Week of April 14, 2008

Fishing beyond the Great Lakes





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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

Early Times Kentucky Whisky Derby set for April 27

Louisville, KY – Early Times Kentucky Whisky, in conjunction with pro-angler Kevin Wirth and B&J Marine, Inc., are proud to announce the Early Times Derby Tournament will return on Sunday, April 27, 2008 at Cox’s Park on the Ohio River.


The one-day tournament will include a $10,000 guaranteed purse with first prize pulling in $6,000. Proceeds from the tournament’s $200 entry fee will benefit the Ohio River largemouth bass stocking study being conducted by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The study, a five-year effort, began in June of 2007 with the stocking of largemouth bass fingerlings into embayments of the Ohio River.  This study will determine whether stocking fingerling largemouth bass can be used to improve largemouth bass fishing in the Ohio River. The second phase of the study includes the evaluation of habitat in the Ohio River and possible plans for future habitat improvements.


“This is one of the largest bass stocking efforts that the Department has ever conducted in the Ohio River,” said Ryan Oster of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It’s a great opportunity for local anglers to be able to play a role in improving the largemouth bass fishery in the Ohio River. Kentucky’s waterways are important not only for recreation but for our environment as a whole.”

Kevin Wirth, a former Kentucky Derby jockey and a member of Team Early Times, wanted to make an impact on his home state by helping to restore the Ohio River. Wirth and members of Early Times worked with the Derby tournament coordinators at B&J Marine to build a program that not only raised the profile of the Derby tournament but also gave something back to Kentucky’s fisheries.


“I travel the country competing in bass tournaments at some of the best lakes in the United States,” said Wirth, a resident of Crestwood, Kentucky. “I want to know that I can come home and find good bass fishing in my own backyard. Projects like the Largemouth Bass Stocking program help to ensure that we have good fishing in Kentucky for generations to come.”


Early Times and associate sponsors of the tournament will donate giveaways including an Early Times / Kevin Wirth custom rod and reel and fishing equipment from Berkley.


For an entry form to the Early Times Derby Tournament or to see the official rules, contact Dana Robertson at 502-664-3278 or [email protected].   The cut-off for entry forms is April 18, 2008. Any entry forms received after April 18 will incur an additional charge of $50.



U.S. House Votes to Protect Access to Hunting and Fishing Lands

Fairfax, Va. – The U.S. House of Representatives on April 9 voted overwhelmingly in favor of a National Rifle Association (NRA) – backed  amendment that will preserve hunting and fishing on public lands for the benefit of current and future generations, and protect access to  sportsmen for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on certain public lands. This amendment was adopted today by a 416-5 vote.


The amendment provides that:

· Access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting will be assured on all appropriate National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS)  lands; and


· States will manage, control or regulate fish and resident wildlife under State law or regulations in any area within the System. Regulations  permitting hunting or fishing of fish and resident wildlife within the System shall be, to the extent practicable, consistent with State fish and  wildlife laws, regulations and management plans.

“It is important for hunters, anglers, shooters and sportsmen -- our nation’s foremost conservationists -- to continue to have ample lands and  access to lands to enjoy America’s hunting heritage,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. “With the adoption of the amendment offered by  Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA), hunting, shooting and fishing on certain public lands will be protected for current and future generations.”


H.R. 2016, the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” originally did not include language to protect hunting, fishing and recreational  shooting or ensure continued access for these sporting activities on NLCS lands, but thanks to an amendment submitted by Congressman  Altmire, the concerns of the NRA, hunters and shooters were adequately addressed.


“Conserving America’s hunting lands is a priority for the tens of millions who enjoy hunting and shooting recreation each year,” concluded  Cox. “I applaud those who have taken the steps to further preserve this extraordinary American tradition.”


Tide may be turning for Great Lakes plan

In 2 states, opposition to protection deal ebbs

Chicago Tribune – April 10, 2008 The last formal opposition to a plan that bars diversion of Great Lakes water outside the lakes’ basin seems to be draining away, with legislative adversaries in Wisconsin and Ohio saying they will drop their resistance.  Ohio state Sen. Tim Grendell said this week he’d end opposition to the Great Lakes Compact if the state votes in November on a constitutional amendment that protects private ground water from government seizure.


“If I can’t change the compact, I’m going to clarify Ohio law,” Grendell said Thursday. Wisconsin lawmakers with similar concerns announced their own bargain Wednesday, prompting Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle to schedule a special legislative session for next week.


The multi-state legislative battle arises from a growing political divide that pits increasingly populous but water-starved Southwestern states against a water-rich Great Lakes region whose population is waning —along with, it is expected, its legislative clout in Congress.  Ontario and four

states, including Illinois, have signed off on the agreement penned by state governors in 2005. Quebec is moving forward with the agreement, while lawmakers Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin must also approve the deal before it can be sent to Congress for approval.


But chief opposition to the plan has been in Ohio and Wisconsin, where lawmakers from districts straddling the basin outside Cleveland and Milwaukee raised concerns that the plan would step on property rights and stifle municipal growth.  If Grendell’s proposed constitutional amendment passes next fall, Ohio’s legislature could consider approving the compact before the end of the year. Wisconsin lawmakers will return beginning April 17 to consider a vote on the compact, which is expected to pass. Both developments were announced Wednesday.


Together, they were “jawdropping,” said Peter Annin, author of the book “The Great Lakes Water Wars.” “Today, people are thinking, ‘Wow, maybe the region will get the job done,’” he said.

Chicago Tribune

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for April 11, 2008

Weather Conditions

A second major storm in as many weeks brought heavy precipitation to much of the Great Lakes basin on Monday and Tuesday.  Very heavy snow was reported across the north, while rain fell in the south.   Still another major storm is taking aim at the region Thursday.  This slow moving storm will drop upwards of a foot of snow in the U.P. of Michigan, northern Wisconsin and the Arrowhead of Minnesota.  To the south, close to 3 inches of rain is possible.   Weather conditions are forecasted to be dryer next week.

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, Lake Superior is 6 inches higher than it was at this time last year, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 6 inches lower than last year's level.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are 2, 4, and 8 inches, respectively, higher than they were a year ago.  Over the next month, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are predicted to rise 4 inches.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are projected to rise 1 inch over the next 30 days, while Lake Ontario is predicted to climb 5 inches.  Lakes Superior and Ontario are forecasted to stay above last year's water levels through September, while the remaining lakes are forecasted to remain at or below their levels of a year ago over the next several months. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Just as in February, outflows from the St. Marys and St. Clair 

Rivers were below average for March.  Outflows from the Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were above average last month.


Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are below chart datum and forecasted to remain below datum through June and May, respectively.  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. Ice information can be found at the National Ice Center's webpage.





St. Clair



Level for April 11






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr







Common Reed Invades Green Bay Wetland

Ann Arbor, MI — In only a few years, a Green Bay lagoon became a jungle of giant common reed grass. Common reed grass is an invasive plant that crowds out native plants.


The 4 ft. drop in water level of Lake Michigan from 1997 to 2001 was the largest on record. The lower water level caused a dramatic shift in vegetation at the Point au Sauble wetland. Repeat visits to the wetland in 2001 and 2004 showed a 100-fold increase in reed cover.


"Prolonged low lake levels exposed unvegetated lagoon bottom sediments, providing a substrate for new plant colonization, such as invasive common reed and cattail," said Mirela Tulbure, a PhD candidate at South Dakota State U.

Genetic analysis showed that the invasive grass is an introduced Eurasian variety that is extremely aggressive, growing in 3 m (10 feet) tall stands. These stands displace native vegetation and reduce habitat for wildlife.


Once established, reed stands are very difficult to eradicate. Monitoring coastal wetlands where water level has dropped and controlling reed at early stages of invasion are essential for maintaining healthy wetlands along the Great Lakes coast.


"Rapid Invasion of a Great Lakes Coastal Wetland by Non-native Phragmites australis and Typha," are reported by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.


Wetland plants speak to us about water quality in the Great Lakes

Ann Arbor, MI — The species of plants found within a wetland are directly related to the water quality conditions in the wetland. Some coastal marsh plant species are only found in areas with clean clear water, where others are found only in muddy, nutrient rich water. This relationship between water quality and plant species composition was used to develop an index to determine wetland quality.


"How can we protect valuable wetland habitat, if we don't know how to tell the good ones from the bad?" says Melanie Croft, from McMaster University, Ontario. "To use this index you simply need to identify the plant species within the wetland and then calculate a score for that wetland. This score can then be compared to other wetland scores in the Great Lakes."

The index is a valuable tool that can be used by government agencies and conservation authorities to quickly identify wetland habitat that should be protected from development.


The index was developed using 127 coastal wetlands in all five Great Lakes. These wetlands covered a range of marsh quality, from the most pristine to the most degraded. The index was then applied to four independent coastal wetlands, and was found to accurately reflect the ecological status of the marsh solely from the type of aquatic plants found there.


"Use and Development of the Wetland Macrophyte Index to Detect Water Quality Impairment in Fish Habitat of Great Lakes Coastal Marshes," are reported by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.




Rising Fuel Costs Fail to Dampen Anglers’ Enthusiasm for Fishing Away from Home

Despite gasoline costs expected to approach $4 per gallon this spring and summer, nearly 6 out of 10 U.S. anglers are planning an out-of-state fishing trip in the next 12 months, according to a recent survey.


In a March 2008 poll of almost 2,000 anglers by AnglerSurvey.com, respondents were asked if they are planning a fishing trip outside their home state within the next

year. A clear majority (59.4%) answered in the affirmative. Another 806 anglers surveyed (40.6%) said they are not planning to fish outside their home state.


Clearly, many anglers remain willing to pay the increased cost of traveling out of state to wet a line. Many people plan to go on vacation and fish during that time, but knowing that many well-intentioned plans never happen, we hope that a majority still get to fish out-of-state, given the recent increases in travel costs.

Is Reloading Becoming a Lost Art?

The vast majority of American shooters do not reload their shotshells or centerfire rifle and pistol cartidges, according to a recent survey. Furthermore, among those relatively few shooters who do reload their own ammunition, most reload only small quantities—one to five boxes per month.


Of the shooters surveyed, a whopping 83% of shotgunners reported that they do not reload shotshells at all. The “no-reloading” figures for centerfire rifle and pistol shooters are slightly lower, but even so, almost three-fourths (74%) of centerfire shooters report that they do not reload any ammunition.


Among the minority of shooters who do reload their own

ammunition, most (7.3% of shotgunners and 13% of centerfire

rifle and pistol shooters) report that they reload only one to five boxes of ammunition per month. A scant 2.25% of shotgunners and 2.4% of centerfire shooters report reloading large amounts of their ammunition, 10 boxes per month or more.


Here are the reloading survey statistics in more detail:

                                                Shotgunners                  Centerfire shooters

No reloading:                              83%                                   74%

1 to 5 boxes/month                    7.3%                                  13%

6 to 10 boxes/month                  2.3%                                  3.2%

10+ boxes/month                       2.25%                                2.4%



Fishing at World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta debuts  April 14

Wet weather delayed opening

SPARTA, ILL. - The much anticipated opening of three fishing lakes at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) in Randolph County will be on April 14 at 9 a.m., Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Acting Director Sam Flood announced today. 


The opening of fishing at the site has been delayed by wet weather which set back construction of two new boat access areas at the complex, including the completion of parking areas at the new boat accesses at Derby Lake and East Lake at the WSRC.  New boat ramps were also submerged because of high water resulting from recent heavy rains.  IDNR had planned to open three lakes at the complex on April 7.


The lakes at the WSRC that will be opened for fishing on April 14 are the 21-acre Derby Lake, the 134-acre East Lake, and the 15-acre RV Lake.  Another body of water at the complex, Shotgun Lake, will remain closed until further notice because of access issues on the former strip pit lake. 


While Derby and East lakes have new boat ramps which will provide access, there is no boat ramp at RV Lake.  Gasoline motors (10 horse power limit) or electric trolling motors will be allowed for use on East Lake.  On Derby and RV lakes, only electric motors will be allowed.  Only legally-registered watercraft will be allowed on the lakes.  No wading will be permitted.


IDNR fisheries biologists report crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill have been found in all of the   

lakes.   Derby Lake has been stocked with 4,000 rainbow trout, which will be allowed to be taken by anglers with trout stamps once the lake is opened.  Derby Lake also has excellent crappie, many in the 10-inch length range.  The largemouth bass in Derby Lake are small to medium sized with a few larger fish.  Channel catfish were stocked in 2006. East Lake has an excellent largemouth bass population, with some fish topping six pounds in weight, as well as many channel catfish in the three- to eight-pound weight range.  Similar to Derby Lake, the crappie population in East Lake is excellent.  RV Lake has nice bluegill - many of seven inches or more in length.  It also contains a largemouth bass population with fish of several different size classes, and channel catfish that were stocked in 2006.  Crappie were reported in the lake, but were in deep water at the time of the IDNR Fisheries survey.


Fishing Regulations for Derby, East and RV lakes at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex


All Fish...........................................2 Pole and Line Fishing Only

Bluegill or Redear Sunfish........... 15 Fish Daily Creel Limit

Channel Catfish..............................6 Fish Daily Creel Limit

Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass...18" Minimum Length Limit - 1 Fish Per Day

White, Black, or Hybrid Crappie*10" Minimum Length Limit - 10 Fish Per Day

Trout................................................5 Fish Daily Creel Limit


For more information on shootings sports, camping, and other recreational opportunities at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex, contact the complex office at 618/295-2700.


Bass more abundant in Indiana natural lakes

Numbers of adult largemouth bass have nearly doubled since 1980 in northern Indiana natural lakes and there are more big bass now, according DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Jed Pearson.  The increases, he said, are most likely due to the minimum size limits and widespread acceptance of catch-and-release fishing by area bass anglers.


In 1980 most northern Indiana natural lakes had no minimum size limit on bass. A 12-inch size limit was imposed in 1990, and was increased to 14 inches in 1998.


Based on estimates of the number of 8-inch and larger bass in 59 natural lakes sampled on 171 occasions by DFW biologists, the average density of bass increased from 13 per acre to 24 per acre between 1980 and 2007. The actual number of 8-inch and larger bass captured by biologists increased from 78 per hour of sampling to 123 per hour.  As bass numbers increased at natural lakes, so did bass size. Bigger bass now make up larger proportions of the adult populations.


The proportion of 12- to 14-inch bass increased from an average of 13 percent in 1980 to 26 percent in 2007. The proportion of 14- to 18-inch bass increased from 8 to 18 percent.  Meanwhile, the proportion of 18-inch and larger bass stayed the same, at 3 percent.


“Indiana now has more bass and more bigger bass in its

natural lakes than ever before,” said Pearson, who compiled the figures from the large set of data gathered over the 27-year period. “We’ve also seen a rise in the catch rate of bass by anglers.”


In 1980 it took anglers an average of 2.7 hours to catch a bass, including both bass that were taken home and those that were released. Now it takes bass anglers about one hour to catch a bass.  Overall, bass densities ranged from a low of less than one bass per acre at Lake-of-the-Woods near Bremen in 1985, to a high of 69 per acre at Barrel-and-a-half Lake near North Webster in 1998.


Other lakes with unusually high densities of bass included Appleman in 1995, with 52 per acre and Big Long in 2005, with 40 per acre. Both are in LaGrange County. Crane Lake, in Noble County, contained 50 per acre in 1990, and Robinson Lake in Whitley County held 49 per acre in 2002.


Other lakes with low numbers of bass were Maxinkuckee in Marshall County with three bass per acre in 1990, as well as Kosciusko County’s Wawasee with four per acre in 1997 and Beaver Dam with four per acre in 1985.


Ball Lake in Steuben County contained less than four bass per acre in 1995 and 1996, but the number rose to more than 15 bass per acre in 2001 and 2002, after imposition of a special 18-inch size limit and two-bass daily creel limit.



Frog Survey Begins 13th Year

The Michigan DNR announced that this year will be the thirteenth year of a statewide Frog and Toad Survey coordinated by the Natural Heritage Unit of the DNR’s Wildlife Division.


Declining populations of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest amphibians are disappearing due to habitat loss, pollution, disease, and other issues.  Michigan’s annual survey efforts help biologists keep tabs on frog and toad abundance and distribution in the state.

The surveys are conducted by volunteer observers along a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites.

The same sites are visited three times during spring and summer.  Observers listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species present, and make an estimate of abundance.


More information on the Frog and Toad Survey and other projects supported by the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund is available on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr.


Lake Erie and other Ohio waterways best spots for trophy-sized fish

Complete list of top "Fish Ohio" lakes and streams for 2007 is available at www.dnr.com 

COLUMBUS, OH - Lake Erie and a dozen inland lakes were among the best places to reel in "Fish Ohio" catches during 2007, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The "Fish Ohio" program recognizes noteworthy catches among 19 fish species.


With 2.25 million Lake Erie water acres, 451 miles of the Ohio River, 40,000 miles of streams, some 200 inland lakes and thousands of private ponds, Ohio anglers have great opportunities to catch fish that qualify for the "Fish Ohio" recognition program. Among the state's best "Fish Ohio" waters in 2007 were:


LAKE ERIE: Top spot for walleye, yellow perch and smallmouth bass

Trophy walleye received the highest number of entries with more than 2,300. Lake Erie was the top place to catch them, followed by the Maumee and Sandusky rivers. Catches of yellow perch were the third most caught fish at the lake with more than 1,000 entries.  Mogadore Reservoir in Portage County and Indian Lake in Logan County followed in the yellow perch take. Lake Erie is also the top lake for smallmouth bass, followed by Big Darby Creek, Ohio River, Alum Creek Lake in Delaware County, Piedmont Lake in Belmont County, and the Grand River.


INLAND LAKES: Home of trophy saugeye and muskie

Indian Lake led the list for trophy saugeye catches followed by Big Walnut Creek, Buckeye Lake in Fairfield, Perry, and Licking counties, Tappan Lake in Harrison County, and Atwood Lake in Tuscarawas County. The number one "Fish Ohio" lake for "muskie" catches was Leesville Lake in Carroll County, followed by West Branch Reservoir in Portage County, Clear

Fork Reservoir in Richland County, and Piedmont Lake in Tuscarawas County.


PRIVATE PONDS: Best places for crappie, channel cat and largemouth bass

While a majority of entries for sunfish, crappies, channel catfish, and largemouth bass were caught in private ponds, these species also were plentiful in many public waterways.  Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County led the "Fish Ohio" entries in the crappie category with Pymatuning Lake in Ashtabula County, Indian Lake, West Branch Reservoir, and Mogadore Reservoir completing the list.


Lake Erie topped the list for qualifying catches of channel catfish in a public waterway. Hoover Reservoir in Delaware and Franklin counties, the Ohio and Maumee rivers also proved to be hot spots for channel catfish action. The top "Fish Ohio" area for largemouth bass was Portage Lakes in Summit County. Nimisila Reservoir in Summit County, Mogadore Reservoir, and the ponds on AEP's ReCreations Lands also noted trophy catches of largemouth.


During 2004, the "Fish Ohio" program recognized 12,947 anglers from Ohio and 40 other states for trophy catches. Each angler with a qualifying "Fish Ohio" catch receives a certificate and lapel pin. The 2007 pin featured a largemouth bass; the 2008 pin will display a sauger. Since 1976, more than 400,000 anglers have been recognized for "Fish Ohio" catches.


Individuals who catch four "Fish Ohio" fish in a single year qualify as Master Anglers. The Master Angler pin is similar to the "Fish Ohio" pin, except it is gold in color.  Anyone interested in submitting an entry in the "Fish Ohio" program should complete the online registration, available at www.fishohio.org.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

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

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