo offshore to nearshore masses of king and Spanish mackerel, to pods of tarpon or snook on the beaches. In the northeast, anglers might readily use drones to find schools of bunker that lure striped bass and blues.

A drone I’ve had the opportunity to play with of late is typical of the moderately-priced, easy-to-fly and useful crop available this Christmas; it’s the Dromida FPV XL, which captures both still photos and videos in real time and beams them to your smartphone clipped into the hand-held flying control. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, and the 1080p videos it makes are more than clear enough for fish-spotting, surveying underwater terrain and more. Images can be saved to the included micro-memory card or to your phone, so running out of space is not an issue. It’s also very easy to pick up the basics of flying because an auto take-off system handles those tricky first two meters from the ground. It stays up for about 10 minutes on a charge–long range surveys are not in the ballpark, but you can cover a lot of watery terrain in 10 minutes and then get the drone back to a safe landing. At about 15 inches wide, it’s small enough to stow in a boat compartment until you need it. Price is about $250, from

Sebago Cyphon Sea Boat Shoes

I go through a lot of boat shoes because I wear them not only for boating and fishing, but also for pretty much everything else when there’s not snow on the ground. One of the best new models I’ve seen in the past year for the way I use boat shoes is the Cyphon Sea from Sebago, one of the older names in the Maine shoe business; they’re celebrating their 70th year presently.

The Cyphon uppers are synthetic fabric rather than leather, which I like both because they dry more rapidly and because they don’t require occasional treatment to prevent deterioration as even the best leather boat shoes do when worn wet regularly. They have non-marking soles, a biggie with those who cruise aboard far finer boats than mine but not so much of a problem on the carpeted floor of a bass boat nor the pebbled fiberglass of a flats boat. And the most unique feature is that the soles are actually vented on the bottom as well as on the sides, getting rid of water fast when you step over the side to beach the boat–or get caught in a rain storm. The insoles are also vented, and are removable for quick drying.

They have plenty of arch support and cushioning, too, comfortable for long sessions of standing on the bow casting. They’re quick-on and quick-off thanks to the elastic laces and no-tie fasteners. Last but not least for someone who wears boat shoes for pretty much everything, the sole is a bit more durable than some of the extremely “tacky” siped-sole models that are aimed primarily at making sure no-one slips on a wet deck. Those shoes use very soft rubber on the outer soles, and though it works, they don’t last all that long in daily use.

It doesn’t hurt that the Cyphon’s look good–much like a quality running shoe–they’re very light at just 10 ounces per shoe, and that they won’t break the bank; MSRP is $80;

ThermaCELL ProFlex Heavy Duty

Also in the shoe department, the new Bluetooth enabled ThermaCELL ProFlex Heavy Duty heated insoles are a winner. I’ve been using these things for years for winter time fishing–you cut the insole to fit the shape of your boots and then turn them off and on as needed with your cell phone to keep the cold from ruining your day on the water. They’d also be great for sitting in a deer stand, for snowmobiling, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the cold for extended periods.

The batteries charge with the included USB charger in about two hours, and can last up to 8.5 hours, depending on how hot you set them and how long your run them between shutdowns. The temperature can be set as high as 115 degrees, which is too hot for me after 30 minutes or so, but each user will find his own comfort level.

The company says this particular model is 10 times more durable than their standard ProFlex model, good for 1 million steps or more–though in my experience, feet get cold when I’m standing or sitting still rather than when I’m making a lot of steps. They are water resistant–but not waterproof so don’t go in over your boot tops when wearing them. They’re about $199;

President Elect Trump and TDS

After GW Bush was elected it took about six months for Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) to set in. Then 9/11 slowed it down some but it was full blown by the end of 2001, with liberals blaming him for everything that they did not like and criticizing every move he made. It lasted almost 16 years, until this fall.

With President Elect Trump TDS started as soon as he was nominated. It seemed liberal news media, but I repeat myself, tried to give him a lot of publicity, almost like they wanted him to win the Republican nomination, but as soon as he won enough primary votes to secure the nomination, they went off the deep end.

Kathleen Parker denigrated Trump in every one of her columns published in the Griffin Daily News for months. If she had not hated him so much she would have had nothing to write about. Based on her columns you would think President Elect Trump caused everything from the drought to car wrecks on I-75 from the time he won the nomination.

Her 12/6/16 column topped them all. In it she whined that President Elect Trump “continues to bash media” because he does not trust them to publish the truth. This whining after she bashed him for at least six months. To her, we common people must listen to her and her liberal media folks without questioning them at all.

Last year Parker tried to tell me I should not eat meat. She says it harms animals. I have no problem with someone choosing to not eat meat, more power to them. But they can shut up when they try to tell me I must stop eating meat. Liberals like her are not happy making their own choices, they want to force their choices on everyone else. Parker did admit her son works for PETA, the group that says the life of rat or pig is just as important as the life of a boy.

In that column last week Turner also made a statement typical for her. While defending any outrageous comment in the media as protected by the 1st Amendment, she stated “How long before Trump’s words convince some off-balanced Second Amendment ‘patriot’ to take out a ‘crooked’ media person.”

So according to her the 1st Amendment protects everything she and other media folks say but not what President Elect Trump says, and someone supporting the 2nd Amendment is probably a “off-balanced.” She goes on to say how terrible it is people can share information on social media that is not approved by the national media like her.

There is an old saying “If you are in a hole, stop digging.” It seems folks like her keep getting new shovels. Many of the things pushed by the liberal media and their counterparts at colleges push normal people to vote for candidates like President Elect Trump.

Expect more of the total TDS stuff from them daily.

A good example of the craziness coming from liberal colleges (again I repeat myself) is from groups at Ohio State University. After a refugee, that the US compassionately took in, ran a car through a crowd of students and attacked others with a butcher knife, injuring many, a police officer that happened to be nearby shot and killed him.

Some snowflake group at the college said the officer should not have shot him. I guess they wanted the office to watch the terrorist stab students until he got too tired to resist arrest. Another shovel added to the groups in the hole.

Catch More Tailwater Trout

Trout’s Fly Fishing- 5 Ways to Catch More Tailwater Trout
By: Kyle Wilkinson, Trout’s Fly Fishing Marketing and Brand Manager
from The Fishing Wire

Whether we like it or not- Winter is here. That pretty much gives us two choices- quit fishing, or keep fishing. I’m always of the opinion to ‘keep fishing’. One of the best parts about living in Colorado- and particularly on the Front Range- is the abundance of Tailwater fisheries that lie within an easy drive of our homes. That said, I still believe many anglers aren’t catching as many fish as they should be. If you’ve ever found yourself struggling with your success on winter tailwaters, give these 5 tips a try next time you decide to bundle up and get the boots wet in the months to come:

1. Use Yarn- many of you reading this may have heard this recommendation before, but it bears repeating. I feel that strongly about it. Simply put, yarn indicators are WAY more sensitive than plastic bobber-style indicators. Fish this time of year can be pretty lethargic (compared to summer) and typically won’t eat your flies with much aggression. Oftentimes your yarn won’t even dunk underwater but rather just ‘pause’ or ‘lean over’ when a fish strikes. If you’ve never used yarn indicators before, be prepared to be amazed with the sensitivity you’ll get. Side note- tips for yarn success- carry several and liberally apply some fly floatant before starting the day. Be prepared to dry off your indicator every couple hours and reapply. If you decide that your indicator is too waterlogged after a few hours, simply swap it out for a fresh one. While I realize these do require a little more maintenance than a thingamabobber, the fact that it leads to more fish in the net throughout the day is always worth it to me.

2. Putty and Split Shot- if you’re not using both split shot AND putty, you’re really missing out. Flows are at their lowest levels of the year and being able to dial in the weight on your nymph rigs is paramount to success. Any of the commercially made tungsten putties will work great so don’t get too caught up on which ‘brand’ to buy. Here’s how I put both split shot and putty to use for me this time of year. To start, select the size of split shot that will get you by in the shallowest water you’ll be fishing. Anytime you come to deeper water, simply pull out a little putty and apply it directly on top of the split shot, rolling it into a nice round ball. Voila. That’s it! Throughout the day you can add and remove putty as necessary to make sure you’re always getting your flies right down into the fishes faces. When you decide you need to take off a little (or all) of the putty you added, simply peel it off and place back in the original container. You can use and reuse tungsten putty for months on end before running out. The best part of using tungsten putty is that it avoids having to constantly pinch and remove split shot throughout the day. This will help protect your light tippets and is also just a whole heck of a lot faster way to make weight adjustments!

3. Never make a cast standing in the water that you could have made standing on dry ground. This is another HUGE one for me, but is a mistake I see anglers make time and time again. Whenever you approach a likely looking area, always make it a point to fish it while keeping your wading boots on dry ground.

Avoiding splashing around, crunching rocks, and in general- disturbing the water with your steps- is always going to leave the fish feeling much more at ease and in turn- more eager to eat your flies (this rule should actually be applied year round).

4. Tighten up your flies- If you don’t fish your flies spaced closely together during winter, I’m confident you’re missing out on a few fish throughout the day. I always like to say that a wintertime tailwater trout lives in a shoebox. (i.e. if you put a trout in a shoebox, it doesn’t have much room to move side to side). If I’m not getting my flies in this ‘shoebox’ zone, my confidence in getting an eat goes down drastically. My rule for spacing my flies during winter is to make a fist, and then extend my thumb and pink in opposite directions. This is the spacing you should be using- approximately 10″ or so. If you’ve never fished your flies this close together, consider yourself warned- it’s probably going to seem a little weird at first. One thing I can promise you though is that you’re going to need your net more throughout the day if you give it a try!

5. Watch the bubbles- we’ve already talked about indicators and weight, and I firmly believe that one of the biggest reasons people don’t catch as many fish as they should is that they’re simply not getting down to them. Next time your nymphing make sure to keep an eye on the bubbles on the surface. What are they doing? Are they moving the same speed as your indicator? If so, this is a dead giveaway you’re not getting down to the fish. Most fish this time of year are sitting very close to the bottom. The water on the bottom of the river is moving slower than the water on the surface. If you’re indicator is floating the same speed as the bubbles on the surface, this means that you’re not getting down to the fish. Simple as that. The goal is to always have your indicator floating SLOWER than the bubbles on the surface. This can quickly be achieved by adding a little more depth and/or weight to your rig. If you’ve never paid attention to this before I think you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it makes and how quickly you are now able to dial in your rig, ultimately achieving a perfect drift to the fish!

Trouts Fly Fishing is a full service fly shop located in the heart of Denver, CO between Downtown and Cherry Creek North. A second location was established in Frisco, CO located right on Main St. In addition to selling fly fishing goods, Trouts also offers a wide selection of fly fishing classes, guided trips and destination travel options. Some of their trips include both float fishing and wade fishing on the Blue River, Colorado River, Williams Fork River, Eagle River, Roaring Fork River, Frying Pan and Arkansas River. Trouts has been proudly serving the angling community for over 15 years.

Ripe Tomatoes in December

You just gotta love this global change warming climate thingie. I picked ripe tomatoes and peppers Thursday, December 8, 2016 since the weather guessers said the temperature would dip into the upper 20s Friday morning. My tomato vines were still lush and covered with green tomatoes. They were still blooming!

The latest I can ever remember picking fresh tomatoes is December 1. It takes only a light freeze to kill the vines and that often happens around Thanksgiving, but this year, even though the “official” Griffin temperature Friday morning was 28, my vines were still fine and the temperature at my house at 8:00 AM was 33 degrees. Maybe I picked them too soon!

I got a greenhouse a couple of years ago but was too lazy to put it up. Now I wish I had done so. No telling how long I could have tomatoes this year.

Warmer temperatures here show global climate change, according to some, but I had ice on my windshield on a trip to Detroit on November 1 and some northern states have several feet of snow on the ground right now, so the change must not be too global.

Gila Trout

Gila Trout Swim Mineral Creek
Devastating fire cleared path for rare trout’s return

Craig Springer, USFWS
from The Fishing Wire

Wear and tear on boot soles and a helicopter—that’s what it took to get 1,033 Gila trout safely placed in the remote headwaters of Mineral Creek, well inside the Gila National Forest of southwestern New Mexico.

On November 18, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) working with its partner agencies, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Forest Service, released two age classes of Gila trout into Mineral Creek ranging up to a foot long. The rare yellow trout were spawned, hatched and raised in captivity in 2015 and 2016 at the Service’s Mora National Fish Hatchery. Hatchery fish are carefully paired and spawned to maximize genetic diversity of offspring which provides a safeguard for their survival in the wild. The captive fish also purposely face rigorous swimming conditions in the hatchery to further ensure their fitness when released.

These 1,033 trout traveled by truck eight hours to meet a helicopter at the Gila National Forest’s Glenwood Ranger Station. The aircraft made multiple flights carrying an aerated tank at the end of a long-line, each time full of Gila trout. Biologists from the three agencies had hiked in several miles in the rugged country to meet the trout and place them in the cool, shaded runs and pools of Mineral Creek.

Mineral Creek is tributary to the San Francisco River near Alma, New Mexico. Streams in this watershed harbor one of five known relict genetic lineages of Gila trout. The species lives only in New Mexico and Arizona along the Mogollon Rim, an area of conservation emphasis for the Service. This release is a large step forward in conserving Gila trout, noted Andy Dean, lead Gila trout biologist with the Service’s New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, based in Albuquerque. “This repatriation into Mineral Creek adds another stream to harbor Gila trout, as outlined as a necessity in the Gila Trout Recovery Plan,” said Dean. “Not only does this add a population within the San Francisco River drainage, it also helps establish Gila trout populations across a larger geographical area. More Gila trout over a larger area adds greater security to this rare fish.”

That desired security will be achieved when the Mineral Creek population is naturally reproducing, and multiple year classes swim its waters, perhaps in 2018.

Mineral Creek came to the attention of biologists as a candidate stream to receive Gila trout following the massive Whitewater-Baldy Fire of 2012. Destructive as it was, the forest fire made Mineral Creek suitable for Gila trout. The fire burned in the headlands of the stream and summer rains washed a slurry of ash and debris down its course, removing unwanted competing non-native fishes. Though the mountain slopes and streamside vegetation are not fully stabilized post-fire, sufficient habitat exists to harbor Gila trout in Mineral Creek. With so few suitable streams available to repatriate Gila trout, biologists seized the opportunity.

Mineral Creek Canyon is steep to be sure. It’s certainly among the more remote and more difficult Gila trout habitats to reach, but it’s not the only stream to receive Gila trout from Mora National Fish Hatchery this autumn. Another 8,621 Gila trout have been placed in several other waters that advance the species’ recovery and should entice anglers to go after native trout in native habitats of southwest New Mexico.

Willow Creek received 3,039 Gila trout; Gilita Creek, 1,022; Sapillo Creek, 2,270; and West Fork Gila River, 2,290. These waters are readily accessible and won’t require shedding lots of boot tread to reach them as is the case with Mineral Creek. These trout—shards of sunshine—lie in dark water behind boulders and in the scour pools beneath log jams, waiting for bugs to come drifting by. They also wait for what anglers may throw their way. Anglers should visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish website to learn more about fishing regulations, which requires a free Gila trout permit.

The Gila trout is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The species was listed as endangered in 1973, and through conservation measures it was downlisted to threatened in 2006. A year later select Gila trout populations were opened to angling for the first time in 50 years.

To learn more visit

Craig Springer, External Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Southwest Region

Slot Limit Restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay

Will Slot Limit Restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay Bass change tournaments?
from The Fishing Wire

Maryland DNR’s Response to Comments Submitted Specific to Possession Slot Limit Restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay for Black Bass Tournaments in 2016
Editor’s Note: Tournament anglers in Maryland and Virginia are concerned with new slot limits put in place by Maryland DNR recently that they say will make it impossible to hold tournaments under existing rules in the popular estuarine waters of the Potomac River and upper Chesapeake Bay. Here’s a look at Maryland’s position on the issue:

The Department has taken numerous recent actions to improve black bass fisheries in Potomac River by addressing pollution, instituting stocking, enhancing habitat, and providing handling tips to all anglers who target black bass in Maryland. In addition to these actions, the Department has also implemented a new condition on tournament permits in order to help reduce fishing mortality and reduce stockpiling of large fish. This is the first river wide action to affect possession of tidewater black bass in 25 years. In today’s fishery, possession is largely associated with black bass tournaments and while their anglers are conservation stewards, any change in possession limit will affect primarily them. This action related to possession was taken as an emergency measure to address population problems that have been evidenced by both agency surveys and angler reports. It is the Department’s responsibility to act and, using every tool possible, respond to the population issue.

The Department sent a memo that outlines new possession restriction for tournaments. For tournaments held from June 16 to October 31 at Maryland weigh-in locations on Potomac River or Upper Chesapeake Bay (Susquehanna, Northeast, Elk, Susquehanna flats), participating anglers are limited to a 12 inch minimum size and a possession limit of 5 bass (largemouth and smallmouth combined), only one of which may be 15 inches or greater (per angler, per day). Therefore, an angler can weigh-in 5 fish over 12″ to UNDER 15″ and only 1 of those may be 15″ AND BIGGER (from tip of snout to tip of tail).

The Department received many comments since sending out the memo with justification regarding this possession change. The Department appreciates the input and has made modifications to the original possession restriction. Tournament directors will now be provided two options or choices when applying for a permit for tournaments held in Maryland on Potomac River or Upper Chesapeake Bay from June 16 through October 31. Both options are designed to reduce fishing mortality and reduce stockpiling of large fish. Option 1 requires the tournament director/participants to adhere to the slot limit permit condition. Option 2 requires directors to adhere to special conditions that minimize fish stress, thereby reducing fishing mortality. These special conditions have been modeled after those used in Florida bass fisheries. Option 2 allows directors/participants to adhere to statewide regulations during this time period (minimum 12″ size, 5 fish creel).

The following is a summary of the major comments/input we have received, including a response from the Department

1. Some clubs stated they will honor the new rule, several find it biologically meaningful and similar to existing strategies in Florida, Minnesota, and Texas. Some tournament directors that already have tournament permits issued for tournaments between June 16 through October 31 agreed to implement the new permit condition restriction voluntarily.

2. Maryland’s businesses will be adversely impacted when large tournaments (FLW, BASS, etc.) pull out of Maryland and smaller tournaments depend on anglers who *want* to catch big bass. A restriction of one large fish greater than 15″ does not preclude tournament activity in Maryland waters. Tournaments are held in water of other states with a minimum and maximum size for possession (e.g. Fayette County Lake TX; statewide FL; several lakes, MN; Lake Casitas, CA). Other types of tournaments (Fishing League Worldwide, iAngler tournaments) are also possible and nationally popular. The FLW and BASS are scheduled to be held in Maryland in 2016.

3. The restriction will harm tourism and tournament businesses. The Department is concerned that there is already declining tournament activity in the Potomac River in response to the declining bass population (see Figures 1 and 2). In addition, reported catch in 2015 averaged among tournaments declined from 3 bass/angler to 2 bass/angler, impacting the angling experience. The bass population decline may have already had a negative impact on tourism and tournament businesses. The current Departmental actions were taken to help speed the recovery of this fishery to lessen a long-term negative impact on tourism and tournament businesses.

4. On the Potomac River, tournaments will move to Virginia, which will hurt the population of bass in Maryland and possibly cause greater death of fish released at the major weigh-in location in Virginia. Maryland has made significant investments into Smallwood State Park to make it a desirable location to conduct bass tournaments. The Department hopes that these improvements will continue to be utilized. In the future a river-wide regulation may be one way to address this concern; it would affect anglers from Virginia fishing in Maryland. But the time constraints of a regulation did not make that possible for this year. The Department will work with our partners in Virginia to discuss tournament concerns. However, the population cannot wait for consensus among the jurisdictions. If needed, Maryland will lead the conservation efforts for this important resource.

This past February, biologists from Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. presented evidence of declining bass populations, though there was not consensus on the explanation for the decline. The Department is leading conservation efforts along with its stakeholders (tournament directors, guides, anglers) to take actions against pollution, stock fish, enhance habitat, control invasive species, monitor disease in bass, and speed recovery of the fishery. The Department’s current options for tournament directors, which were created based on considerable stakeholder feedback, should encourage tournament anglers to remain in Maryland and work with the Department in continuing their conservation efforts to speed recovery of the fishery.

5. Why are you picking on tournaments and not applying rule changes to the entire fishery? Immediate Departmental action was necessary given the current status of the fishery. Implementing changes for the overall fishery will require regulation and would not be in place in 2016. However, various options will be considered for 2017 which could affect all users groups and the entire fishery.

The current action, which was one of many considered, affected possession. Possession is largely associated with many styles of tournament fishing. Most recreational anglers catch and immediately release bass that are captured. Some tournaments in Maryland have catch and immediate release formats (e.g., paper fish tournament rules), which does not cause the additional handling stress that can be associated with possession or lead to stockpiling. Most tournaments catch the bass, temporarily hold them in live wells or tanks, take them to weigh-in and then release the fish. Studies conducted by the Department indicate that total bass mortality following tournaments conducted in late June or July can range between 19% – 25% of total catch. Other studies indicate that post-release mortality during summer may reach 34% of total catch. Heavy bass tend to die more than smaller bass during tournaments. An analysis of length data for dead fish collected during Potomac River tournaments during the 12-inch season indicated that 70% of the fish were 15-inches or larger. This fact was the scientific justification for the implementation of the permit condition (12″ minimum, 5 fish creel, only one fish 15″ or bigger).

This new possession restriction was designed to bring fewer big fish to weigh-in and to reduce overall fishing mortality in a fishery where Largemouth Bass Virus and pollution additionally stress health of fish. The Department has long recognized that many tournament organizations implement a host of best practices that maximize fish care, thereby reducing fishing mortality. Recognition of this fact has led to the modification of the Department’s original decision. Tournament organizations that implement a variety of best practices that were obtained from Florida’s bass fisheries management style, can fish under Maryland’s existing statewide regulations. Fisheries staff will be attending these tournaments to ensure fish care and compliance with best practices.

6. There will be a shift in fishing pressure to spring. The Department will be able to monitor if there is a shift in tournament activity to the spring through our tournament permitting process. We will also be evaluating whether tournament fishing pressure is redirected to systems other than the Potomac River and Upper Chesapeake Bay. In the coming months, the Department will evaluate management actions, with public scoping that could be implemented in 2017 to improve the fishery. This may apply to the spring season and to all bass anglers.

7. What is the justification for this restriction applied to the Upper Chesapeake Bay (Upper Bay) fishery? The trend in the Upper Chesapeake Bay fishery is also a cause for concern (see Figure 3). Recent catch has been 2 years below the Management Plan Reference Line, possibly because of poorer than usual reproduction in 2012 and 2013. Figures 1 and 2 indicate increasing tournament pressure in the Upper Bay, which may partially be a result of tournaments shifting pressure from Potomac River to the Upper Bay. The Department is concerned that more tournaments could move to the Upper Bay if restrictions are not consistent in the Upper Bay and Potomac River. In addition, there is a higher prevalence of Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) in the Upper Bay as compared to the Potomac River. The LMBV-infected fish held under stressful conditions, such as live-wells during the summer, have a higher level of post release mortality. Considering the declining trend in the Upper Bay, proactive approaches to protection are needed.

8. This restriction is only on tournaments, so recreational anglers can catch and kill up to 5 big fish. Based on creel surveys, approximately 1% -5% of anglers catch and keep bass for personal use. Therefore, the harvest of largemouth bass is extremely low. However, regulations may be enacted in 2017 that would affect all user groups.

9. This stipulation will cause greater culling and handling of large fish. Culling occurs during tournament events. Participants work to maximize weight within the possession limits that exist. While we understand that tournament anglers will cull big fish, the big fish that are culled are going back in the river and not in the live well.

10. Why weren’t we given the opportunity for public comment on this rule? The Department requested recommendations from the Black Bass Roundtable in February; however there was not consensus on what actions regarding possession restrictions should move forward. The Department committed to taking additional management action in 2016 and considered several other potential actions. Fisheries staff met in late February to consider a suite of management actions and scientific data to address the decline in the fishery. The options considered included: significant reductions in creel limits, increasing minimum size limits, no permits issued in July and August due to thermal concerns, a closed spring season, and/or catch and immediate release spring season.

The Department decided to take an action that restricted possession and was biologically meaningful. In order to take an action in 2016, it was necessary to add a permit stipulation/condition. The Department is authorized to add such stipulations, but does not take that authority liberally. Since the implementation of the permitting system in 2012, this is the first time that a stipulation was added to permits to restrict possession.

The option for a slot limit does not affect tournament opportunities like the other actions considered by the Department. It limits movement of big fish to release sites, reduces physiological stress on big fish in live wells, and is scientifically defensible as a measure to speed recovery of a stressed population. Of the options considered it was seen as the least problematic for tournaments. Tournament regulations require the Department to respond to an application within 15-30 days. Therefore, the Department had a very short timeframe to make a decision and implement it in the tournament permits. In hindsight, the Department should have notified constituents regarding all actions being considered immediately to allow for feedback. The window for feedback would have been very short, but meaningful. The Department will be increasing the frequency of bass stakeholder group meetings within a year and all stakeholders are encouraged to participate. An improved stakeholder process would help address this issue in the future.

11. This stipulation makes it more difficult to win a tournament based on skill rather than luck. Competition standards in the tournament are the same among anglers, and anglers can compete in a big fish competition. Alternatively, directors could exclude any big fish in the competition and facilitate a tighter competition among bag weights. Having fewer big fish in a bag may tighten the margin between bag weights and tournament directors are certainly allowed to exclude big fish from bag weights if they believe it will influence the competition too much.

In some cases, anglers may consider it luck that a big fish is caught, which could win the tournament. Others may consider it skill. Currently, anglers may also consider it either luck or skill when one or more big fish are caught to win a tournament. Winning lunker competitions or big bag could depend on both luck and skill, but enjoyment depends on the strength of the fishery. The restriction is meant to help strengthen the fishery. Concerns expressed by this comment could be eliminated if a tournament directors choose Option 2 when obtaining a permit and commit to implementing a suite of standardized best practices that maximize fish care.

Late November Lake Lanier Tournament

Last Sunday 11 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our November tournament at Lake Lanier. Although the lake was nine feet low, we managed to land 33 bass weighing about 67 pounds. There were only two largemouth weighed in, all the rest were spots. Three fishermen had limits and two did not catch a 14-inch keeper.

Sam Smith won it all with five weighing 12.90 pounds and had a 3.82 pound spot for big fish. George Roberts had a limit weighing 9.37 pounds for second, my four keepers weighing 9.04 pounds was third and Niles Murray came in fourth with five at 8.52 pounds.

I had high hopes the spots would be feeding on wind blown points, and we had lots of wind. The first place I stopped I got a three pound spot on a spinnerbait on a rocky point in the wind, the pattern I thought would be good. Two hours of throwing spinnerbaits later I had not gotten another bite!

In desperation, I went to a clay point with a road bed on it and cast a crankbait across it and caught a spot weighing almost two pounds. There is some brush on the roadbed out on the point and I moved to it and caught a bare keeper on a drop shot worm. Then I got a 13-inch non-keeper on a jig head worm there. Although I fished I hard I did not get another bite.

With only an hour left to fish I went to a point near the weigh-in where there is some deep brush. After about 15 minutes of dragging a jig and pig through the brush I felt a tap and set the hook on another three-pound spot. That was it for the day, five bites and four keepers on four different bait.

After the weigh-in Sam said he caught ten keepers on a spinnerbait, culling down to five for the win. He said it was a special spinnerbait. I guess I did not have the special one!

The size of the spots at Lanier is amazing. We had many three pounders weighed in. I had one weighing a little over three pounds and another one almost exactly the same size. They pull hard and are fun to catch. I would fish Lanier a lot more if there was a way to get to it without fighting all the interstate traffic coming home.