Week of June 30, 2008

Fishing beyond the Great Lakes
National

Regional

General
2nd Amendment issues
Indiana
Michigan
Minnesota
Pennsylvania
Ontario

 

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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

West Coast Salmon Bonanza

The Chicago Tribune Sunday edition reports ten times as many sockeye salmon are returning to the Columbia River as

last year, which could mean the highest return for Idaho's most endangered fish in more than 30 years.


Tennessee Fishermen File Lawsuit against State

Commercial Fishermen Say Proclamation is Unconstitutional

CHATTANOOGA, TN – The Tennessee Commercial Roe Fishermen’s Association and Tennessee Commercial Fishermen’s Association in Tennessee are suing the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for violations of federal and state laws.  The complaint was filed in chancery court in Davidson County, Tennessee and alleges that TWRA is not only operating under an invalid commission but that the method followed by the implementation of a new Proclamation is unconstitutional.  The fishermen assert the Proclamation, which expresses several new provisions for Tennessee lakes and rivers, is arbitrary and invalid as it contains rules not supported by science or factual basis and violates equal protection guarantees.

 

“The Proclamation itself is void because it is unconstitutional and invalid under the law,” says Jim McKoon, attorney representing the commercial fishermen associations.  “Not only did TWRA pass procedures with rules that are not supported, they deprived citizens of due process – the general assembly has declared it to be the policy of the state that decisions such as these are public business and shall not be conducted in secret and yet no public comment is provided for by statute.  These rules greatly impact commercial fishers’ livelihoods.”

Most notably of the Proclamation’s provisions, TWRA has closed Watts Bar Reservoir for commercial fishing, citing a Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation

(TDEC) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) advisory on catfish consumption from over twenty years ago.  The Tennessee commercial fishing associations assert that not only is this advisory outdated, it only pertains to certain fish.  Fish such as paddlefish – fish that are not listed on the outdated advisory -- can now no longer be harvested from Watts Bar according to TWRA’s Proclamation, which the commercial fishermen state will cause a significant drop in Tennessee’s commercial fishing industry.  TWRA has not closed Watts Bar for sport or recreational fishing, however, violating commercial fishers’ equal protection guarantees.

 

Other provisions in the Proclamation include:  limiting the season during which paddlefish may be commercially harvested; changing the definitions of fishing equipment that may be used commercially; continuing to prohibit the commercial harvest of hybrid shovelnose sturgeon; prohibiting the use of fyke nets on certain Tennessee reservoirs; and changing the minimum block lengths for paddlefish.

 

The Tennessee Commercial Roe Fishermen’s Association and Tennessee Commercial Fishermen’s Association are comprised solely of commercial fishermen, including buyers of commercial fish products.


National

Summary of EPA Boating Permit Proposal

EPA released two draft permits for boats on June 17, 2008.  Recreational vessels have been arbitrarily cut in half, with one permit applying to boats under 79 ft and the other applying to boats as 80 ft (and functionally treating them as commercial vessels).  Although the initial proposal looks less severe than initially anticipated, that appearance is deceptive. The fact of the matter is that the EPA proposal represents a sweeping, unprecedented and confusing new regulatory regime for every recreational boat operator or owner in the country.  At the end of the day, this is an unneeded regulation that is compounded by extremely severe penalties for non-compliance: $32,500 per violation per day, and citizen lawsuits. Additionally, the permit requirements must, as a matter of law, change every 5 years, and they can never be weakened. States are free, and

likely, to move forward with their own programs and permit fees. 

 

Clean Boating Act

The Clean Boating Act (S. 2766/H.R. 5949) is ready to be scheduled for a vote at any time.  NMMA and others are working vigorously to move forward on getting the bill added to expedited procedures in the Senate and House, but we may be facing an effort by commercial vessel interests to hold the bill in order to expand it to large boats. We are waiting to see what the next move will be, but our view remains that relief for recreational boats and charter fishing boats should be passed now.  The Clean Boating Act has 39 bipartisan cosponsors, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. 


Top Ten Flaws of Proposed EPA Boat Permit

New Regs are a Recipe for Confusion & Penalizes Boaters  

Below are the top ten problems with EPA’s proposed regulation of recreational boats. 

 

10. This is only the first installment.  NPDES Permits are changed every five years.  What happens in the next round?  EPA and states will be coming up with new permits every 5 years.  What will they look like?  Boaters will constantly have to keep up with the latest permit developments. Right now for boats less than 79 feet in length the proposed permit looks simple, but that will change.  Over time, permits will get more and more complicated.  EPA is even asking for comments now on what new best practices should be mandated on boaters and if they should meet “numerical limits.”  Huh?

 

9. The Permit isn’t final – states must still approve it.  States, through the “certification process” for a general permit, can force EPA to adopt more difficult conditions in these permits.  As a result, the process is far from final, meaning there will be no regulatory certainty for boaters for some time to come.

 

8. No education for boaters.  The EPA will not be educating the boating public on what these new permits mean, leaving boaters at risk of inadvertently breaking the law and being forced to pay immense fines without even knowing why.  One in four U.S. adults went boating in 2007 on one of the 17 million boats in the U.S.  That’s a lot of people to educate.

 

7. If a boater gets it wrong, they could face huge fines and lawsuits. The NPDES program is meant to go after large corporate facilities -- the penalties are $32,000 per day, per incident and citizen lawsuits are allowed. That means individual citizens can take you to court for violations under this new regulation.

 

6. Lawsuits, Lawsuits, Lawsuits – Boaters are sitting ducks. We expect EPA to be sued on this controversial permit—who knows what the final court ruling will be.  What happens to boaters while EPA, the environmentalists and the commercial ship owners slug it out?  Boaters will be confused and could face citizen suits while they wait.

 

5. Don’t leave your state without getting that permit!  When the states start creating their own programs, boaters will not automatically be able to boat in another state’s waters.  What if one state requires a different management practice or equipment than a boater’s home state?  How will a boater get prepared for these different rules?  Will boaters need to carry

their permit, specific records? Will the states start charging

fees? No one knows yet.  

 

4. EPA is using a new legal theory to have these permits apply in all states.  This will likely be challenged in court.  Normally, EPA Clean Water Act NPDES general permits are only good in five states: Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. Collectively, these states represent a mere three percent of all registered boats owned in the nation. The normal rule is that a general permit isn’t a national permit, but EPA is now asserting that it has the sole permitting authority until states specifically ask for approval to permit boats (which EPA will readily grant).  This new approach by EPA is untested and we have no assurance that this view will win the day.  More confusion for boaters! 

 

3. States can establish their own permits and charge fees. Forty-five states could ask for authority to create their own permit programs – will consistency with the EPA permit be required?  Don’t bet on it.   Right now, approved state programs must be at least as stringent as the federal program.  But states are free to implement requirements on permit holders that are more stringent than the federal permit, and they can mandate different regulations for different bodies of water in their state.  The future permit requirements – both national and state are not known.  This uncertainty allows the possibility of new paperwork, fees, and measures to comply with the yet undefined future permits. That also means that states will be able to impose new fees on boaters when they ask EPA for permitting authority. 

 

2. There is no way around it—the permit program puts a chill on boating and hurts the economy.  We are facing down a recession.  We can’t afford to put American businesses out of business or to impose more price hikes on consumers.  There are 19,000 boating specific businesses that employ more than 154,000 employees in the U.S.  That does not include the businesses that rely on the money spent by boaters while on trips.  Boat permits and the confusion created by them will cost these businesses jobs and hurt boaters. 

 

1. Bottom line -- This money and time is better spent developing real national best practices and getting the word out to boaters.  Let’s actually protect the environment, not just create a big administrative mess.

 

We need to keep the pressure up on Congress—call, write in through www.boatblue.org .


Supreme Court Rules for Second Amendment

District of Columbia v. Heller landmark decision

Unless you have been in total hibernation you have now heard at least one newscast or read at least one article about the landmark decision the Supreme Court ruled on last Thursday regarding the Second Amendment. What may have eluded you 

is the actual decision sans any editorializing by Mayor Daley or rhetoric imposed on us by the Brady Gun Control Group.

 

Read the actual Court decision here: www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf


Regional

Great Lakes: A Recreational Boating Powerhouse

Boating on the Great Lakes is big business, according to a new report from the Great Lakes Commission. U.S. Coast guard data shows there are 4.3 million boats registered in the 8 Great Lakes states. Of these, an estimated 911,000 operate upon the Great Lakes themselves. The 4.3 million boats in the Great Lakes states comprise more than one-third of all registered boats in the U.S.

 

These boats and their owners generate nearly $16 billion in boating-related annual spending, directly supporting 107,000 jobs. With secondary effects taken into consideration, those numbers grow to 244,000 jobs, $19 billion in sales, $6.4 billion in personal income, and $9.2 billion in value added (2003 data).

 

The Great lakes region is also home to a robust industry dedicated to boating manufacture and sales. As of 2004, there were 250 active boat and equipment manufacturers in the Great lakes states, producing more than 180,000 watercraft. Of these, three-fifths were sold outside the region, generating a significant export benefit. These 250 manufacturers were conservatively estimated to have provided jobs to 18,500 in 2003.

 

The study found that Great Lakes boat owners spend an average of $3,600 per year on their boats. This includes $1,400 on craft-related expenses (e.g., equipment, repairs, insurance, slip fees) and $2,200 on trip-related expenses (e.g., fuel, food, refreshments, on-shore entertainment,

lodging). This spending is spread over an average of 23 boating days per season.

 

Boats kept at marinas account for about 30% of all Great Lakes recreational boater spending, the study found. More than 800 operational marinas were identified in counties along the Lakes. However, activities at many of these marinas are being cramped by silt accumulations in the shallow-draft harbors where they are located.  Most of these harbors were developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have historically been dredged and otherwise maintained by the federal government.

 

Unfortunately, federal budget cuts have meant significant shortfalls in dredging shallow-draft harbors. The problem could get worse, if as predicted, lake levels continue to decline due to climate change. The corps estimates an annual investment of $5 million in dredging would be adequate to maintain all Great Lakes recreational harbors under current conditions.

 

Other benefits of shallow-draft harbors include U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue stations, harbors of refuge, and ferry operation. Shallow-draft harbors can also spur economic growth as former industrial areas are restores and converted into parks, upscale housing and entertainment districts. Clearly, recreational boating is an important part of our regional economy.

 

View the report: www.glc.org/recboat


Chicago Waterway electronic barrier update

Recent news on the Chicago Electronic Waterway Barrier informs us the electrode conditions show significant deterioration on Barrier I. However, planned maintenance shutdown of BI has been delayed pending receipt of materials. Completion of these revisions to Barrier I is now scheduled for late September.

 

The plan is to turn on BIIA for approximately 2 weeks for testing purposes, then shut down BI, turn on IIA and complete repairs and upgrades, which should take approximately 3 weeks. Construction crews & divers will be removing old electrodes and replacing  with new longer lasting heavy duty 82 lb/per lineal ft rails. Fish monitoring will continue throughout process.

 

Financial Summary: $8.6 million FY '08 and $6.25 million FY '09. Corps Project leader Chuck Shea advised there is no expiration on budgeted funds. The Corps still does not have the final design for Barrier II but hopes to have a contract in

place by August or September this year.

 

Additional sparking safety testing completed, as has the Person in the Water study, which was completed by a U.S. Navy dive unit.

 

The Corps and Coast Guard advise extreme caution when transiting the barrier location. Entering the water at or near that location could result in serious injury or death. The primary concern  is ventricular fibrillation (Irregular heart contraction, dramatic drop or stopping of  blood circulation).

 

The specific areas of concern are 250' near BIIA and 100' near demo barrier.  Touching metal objects in water a concern.

 

Colonel John Drolet relinquished command of the Chicago District USACE office, to Col. Vincent Quarles with the change of command taking place July 1.  Drolet is headed for to Iraq for two years.


USCG Sets temporary navigation zone on Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal

CLEVELAND - The Coast Guard is proposing/planning to establish a temporary regulated navigation area and safety zone on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, IL.  This regulated navigation area and safety zone places navigational and operational restrictions on all vessels transiting through the electric dispersal barrier IIA.

 

The electrodes on the demonstration electrical dispersal barrier I located between mile markers 296.1 and 296.7 of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are beginning to fail. The Army Corps of Engineers intends to shut down barrier I and begin the process of replacing the barrier electrodes which run across the bottom of the canal. Divers will be in the water and a barge-mounted crane will be operating during maintenance operations to barrier I. Electrical dispersal barrier IIA 296.1 to mile marker 296.7 will be in operation while repairs are being made to demonstration electrical dispersal barrier I. Barrier IIA will operate continuously for a two week period before taking barrier I off line for electrode replacement. Electrical dispersal barrier IIA generates a more powerful electric field than barrier I over a larger area within the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

 

The Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted field tests to ensure the continued safe navigation of commercial and recreational traffic across the barrier; however, results indicated an arcing risk and hazardous electrical discharges as vessels transited the barrier posing a serious risk to navigation through the barrier. To mitigate these risks, navigational and operational restrictions will be placed on all vessels transiting through the vicinity. Until the potential electrical hazards can be rectified, the Coast Guard will require vessels transiting the regulated navigation area to

adhere to specified operational and navigational requirements.

 

This proposed rule prohibits all vessels from loitering in the regulated navigation area; vessels may enter the regulated navigation area for the sole purpose of transiting to the other side and must maintain headway throughout the transit. The rule also requires all personnel on open decks to wear a Coast Guard approved Type I personal flotation device while in the regulated navigation area. In addition, vessels may not moor or lay up on the right or left descending banks in the regulated navigation area.

 

The maintenance on barrier I will occur between 7 a.m., July 14, 2008 and 5 p.m., August 9, 2008. The safety zone will be enforced from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on July 14, 2008 through August 9, 2008. The safety zone will encompass all waters of the

Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal; from mile marker 296.1 to mile marker 296.7.

 

Click here for a complete copy of the proposal: Regulated Navigation Area and Safety Zone, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Romeoville, IL Docket No. USCG-2008-0470

 

http://piersystem.com/posted/443/USCG_2008_0470_RNA

_and_SAFETY_ZONE.206301.pdf

 

If you have questions on this proposed rule, contact Cmdr. Tim Cummins, Deputy Prevention Division, Ninth Coast Guard District, telephone 216-902-6045. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact  Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for June 27, 2008

Weather Conditions

An active weather pattern brought numerous showers and thunderstorms to the Great Lakes basin this week.  The Lake Michigan-Huron basin has only seen two days this month with no precipitation recorded.  The Great Lakes basin as a whole has seen above average rainfall in June.  More showers and storms are expected this weekend across the region, with some severe storms likely.  Cooler and much dryer air will arrive early next week.  

 

Lake Level Conditions

All of the Great Lakes are higher than they were at this time last year. Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are 13 and 5 inches higher, respectively.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are 4 inches above last year's levels, while Lake Ontario is 8 inches higher.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are projected to rise 2 and 1 inches, respectively, over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 1 to 5 inches during the next 30 days.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are predicted to stay above last year's water levels through November.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie will remain near last year's levels over the next several months, while Lake Ontario is predicted to remain higher than last year's level.  See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflows from the St. Mary's, St. Clair, and Detroit Rivers were below average for May.  The outflows through the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were above average.

 

Alerts

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for June 27

601.44

578.12

574.38

571.95

246.56

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +4

+7

+25

+33

+39

Diff last month

+4

 +6

+2

0

-4

Diff from last yr

+13

+5

+4

+4

+8


General

Summer Time Boating Safety

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit is reminding all Great Lakes mariners to practice safe boating this week, 4th of July  weekend and throughout the boating season.

 

Mariners are reminded to:      

• Have a sober operator – Don’t boat under the influence.  Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination.  The marine  environment - motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerates a drinker's impairment; and decreases coordination, judgment  and reaction time.

• File a “float plan” with a family member or friend who is not boating with you and stick to the plan.  The world's only lifesaving  device on paper can assist the Coast Guard with a search if you are in distress.

• Wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket or personal floatation device at all times.  The law requires you to have them on board, but  the Coast Guard recommends you wear

them at all times.  The worst time to look for a life jacket is when you are already in distress.

• Have a marine-band radio.  If you are in distress the Coast Guard can be reached on marine-band channel 16, the distress channel.   Use of a cell phone could provide rescuers with a false location of your vessel.

• Boaters should be vigilant and keep an eye out for their fellow mariners and anything that looks unusual on the water.  "If you see  something...say something."  Suspicious activity can be reported to the America’s Waterways Watch at 877-24WATCH, or your local Coast  Guard station.

• Get a vessel safety check or take a boating safety course.  Both are conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and/or the U.S.  Power Squadron, and will prepare your vessel for the boating season and educate the boat operator, respectively.

 

For more boating safety info: www.uscgboating.org/.


New College Bass Fishing Plan Designed for Sport's Future

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (June 24, 2008) - Officials announced plans for the new Association of Collegiate Anglers Bass Fishing Series (CBFS) designed to establish the sport as a long-term, sustainable activity.  The series, featuring 13 half-hour shows, is produced by Careco Multimedia and will air weekend mornings on VERSUS beginning July 2009.     

 

Recently, The Bass Federation (TBF) formed the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) using its own structure as the foundation, where clubs become associated through membership and obtain benefits. The purpose of ACA is to support every aspect of college bass fishing from developing new clubs to sanctioning events to qualifying championship contenders.  The Bass Federation, with nearly 30,000 members among 47 states, is the nation's oldest and largest organized fishing group. 

 

Teams can earn their way into the new series' championship through top finishes in official qualifying events. Some of these will be hosted by CBFS and others by college fishing clubs, but all are sanctioned by ACA.  The events are open to active members of school-recognized fishing clubs and who are taking at least 12 credit hours while maintaining a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Event participants are not required to be ACA members, but for a school club to host a sanctioned qualifying event, it must belong to ACA.

It is anticipated that more than 600 college anglers, representing approximately 120 college fishing programs, will compete in the 2009 CBFS qualifiers to vie for the 40 two-person-team spots available in the CBFS Championship.  Among the total prizes are $35,000 in scholarships, to be distributed among the top five teams.  As a general rule, college fishing events have either no entry fees or ones that are minimal.  A team consists of two anglers fishing from the same boat, and they are responsible for full operation of the boat.

 

Officials at BoatU.S. say they see the new series being an evolutionary step for the sport. "We've always been excited about this activity and we believe the transition to the new format will again take it up another level," said BoatU.S.' Chris Edmonston. "We are very proud to support the growth of college fishing."

 

Additional CBFS national sponsors include BoatU.S. Angler, Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Yamaha, Garmin, Costa Del Mar, Pioneer Beef Jerky, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Fenwick, Anglers' Legacy, Stearns, EGO Nets, Sebile, American Rodsmiths, Aviva Fishin' Buddy, Gene Larew Lures, Nemire Lures, Sperry Top-Sider, Power Pole, City of Lewisville, Sneaky Pete's Marina and Versus.

 

 


NRA announces 2008 national Matches at Camp Perry

The National Rifle Association has announced that the 2008 National Rifle and Pistol Championships will begin on July 8th at Camp Perry, Ohio.  These matches, considered to be America's "World Series of the Shooting Sports," have been a tradition at Camp Perry since 1907.

 

The event is broadly divided into five phases: Pistol, Smallbore 3-Position, Smallbore Prone, High Power, and Long Range. The National Matches partners are the National Rifle Association (NRA), Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), and the Ohio National Guard (OHNG).

Competitors will range in experience from new first-time competitive shooters to Olympic champions, and will include civilians, military personnel, and law enforcement officers.  A wide variety and number of matches are offered which appeal to a broad range of competitors.

 

Various program changes are being introduced at the 2008 National Matches.  The NRA has now committed $200,000 in awards for the National Rifle and Pistol Matches. A new award

schedule has been developed which marks the beginning of a phase-out of the award points previously given to winners. The new plan will substitute Visa gift cards for a number of awards in the NRA National Grand Aggregate Championships in lieu of award points. 2008 will also bring a new team match during the NRA High Power Long Range phase.  This event will feature four-man teams using the Palma course of fire.  A new target will be used for individual three-position competitors in the National Smallbore Rifle Championships.

 

Competitors and spectators at this year's matches will also see numerous improvements to the facilities at Camp Perry as a result of the efforts of Major General Gregory L. Wayt, Ohio's Adjutant General, and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.  Changes include improvements to the ranges, roads, and competitor housing.  Various services have also been upgraded.

 

For more information about the National Rifle and Pistol Championships at Camp Perry: www.nrahq.org/compete .


2nd Amendment issues

Supreme Court Rules for Second Amendment

District of Columbia v. Heller landmark decision

Unless you have been in total hibernation you have now heard at least one newscast or read at least one article about the landmark decision the Supreme Court ruled on last Thursday regarding the Second Amendment. What may have eluded you

is the actual decision sans any editorializing by Mayor Daley or

rhetoric imposed on us by the Brady Gun Control Group.

 

Read the actual Court decision here: www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf


Indiana

Surveys show stark contrast in fish populations

No two northern Indiana natural lakes are the same – and the results of two recent fish surveys conducted by the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife show just how different they can be.

 

While sampling at Skinner Lake in Noble County in late June, biologist Jed Pearson captured 787 bluegills in only 45 minutes with his electro-fishing (shocker) boat. That number translates to 262 bluegills per 15 minutes, or three times the average number of bluegills collected during a typical survey at most lakes in the area. In contrast, biologist Neil Ledet, during the same time, caught only 63 bluegills in one hour of electro-fishing at Big Long Lake in LaGrange County. Ledet’s catch rate of only 16 bluegills per 15 minutes was less than one-fourth the normal catch rate.

 

“Based on these numbers, the density of bluegills in Skinner Lake is 16 times greater than the density of bluegills in Big Long Lake,” Pearson said. “That’s quite a stark difference.” But the two lakes also differ in bluegill size.

 

 “Of the 63 bluegills we caught at Big Long Lake, 35 percent were over 8 inches long,” Ledet said. “Although bluegill numbers are low, they are certainly quality-size.” According to Ledet, bluegill anglers consider Big Long Lake to be one of the better fishing lakes in his area, despite their overall scarcity in numbers.  “What Big Long Lake lacks in number it makes up in size,” Ledet said.

 

Not so at Skinner Lake. Although 787 bluegills were sampled there, only three bluegills were larger than 7” and none were 8” long. “Ninety-two percent of the bluegills we caught at Skinner Lake were 5 and 6” long,” Pearson said. “The biggest one was only 7.2” long. What Skinner Lake has in number it lacks in size.”

 

A lot of area anglers, according to Pearson, do not fish at

Skinner Lake because the bluegills are too small.  So why is there such a marked difference in bluegill populations between the two lakes? Neither Pearson nor Ledet knows for sure, but the number and size of largemouth bass may be the key.  Ledet captured bass at a rate of 87 per 15 minutes of sampling at Big Long Lake. Most of them, however, were only 8 to 11” long.

 

“Although bass were everywhere we sampled, we could hardly find any legal-size (14”) bass,” he said. Pearson, meanwhile, had trouble catching bass and caught only 14 bass per 15 minutes at Skinner Lake. The largest was 18” but 15 % were of legal size. That’s a six-fold difference in bass catch rate between the two lakes and a significant difference in bass size. These differences might explain why their bluegill populations vary so much.

 

Bass typically eat bluegills. Where bass are abundant, they help keep bluegill populations in balance by thinning out small bluegills. If bass are scarce, too many bluegills survive and out-strip their food supply. Ledet said he thinks the high number of small bass in Big Long Lake is keeping its bluegill population in check. This allows bluegills to grow rapidly. In contrast, Pearson thinks not enough bass are present in Skinner Lake to reduce its high number of bluegills. This prevents its bluegills from growing bigger. Ironically, both lakes have a 14-inch minimum size limit on bass.

 

Meanwhile, bass anglers have a different opinion of both lakes. "If you're a bluegill fisherman, you're going to want to go to Big Long Lake," Ledet said. "But if you're a bass fisherman who wants to catch a large bass, you might want to try Skinner Lake instead," Pearson said. Both biologists will summarize the full results of their surveys later this year and use the information to consider options for future management at each lake. "We want to maintain good bluegill fishing at Big Long Lake," Ledet said. Pearson said he wants to find a way to improve bluegill fishing at Skinner Lake. 


Michigan

DNR Investigates Fish Kill on Pigeon River

A discharge from a private dam on the Pigeon River near Vanderbilt was responsible for a potentially significant fish kill downstream, Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials said June 26.

 

The discharge, which began Sunday night, flushed sediment from above the dam that is located on the property of Song of the Morning Ranch near Sturgeon Valley Road in Otsego County. The fish were killed either by the sediment or thermal shock, said DNR fisheries biologist Dave Borgeson. Fish of numerous species, including brown trout up to 19 inches, were found dead, Borgeson said. Electro-fishing by DNR personnel failed to produce enough live fish to make a population assessment in the water for about two miles downstream from the dam.

We will be going farther downstream Thursday to see how far the fish kill extends, Borgeson said. During our initial sampling we are not finding the numbers of trout we knew were there prior to the incident. These populations fluctuate, but they are never this low. Borgeson added there's a stretch of the river that is almost devoid of trout.

 

A major fish kill involving the same dam occurred in July 1984, when tons of silt swept down the river after the dam gates were opened for repairs. Since that time, repeated requests by the DNR that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulate the dam have been denied by the federal agency. Officials from the Department of Environmental Quality*s dam safety division also are investigating the incident.

 


Construction at Four Lower Peninsula Access Sites Begins in July

DNR state parks and recreation officials last week announced that four separate access sites in the Lower Peninsula will undergo construction in July.

 

In Montcalm County, construction on the Dickerson Lake access site is scheduled to begin July 7 and continue until July 18. A complete redevelopment of this site will include ramp replacement, a new parking lot and a new Americans with Disabilities Act accessible vault toilet. Currently, cars at this access site have been parking on the grass.

 

Also in Montcalm County, construction on the Derby Lake access site begins July 21 and is scheduled for completion around Aug. 1. Similar work is planned for this site, including the addition of a skid pier.

 

During the construction on Dickerson and Derby lakes, anglers are advised that Nevins and Clifford lakes are within a five-minute drive. For construction updates on Derby and Dickinson lakes, contact the DNR's Flat River Field Office at (616) 794-0250.

 

In Grand Traverse County, the Lake Skegemog access site will be closed July 14-25. Construction at this site includes a ramp replacement, dredging the boat launch basin and a new

skid pier. Until repairs are complete at Lake Skegemog, boaters and anglers can find alternative launching at the Whitewater Township Park on Elk Lake. This ramp is operated by the township and there is a cost of $5 to launch for the day or $40 for an annual pass. For updates on Lake Skegemog, contact the DNR's Grawn Field Office at (231) 263-7905.

 

In Lapeer County, construction on the Big Fish Lake access site, located in the Ortonville Recreation Area, begins July 21 and is scheduled for completion by the end of the month. Ramp replacement is necessary at this site to remove a blow-out area at the end of the existing ramp, which likely has resulted from power loading boats onto trailers. This is the only access site at Big Fish Lake. Residents who live on the lake are encouraged to have their boats in the water before work begins July 21. Other anglers and boaters should contact the Ortonville Recreation Area at (810) 797-4439 for construction updates and to learn about public access to other lakes in the area.

 

These projects are being accomplished with monies from the Michigan State Waterways Fund, which is made up of watercraft registration fees and gasoline taxes collected in Michigan. Under state law, these funds can be used only for the construction, operation and maintenance of recreational boating facilities, harbors and inland waterways.


Minnesota

DNR offers advice for sturgeon anglers

Late season lake sturgeon harvest on Minnesota/Canada border waters opens July 1 and runs through Sept. 30. A sturgeon tag is required to harvest a sturgeon, but anglers may fish catch-and-release without a tag. Sturgeon must be 45-to 50-inches, inclusive, or more than 75 inches to harvest. Immediately upon reducing a fish to possession, the sturgeon tag must be validated and attached.

Harvested sturgeon must be registered within 48 hours.

 

First-time lake sturgeon anglers often find themselves ill-prepared to face the reality of battling a fish that can be more than four feet long or wrestling a fish into a boat that can weigh between 50 to 100 pounds. To educate would-be sturgeon anglers, the Minnesota

 

The DNR suggests anglers be prepared with the following equipment:

Tackle suitable for landing a 100+ lb. fish

Large landing net

Gloves for handling small sturgeon with razor-sharp scutes (spiny projections)

Pliers to remove hooks from fish

Measuring devise capable of measuring 80+ inches for length

Seamstress tape or similar device, for measuring girth for weight estimation

Wet towel to place over the fish’s head while measuring (to calm the fish)

Pen or pencil and paper to record numbers from tagged fish

Camera

Harvest tag

Zip tie or other device to properly attach the harvest tag to the fish

Pen or pencil to record information needed for sturgeon registration

Means to validate the harvest tag (tag must be notched to indicate the date and time the fish is harvested)

Cooler with ice large enough to hold a legal-sized lake sturgeon

The DNR cautions that some fish are just too big to safely bring into your boat.

 

For more info: www.mndnr.gov


Pennsylvania

Smallmouth Bass assessment underway on Susquehanna

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is reminding anglers to report tagged smallmouth bass in order to help the agency with a population assessment on a section of the lower West Branch of the Susquehanna River.  The commission is currently conducting the assessment and an angler survey on about seven miles of the lower West Branch of the Susquehanna River from the vicinity of Muncy downstream to Montgomery, Lycoming County.

 

Biologists are using a mark-recapture method to estimate the smallmouth bass population. During this process, biologists tag and release a large number of smallmouth bass.

 

A toll-free telephone number and unique serial number are printed on each tag. The tags resemble an orange strand of “plastic spaghetti” located on the fish’s stomach area (see photo below). The tag strand contains a tag number and a toll-free telephone number where tags can be reported. It is not necessary to harvest fish to report the tags. The tag numbers simply need to be recorded and anglers can release tagged bass unharmed. Anglers should not pull the tag out of the fish because doing so may injure the fish.

 

The tags are specially designed so that bass which are caught multiple times can be reported. Each tag contains two sets of serial numbers. The first time a tagged bass is captured, and an angler intends to release the fish, the angler

can clip off the outermost portion of the tag at the dark separator mark and leave the inner portion of the tag containing duplicate information. If the bass is captured a second time, the remainder of the tag can be removed and the fish released.

 

Anglers harvesting bass should look for both the spaghetti tag as well as a small anchor button under the skin when filleting, as they may have taken a bass that was caught and released twice before and no longer bears an external tag. Those finding anchor buttons should also call the toll-free phone number printed on the button.

 

This study will complement two large-scale river angler surveys that the PFBC has undertaken on large rivers in the past decade.  In 2007, the PFBC partnered with Penn State and Colorado State universities to conduct angler surveys on about 130 miles of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers. The survey was designed to measure catch, harvest, economic expenditures and angler opinions associated with fishing on sections of the two rivers for the period April through October. 

 

In 2002, Pennsylvania partnered with New Jersey, New York, and Delaware to measure catch and harvest of all fish species on the Delaware River and Delaware Estuary. That survey revealed significant recreational activity on that river. The Delaware River survey documented that approximately 120,000 angling trips occurred on the tidal and non-tidal portions of that river combined from March 17 through October.


Ontario

Ontario moving to a zero commercial quota for sturgeon in 2009

As of July 1, zero catch and possession limit for sturgeon

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources reports in a short message that as of July 1, there will be a zero catch and possession limit for sturgeon in Zone 19 (St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, Lake Erie and upper Niagara River). 

Currently, an angler with a sport fishing licence can catch and possess one sturgeon in all these areas except the Detroit River, where there already is a zero catch and possession limit. An angler with a conservation fishing licence already has a zero catch and possession limit.

 


 

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Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

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