Category Archives: Fishing Information

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.”

Why Are They Restoring Sturgeon To the Connecticut River?

Connecticut River Work to Bring Back Ancient Fish

Today’s feature, on efforts to restore shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon in Connecticut, comes to us from NOAA.
from The Fishing Wire

Sturgeon Closeup

Sturgeon Closeup

Closeup of sturgeon scutes. Remarkable scales on the sturgeon’s back protects like a suit of armor. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

Shortnose sturgeon was listed in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act. In 1973 when the U.S. Endangered Species Act was enacted, the shortnose sturgeon was listed as endangered throughout its range along the East Coast of North America.

Sturgeon in the Connecticut River

Shortnose sturgeon inhabit the Connecticut River up to Turners Falls Dam. The Atlantic sturgeon is a larger species of sturgeon, thought to be a seasonal migrant to the Connecticut River. When present, Atlantic sturgeons are found primarily in the river’s estuary.

Threats to Sturgeon

Poor water quality remains a continued threat to sturgeon health on the Connecticut River. Sewage outflow, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), and coal tar deposits, are the types of contaminants most prevalent in the river. Another major threat is dams.

Shortnose Sturgeon

Shortnose Sturgeon

Shortnose sturgeon. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

Even though sturgeon are remarkable jumpers, the Holyoke Dam, built in 1869, is 30-foot high and poses a significant barrier between the fish that reside upstream and those below the dam. This is of particular concern because the primary spawning areas for shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River lie upstream in the Turners Falls region. The limited exchange between these two areas is hindering population recovery on the river. The Holyoke Dam is not a complete barrier to fish passage. There is a fish ladder that lets some fish move upstream or downstream. However, some sturgeon have trouble finding the fish ladder when trying to move upstream or are injured by turbines when they pass through the power generating units as they head downstream.

Turners Falls and Cabot Station hydroelectric facility are located at a natural falls. This is thought to be the upstream extent of the range of shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River. Facility operations change the natural river flow – both how much water is available and how fast it flows. Irregular flows and water that flows too slowly or too fast, affect the ability of shortnose sturgeon to spawn and for their eggs and larvae to develop successfully.

Improving Fish Passage

NOAA Fisheries and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are consulting on several relicensing projects for hydroelectric facilities, including the Turners Falls and Cabot Station hydroelectric facility and Northfield pump storage facility, and the Holyoke hydroelectric facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Dam relicensing provides a key opportunity for NOAA Fisheries and its partners to provide recommendations for protecting sturgeon.

Atlantic sturgeon

Atlantic sturgeon

Atlantic sturgeon. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

Federal agencies, in this case the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, must consult with NOAA Fisheries if they plan to conduct projects or allow activities that could potentially affect a listed marine or anadromous species’ long-term survival or habitat. At the end of these consultations, NOAA Fisheries issues a Biological Opinion. Biological Opinions often include recommendations and requirements to minimize or, if possible, remove risks to both habitat and the long-term survival of the listed species. The goal is to allow activities and projects to move forward, but to do so in a manner that still protects vulnerable species.

We’ve been collaborating with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on studies to examine the impact of the Turners Falls/Cabot facility operations. We are interested in learning more about how facility operations may impact spawning and development of early life stages. With the help of various partners, we are also making sure that the studies being conducted are done in such a way to minimize potential impacts on sturgeon. If we determine there is a risk to sturgeon from the continued operations of this facility, we will conduct a formal consultation.

Holyoke Dam on the Connecticut River

Holyoke Dam on the Connecticut River

Holyoke Dam on the Connecticut River. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

For many years, we also have been actively working to improve fish passage at the Holyoke facility. In 2000, we concluded that the ongoing operation of the facility was likely to jeopardize the continued existence of shortnose sturgeon. Based on a subsequent settlement agreement, the dam owner is now required to make major changes to the fishways to improve the ability of shortnose sturgeon to pass upstream of the dam and to provide safe passage downstream. Once work is complete, the lower river population should be able to complete their spawning run to the Turners Region and upstream fish should be able to migrate to rich foraging areas in the estuary.

Supporting Science

NOAA Fisheries has provided support to a variety of field research projects on the Connecticut River such as

monitoring shortnose sturgeon spawning success;
evaluating behavior during winter;
determining the effects of the Holyoke dam on shortnose sturgeon life history;
estimating population sizes; and
identifying annual movements within the river.

We also have supported lab work to study

Turner Falls Dam

Turner Falls Dam

Turner Falls Dam. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

movement and behavior of early life stages and juveniles;
spawning behavior;
use of a prototype fish ladder that was designed specifically for sturgeon because they have trouble navigating up commonly used fish ladders; and
the reactions and behaviors of downstream migrants as they encounter obstacles, so we can make it easier for them to continue their movements unimpeded.


Public Education

We developed an educational/outreach program about sturgeon called SCUTES (Students Collaborating to Undertake Tracking Efforts for Sturgeon). The SCUTES program is an initiative that involves NOAA Fisheries staff, students, teachers, and sturgeon researchers working together to learn more about the movements, behavior, and threats to shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon. We collaborate with various informal education centers along the East Coast of the United States to provide schools with sturgeon educational kits that are available on loan.

The SCUTES program also works with sturgeon researchers to provide sturgeon tracking data for teachers to use in the classroom as part of the Adopt-a-Sturgeon program. Our staff also regularly give talks about sturgeon at local New England classrooms. This fall, the SCUTES team plans to reach out to teachers in western Massachusetts and provide permanent educational kits to the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls, MA.

We remain committed to working with our partners to ensure the recovery of shortnose sturgeon both in the Connecticut River and throughout its full range. We are hopeful that with continued progress at addressing the primary threats on this river, shortnose sturgeon can increase in abundance as they have in other river systems.

SHORTNOSE STURGEON FACTS

Prehistoric looking with five rows of bony scutes1 along the length of its body
Vacuum-like mouth, used to suck in food because it doesn’t have teeth
Tail similar in appearance to a shark tail
An “anadromous fish,” migrating between freshwater for spawning and saltwater for feeding
Found in major rivers, estuaries, bays and coastal waters along the eastern seaboard of the United States and into Canada.

1. Sturgeons have five rows of bony scutes along the length of their body. Scutes are a modified scale. They can help serve as protection for the fish like armor and make sturgeon distinct from other fish.

Are Underwater Robots Used To Monitor Oceans?

Underwater Robots from Mote and USF Monitor Red Tide, Ocean Conditions in Gulf of Mexico

Robot Waldo

Robot Waldo

Waldo (top) and Bass (bottom) are two underwater robots launched by Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of South Florida, respectively, to monitor for Florida red tide and the ocean conditions that might affect it. (Photo credit: Capt. Greg Byrd/Mote Marine Laboratory)
Robot Bass

Robot Bass


Two underwater robots deployed Friday by Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of South Florida (USF) are helping scientists learn about the offshore bloom of Florida red tide in the Gulf and the ocean conditions that might be affecting it.

The bloom – first reported offshore in a statewide update issued July 25 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – is presently offshore of Hernando and Pasco Counties and appears to be 80 miles long, 50 miles wide and 40-90 miles offshore, according to satellite images. (See the latest update from FWC.)

While satellites capture the bloom’s surface appearance, only underwater robots and water sampling crews can verify the presence of the red tide algae, Karenia brevis, and detect the bloom beneath the surface. While scientists on boats can return water samples to the lab for more detailed analyses, robots can stay in the environment much longer, work in challenging weather and gather more data per mission.

Mote’s robot, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) nicknamed “Waldo,” carries a Mote-designed red tide detector called an optical phytoplankton discriminator, nicknamed the “BreveBuster.” This instrument examines microscopic algae in the water and tells scientists how closely they resemble K. brevis. In addition, Waldo’s equipment measures salinity and temperature – two physical factors that can affect blooms and help scientists develop better short-term forecasts of bloom movement.

USF’s AUV, nicknamed “Bass,” collects physical and optical oceanography data, including chlorophyll from algae, oxygen levels and water clarity. Data from both AUVs will support mathematical modeling of the bloom for short-term forecasts developed by the USF-FWC Collaboration for the Prediction of Red Tides.

“The team effort between our AUVs is crucial,” said Dr. L. Kellie Dixon, manager of the Ocean Technology Program at Mote. “The bloom is large and one AUV would have difficulty surveying all of it within a reasonable amount of time. Each AUV also has its own strengths – Waldo is equipped to sense the presence of red tide, important for ground-truthing the satellite images, while Bass is designed to make deeper dives further offshore.”

Waldo is programmed to move south along the shallower eastern edge of the bloom while Bass is set to move south along the deeper, western edge. Both gliders will dive up and down, collecting data at various depths and then surfacing every few hours to send updates to scientists using satellite transmitters in their tails.

Results so far: Since deployment on Friday, Waldo has been patrolling to within about 40 miles from the Pasco/Hernando border and has found red tide at the surface and to depths of about 25 meters (82 feet) in areas where it was indicated by satellites. Bass has been transecting the outer portion of the bloom and has found elevated chlorophyll associated with the red tide into waters as deep as 40 meters (131 feet).

Both gliders indicate stratified (or layered) water, with warmer and fresher water on the surface, and an abrupt transition to colder, saltier water at mid-depth.

Where are Waldo and Bass?

The public can see Waldo’s position by visiting: http://coolcloud.mote.org and clicking “Glider Operations,” and Google Earth users can see Waldo and Bass’ positions at: http://ooma.marine.usf.edu/CROW/

Through underwater robot missions and other monitoring efforts, Mote and USF are partners in a major environmental monitoring collaboration called GCOOS – the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. GCOOS provides timely information about the environment of the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico and its estuaries for use by decision-makers, including researchers, government managers, industry, the military, educators, emergency responders and the general public. Both gliders are reporting data to GCOOS’s Data Portal (http://gcoos.org/products/) in support of these efforts.

“In the future, we’d really like to compliment satellite imagery in the Gulf of Mexico with our underwater robots’ findings continuously, so that we can see what’s going on below the surface before a bloom initiates and starts killing fish and potentially impacting our coastlines,” said USF’s Chad Lembke, recently named leader of the Gulf Glider Task Team organized by GCOOS to assist in the coordination of glider efforts in the Gulf region. (“Glider” is another name for these AUVs or underwater robots.)

Red tide resources:

Statewide red tide updates and info from FWC: http://myfwc.com/redtide
Statewide updates in the HAB Bulletin from NOAA: http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/hab/
Red tide information from Mote, including FAQs and the Beach Conditions Report: a monitoring system for red tide impacts on multiple Florida beaches: http://mote.org/news/environment-updates#RedTide
Learn about red tide on Facebook from this FWC-Mote page about Florida’s harmful algal blooms: www.facebook.com/flhabs
Latest model forecasts from USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides at: http://cprweb.marine.usf.edu/

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Mote has 24 research programs and a variety of initiatives dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is The Aquarium at Mote, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at www.mote.org.

You Tube Video On Using the Book Keys To Catching Lake Lanier Bass

My eBooks “Keys to Catching Lake Lanier Bass” and “Keys To Catching Clarks Hill Bass” help me catch bass so I made a video showing how to use them.

Lake Lanier is a tough lake to fish for many, including me. The fish live deep in the clear water and a drop shot rig is one of the best ways to catch them. I seldom fish a drop shot.

I went to Lake Lanier in July, took one of the chapters of the book for hot weather fishing and put the GPS Coordinates from that chapter in my Lowrance HDS 10. When I got to the waypoint there was a brush pile right on the coordinates.

After rigging a drop shot just like described in the book, with eight pound line, quarter ounce round sinker, eight inch leader and Wackem worm in the color suggested I caught three spotted bass. They were not big, two were throwbacks and one was a 14.5 inch keeper, but I did catch fish. A thunderstorm ran me off the lake early or I could have tried more of the spots in the article.

Check out the video and let me know what you think.

Is It Water Sports Season Yet?

Water Sport Season Upon Us
Jim Shepherd
from The Fishing Wire

Having spent most of the past three days on a boat enjoying terrific weather, it’s obvious that it’s boating season across most of the country. Hurricanes notwithstanding, it seems the boating industry is finally catching a break after virtually falling off a cliff in 2006 and ’07. But the numbers I’ve seen from the industry say 2013’s numbers were up 10.7 percent over 2012, and the manufacturers are telling me they’re seeing strong upticks in the blue collar boating segment, i.e., those in the 25-45 year old range who have kids.

Boats are back on the water (above) and last year’s great fishing gear- like the Fish Hunter (RIGHT)-a smart phone based individual fish finder mounted on last year’s improved Ugly Stik Gx2 combo are being put to good use.

Fish Hunter

Fish Hunter

They’re the group that disappeared in 2006 and contributed to a drop the industry said was 60-70% in the non-elite boat category. High-end sales had slowed, but those don’t really reflect the economic realities as the wealthy sportsmen are those who really do have disposable income and aren’t hampered when credit gets tight.

Good news for the fishing industry as well – and a reflection of the fact that that segment is recovering is the number of new products we will see rolling out next week when ICAST kicks off in Orlando, Florida.

Primarily known as “the tackle show” ICAST is a great reflection of both the U.S. and global health of the fishing industry. And as the releases that start appearing in today’s wire and will be large segments of the industry news all next week reflect, new efforts are centered on growing fishing as a viable recreational activity.

Key, of course to any sport’s growth is the youth market. With high school and collegiate tournament fishing kicking up across the country, it’s safe to say the teens of today will be in-touch with their inner angler. But the key to the industry’s ongoing health is recruitment of young anglers and the affordability of gear to the core angling fans.

To reach the young, it’s going to take more than simply downscaling size, price and quality of gear and putting a kid’s toy logo on it. That’s a realization that it seems Rebel Lures is taking seriously. In today’s news, you’ll see news that Rebel’s introducing a new line of kids lures that are far more than the scaled-down baits of adults. Their new lines feature barbless hooks and soft bodies that make them look like small lures, not reject adult baits.

There will be the usual amazing array of pieces of “smart gear” to help all anglers catch more fish. I’m hoping the new crop of gear contains something as awesome as the single piece of high-tech gear I’d consider the “sleeper” from last ICAST. That’s the Fish Hunter (www.fishhunter.com) , a high-tech, sonar-based piece of gear that gives an individual angler the high-tech advantage of a boat-based sonar rig. I’ve been using it on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake the past two weeks and have simply been amazed at the effectiveness of a piece of gear that looks like an oversized float on the line above my lure.

And it wasn’t just me. Douglas Lake anglers have been fascinated with the idea of having a “man-portable” sonar unit. One borrowed the unit from me for one of the area’s one-day fishing events. He returned the unit with word that the ability to use it as a secondary scouting unit was one reason he brought home a check from the competition.

And I’m hearing affordability is another issue being addressed this year. I was set to see a first-hand example of affordable gear with high-performance characteristics two weeks ago in Wisconsin while fishing with some industry friends.

Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth Grow Big

Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth Grow Big

The name on the hat says “Ugly” but the 6-pound, 3-ounce Sturgeon Bay catch being held by guide Jeff Weatherwax (right) says the results with the new “secret” gear was anything but ugly. And Pure Fishing’s Hunter Cole (left) got in on
Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth

Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth

the action with some nice hookups of his own. Jeff Samsel photos, with permission.

Unfortunately, the weather and American Airlines joined forces to change a simple two-hop trip into 36 hours of essentially wasted time. Instead of fishing on Sturgeon Bay, I found myself spending a miserable night on a cot along with thousands of other disgusted travelers in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

After two cancellations and a 24 hour delay, I admitted defeat and headed home. And know precisely why many air travelers with say we’re no longer passengers, we’re third-class cargo. Air carriers are making record profits whie operating with all the care and cordiality of bulk freight haulers. Who cares if travelers are inconvenienced, right?

Anyway, my fortunate friends spent some quality time fishing with the smart guys of Pure Fishing. One of the writers, Jeff Samsel, being an all-world nice guy and very knowledgeable angling authority, shared his impressions of Shakespeare’s newest rod and reel. Although I won’t give away the specifics, Jeff really liked the newest model.

Samsel says the new rod/reel combos were very tough- but offered a very good touch and feel when casting everything from 1/8 ounce hair jigs to rigs with one-ounce swimbait jig heads. That’s a wide variety of weights and shows the versatility I’d expect from a rod designed to be used by anglers of almost all skill levels – in fresh and saltwater situations.

Jeff says the hooksets were simple and the landing abilities were really solid.

Both Fishing Wire Editor Frank Sargeant and I will be in Orlando next week for ICAST – and I’m looking forward to seeing the newest innovations in everything from artificial baits to computer-based navigation and fish-finding tools.

And I’m hoping that if you’re one of our readers and happen to see me there you’ll take time to introduce yourself and let me know what you’d like to see covered in the wires. After all, we’re here to keep a simple promise: too keep you posted.