Category Archives: Conservation


2022 Grand Prize Winners for the Georgia Bass Slam and Georgia Angler Award Program

SOCIAL CIRCLE, GA – Catching a Bass Slam or landing an Angler Award fish is already an accomplishment and garners some fun rewards, but it’s even more exciting when you win the Grand Prize for the 2022 Bass Slam or Angler Award Program!

Out of the 43 Bass Slammers and 295 Angler Awards caught in 2022, the Grand Prize winners are Andrew Wood (Bass Slam) and Daniel Woodcock (Angler Award), according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Congrats to Both!

Grand Prize Winners receive a cooler, camp chairs, tackle box and some other prizes. Now, let’s start working on those 2023 catches.


Georgia Bass Slam: Catch (at least) five of the different black bass species found in Georgia within a calendar year and you have a Georgia Bass Slam! This program recognizes anglers with the knowledge and skill to catch different species of bass in a variety of habitats across the state, while also stimulating interest in the conservation and management of black bass and their habitats. For complete rules and more info, visit

Angler Award Program: This program recognizes those who catch fish that meet or exceed a specific weight or length for that species. There is an adult, youth, public fishing area and trophy bass angler award program category. For complete rules and more info, visit

Other Fishing Recognition Programs:

  • State Records: In addition to the angler award program, the division also maintains a freshwater fish state-record program for anglers who land a catch that exceeds the existing record catch weight by one ounce or more.  More information at
  • Kids First Fish Certificate: The division wants to recognize children across the state for catching their first fish with an online kid’s “first fish award” certificate available at

Georgia Wildlife Resources thanks anglers that took part in these programs and appreciates all anglers that head out to state waters throughout the year to wet a line. For more information about fishing in Georgia, visit

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Operation Viper leads to numerous charges for venomous snake trafficking.

Multi-State Wildlife investigation “Operation Viper” leads to numerous charges for venomous snake trafficking.

SOCIAL CIRCLE – On January 12, 2023, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division (DNR LED) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) filed charges against eight individuals, for the illegal trafficking of venomous and prohibited exotic snakes.

The DNR LED has been receiving intelligence reports and complaints indicating that a black market existed for the sale and purchase of illegal and highly dangerous venomous reptiles in Georgia. In 2021, Georgia DNR LED and FWC initiated a long-term investigation with undercover investigators to determine the extent of this illegal activity.

The illegal sale, purchase and transporting of these regulated animals pose a significant public safety threat and threatens the long-term well-being of state wildlife populations. If these illegal and dangerous nonnative species were to escape, there is a possibility they could live and breed in the wild.

Over the course of the multi state investigation, nearly 200 snakes, consisting of 24 species from seven different regions of the globe, were purchased from or sold to wildlife traffickers by undercover investigators. Some of those species include the inland taipan, bushmaster, rhinoceros viper, African bush viper, Gaboon viper, green mamba, eyelash viper, multiple species of spitting cobra, forest cobra, puff adder and saw-scaled vipers. Several of these snakes are listed in the top 10 deadliest in the world and no anti-venom for the treatment of snake bites for several of the species is available in Georgia.

This lengthy investigation developed suspects both in and out of Georgia and Florida. Investigators realized early into the investigation that the black market for venomous reptiles was robust, and subjects identified in the operation were dealing reptiles frequently and in high numbers, often to or from unpermitted individuals.

Violations charged during this operation do not take into account that many of these snakes were probably sourced illegally from their home country of origin. A well- established tactic for black market dealers is to launder illegally procured snakes through a properly permitted facility, so they may be sold without divulging their true origin.

Timothy James Gould, age 38, of Central City, PA was taken into custody in Georgia on numerous felony and misdemeanor arrest warrants. The other seven suspects were arrested in Florida.

Gould is a well-established wildlife transporter and is unpermitted in the state of Georgia and Florida for any captive wildlife, let alone venomous reptiles. He advertises his illegal transport services on a popular online marketplace for wildlife dealers. When arrested, Gould had 27 exotic venomous snakes in his possession illegally.

Wildlife trafficking ranks fourth behind, drugs, weapons, and humans in global activity, and is often a nexus for other illegal activity. There are many different estimates of the value of illicit wildlife trafficking worldwide. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, illicit wildlife trafficking is estimated to be between $7.8 billion and $10 billion per year.

For photos of the snake species, click here: Snakes


from The Fishing Wire

Tips to Decrease Impacts to Fish When Catch-and-Release Ice Fishing

SALT LAKE CITY — Winter weather has descended on Utah, and if you are planning to go ice fishing this winter and want to release the fish you catch, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is offering some tips to help decrease stress and increase survival for the fish.

Minimize the air exposure time for the fish

Just like hot temperatures and warm water can have impacts on certain fish species, freezing weather can also be tough on fish.

Anglers have to remember that even though they are ice fishing, the fish they are catching are living in water that is not frozen — which means that the water temperature that the fish are experiencing is often warmer than the temperatures they are exposed to coming out of the water.

“If an angler is fishing on a particularly cold day, pulling a fish up through a hole and exposing them to freezing conditions can be stressful to a fish,” DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “The water that remains on sensitive areas — such as the gills or eyes — can begin to freeze and this can cause damage to a fish. So, it is best to minimize exposure time and to release the fish as quickly as possible after catching it.”

One way to eliminate the air exposure time is to make sure you have quick access to all the tools you will need to easily and quickly release the fish.

“A unique aspect of ice fishing is that anglers tend to dress in layers to keep warm, which is definitely recommended,” Oplinger said. “However, they often bury key equipment, such as pliers and cameras, under those layers. Another key aspect of ice fishing is that anglers often fish with two holes that are somewhat separated from each other. This makes it easy to forget key equipment for releasing the fish when you head to another hole in response to a strike. What you don’t want to do is increase air exposure time for the fish because you are scrambling to find equipment. Anglers should carry the equipment that they need to release their fish in an easily accessible location.”

One idea for doing that is to keep your pliers on a lanyard around your neck to make them easy to find and access. Another idea is to keep all your equipment in a bucket or sled so that it’s easy to find and doesn’t get buried in the snow on top of the ice.

Eliminate contact with dry surfaces

Wearing gloves while ice fishing is typically recommended to protect an angler’s hands from freezing conditions. Those gloves, however, are often made of absorptive fabric. Fish have a protective slime coat on their skin, and wearing gloves while handling the fish can remove the slime coat.

“That can leave fish more susceptible to various skin issues, such as fungal diseases,” Oplinger said. “I know that it is tough to take gloves off while ice fishing because it’s cold, but handling fish with your bare hands is best. Once the fish have been safely released, then you can put your gloves back on.”

Safety tips for anglers

While it is important to decrease stress on the fish while ice fishing, it is also very important to keep yourself safe as well. It’s important to dress in layers and have all the needed equipment to stay warm.

A general safety recommendation is to not step on the ice unless it is at least 4 inches thick. Keep in mind, though, that ice thickness can vary across a lake. If you see the ice is 4 inches thick in one spot, don’t assume it’s 4 inches thick across the entire lake. Be sure to drill test holes into the ice as you venture onto it. You should also avoid putting large groups of people and equipment in a small area — spread the weight out.

“As an extra precaution, you can also purchase ice safety picks, which can help you get out of a lake if you fall through the ice,” Oplinger said. “I’d also recommend taking a rope with you. It’s always a good idea to have someone else with you when ice fishing.”

Find more ice safety tips on the Utah State Parks website.

You can find more information about where to go ice fishing in Utah on the DWR Fish Utah map. Also, be sure to rate the waterbodies that you fish this winter on the website. The ratings allow DWR fisheries managers to gauge angler satisfaction at a specific waterbody. That information helps the DWR improve fishing across the state.

Hunting vs Shooting

From 2018   

It is now legal to shoot deer over bait in our area.  This change from last season came because of pressure from people wanting to kill deer easier.  In meetings around the state, a fairly high majority of those attending wanted the change.  The legislature sets hunting laws but could not come to a decision, so the governor passed the decision on to the DNR.

    To make shooting deer over bait legal, the DNR changed the rules, not the law. They simply shrank the Northern Zone, where baiting is still illegal, to include only some federal lands in the area, where baiting was always illegal.  Almost all of Georgia is now considered the “Southern” Zone, where baiting has been legal for several years.

    I very intentionally said it is legal to shoot deer, not hunt them, over bait. Drawing animals and birds to you to shoot them is not hunting.  That is why we go quail hunting but to a dove shoot.  You look for quail in their habitat. You draw doves to a field to shoot them.

    There are good and bad things about shooting over bait. For young hunters, especially those seeking their first deer, they are much more likely to be successful over bait. That is also true of some of us older folks as well as those with other handicaps that keep us from really hunting.  But it does not teach hunting skills and the pride in working to take your quarry.

    Deer tend to browse while feeding, moving a lot as they seek natural food sources.  Even with food plots they will walk through them, pausing to eat but not staying in the same place for very long.  But a pile of corn makes them come to the exact same place every day and spent more time in a very small area.

    This concentration tends to make diseases spread among the deer.  And it also makes it easier to predators other than us to pattern and kill them.  There are many pictures from trail cameras set up around feeders showing coyotes and bobcats hanging around feeders, waiting on an easy meal to come to them.

    To me there is no difference between putting out a corn feeder to attract deer to you and planting a food plot to do the same, except for the amount of work involved.  Food plots have always been legal, and they do have the benefit of providing food for deer year-round, not just during hunting season.

    I try to stay legal although I do not consider myself a deer hunter. I simply want to harvest two or three deer, preferably does, each year for the freezer. I’m a meat harvester. When younger I did thrill in looking for bucks in their natural habitat, figuring out their movements and patterns, and placing a stand in exactly the right place to get a shot at a buck.

    I am proud of the first buck I killed 50 years ago this fall, a small eight pointer. I went out on public land, found signs and figured out where to put my stand, all on my own.  It was tougher back then with fewer deer and fewer open days to hunt. I have killed much bigger bucks since then around my food plots but there is no pride in taking them.

      I found out a few years ago how effective baiting is.  I have 75 acres I hunt on in Spalding County. I plant a small field with wheat, clover and winter peas each year hoping to make it easier for me to get my meat. I have also planted crab apple trees and fertilized persimmon trees.  For years I was successful.

    About four years ago I stopped seeing deer in my food plots.  They had changed their movement patterns. I was told a neighbor with less than ten acres of land had put a corn feeder and I found it. His stand was on his side of a gulley between his land and mine, but his feeder was actually on my property.

    Deer had changed their routes, going by the corn in preference to coming by my field.  I found lots of signs around the corn and trails that led to it from bedding areas, then to other areas that bypassed my field.  That was frustrating.

    Since baiting is now legal, I will put out a couple of corn feeders. I will continue to plant food plots if for no other reason than to have food available year-round for them and keep them healthier. And I will move my feeders every few months, so the deer will not stay in one small area all the time and help spread disease.  And moving them will confuse other predators, at least a little.

    Baiting is not a bad thing for some animals. Wild hogs are not game animals, they are a serious problem for farmers and the environment.  So, putting out bait and shooting or trapping as many of them as you can is a good thing.

    Baiting bears in some states has been legal a long time, but not in north Georgia.  Bait gets bears to come to where the waiting person can shoot them. In some areas it is almost impossible to actually hunt bears due to their inconsistent movement and impenetrable habitat. Still, it is bear shooting, not hunting.

    Are you a hunter or a harvester?  You can be both, but not on the same property unless it is huge.  Putting out food for deer and shooting deer over it but hunting for a quality buck is possible, but if your bait changes the bucks habits you are not really going after him on his own natural habitat. Since bait will attract deer for an area covering at least a square mile, you really need two different places to separate the two.

    What will you be this year?

Till next time – Gone fishing!




Speed Restrictions Threaten Marine Industry

from The Fishing Wire

New Gretna, New Jersey- A rushed proposed rule to implement 10-knot speed restrictions for boats 35 feet and larger from Massachusetts to Florida could devastate the entire marine industry and cripple America’s outdoor economy.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is proposing amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule to reduce the likelihood of vessel strikes. The federal rule would broaden the current 10-knot speed limit to include boats 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet); expand the zones from discrete calving areas to virtually the entire East Coast as far out as 100 nautical miles; and extend the go-slow mandate for up to seven months a year.

“The proposed rule, as written, would be the most consequential maritime regulation that we have ever seen imposed on the recreational boating and fishing sector,” says John DePersenaire, Director of Government Affairs and Sustainability for Viking Yachts. “It will affect not only boat owners but marinas, tackle shops, charter boat operators – basically all maritime-related businesses on the Atlantic Coast.”

Adds Viking President and CEO Pat Healey: “This would be a devastating regulatory mandate. Right whale vessel strikes have just not been an issue for our industry. This is a classic example of government overreach.”

The proposed rule was published without any engagement with the recreational boating and fishing community. “We had heard talk of a proposal but were never directly contacted in any way,” says DePersenaire. “This is important because the proposed rule imposes excessive and unnecessary negative impacts on our community as a direct response of NOAA single-handedly putting forward regulations without public input. Moreover, the proposed mandate would force thousands of recreational boats to operate at a speed that compromises their maneuverability and overall safety at sea.”

NOAA Fisheries is proposing to modify the boundaries and timing of current vessel speed restrictions (Seasonal Management Areas) along the U.S. East Coast and create proposed Seasonal Speed Zones to reduce the risk of lethal collisions with endangered North Atlantic right whales. Most vessels 35 feet or longer would be required to transit at 10 knots or less within active proposed Seasonal Speed Zones.

The proposal was published on Aug. 1, 2022. Viking immediately requested a 30-day extension to the public comment period. “Viking Yachts is completely sensitive to the status and outlook of the North Atlantic right whale population,” Healey wrote to NOAA. “The health of the ocean and all its life is of paramount importance to our company and boat owners. However, we believe the magnitude of the proposed rule warrants careful consideration to ensure that a practical, enforceable and realistic plan is put forward to address the right whale population.”

A letter from a broad coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations was also presented to NOAA, who has since extended the public comment period to October 31. “Now that we have the extension, we really need to turn up the volume and make sure our voices are heard,” said Healey. “Everyone needs to rally – yacht clubs, marinas, fishing clubs, charter boat associations. This is a huge deal that not many people know about.”

How to Help

To see a map showing the existing and proposed speed zones, click here.

The primary way to voice your concerns about the amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule is via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Click here to comment. You can also provide comments through various boating and fishing groups, such as the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Boating United group: click here, and through the International Game Fish Association: click here.

All comments will be read and considered, according to NOAA’s Office of Protected Species, which advises participants to supply specific information about how the rule would impact their boating and fishing activities or business. You can also make suggestions for changes to the rule. The purpose in crafting these amendments is to ensure that the North Atlantic right whales are protected and do not go into extinction while placing as little burden on the mariner as possible, according to NOAA.

Given the limited amount of time for the public to weigh in on these rule changes, “it’s critical that you immediately contact your member of Congress and ask that they demand NOAA to put the proposed rule on pause,” says DePersenaire. “The additional time can be used to develop measures that seek balance between the needs of the right whale and our industry. Congress also needs to know that the rule has far-reaching implications beyond our sport. It will disrupt shipping and ports and exacerbate supply-chain issues and inflation.”

The Facts

The facts do not support the sweeping changes being proposed by NOAA. Since 1998 – 24 years – there have been 24 known right whale vessel strikes across 10 states. Of those, eight were attributed to boats from 35 to 65 feet.

“In our 58-year history, with more than 5,000 boats delivered, we have never had a report of our boats having an encounter with a right whale,” says Healey “And we would know because it would cause significant damage that would be repairable only by us.”

“The bottom line is this is far too consequential of an issue for it to be developed and implemented unilaterally with no meaningful input from our industry or the public,” adds DePersenaire. “Many of these impacts could have been eliminated or significantly reduced – while still reducing risks of vessel strikes – by working with fishermen and boaters.”

For an in-depth analysis and more information about the issue, please click here for an American Sportfishing Association (ASA) podcast featuring an interview on the subject with DePersenaire.

About the Viking Yacht Company

Founded by brothers Bill and Bob Healey in 1964 on the banks of the Bass River in New Gretna, New Jersey, Viking has become the leading semi-custom production builder of sportfishing yachts and center consoles in the world, with more than 5,000 boats delivered. The Viking fleet consists of yachts from 38 to 90 feet, and the company in 2019 launched a lineup of premium high-performance center consoles – the Valhalla Boatworks V Series. Princess Yachts America, the U.S. distributor of the British-built yachts, is also part of the Viking portfolio. A vertically integrated company where 90 percent of every boat is built in-house, Viking operates several subsidiaries, including Atlantic Marine Electronics, Palm Beach Towers and the Viking Yacht Service Center. Viking, driven by the mantra “to build a better boat every day,” looks forward to continuing to serve the Viking and Valhalla family with industry-leading products, dealers and customer service.

How Do Storms Help Fishing Over the Long Run?

California Storms Help Salmon by Reviving Habitat

from The Fishing Wire

Heavy rains and runoff from last winter’s near-record snows in California have done more than end the state’s devastating drought, they have also helped rejuvenate salmon streams. Swollen rivers in recent months have deposited a renewed supply of what biologists call “woody debris,” an essential ingredient of healthy salmon habitat.

For most people woody debris means fallen trees, logs, or broken limbs deposited in a stream and along its banks during a flood. For salmon it means hiding places, deep pools to grow, food, and perhaps even a jump-start for other vegetation beside rivers.

“Of all the actions to improve salmon habitat, increasing woody debris is a priority action in all of our Endangered Species Act recovery plans for salmon,” said Dan Free, a fisheries biologist with NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region. “Stream restoration projects that increase woody debris import wood from elsewhere and are expensive, but the great thing about this resource is that it’s free and naturally introduced into the system.”

Woody debris provides extensive benefits. Water rushing past logs scours river bottoms, creating deep holes that provide habitat for juvenile salmon to hide and grow. The wood also fosters growth of algae and insects for the fish to eat, helping them gain strength and size before migrating to the ocean.

Sediment deposited by heavy river flows can also bury wood alongside streams, giving other vegetation a foothold. Buried logs retain water that other trees can access through their roots, enabling them to survive long dry spells. Groves of willows and cottonwoods and other riparian vegetation along the river bank often have logs buried beneath them that helped support their initial growth.

Flood waters pick up woody debris by uprooting trees, snagging dead logs and stumps, and transporting old stores of wood from riparian areas. Eventually the wood settles in the streambed, on a gravel bar, or washes out to sea.

The recent drought in California and the common practice of removing wood from streams has left many watersheds without much woody debris, especially in northern and central California. Fortunately, this year’s storms have reversed the trend by bringing a significant amount of woody debris to most streams.

“With all the rain we’ve had, a lot of wood like old-growth timber, smaller limbs, and trees have come down the streams – which is a good thing,” said Free. “Unfortunately, some people may believe the wood deposited in our rivers and on gravel bars is available to supplement their next winter’s woodpile or may even remove larger wood for sale.”

Both NOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife highly discourage people from removing wood from streambeds, since it diminishes fish habitat quality and quantity.

“Wood is inextricably linked to providing a healthy habitat for salmon” said Free. “Leaving this naturally occurring resource in the streams and on the gravel bars for fish so they can gain strength is one of the best things we can do for their habitat.”

C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives Preserves History for the Future

By Craig Springer, USFWS
from The Fishing Wire

Channeling William Faulkner: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

The past is present here at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish, South Dakota. The facility is dedicated to preserving images, documents and objects related to fisheries conservation. The archive is located at one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the U.S., which still produces trout.Barton Warren Evermann, Chief of Scientific Inquiry of the U.S. Fish Commission (the forerunner of today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created nearly 150 years ago in 1871) came to the Black Hills in the early 1890s to assess the area’s fisheries.On what now seems like a pittance, Congress granted Evermann in August 1892, “for investigation and report, respecting the advisability of establishing fish-hatching stations at suitable points in the States of South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, $1,000, or as much thereof as may be necessary.”

We don’t have an accounting of what was spent, but he noted what streams he seined, the fishes he found, and with whom he traveled.And he didn’t waste time: “Oct. 6. Began work at Deadwood, S. Dak. Oct. 7. Drove to Spearfish and examined Spearfish Creek and numerous springs in vicinity,” states his 1894 Report upon the Fishes of the Missouri River Basin.

His field work ceased with the onset of winter and resumed in June 1893. Then over the next two months Evermann and crew examined not only potential hatchery sites, “but included an examination and study of the physical and biological features of the waters, with especial reference to the species of fish and other animal life they already contain, and their suitability for stocking with other species of food-fishes not indigenous to them.”The waters of the Black Hills were thoroughly vetted by the scientist. It was Spearfish to which Evermann returned.

And he tells Congress why:“Spearfish Creek—This is by far the most picturesque of all the streams of the Black Hills seen by us. We examined Spearfish Creek at the town of Spearfish where it was 30 feet wide, 1 foot or more deep, and with a swift current. The bottom was gravelly and there was considerable vegetation along the banks. From it we took brook trout, Jordan’s sucker, and western dace. The stream is a fine one, indeed. The bulk of its water comes from the hills, but even at Spearfish there are some fine springs. If fish-cultural work should ever be undertaken at any place in the Black Hills, the most satisfactory natural conditions could probably be found here.”And so it would come to pass. By July 1899, Spearfish National Fish Hatchery situated about a mile from the bustling downtown, was operational with 17 ponds and a handsome hatching house designed by U.S. Fish Commission Architect and Engineer, Hector von Bayer. It was neatly tucked in narrow Ames Canyon. The hatching house sat in a commanding position above the creek. DeWitt Clinton Booth, a New York native likely named for his home state’s former governor and U.S. senator, took charge of the new federal fisheries facility.Spearfish National Fish Hatchery produced trout.

Booth and crew, sometime attended by their families, made arduous annual forays into Yellowstone National Park to collect the spawn of “black-spotted trout,” as cutthroat trout were called at the time. The fertilized eggs were returned to Spearfish for raising and stocking in the Black Hills streams and beyond. These trips were made by rail and by wagon, hauling most of their physical needs, including boats and nets. Other species of trout would come from the Spearfish hatchery: brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout.

The quality of the spring waters that Evermann found did not last. The springs dried up about 1940 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looked for reliable water nearby and built the McNenny National Fish Hatchery a few miles west. The Spearfish site became a training center for work with fish diets and nutrition, adding a genetics research laboratory to the mix along Sand Creek in Wyoming, while the new McNenny station produced the bulk of the trout.

Spearfish National Fish Hatchery would go through another permutation when something else dried up: funding.In the 1980s the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service divested of a number of facilities in the National Fish Hatchery System. McNenny was turned over to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. The City of Spearfish took over operations of the Spearfish facility and changed its name to honor the hatchery’s first superintendent, D.C. Booth.In 1989, the past and the present would come to live on the same contour when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established its National Fish & Aquatic Conservation Archives at Spearfish.Today, on the grounds of the 

D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives, Spearfish Creek batters downhill over rounded stones. Its silver music fades as you approach a preserved boat, “U.S. Fisheries 39,” a craft that operated on Yellowstone Lake in the 1920s. A railcar rests near the boat emblazoned with “Bureau of Fisheries.”  

Inside von Bayer’s hatching house, still in its commanding position, you’ll find a museum with old tools and artwork and photos that tell the fisheries conservation story. The superintendent’s home up the hill is as pleasant to look at as it is entertaining to tour. Appointed with period furniture and accessories—some of it original pieces—you’ll learn how the Booth family lived their lives.

Perhaps the greatest treasures are those most protected—housed in a climate-controlled collection management facility cared for by a professional curator. Some 1.8 million archival items and 14,000 artifacts related to fisheries conservation are preserved here.

A 1919 photograph of a now-extinct yellowfin cutthroat trout from Colorado is particularly moving. It may be the only known image of the fish. It seems appropriate to have a home here in a circularity of experience. Barton Warren Evermann described the yellowfin for science the year before he visited Spearfish, and the image now lives in a place that he deemed suitable to carry on conservation work.

Researchers of history and conservation are encouraged to send their queries to the curator,  

Craig Springer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Fish and Aquatic Conservation, Southwest Region

Bryozoans Look Like Jelly Blobs In the Water

“Jelly Blobs”  is a term often used for a type of single cell animals called Bryozoans. They are one of several strange critters you may encounter in lakes and rivers. Several varieties live in freshwater and attach in colonies to twigs, limbs, ropes and dock posts in the water. They look like brown blobs of jelly.  If you look at them closely they have small star-like structures that are different groups of the animals, called zooids

      Bryozoans Description  – Round or oval-shapped blobs of jelly-like material attached to things in the water.  Color is shades of mottled browns.  They feel solid but slimy to the touch.

          Bryozoans Size  – The balls can be as big as two feet across and contain 2,000,000 individual zooids. Most are smaller, with a one-foot across blob fairly big in most waters.

          Bryozoans Distribution  – Different kinds of jelly blobs are found in almost all freshwater worldwide. 

          What Bryozoans Eat – Normally, diatoms, green algae, bacteria, rotifers, protozoa, tiny crustaceans or nematodes are in their diet.   

          Bryozoan Reproduction  – Asexual reproduction is the norm, through budding to form new animals, but sexual reproduction does take place.

          Bryozoans Attraction to Light – none

          Bryozoans Life Cycle  – A single zooid can attach to something in the water and reproduce by budding, building a colony that looks like the blob you see. Some die off in the winter, with just a few individuals surviving to start a new colony in the spring.

          Bryozoans Problems  – These blobs may look and feel bad, but they actually indicate good water quality.

          Jelly Blobs or Bryozoans are common and do not cause problems.  They indicate good water quality.  These tiny animals that are similar to corals should not bother you unless they are on your dock ladders and ropes.   

Why Does Virginia Says NO to Alabama Bass

From Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

What are Alabama Bass?

Alabama Bass (Micropetrus henshallii) are one of approximately twelve species of black bass. They are an aggressive species that outcompetes Largemouth Bass and readily hybridizes with Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. Alabama Bass are nearly identical in appearance to Spotted Bass, and were formerly known as the Alabama subspecies of the Spotted Bass. The other former subspecies of Spotted Bass, the Kentucky Spotted Bass, is found throughout Virginia and is native to the southwest portion of the Commonwealth.

The jaw of Alabama Bass lines up with the middle rear of the eye, while Largemouth Bass jaws extend past the eye. Alabama Bass have a dark, blotchy lateral band from head to tail, and have spots below this band. Largemouth Bass have a more continuous lateral band. Alabama Bass also typically have a tooth patch on their tongue, which is rare in Largemouth Bass. Alabama and Spotted Bass are differentiated by differences in lateral line scale counts or genetic analysis.

Where are Alabama Bass found?

Alabama Bass are native to Georgia and Alabama, occurring primarily in large river systems and large impoundments. Alabama Bass are confirmed to be present in Lake Gaston, Claytor Lake, Philpott Lake, and Martinsville Reservoir. They are suspected to be present in Diascund Reservoir and possibly other lakes. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is conducting genetic testing to better identify the extent of Alabama Bass throughout Virginia.

Why are Alabama Bass a concern in Virginia?

Alabama Bass represent a tremendous threat to Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass fisheries. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are Virginia’s most popular angling targets, with more than 60% of anglers targeting either species over the course of a fishing season. Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass fisheries in Virginia are valued in the millions of dollars. Declines in either population will result in not only the loss of sportfishing opportunities, but in economic harm to the region.

As an invasive species, Alabama Bass are capable of outcompeting Largemouth Bass, causing declines in abundance. For example, in Lake Norman, North Carolina, the relative abundance of Largemouth Bass decreased to less than 8% of their former abundance following the introduction of Alabama Bass. Declines in Largemouth abundance seem to be most pronounced in lakes that are relatively clear and which have limited vegetation. Systems in Virginia such as Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Anna, South Holston Reservoir, and Lake Moomaw are likely to see declines of Largemouth Bass populations if Alabama Bass are introduced into those waterbodies.

Alabama Bass also can hybridize with Smallmouth or Spotted Bass, often resulting in loss of the genetically pure Smallmouth Bass population. This occurred in Chatuge Reservoir, Georgia and North Carolina, and Nottely Reservoir, Georgia. Smallmouth Bass populations in lakes such as Smith Mountain and Moomaw, as well as in rivers such as the James and Shenandoah, might undergo a similar fate following introduction of Alabama Bass.

Although large Alabama Bass may appear for a few years following introduction, this situation is short lived and occurs primarily when population densities are low. Once established, Alabama Bass populations often increase to the point where stunting occurs, resulting in greater abundance of smaller bass. Fisheries are likely to shift from being dominated by 2–3 lb Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass to being dominated by 1 lb Alabama Bass.

What can you do?

Anglers are the primary vector for the spread of Alabama Bass in Virginia. Current populations are the results of angler introductions that have occurred over the last ten years.

Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to stock fish into a public body of water without an authorization from the DGIF. Anyone with knowledge of intentional stockings of Alabama or Spotted Bass should contact DGIF law enforcement at 800-237-5712 or

Anglers who suspect they have captured an Alabama Bass should take a picture of the fish, clip off a thumbnail-sized portion of one of the pelvic fins, and store the fin clip dry in an envelope. The pelvic fins are located on the bottom of the fish, just under the head. They should then either contact the DGIF at or at 804-367-1293.

Tracking Sailfish Off the South Carolina Coast

By SCDNR biologist Wally Bubley
(originally published on North Carolina Sea Grant’s blog, Hook, Line & Science)
from The Fishing Wire

Using pop-up satellite tags, scientists can get a much better understanding of billfish movement and migration.

Research Need

Typically, researchers measure the movement of large, offshore pelagic fish using traditional streamer tags, but to get information, the fish must be caught again. This method only provides information on the tagging and recapture locations, but no information about what the fish did in between, including movements up and down the water column.

Ideally, to get the best understanding of how, where, and why a species interacts with its environment — and ultimately where to fish for it — a 3D map would incorporate depth with high-resolution horizontal movement.

What did we study?

We used pop-up satellite tags to track the movement of billfish caught in South Carolina Governor’s Cup tournaments. These tags capture the 3D location while attached, using sunlight and pressure sensors. The tags pop off at pre-programmed times and, once at the surface, transmit information to satellites and ultimately to the researcher.

We then used this information to provide a 3D model of movement.

What did we find?

One species of billfish (sailfish) off the coast of South Carolina moves seasonally and tends to stay closer to shore. But sailfish will venture offshore, too, including as far north as New Jersey and as far south as the northern coast of South America.

The depths through which fish travel change throughout the day and potentially during different types of movements, such as whether the fish are migrating or staying in an area to feed.

Overall, by tracking depth, we can capture a more complete picture of what these fish are doing and how they interact with their environment and with other species, which we might miss otherwise.

Anything else?

The advantage of satellite tags over streamer tags was apparent in one sailfish especially. This fish, tagged off the South Carolina coast, traveled to Turks and Caicos before returning to within 150 miles of where it originally was tagged, before its tag finally surfaced.

If this study had used a typical streamer tag on this fish, the only information we would have gathered is that this fish covered the same amount of area that a garden snail could cover over the same time period. Obviously, we would have assumed that likely something more happened with our fish, but without data to know what. Using the satellite tag, however, revealed the fish was much more active.

So what?

Depth plays an important role in limiting competition for food between sailfish and other species. Knowing these differences is especially important in some commercial fisheries, which can be a major source of mortality.

Understanding sailfish and other billfish movement patterns can allow for management and fishing practices that target only the species of interest, while minimizing interactions with billfish species, in turn making them more available to recreational fishermen.


Walter J. Bubley, Benjamin Galuardi, Amy W. Dukes, and Wallace E. Jenkins’s “Incorporating depth into habitat use descriptions for sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and habitat overlap with other billfishes in the western North Atlantic,” in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 638: 137–148 2020,

Summary compiled by Walter Bubley
Lead photo by SCDNR

NOAA Fisheries, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series provided support for this research.

The text from Hook, Line & Science is available to reprint and republish, but only in its entirety and with this attribution: Hook, Line & Science, courtesy of Scott Baker and Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant.