|Anglers have yet to reach this year’s quota, and next year promises even greater opportunities thanks to new stock assessments indicating far more red snapper than previously believed.By DAVID RAINER|
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire
If the recent blustery weather caused anglers to forgo a red snapper trip during the weekend extensions, don’t fret. Scott Bannon, Director of Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD), assures that private recreational anglers will have the opportunity to harvest the remaining quota.
The original plan was for a three-day extension from October 10-12, but Hurricane Delta foiled that plan. With snapper remaining in the quota, Alabama Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship and Bannon amended the extension to include Saturdays and Sundays until the quota is projected to be met.
“Remember, we are fishing to the pounds available in the annual quota, not to the dates,” Bannon said. “We expected a relatively low turnout for that three-day weekend. The only day with decent weather was Monday. We decided to leave that weekend open if anybody had the opportunity to go.
”What MRD officials discovered through Snapper Check was that a few brave anglers decided to venture out in the rough seas. Bannon said there were Snapper Check reports on Sunday and Monday of the Hurricane Delta weekend.
“That was not the weather I would have fished in,” Bannon said.
“Although the weather was better Monday, some people in smaller boats went out and turned around. They didn’t feel safe or comfortable. I think that was a wise decision, but they will get opportunities later.
“Looking at the public access boat ramps, there were a few trailers, but they were not full. I think there are some Hurricane Sally residual effects. People are still trying to clean up from the impacts, whether it’s their homes, docks or boats. Some marinas are not capable of putting boats in the water. Some of the dry storage facilities are damaged. Wet slips are not available. The two hurricanes are playing a factor in the reduced effort. I think it will be a while before the Gulf Coast is back up to full fishing force.”Bannon said the best way to manage the season was to leave it open on weekends until the quota is met.“This time of year, we will continue to have challenges with the weather,” he said. “People will have multiple conflicts with their schedules based on kids being in school and hunting seasons. We know the weekend effort won’t be like summertime weekends. We will keep up with the harvest through Snapper Check and post it on our webpage (www.outdooralabama.com/2020-red-snapper-landings-summary).
“We will try to give people as much notice as we can about when the quota is anticipated to be met. But I think it will take several weekends now.”As with any hurricane makes landfall along the Alabama coast, the storm can cause artificial reefs to be displaced, which was the case with Sally.
“We are already aware that some lighter-weight material, like the chicken transport devices, were moved,” Bannon said. “Some of the state’s nearshore reefs have been moved. But they are relatively close to where they were deployed. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) has identified some spots that have moved. We’re doing some surveys in our nearshore reef zones to determine the impact, and we’ll do some checks of offshore reefs later.
“Pyramids and larger items that have been there for a while and are planted in the bottom, they’re not going to move. Some items have turned over, but that’s fine. They still provide structure. We don’t think it will negatively impact the fish. I’ve also seen some social media posts where people have been looking for spots and located them nearby.”More good news for red snapper anglers came recently when preliminary results from the Great Red Snapper Count were presented to the U.S. Congress. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby was among the legislators who pushed a $10 million appropriation through Congress to fund the research.“I have not seen the full report, but the estimate from the Great Red Snapper Count is that the snapper population is about three times larger than what was previously thought,” Bannon said.
“One of the interesting portions of the report is the number of red snapper that are not on natural or artificial reefs. The number of snapper that are out on the flat areas, so to speak, are much higher than previously thought. Those fish are not accessed by anglers, so those fish will continue to be there based on the current fishing methods.”Bannon said the Great Red Snapper Count information will be used by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to create an interim stock assessment for red snapper. The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University was the lead for the Great Red Snapper Count. The work off the coast of Alabama was led by Dr. Sean Powers of the University of South Alabama.
“We’re anticipating hearing about the interim assessment in the near future, and that will impact the 2021 season for all sectors – commercial, for-hire and private anglers,” he said. “But this will not mean a three-time increase in the quota. The data from the red snapper count isn’t the only factor that goes into an interim analysis. It’s an important factor but only one source of data that goes into the analysis.
“However, this is excellent news. It is something we had anticipated. We expected the method used would reveal there were more snapper in the Gulf. It was a very important study, and Senator Shelby’s office was instrumental in providing funding for that.”Bannon said the results of the Great Red Snapper Count may relate to a number of other fish species in the Gulf as well.
“What we learned from this is whether we need to change some of the analysis methods for all species – the way we conduct stock assessments,” he said. “Do we need to continue to adjust our assessments closer to this model to ensure we’re getting accurate stock assessments.”
Bannon said the research that MRD and The University of South Alabama conducts in Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zones, which cover more than 1,000 square miles in the Gulf, was the genesis of the methods used in the Great Red Snapper Count.
“Because of the research done in our reef zones, we have said for the last eight years hat we had a very good understanding of the abundance of fish off of Alabama,” he said. “Now that we have that information from across the Gulf, it is good to know that the snapper stock is in better condition than some people anticipated. It’s a very positive outcome for red snapper anglers.”
Bannon said private recreational anglers can pick the days best for them to take advantage of the red snapper weekend extensions.“We’re fishing to the quota,” he said. “If it’s not comfortable or safe to go, don’t go. The fish are still in the bank, so to speak. We will keep Saturdays and Sundays open until we anticipate the quota being met, and that could be as soon as the end of this next weekend.”
I remember the first time I saw an ant farm for sale. It amazed me. I had my own free-range ant farm when I was growing up. Although I could not see the tunnels, their cave mouth and small mound was plainly visible in the ditch in front of my house on Iron Hill Road.
In the ditch in front of my house was a nest of big red ants. I found out they are Florida Harvester Ants, but at the time they were just big red ants to me. I sat for hours just watching their activities. It was not unusual for one to crawl around on me but I was never bit by one.
In the summer I would kill flies and take them to the ants to feed them. It was amazing how fast they would discover the ant even if I put it a couple of feet from their tunnel entrance. Scouts constantly moved around the perimeter of the bed, looking for food and danger, ranging out a long way from home. A long way for tiny ant legs anyway.
An ant would find the dead fly and pick it up in its “jaws” and carry it to the tunnel then down inside. Often the fly was as big or bigger than the ant but they seemed to have no problem.
To test their strength, I would drop small pebbles over the entrance hole. The hole was in the center of a shallow bowl that had been cleaned of debris out about a foot. Around that clearing grainy pebbles ringed the bed, making it look like a target.
When a tiny pebble was dropped over the entrance an ant would instantly move it away. They could carry pebbles bigger than their body. If I put one down too big for one ant two or more would work together to move it back to the edge. They would seem to communicate someway, with an ant holding the pebble on each side and one moving backwards, much like two people carrying a heavy table.
Rain would wash away the bed temporarily but it never took more than a couple of hours for the ants to unseal the tunnel and clear their little opening. Again, they cooperated and seemed to be coordinated in their activity, not just running around like mindless bugs.
At some point I tried to have a pet bed inside. I would get a gallon jar and fill it with dirt, then put some ants in it, cover the mouth with cheese cloth and watch them. I always found black ant beds and dug them up for my captives, never disturbing my pet red ant bed.
No matter how many ants I managed to put in the jar my farm was never successful. The ants would dig their tunnels and I could watch them work along the edges of the glass for a few days, but, even though I fed them plenty of flies, all the ants disappeared within a few days.
I never realized I needed a queen ant to keep reproducing replacement worker ants. I did get some eggs with the ants I put in my farm but even though the workers would take care of them, with no new eggs to replace the ones that hatched, the supply of workers soon ran out.
Nature is amazing and fun to watch, even down to tiny ants.
Fly fishing always fascinated me. I could imagine standing in a cold clear stream, watching a mayfly imitation float into an eddy and being sucked down by a rainbow trout, just like in the magazines I read. Or standing in a river, casting streamers to salmon fresh from the ocean.
I tried to fly fish in Dearing Branch, tying chicken feather flies on tiny hooks with mama’s sewing thread. And I caught a few tiny fish on them, with line tied to a stick from the branch bank. It was not quite what I imagined.
In my early teen years mama and daddy bought me a real fly rod. It was cheap, but it worked. I spent hours casting popping bugs and rubber crickets in local ponds, catching bream and the occasional bass. Later I would fish with that same fly rod at Clarks Hill from my bass boat, catching more bream but few bass.
When Linda and I got married and started fishing together I convinced her fly fishing was not easy. After all, we had only one fly rod. But one day when I was catching bream after bream and she was not getting anything on her spinning rod, she tried it.
She did a great job and instantly started making accurate casts with it and catching bream. That night we went to town and bought her a fly-fishing rod and reel!
I tried fishing a few north Georgia trout streams with my old fly rod, but it was nothing like I imagined. Casting was tough with bushes and trees long the bank, and I could not get the trout to bite. It was frustrating.
Ten years ago on my 60th birthday I stood in a stream about 100 yards from the ocean in Alaska, casting streamers and catching salmon. Although they stop feeding when they go into freshwater, they will still hit a bait. And I caught about 10 nice salmon. It was everything I dreamed of!
I think I will dig out our old fly rods and give them a try again.
I spend way too much time on Facebook, laughing at bad jokes, keeping up with fraternity brothers I have not seen in years and making new friends and sharing information with old ones. But I also spend too much time getting frustrated over fake information and angry about true information about folks that believe in things that go against everything I was raised to believe.
One of the most madding things are the so called “fact checkers” that contradict my opinions with their own opinions, not facts.
A good example is a meme I shared this week. It showed democrat vice president candidate Kamala Harris, in an interview, saying she was in favor of banning so called “assault weapons” and having a “mandatory” buyback program.
She wants to make law-abiding gun owners, about 15 million of us according to the New York Times, that own anything she calls an assault weapon, turn it in to the government for a small payment or be arrested.
The meme said democrat vice president candidate Kamala Harris is anti-gun and anti-2nd Amendment.
I was “fact checked” with the comments that Kamala Harris is not anti-gun and anti-2nd Amendment, she is in favor of “sensible gun laws.” The 2nd Amendment says a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed.” But according to the “fact checkers,” taking guns away from citizens, by force, is “sensible.”
Factbook has every right to censor information and make false claims since they are a private company. But I still call them “Facistbook,” for their censorship
|New modelling helps scientists explore what happens when endangered Atlantic salmon have access to more of their habitat.|
From NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing WireWeldon Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine.
Photo courtesy Brookfield Renewable PowerNOAA
Fisheries Atlantic salmon researchers have found that Atlantic salmon abundance can increase as more young fish and returning adults survive their encounters with dams. Also, progress in rebuilding the population will depend heavily on continuing stocking of hatchery fish raised especially for this purpose. This information is based on a life history model and new information on changes in the Penobscot River watershed.
The remaining remnant Atlantic salmon populations in the United States are located in Maine, with the largest population in the Penobscot River. Numerous factors play a role in salmon recovery — from predation and habitat degradation to pollution and climate change. The two most influential factors are survival of fish as they navigate dams in the river, and survival during the marine phase of their life. Atlantic salmon are born and remain in fresh water for 1-3 years and migrate downriver through estuaries into the sea. Then they spend 1 to 2 years at sea before returning to the river where they were born to spawn.Hatchery salmon smolt
“Our findings indicate that Atlantic salmon abundance can increase as survival at dams from the lower to the upper watershed increases. Hatchery supplementation will be necessary to sustain the population when survival is low in egg-to-smolt and marine life stages,” said Julie Nieland, a salmon researcher at the science center’s Woods Hole Laboratory in Massachusetts and lead author of the study. “Increases in survival during both of these life stages will likely be necessary to attain a self-sustaining population, especially if hatchery supplementation is reduced or discontinued.
”Updating What We know About Salmon Survival
Nieland and center colleague Tim Sheehan used an existing dam impact analysis model to look at how survival at dams, increased survival at key life stages, and hatchery supplementation affected the Atlantic salmon population. The model was developed in 2012 and first used in federal licensing analyses for five hydroelectric dams in the Penobscot River.
Nieland and Sheehan updated the model, adding new data and better accounting for changes in the watershed. They ran different scenarios to assess the effects of changing smolt numbers, stocking locations, and increasing survival in the egg-to-smolt and marine life stages. They also looked at scenarios involving various dams to estimate abundance and distribution of Atlantic salmon within the watershed and at different life stages. This included the smolt and adult stages when salmon encounter dams.
Analyzing an Upstream DamFish passage at Weldon Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine
The study focused on Weldon Dam in Mattawamkeag, about 65 miles upstream from Bangor, Maine. The dam is the fifth and farthest upstream dam on the main stem of the Penobscot. It is currently undergoing relicensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the Mattaceunk Project.
There are a large number of dams in the Penobscot watershed. A better understanding of how dams alter important ecological function for salmon has proven to be a key advance in managing salmon recovery. For example, moving stocking locations lower in the watershed helped maximize adult return rates.
Habitat Access Critical to Salmon Recovery
The current stocking strategy minimizes Atlantic salmon deaths from dams. However, the population of Atlantic salmon is currently found in the lower watershed where habitat is lower quality. Increased survival and passage at dams will allow salmon to access the upper watershed where there is higher quality habitat.
Habitat quality could be an important piece of the puzzle for Atlantic salmon. Higher quality habitat would likely produce more smolts than lower quality habitat, but the potential benefits of increased habitat quality are not yet quantifiable.Viewing box at a dam fish passage as salmon migrate upstream .
The authors suggest that future research should focus on measuring the biological response of Atlantic salmon to different habitat qualities and evaluating the effects of changing habitat conditions on Atlantic salmon productivity. This would allow researchers to identify areas where salmon would thrive and quantify how a changing climate affects productivity. These results will also pave the way for a data-driven assessment of future productivity for U.S. Atlantic salmon. Managers will then be able to develop realistic recovery goals while prioritizing restoration efforts in areas with the greatest potential future productivity.
In addition to Atlantic salmon, populations of American shad, blueback herring, alewife and American eel in the Penobscot watershed could also benefit from increased dam passage and dam removal. Better passage and survival at dams would also allow these species to access higher quality habitat further up in the river.
For more information, please contact Shelley Dawicki.
Saturday, August 22, 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our August tournament at Sinclair. After eight hours of casting, we brought 36 keeper bass weighing about 58 pounds to the scales. There were three five-bass limits and two fishermen didn’t catch a keeper.
Tom Tanner shocked us all with five bass weighing 13.83 pounds and won big fish with a 5.25 pound largemouth. Raymond English had a limit weighing 9.65 pounds for second and Mitchell Cardell’s limit weighing 8.70 pounds was third. Niles Murray had a limit weighing 6.06 pounds for fourth.
I had a frustrating day. My boat is in the shop with a locked up lower unit, so I fished with Niles. That is the first time I remember fishing a tournament for the back of the boat since 1980, when my motor broke in a Top Six Tournament at Eufaula. I caught a nice 2.67 pound largemouth on a buzzbait first thing that morning, a good start.
But it must have fired up Niles. He caught one of his keeps on a topwater plug soon after I caught mine, then put on a show with a trick worm, catching his other four from grass beds. I managed one more small keeper the rest of the day!
I hope my boat gets well soon!
|Harvest of lots of small bass can mean more “slot” fish in the future in some overpopulated lakes like Arkansas’ Lake Brewer and others.|
from The Fishing Wire
PLUMMERVILLE — A winning weight of 10 fish for just over 10 pounds would have most bass-fishing tournament directors contemplating a permanent blacklisting of the lake from their schedule, but Jared Pridmore, director of the Lake Brewer Bass Club and owner of JP Custom Baits in Arkansas, was nothing but smiles when he saw the results of his “Tiny Fish Tournament” in April.
The only thing that made him happier than the low weight was the sight of the fish-filled cooler where participants turned in their fish instead of releasing them to the water.
Lake Brewer is the main drinking water supply for about 20,000 people in Conway County as well as another 60,000 people in and around the City of Conway in Faulkner County. It was constructed in 1983 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and maintenance of the lake was turned over to the Conway Corporation the year it was built.
In addition to providing water for nearby residents, the 1,166-acre reservoir has proven to be a fantastic fishery, even being featured in an episode of Major League Fishing a few years ago.
“Brewer is a great lake, and about five years ago, you needed to have at least five fish for 20 pounds to have a chance of placing in a tournament there, but it’s getting full of small fish,” Pridmore said.
“Word got out that it was hot, and between fishing pressure and the tons of small fish, you don’t see nearly as many fish over the lake’s slot limit.”
The “slot limit” Pridmore refers to is a special regulation placed on some lakes where bass of a certain size must be released immediately back to the water to protect them from harvest. In Brewer’s case, any largemouth bass between 13 and 16 inches long cannot be kept for eating or weigh-ins to be released later, but fish under 13 inches and over 16 inches can be kept.
According to Matt Schroeder, fisheries biologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Mayflower office, slot limits are intended to help produce and maintain good fish populations, but can have a negative effect if some harvest isn’t practiced.
“Lakes that have good growth and produce consistently good spawns are typical candidates for slot limits,” Schroeder said. “You’re wanting to protect your best spawning year classes of fish, while allowing harvest above and below that to thin out some of the competition for food. Your most abundant year-class of fish is going to be the youngest fish, so harvesting them lets the fish in the protected slot get more food and grow to larger sizes.”
But Schroeder warns that if no one is harvesting the small fish, the slot limit becomes ineffective and the lake may see slower growth from too many mouths to feed.
“You’ve essentially created a minimum length limit at that point, and lakes with good recruitment and good growth can actually see a decline in production of large fish when that happens,” Schroeder said. “We want people catching and keeping the fish under the slot limit if it’s going to work.”
Pridmore, and Lake Brewer Bass Club president Lynn Hensley say they want to do what they can to help bring bigger fish back to the lake.
“You catch a ton of those small fish in here right now,” Hensley said. “And you’re not going to get big fish if all the food is going to those small ones.”
The April tiny fish tournament had some major differences from standard fishing tournaments:
Anglers could weigh in up to 10 largemouth bass per boat that were under the 13- to 16-inch slot limit. All largemouth bass weighed that were under the slot were put in a cooler for any of the anglers to take home and enjoy as long as they didn’t go over any possession limits. Even with the catch-and-keep rules in place, tournament directors still released a few fish.
“We let every team weigh in one fish that was over the slot limit in a separate big-fish contest, so anyone who caught a big one today would still get to enjoy a shot at a prize,” said Lynn Hensley, club president.
“We released all fish over the slot back to the water. We also released any Kentucky bass because they aren’t included in the slot limit regulations.”
Overall, the tournament was a success, and many of the anglers still had the same competitive spirit at weigh-in, although social distancing protocols in April prevented any large crowds at the weigh-in table. At the end of the day, the team of Luci and Chris Johnson from Prairie Grove took the title with 10 fish weighing a less than massive 10.35 pounds.
“We had 22 teams show up to fish, which isn’t bad considering the social distancing that we all have to work through,” Pridmore said. “We even had folks like [the Johnsons] who drive down from Northwest Arkansas to join in the fun. We pulled a little over 100 fish under the slot limit from the lake.”
While 100 fish being removed isn’t likely to influence the growth rates of fish in a lake as large and fertile as Brewer, Ben Batten, AGFC chief of fisheries, says it’s more about promoting the principle that keeping fish is OK, and even needed in some cases.
“There are a lot more bass swimming in that lake than most anglers realize,” Batten said. “We don’t manage these lakes for fish to die of old age. Bass are a renewable resource, and we manage the lakes so people can enjoy fishing for them. Some people don’t want to keep any fish, and that’s fine, but others do want to catch and keep, and that’s totally fine, too. We set limits to make sure the resource remains and we factor harvest into that decision.”
November Mobile Reds, Trout and Flounder
with Captain Dan Kolenich
“November is one of the two best months of the year for catching reds, trout and flounder in Mobile,” Captain Dan Kolenich said. As the water cools and freshwater starts flushing out the bay, shrimp move toward the ocean and you can catch all three species. The shrimp are mature and as big as they get, so they are even more attractive food in November. Only in May, with the shrimp are moving in and the fish are following them, is as good.
Captain Dan moved to the Mobile area in 1979 and fell in love with the fishing, learning how to catch reds, trout and flounder in the bay as well as all the species available in the area. He started guiding 18 years ago, and has also fished some of the professional redfish tournament series like the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Redfish Tour and the Oberto Redfish Cup. They do not fish Alabama waters so raveling to different areas like Florida and Louisiana in those tournaments helped him learn to find even more fish in Mobile.
Until a few years ago most of his guide trips were with clients that wanted to catch fish on spinning tackle, with one or two fly fishing trips per year. But now 60 to 70 percent of his trips are fly fishing trips and he is able to help fly fishermen catch trout and reds, with the occasional flounder, in the bay and rivers.
Although he sometimes uses live bait like pogies, bull minnows and shrimp, he prefers artificals. His favorites for spinning tackle are High Tide plastic shrimp and minnows on their B52 jigs and he sometimes makes them into spinnerbaits by adding a Hildebrant blade on a wire. Those baits are soft and flexible but hold up well, allowing you to catch many fish on one bait before you have to change.
He also casts a Mirror Lure 32 M lure as well as their Top Dog Jr. topwater plug. As the shrimp become scarce the fish feed more on baitfish that these plugs, as well as the soft minnow lures, imitate.
“When you start catching freshwater drum where you had been catching trout and reds a few days earlier, its time to move further out,” Captain Dan said. Starting somewhere around Thanksgiving and lasting until Christmas, the water cools and fresh water flushes saltwater out of the bay and fishing becomes difficult for desired species. But until that happens, fishing is excellent, and you can follow the bait and fish as they move further out.
Early this month start fishing about five miles upstream of the causeways and by the end of the month you should be fishing within a mile of the causeways. Start up the Tensaw and Raft Rivers around Gravine Island and work down those rivers as the fish move out. The Blakeley River is another good place to try. Later in the month concentrate on the Spanish and Apalachee Rivers.
The pilings on the causeways that cross the bay are also good, with some fish around them all month, but they get better later as fish in the rivers move down and join resident “piling” fish.
Early in the month you can catch trout around shallow wood cover up the rivers and reds over grass beds on high tide. An east wind will often push an additional foot of water into the bay, making the shallow bite better. For shallow water, plugs work well since you can keep them over the cover. Birds feeding back in bays and sloughs are a good sign the fish have pushed bait into those places and are active in them.
For trout, find logs and trash on the bottom in two to three feet of water and work the Top Dog Jr over them. Their C-Eye Suspending Twitch Bait will suspend 12 to 18 inches deep, allowing you to work it over the cover. Trout seek water in the 70 to 80-degree range, so look for those temperatures for the best fishing.
For reds, work those same baits over the grass beds in shallow water three to five feet deep. Sometimes you can see reds feeding in the shallow water or the mud stirred up by them. They are in these areas feeding on crabs and minnows. Cast far enough ahead of feeding fish that you don’t spook them and start working it when they get close to it.
As the tide moves out it pulls water, bait and fish out to deeper water near the channels. In the rivers the bottom slopes off in a shelf out to one to 10 feet deep then flattens out to about 12 to 14 deep before falling into the channels. Captain Dan says about one-third of the river will be this creek bottom at the 12 to 14 feet deep and that is the depth trout and reds hold and feed.
That is a lot of water to cover but Captain Dan says it is easy to find the fish since lines of boats will be drift fishing around them, and you can join them. Go up current to the head of the line, put out your lines and drift through the fish. When you stop getting bites reel in, crank up and go back to the head of the line to start another drift.
This is the accepted method of fishing in the crowd. Captain Dan warns that you should not anchor when you catch a fish, it lessens your chance of catching more fish and, worse, it messes up everyone else fishing the correct way, drifting through them. The only anchored boats are going to be fishermen that really don’t know how to catch the fish.
Until Thanksgiving a good day trout fishing will produce 30 to 40 keeper size fish. After Thanksgiving you may catch only four or five, but they will all be gator trout, over 20 inches long.
For both trout and reds a High Tide shrimp or minnow behind a jig head work well. Both will hit them when drifted near the bottom. Vary the weight of your jig head depending on your drift speed, starting with a three sixteenths head, to keep your bait near the bottom. A red head High Tide jig head is Captain Dan’s go-to color. You can use live bait, but Captain Dan prefers artificials for ease of fishing as well as reducing costs.
Reds like a bait right on the bottom and this is when Captain Dan likes to put a spinner over his jig. It gives you more depth control as well as attracting fish to the bait. Try to keep it within a foot of the bottom.
Flounder also feed in the rivers this time of year and will hit jigs, but they tend to hold on points where rivers and creeks come together. They sit on the bottom and feed, not really moving around much. You can catch them by drifting and casting to the points along your drift, but a good tactic for flounder is to anchor next to a point and cast up current on it.
Use a jig and let it sink and work it with the current just over the bottom. When a flounder hits there is no doubt, according to Captain Dan. When they take a jig it is a hard hit and they tend to hook themselves.
Bull minnows are also good for flounder and you can catch them “Carolina Rig” style, with the hook on a two-foot leader behind a sinker. Cast or drift this rig on points and drag the sinker along the bottom, adjusting the weight of it with the current so it stays on the bottom.
Don’t “set the hook” hard on a trout, just tighten up and raise your rod tip. A hard hook set can tear the hook out of their mouth. A red will hit hard and run and set the hook itself but you do not want to jerk your rod tip since their rubbery mouth can tear.
For all three species Captain Dan uses a seven-foot medium action Falcon rod with a Okuma spinning reel. The rod’s light tip helps keep from tearing the hook out of the soft mouth of trout but is strong enough to hook the rubbery mouth of a red, and it has enough backbone to fight them efficiently.
The reel has an extremely smooth drag, important when fighting a red on the ten-pound test line he uses. He does tie a 12 to 18-inch 17-pound fluorocarbon leader on his main line, which is either Power Pro braid or monofilament. The leader helps since there are a lot of things to abrade your line.
Although red’s mouths are tougher than trout’s, they are soft and the rod action and light line, as well as a smooth drag, are all very important to keep from losing hooked fish.
Captain Dan an Orvis endorsed fishing guide. He uses nine-foot, eight weigh rod and says you need a fast sinking “depth charge” line to get down to the fish. He drifts with a Clouser minnow fly and it needs to be fished at the 12 to 14-foot depth where the trout and reds are feeding. You can cast the same bait for flounder but it, too, must be near the bottom for them.
The pilings on the bridges are good places to cast a fly or jig for all three species. Contrary to what seems to be intuitive, Captain Dan has found fish hold on the up current side of the pilings rather than in the eddy on the downstream side. There may be some fish on the eddy side, but, much like dolphins riding the bow wave of a ship, fish hold in the upstream ‘dead zone” break better.
Hold your boat on the up current side of the piling and cast your Clouser minnow or jig up to the front of the piling rather than past it, and let your bait sink down in the dead zone there. Try letting the bait sink to different depths to see if the fish prefer a certain depth. Live shrimp or minnows can be fished on the pilings in the same way.
Captain Dan encourages catch and release on all fish but he does not mind if you keep just enough for a fresh meal. Releasing all or most of your catch helps insure the fishing will be good in the future. The size restrictions on reds and trout has really helped the fishing, too.
There is a ten fish, 12-inch minimum size limit on flounder. Trout also have a ten-fish creel limit and must be over 14 inches long. There is a three-fish limit on reds and you can keep fish between 16 and 26 inches long, but only one over the 26-inch length. Reds over 26 inches long are the brood stock and all should be released, and Captain Dan says they are really not very good to eat at that size, anyway.
More than the usual amount of rain in the fall can flush out the saltwater earlier and muddy up the rivers, make fishing more difficult. Strong winds can also create problems. It helps to have an experienced guide to adapt to daily changes in conditions.
When you find the kinds of places these fish feed, don’t get stuck fishing familiar places. Captain Dan says finding new, similar places is one of the thrills of fishing here, and there are a lot of them to explore.
All you need on a guided trip with Captain Dan is what you want to eat and drink to put in his ice chest, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, and clothing like a long sleeve shirt and rain gear. He asks you to wear soft sole shoes. Although he provides all tackle he says you are welcome to bring your favorite rods, reels and tackle to use. You do not need a saltwater license when fishing with him but if you go into freshwater you do need a freshwater license.
Contact Captain Dan for a guided trip fly fishing or spinning tackle fishing, at 251-422-3474 or email him at email@example.com. His website at captaindankolenich.com has fishing reports as well as more information on his trips.
|What to do if you hook yourself|
|By Alex McCrickard, Virginia DWR|
from The Fishing Wire
Have you ever had to end a great fishing trip early due to accidentally hooking yourself?
Safety should never be overlooked when spending time on the water fishing. Without a doubt, it’s essential to make sure you are dressing for the weather, checking river flows or lake conditions, keeping an eye on the radar and forecast, wearing a life jacket if you are on a boat, and staying hydrated. However, one of the more common accidental injuries that an angler can encounter is being hooked with a fly, lure, or hook. It’s essential to know when the injury can be handled on the water and when it’s time to go to the emergency room.
I have spent a considerable amount of time teaching novice fly anglers in my years as a fly fishing guide on Wyoming’s Upper North Platte River. From experience, I will say that one of the less enjoyable aspects of being a guide is getting impaled with your client’s fly as they are learning how to cast for the first time. I have been accidentally hooked many times, including having flies embedded in my leg, arm, back, and even nose. I am lucky and have never had to take a trip to the emergency room with any of these injuries. The technique outlined below can help you remove an impaled hook while on the water.Photo by Lynda Richardson/DWR
The technique for removing an impaled hook is actually quite simple. Start by cutting off a two- to three-foot long section of heavy monofilament, 15 or 20 lb. test line. If you’re fly fishing, 0x tippet will work fine.
Next, thread the monofilament between the shank of the hook and your skin, situating the loop of monofilament at the bend of the hook. Make sure you have at least 12” of monofilament on either side of the hook. With your thumb, press down on the shank of the hook until the shank is parallel to your skin. Once you have pushed down, quickly jerk the monofilament with your other hand in a motion parallel to the shank to remove the embedded hook. It’s a simple push-and-pull technique that is highly effective. I have performed this on myself many times, but it can certainly be beneficial to have a family member or friend assist you in the process, especially if you hooked yourself in the back or arm.The tips below can help you in the process as well as decipher when it’s essential to seek medical attention:
This technique is not recommended with treble hooks.
Treble hooks on lures pose an entirely different situation and it’s best to seek medical attention if deeply impaled by two out of three treble hooks.
Consider pinching the barbs on your hooks before fishing, especially for beginners. A barbless hook is a lot easier to remove than a barbed hook.
Trust your gut—if you think you need medical attention, then it’s best to go to the emergency room. If you are hooked deeply in the neck or face, it is best to seek medical attention.
Larger and heavier hooks, especially saltwater hooks that are deeply impaled, might also require a trip to the emergency room.
Always wear a hat and polarized sunglasses when fishing on the water. Not only will sunglasses protect your eyes, but they also cut down against the glare and help you spot fish in the water.
Spread out and give yourself ample casting space when fishing together with friends and family.
Carry a first aid kit in your car when wade fishing or in your boat so you are ready when a situation arises.
See more strategies for removing embedded hooks, complete with diagrams.
Squirrel season opens Saturday.
When I was young, I looked forward to this opening day with as much anticipation as any deer hunter waits for deer season now. It was a highlight of my life until my late teen years.
I got my first “real” gun for my eighth birthday. That used Remington semiautomatic .22 was the love of my life. I followed a strict rule, I could not load the gun or take it from the house without an adult present. I knew if I broke that rule, I would not see the gun for months, if not years.
Since daddy didn’t have time to take me squirrel hunting, and I could not go with any of my friends, I was dying to go that fall. I knew exactly when season opened and daddy told me we would go after dove ended and before quail season opened, but that seemed to be forever away.
One afternoon I came home from school and got a snack of cold corn bread and catsup. While eating it I saw a squirrel run up a big hickory tree across the road. Mama and daddy were not home. The only adult in the house was Gladys, the woman that helped mama around the house, with the chickens and raising me and my brother.
I told her to come with me, got my rifle and loaded it, with her fussing the whole time. She followed me out the door and across the road. The squirrel, being a squirrel, instantly ran to the top of the tree and hide on the back side of it.
I eased around the tree and the squirrel went to the opposite side, as they do, but Glady’s fussing and movement made it move back into my sights. I was so excited I did not make a good shot, but it fell to the ground with the hole made by the long rifle bullet through its belly.
I grabbed it by the tail and knocked its head on the tree, killing it. Then Gladys and I went back to the house, with her still fussing at me.
When daddy got home he was little mad but proud of me killing my first squirrel. He showed me how to clean it, the first I gutted and skinned of hundreds since then. And mama and Gladys cooked it that night for dinner. It was old and tough, but they made it tender and delicious!
Daddy was always busy with his job as principal of Dearing Elementary School and taking care of our 11,000 laying hens after work and on weekends. He hunted every Saturday afternoon of dove and quail season and only rested on Sunday afternoon, after church and doing what had to be done daily with the chickens. That was the only time I ever saw him slow down, relaxing in his recliner and sleeping through a baseball game on the radio or TV.
But one afternoon he came home after school and said he would go squirrel hunting with me. I quickly grabbed my rifle and he took the .410, my second gun. We went into the woods across the street and hunted a bottom that ran down to Dearing Branch.
I killed ten squirrels that afternoon, the only time I really remember getting my limit. But daddy never fired a shot. I realized later he made sure I was the one that got a shot when we saw one up a tree, moving around so the squirrel came to my side.
I will never forget that afternoon.
A few years ago I went to war against tree rats around my house. They gnawed into my garage and nested in the ceiling, dropping leaves, twigs and other stuff into my boat. If I saw one in the yard, I would grab a 12 gauge shotgun, step out on the deck and kill them. There was no sport or hunting involved.
When he was alive, Rip would jump around and go to the door as soon as I picked up a gun. Now Cinnamon does the same thing. Both learned to look where I was looking up in the trees and run to the area. I’m not sure they knew what they were doing but they would drive the squirrel around to my side for a shot.
Both loved to grab a fallen squirrel and shake it, breaking its back and killing it if not already dead. And both would bring the squirrel to me, even if reluctantly.
I try to cook every one of them, using some of mama’s recipes for fried squirrel and gravy, squirrel stew and squirrel and dumplings. And I BBQ them, make squirrel and cream of chicken soup and several other methods.
I wish every kid knew the joy of squirrel hunting and daddy going with them.