Week of April 25, 2005

Fishing Beyond the Great Lakes

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Fishing Beyond the Great Lakes

Florida Keys flyrodder lands 188-pounder

Giant tarpon a dream catch

As tarpon go, a 188-pounder is a monster catch on any tackle. But for a fly fisherman it's like landing an impossible dream.

 

For Atlanta fly fisherman Kirk Holland and his guide Capt. Joe Rodriguez of Miami, it was a catch that became a reality in the backcountry of the Florida Keys.

 

The estimated 188-pound, 12-ounce fish that measured 6-feet 4-inches in length was caught March 29 in a remote area northwest of Islamorada.  Holland was using a 16-pound test tippet on a G.Loomis 12-weight flyrod, and he and Rodriguez knew the tarpon was close in weight to the existing 16-pound world record, a 190-pound, 9-ounce tarpon caught at Homosassa on Florida's Gulf Coast in May 2003 by Thomas Evans, Jr.

 

The heaviest tarpon ever landed on fly tackle was a 202-pound, 8-ounce fish caught at Chassahowitza south of Homosassa in May 2001 by James Holland, no relation. It was taken on a 20-pound test tippet. The tippet is the weakest link in the leader material in fly tackle.   But to qualify for an International Game Fish Association record, the tarpon had to be weighed on certified scales on land.

 

"We didn't spend much time weighing the option of killing that

fish," said Holland, 48, the CEO for a global investment firm. "I wanted to truly release the fish unharmed."  Quickly, they measured the fish, shot several pictures and then worked 20 minutes reviving the huge gamester. The fish's girth measured 441/2 inches.

 

A formula developed for tarpon using the length and girth measurements came out to the 188-pound, 12-ounce weight. "In my heart I know that was a very big fish, and that's enough satisfaction for me," Holland said. "She swam off very nicely. I'm catch and release. I don't need records."

 

Holland said he spotted the fish holding in shallow water about 60 feet from his position in the bow of the Rodriguez' Hell's Bay skiff.  "It was a shocker, it was so big," Holland said. "I made a cast, stripped it twice with six-inch strips and the fish came up and took the fly."

 

The crazed tarpon launched into a 250-yard run, greyhounding and shaking its head.   "It was as down-and-dirty as you can get," Holland laughed. "It was one strong fish." He used a Tibor Pacific fly reel and a 3-inch fly that Rodriguez tied. The G.Loomis rod was a 9-foot Cross Current saltwater model, and the fly line was by Scientific Anglers.

 

Rodriguez tied the fly in a typical clear water Keys pattern, called White Lightning. It features a yellow collar, white marabou body and chartreuse-dyed grizzly feathers on a 2-O No. 9175 Mustad hook. It was tied to a 60-pound shock tippet.

 


National

Study says Ships' Ballast Threatens Great Lakes with Foreign Organisms

Little incentive for shippers to find solution say Researchers

MUSKEGON, Mich.(AP) — Oceangoing freighters that claim to be empty of ballast water before entering the Great Lakes routinely carry organisms that endanger the water bodies, a new report shows. Other reports going back 5 and 10 years confirm what the researchers found in this 5 year study.

 

The ships often have saltwater algae, invertebrates, deadly bacteria and other organisms in muddy water at the bottoms of their ballast tanks, according to the study conducted by the University of Michigan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows.

 

Study authors Dr Dave Reid, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and Dr. Thomas Johengen,. U. of Michigan, Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER) called for immediate action to stem the flow of exotic organisms and pathogens into the lakes.

 

However, Dr Johengen acknowledged that after years of research and onboard studies "the shipping industry is not close to a remedy for treating onboard Ballast." Johengen added that there has been no incentive or pressure applied to the shipping industry to design or establish a protocol or procedure for decontaminating foreign ballast or sediment.  That may change now with this recent study and incentive to the states to introduce legislation to protect their waters.

 

The recent Federal Court Decision ordering the USEPA to immediately repeal regulations exempting ship operators from having to obtain dumping permits may just be the tool needed to stem the tide of new introductions. The order will hopefully create an incentive to the shipping industry to implement the old adage – “Necessity is the mother of invention.”   Possible increased costs, delivery delays, fines and lawsuits should appeal to the industry as adequate incentives.

 

The survey found that the sources of ballast being carried into the Great Lakes came from around the globe, but the most frequent source was Western Europe (38%), followed next by the Great Lakes (18%). The survey also confirmed that numerous NOBOB ships, predominantly those employed on the North Europe - Great Lakes trade, often ballasted on both continents in fresh or brackish water prior to taking on the full load of cargo for the transoceanic passage.

 

Dr Reid said “the issue of NOBOB (no-ballast-on-board) vessel operations in the Great Lakes has risen from a position of relative obscurity to become a major concern in the Great Lakes basin today. On average, less than 20% of ocean vessels entering the Great Lakes in recent years contained

declarable ballast water on board and many of those vessels with declarable ballast had some empty tanks as well.”

Reid and Johengen report “With transoceanic passage

occurring both ways in loaded condition shippers often did not have the option of flushing their tanks with saltwater, which would provide a salinity barrier to the freshwater biota carried in the residuals, similar to that expected from open ocean exchange. Yet it was found that the most effective method of minimizing sediment accumulation was flushing of ballast tanks with clean ocean water as soon as voyage circumstances permitted.”

 

Unlike many of their invertebrate counterparts, microbial invaders cannot be seen without a compound microscope and their presence might only be noticed in spectacular cases, e.g., red tides or outbreaks of illness. Thus, there is a bias inherent in the detection of Nonindigenous microorganisms. Nonetheless, it would be simplistic and possibly very wrong to consider that aquatic microbial invasions do not occur or could not be mediated by ballast water.

 

The researchers found that two-thirds of 42 ships sampled for the five-year study carried potentially deadly organisms in ballast tanks that were supposedly empty and clean, including cholera and cryptosporidium, the newspaper reported. In 1993, cryptosporidium from an unknown source contaminated Milwaukee's drinking water system, killing more than 100 people and making 400,000 others ill.

 

Zebra mussels and 181 other species imported to the lakes threaten to drive out some native species at the base of the Great Lakes food web, endangering a multibillion dollar fishery.   The authors said one possible remedy would be to require all transcontinental freighters to completely empty and refill ballast tanks with salt water before entering the Great Lakes.

 

Zebra mussels and 181 other species imported to the lakes threaten to drive out some native species at the base of the Great Lakes food web, endangering a multibillion dollar fishery.   The authors said one possible remedy would be to require all transcontinental freighters to completely empty and refill ballast tanks with salt water before entering the Great Lakes.

 

Michigan lawmakers are considering legislation to require shipping companies to obtain a ballast water discharge permit before operating in Great Lakes ports.

 

To view the entire 285 page report:  http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/projects/nobob/

products/NOBOBFinalReport20050415.pdf

 


Coast Guard to hold public hearing on NOBOBs May 9

Cleveland meeting to address ocean vessels and AIS in the Great Lakes

The U.S. Coast Guard is taking steps to improve enforcement of the National Invasive Species Act (NISA). Under NISA, the Coast Guard initiated the Great Lakes program in 1993, which requires any ocean-going vessel equipped with ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes to exchange the tank contents in the open ocean, employ an approved alternative to treat hitchhiking organisms, or retain ballast contents and seal its tanks.

 

Currently and for the past 12 shipping seasons, the Coast Guard has exempted ships that are fully loaded with cargo and declaring "no ballast on board" (or NOBOB) from its regulations. However, NOBOBs carry invaders in the tons of residual sediment and sludge remaining in their ballast tanks. The most recent scientific report released just last week from researchers Drs David Reid and Thomas Johengen says that over 80% of oceangoing ships that enter the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway are NOBOBs.

 

The Coast Guard recently announced in the Federal Register that it needs to develop a comprehensive program to address

NOBOB vessels. The Coast Guard is collecting public comments and will hold a public hearing on “no ballast on board” management strategies on May 9 in Cleveland, Ohio. Submitting your comments and concerns for the Great Lakes is needed, either through written comment, or through presenting your comments to the Coast Guard in person at the May 9th meeting.

 

The public hearing is on May 9th, from 9am-4pm and 5pm-7pm at the Anthony J. Celebreeze Federal Building, 1240 East 9th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, 44419.

 

The Federal Register Announcement: http://www.restorethelakes.org/fr_nobob_mtg_notice.pdf

 

For more meeting information, the original Federal Register post, and instructions how to submit comments, go to: www.restorethelakes.org/cghearing.html   Make sure you include the docket number in all your communications: USCG–2004–19842

 

Check the docket, and read comments from others, go to: http://dms.dot.gov  click on “Simple Search” and search under “19842”


Cultivating Hunting Traditions in 25 States

More States to Join NSSF Effort in Coming Months

NEWTOWN, Conn.—Twenty-five states have launched programs to recruit new hunters, and more states will be following suit in coming months, with help from a special granting program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The trade association for the firearm industry recently approved another $500,000 for its 2005 Hunting Heritage Partnership grants, bringing its three-year total allocation to state conservation agencies to nearly $1.5 million.

 

Administered jointly with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership funds projects to develop and enhance hunting opportunities and participation. Past grants helped develop print and radio campaigns, hands-on educational workshops, hunting opportunities for disabled residents, Web-based hunter access mapping systems, and more.

 

The 2005 grants will be awarded to state agencies following a

formal review process conducted by NSSF. The deadline for new grant proposals is April 27.

 

“Knowing that each state faces its own unique challenges, the Hunting Heritage Partnership is designed to help agencies focus directly on issues relating to their states,” said Jodi Valenta, NSSF’s director of recruitment and retention. “From establishing youth hunting programs to confronting access issues, these grants are helping states increase hunting opportunities across the country.”

 

Detailed state-by-state news releases as well as a general roundup of projects are available by visiting www.nssf.org  and clicking on the photo of President Theodore Roosevelt. One of America's most famous hunters, Roosevelt was also an ardent conservationist. His story, posted at the Web site, will help visitors understand hunters' vital role in conservation, historically, presently and in the future.

 


Westerners see poetic justice in saving snakehead

Employing the Endangered Species Act in the East will send messages to lawmakers

DENVER — For years, Westerners have watched Easterners tie up land and scuttle development in the West by asking federal bureaucrats to put various rodents, predators and pests on the nation's endangered-species list.  Now it's time for a little payback.

 

A group of 13 commissioners from Western counties  have filed to seek protection for a rare new species: the northern snakehead fish, also known as the Frankenfish.  The commissioners understand that the carnivorous, Asian-bred fish not only can swim but also crawl across land and wreck havoc on local wildlife. And no, he lives nowhere near the Potomac River, where the snakehead makes its home — and that's the point.

   

"As I read about this fish in the Potomac, I thought, 'You know, that sounds like an interesting proposition,'" says one commissioner in southwestern Utah's Washington County.  "I discussed it with some other commissioners, and we thought that this could really let people in the East know how the Endangered Species Act works and how it can affect the lives of everyday people," he says.

   

Sure, saving the Frankenfish is preposterous. But not much more so than some previous attempts to list species found in the West, says a Pershing County, Nev., commissioner.  Mr. Harry Johnson cites the recent effort to win protection for the sage grouse, a bird so common that it's hunted in 15 states.   As rural Westerners can attest, having an animal listed as endangered can have a huge downside for the locals.

  

In their application on behalf of the snakehead, the commissioners identify its habitat as a stretch of freshwater and land covering 68 million acres and cutting across 11

Eastern states and Washington, D.C.   In the unlikely event that their petition is approved, the snakehead's hangouts would come under strict restrictions on building, transportation and recreation in the name of protecting the famous fish.

 

"Anywhere you've got an endangered species, it very much limits what you can do," commissioners complain.

  

we can protect more species without all this money being spent on bureaucracy, lawsuits and courts," Davis says

 

Ken Burton, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, notes that one impediment is that the snakehead already has been declared an injurious species, preventing it from being listed as endangered.   “An injurious species is any species that the secretary determines is harmful to resources, other wildlife, forests or agriculture," he said.

  

 But, Westerners ask, what about the listed gray wolf and grizzly bear?  Since gray wolves were flown in from Canada to Idaho and Montana in 1995, they have killed about 100 cattle and 400 sheep.  "We might call a wolf 'injurious,' " says Don Davis, former commissioner of Rio Blanco County in Colorado. "A wolf is injurious for a rancher and for wildlife."   Davis points out that the effort is bipartisan — with six Democrats and seven Republicans backing the petition.

   

"What was really amazing to us is the biology we presented on our petition amounted to a biology professor pulling information off the computer," Davis says. "And we had one comment from Fish and Wildlife saying that this was some of the better biology they've seen on an application."

   

The House and Senate are considering proposals to overhaul the Endangered Species Act.   "With a rearranging of the act,


Old Growth Up, Spotted Owl Numbers Down

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ten years after the Northwest Forest Plan sharply reduced logging on national forests in the region, the amount of old growth forest is up but northern spotted owl populations are down and with no clear reason why, scientists reported last week.

 

Scientists estimate there are about 1,200 pairs in Washington, 2,000 to 3,000 pairs in Oregon and the same in Northern California, for a total of about 8,000 pairs.  The plan expected to see an average annual decline in owl numbers of 3.1% until enough habitat grew up to stabilize populations, but the actual decline has been sharper in some areas and less in others.

 

Four study areas in Washington, for example, saw an average

7.1% annual decline, while two study areas in southwestern Oregon saw a slight increase.  Populations have fared slightly better on lands covered by the Northwest Forest Plan than on state or private lands, said Joe Lint, a BLM wildlife biologist.

 

Scientists have no clear picture of what is causing the declines, but factors include invasion of spotted owl habitat by the barred owl, an aggressive cousin from Canada that often drives them off; habitat lost to past logging and wildfire; climate changes; and insect infestations, said Lint.  Eric Forsman, a Forest Service spotted owl biologist, said even killing off barred owls was unlikely to help the spotted owl, because the territory is so large and there is nothing to stop new barred owls from migrating in from Canada.

 


Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for April 22, 2005

Current Lake Levels:

All of the Great Lakes are 5 to 9 inches above last year’s levels.   Lake Superior and Lake St. Clair are near their long-term averages, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 10 inches below its long-term average.  Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are both 6 and 7 inches above their long-term averages, respectively.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be near average during the month of April.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during April, while flows in the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers are both expected to be above average in April.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook:

A strong storm developing in the central plains will bring rain

and snow to the Great Lakes basin this weekend.  Temperatures will struggle to break 40 Saturday.  This system will be slow to exit the region, keeping the chance for precipitation through early next week.

 

Forecasted Water Levels:

Lake Superior is beginning its seasonal rise and should increase 5 inches during the next month.  Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario will continue their seasonal rises and should increase 1-4 inches during the next month.

 

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.


General

Striped Bass impacting economy

Managing wild striped bass on the Atlantic Coast as game fish for recreational/personal-use fishing and replacing the commercial harvest in the marketplace with fish raised through aquaculture would boost the U.S. economy by $1.78 billion and support more than 14,400 new jobs, according to a study commissioned by Stripers Forever and prepared by Southwick Associates, Inc. 

 

Focused on the year 2003, the latest for which the best data were available, the Southwick Study shows that the recreational fishery for wild striped bass includes 3,018,361 anglers from Maine to South Carolina and has a direct retail sales value of $2.41 billion spent on fishing tackle, boats and motors, guides/charters, travel and food. The total economic activity generated – including 63,278 full-time equivalent jobs – was more than 26 times greater than that produced by the commercial harvest of wild fish.

 

The Southwick Study also explains that in 2003, the sales in pounds of “hybrid” striped bass raised through aquaculture were 61.6 percent higher than the reported harvest of wild stripers sold by commercial fishermen, and that fish farmers could easily provide enough product on a year-round basis to replace all wild bass sold seasonally in the marketplace – and at basically the same retail price.

 

Stripers Forever, a non-profit, internet-based membership organization (www.stripersforever.org), advocates eliminating all market fishing for wild striped bass, reducing overall mortality, and managing the expanded resource for recreational/personal use fishing. Southwick Associates, Inc., based in Fernandina Beach, FL., specializes in collecting and analyzing socio-economic information on fishing and hunting

for state fish and wildlife agencies and for leading manufacturers of sport fishing and hunting/shooting equipment.

 

“The wild striped bass is far and away the most popular and valuable sport fish on America’s East Coast,” says Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever. “Game fish status has already allowed two popular inshore marine species -- the redfish and the Florida snook -- to flourish in southern waters and attract growing numbers of anglers whose impact on local economies is significant.

 

“So the precedent for game fish status is there and it is working,” says Burns. “And as the Southwick Report shows, the targeted recreational striper fishery -- estimated at more than 11 million angler trips per year -- is already about 160 percent larger than the targeted fisheries for redfish and snook combined.”

 

Stripers Forever supports legislation at the state or federal level similar to HR 1286, a bill proposed by U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D,NJ), which would eliminate all commercial fishing for wild striped bass. Stripers Forever is also in favor of using funds raised through the sale of a dedicated recreational striped bass stamp to buy out those licensed commercial harvesters who can document that a significant portion of their income is derived from historical landings of wild stripers.

 

To access the “road map” which summarizes the findings of the Southwick Study, or the full study itself, please log onto www.stripersforever.org . For further information, contact Brad Burns through the Stripers Forever website.


Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario Update

DEC holds three state-of-the-lake meetings

New York held  their  three state-of-the-lake meetings on March 8, 14 and 16 and all were very well attended with a great deal of interest all across the state.

 

A DEC proposal to delay the bass opener on the St. Lawrence River to coincide with Canada's opener was met with much

opposition and the DEC dropped it. Also there was a proposal to have a catch-and-release bass season from December 1st to the regular opener the 3rd  Saturday in June, that also was met with much opposition.  The DEC dropped that also.

 

The current creel proposal offered by the NYSDEC is 3  Salmon/Brown Trout and Steelhead in combination with a 21"

minimum for  Steelhead and a 2 Lake trout limit with 1 fish in the slot and 1 out of the  slot. According to Lake Ontario Fisheries Manager Bill Culligan, this is the proposal that will be sent to Albany, and be published for public comment.

 

The Lake Ontario Sportfishing Stakeholders Coalition (LOSSC) does not agree with the Steelhead proposal and believes that it will have little or no impact on recruitment of Steelhead to the system. However, LOSSC will not actively oppose the 21” minimum steelhead size.  The group does support the new  Lake trout changes.  LOSSC is a new group  formed last year as an umbrella organization made up of delegates from 12 organizations across the lake shore. Bob Songin is Acting President of LOSSC.


Illinois

IDNR Web Site Provides Detailed Info for Angers

Website Proves Popular in First Year Online

Springfield- As fishing season begins in Illinois, a web site continues to provide detailed information for anglers. The site, www.ifishIllinois.org, includes information ranging from places to fish, how to get a fishing license, scientific research about fishing, activities for families and kids, and opportunities for anglers who are disabled. 

 

"Before taking off on a fishing trip, I'd encourage anglers to stop off on the information superhighway," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold. "This is even a good place to visit on your computer on afternoons when you're daydreaming about fishing.  This is an example of the State of Illinois helping the average resident maximize enjoyment in their leisure time."

 

 The web site, www.IfishIllinois.org  debuted last spring.  Last year, during the 2004 fishing season, the site was visited 1.7 million times.  Since April 1, 2005, usage has increased, with

more than 100,000 hits each week.   The web site is updated regularly, to include weekly fishing reports, sport fishing prospects, and angler records.   Information is provided about more than 70 inland lakes, eight major rivers and streams, and Lake Michigan.   Lake maps are included.

 

"The wealth of information would be overwhelming, if it weren't so clearly labeled," said Mike Conlin, IDNR Director of Resource Conservation. "The features for families are especially appealing.  We even show kids locations where they can check out fishing gear if they don't have any of their own. 

 

The Department's fisheries programs are also highlighted on the website, including information on the Tackle Loaner, Urban Fishing, and Hatcheries and Stocking Programs.  The web site www.IfishIllinois.org  was developed cooperatively by two divisions of DNR - the Division of Fisheries and the Illinois Natural History Survey -- and is partially funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Fund.


Indiana

2004 white-tailed deer hunting season report

Hoosier deer harvest up fifteen percent

Hunters in Indiana took 123,000 wild white-tailed deer during the 2004 deer-hunting season -- a 15 % increase over the previous year's deer harvest of 106,986 deer.  The 2004 antlered buck harvest increased 10.6 % to 54,768 deer. The antlerless deer harvest of 68,290 deer was almost 19 % more than in 2003.

 

"Indiana's state-wide deer herd size has been slowly growing since 1998," said Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Jim Mitchell. Mitchell says Indiana's wild deer resource annually contributes more than $168 million to the state's economy. "But this contribution, mostly from hunting activity and wildlife viewing, has to be weighed against crop damage and deer/vehicle crashes."

 

Indiana's total deer harvest has increased every season since

2000. About two million deer have been legally harvested during the past 53 Indiana deer-hunting seasons. The number of deer harvested in individual counties ranged from 65 to 3,353 deer. For the first time in eight years, the harvest exceeded 3,000 deer in a county; both Steuben and Switzerland counties yielded more than 3,000 deer.

 

The five counties with the highest total deer harvest were:

Switzerland - 3,353

Steuben - 3,083

Franklin - 2,997

Parke - 2.942

Dearborn - 2,798

 

Last season's harvest put about 6 million pounds of venison on Indiana's kitchen tables. Hoosier deer hunters donated 17,000 pounds of venison to food pantries in 2004 through the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.


Michigan

Ballast law Legislation can shut off steady stream of invaders into our lakes

Oceangoing ships could need Michigan permit by 2007

The lack of a federal remedy for the Great Lakes' invasive species crisis demands that states such as Michigan apply some legal muscle. State lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration appear to be in agreement on a proposal that could require oceangoing ships that use Michigan ports to treat ballast water beginning in 2007. The proposed legislation could protect the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

 

Legislation garnering support in both chambers at the State Capitol should stop these aquatic invaders from ravaging the Great Lakes ecosystem. The bills would require oceangoing ships to treat their ballast water before releasing it into the lakes. Chemical treatment would kill the species.

 

As reported last week by the Associated Press, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality concludes that sufficient technology exists to effectively treat ballast water. The problem is cost; the shipping industry obviously doesn't want to spend the estimated $125,000 cost per ship on a ballast-cleansing system.

The shipping industry may not be as quick to acknowledge the cost to Great Lakes states having to deal with invasive species like the zebra mussel. That tiny mollusk causes an estimated $10 million in damage each year to boats and water intake plants at power plants.

 

In all, the 170 known non-native species in Michigan lake and streams pose a long-term threat to those waters, including the Great Lakes' $4-billion-a-year fishing industry.   Pending legislation would force ships to get permits in order to ply Great Lakes' waters, and a condition of those permits would be that ballast water is treated.

 

Federal action is the best way to deal with this crisis, but don't hold your breath. Congress is not disposed to act, and the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 chose not to regulate ballast water.

 

The states have to act. Senate Bill 332 and House Bill 4603 also authorize Michigan to work with other Great Lakes states in fighting invasive species. This is needed legislation. It deserves widespread support from Republicans and Democrats, and should be on Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk for signing by summer's end.


DNR, tribal officer working to mark inactive trap nets

By BRIAN MULHERIN , Ludington Daily News Staff Writer

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ commercial fishing enforcement boat William Alden Smith was in Ludington last week, checking on an unusual situation.  According a tribal law enforcement officer, there are a number of nets off Ludington with no fisherman available to retrieve them.

 

The eight trap nets are owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and until very recently were leased by commercial fisherman Levi Stone. But Stone’s tribal fishing license has been suspended until he takes care of fines and other requirements, so the tribe hired a boat from Leland to pull at least one problem net.

 

The trap net tug Jackie John, licensed by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, was hired by the tribe to pull a net that has become partially unmoored and is a hazard to surface navigation.  “They were really concerned about the hazard there,” said William Fowler, owner of the trap net boat Jackie John. “They called me up and wanted that net removed.”  But the 36-foot boat sank last week on its way to Ludington.

 

The net, which is approximately one and a half miles north of the north Ludington pierhead and approximately one mile offshore, was marked Monday with additional buoys. Michigan DNR Commercial Fish Specialist Steve Huff said his crew, aided by Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Conservation Officer Art DeBres, added several staff buoys to the floating net.  Huff said it’s important that boaters not try to run between the buoys because a small boat could become entangled and be swamped.

 

The net’s exact coordinates are 43 degrees north, 58 minutes, 02 seconds and 086 degrees west, 29 minutes, 68 seconds.

Huff said he will supply those coordinates to the Ludington Area Charterboat Association, which maintains a list of net coordinates on its website, www.ludingtoncharterboats.org .

 

DeBres said the tribe hopes to have the problem net pulled, along with the other seven nets Stone was leasing, within the next couple weeks.  DeBres said he recently submitted tougher regulations to the multi-tribal group that governs commercial fishing on the Great Lakes. He said the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) is considering tougher rules regarding inactive nets, which would give tribes the power to have nets pulled. He said since the tribe owns the nets Stone was fishing the tribe already has the authority to pull them.

 

DeBres said CORA defaults to federal regulations when it comes to boats that have sunk. The U.S. Coast Guard enforces the rules regarding fuel spills and salvage on the Great Lakes. Officer Kim Wheatley of Group Grand Haven said only that the USCG was working with the owner to have the situation resolved.  Fowler said he intended to take care of his responsibilities in the matter.  “Our responsibilities are to salvage it or get the fuel offboard,” Fowler said.

 

Fowler wouldn’t divulge the dollar amounts of the fines he could face if the situation is not resolved properly.  “They’re just trying to get me to do it,” Fowler said. “They said some numbers, but it’s outrageous.”

 

DeBres said he and the DNR also inspected trap nets owned by Tommy Battice, which were found to be well-marked off of Big Point Sable.

(Mulherin is a Ludington Daily News Staff Writer, and member of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. He can be reached at bmulherin@ludingtondailynews.com  , 843-1122, ext. 348)

 


We just called mayday...

Tribal fisherman recalls sinking

By BRIAN MULHERIN,  Ludington Daily News Staff Writer

Shahbaht Anderson is happy to be alive and a little nervous about going fishing again today. The 27-year-old commercial fisherman from Sutton’s Bay was at the helm of the 36-foot trap-net tug Jackie John last week when the vessel’s bilge pumps failed and the boat started taking water near Big Point Sable.

 

He was in the process of bringing the boat down from Leland along with crewman Jose Barrietoz. The pair, licensed by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, had left the dock in Leland at about 6 p.m. April 11. Somewhere between Manistee and Big Point Sable, Anderson noticed the pumps weren’t working.

 

“There were good four or five foot waves. We were taking on too much water at one time, the pumps burned out and the fuses blew,” he said. “We had just minutes to get our suits on, didn’t even have time to get off the boat. That’s why my buddy, he went down with the boat.”  The pair made a mayday call as the boat took water.

 

“We just called mayday and gave them our coordinates over and over and over,” Anderson said. “When they asked us how many people aboard and the nature of the situation that was the last thing I heard.” Anderson was standing on deck when the boat went under. Barrietoz was still halfway inside the pilothouse of the vessel.

 

“We didn’t even jump off the boat,” Anderson said. “We were on the deck of the boat. He was halfway out, but he was half under it, too.”   Anderson, who was already in his $600 survival suit commonly referred to as a “gumby suit,” felt himself drawn toward the sinking boat.

 

“It didn’t suck me under, but it was sucking me towards the boat,” he said. “I had to swim as hard as I could to get away from it. My buddy, he was under water for a good 5-8 seconds. He popped up about 20 feet away from me and he couldn’t see.”  Anderson had a life ring around one arm and got to Barrietoz. The pair bobbed in the 39-degree water as waves crashed down on them.

 

“We were talking to each other the whole time,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to sound all high and mighty, but I was trying to calm my buddy down. He was panicking because he went under water. I was talking myself down, too.

 

“That was scary, that’s for sure. There was a barge out on the lake, too. We got hope when that barge turned right at us and

had their big spotlight on, but they were probably two miles away. Maybe 10 minutes later, we saw another spotlight and that was the Coast Guard. I don’t know exactly, but I was thinking we were in the water a good 30-40 minutes.”

 

Even with the Coast Guard conducting a silent search, the men weren’t confident they’d be noticed.

 

“I was blowing my whistle that was attached to my survival suit, but they said they didn’t hear it at all,” Anderson said. “I said ‘We’re going to be saved, but we have to get their attention.’” They said they turned toward us downwind and our suits just lit right up. But in five-foot waves, they can’t see you until you come over the crest of a wave.”

 

Anderson said he’s not sure when the pumps actually failed.  “They probably went out hours before,” Anderson said. “If I would have checked them possibly, that would not have happened.”   Anderson said as he shivered on Coast Guard Station Ludington’s 30-foot rescue boat, he felt a mixture of relief and deep depression. He said he felt guilty that he had not checked the pumps sooner and had almost lost a crewman.

 

The boat’s owner, William Fowler, said this morning he was looking into the costs of having the boat raised or having the fuel removed.   “I’m looking into salvage right now, it’s pretty complicated, with the depth of water and stuff,” Fowler said.

 

The boat sits in 140-160 feet of water, according to varying sources.   The coordinates of the boat are 44 degrees, 02 minutes, 04 seconds and 86 degrees, 32 minutes, 28 seconds, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Coast Guard located a line from the boat on the surface and tied a round buoy to it, but anglers should still be cautious in the area.

 

Anderson said he hopes all anglers, commercial and recreational, will take note of his experience and prepare for the worst when on the water.   “I want people to be aware, too, they’ve got to check and be safe and have right equipment for this time of year,” Anderson said.   He said he’s certain he wouldn’t be heading out for a day of fishing today if he hadn’t had a survival suit with him last week. As for getting back on the water, he’s a little nervous.

 

“There’s a little anxiety, but just remember your safety procedures and everything should be fine,” Anderson said.

(Mulherin is a Ludington Daily News Staff Writer, and member of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. He can be reached at bmulherin@ludingtondailynews.com  , 843-1122, ext. 348)


Renovation Makes Lake of the Clouds Trail Accessible

The trail to one of Michigan's most scenic views is now universally accessible. The Lake of the Clouds Scenic Site Trail in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on the Upper Peninsula shores of Lake Superior has been renovated to comply with all American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for trails.

 

The $55,000 project was funded by a Recreation Improvement Fund grant administered by the DNR's Forest, Mineral, and Fire Management Division. The grant provided funding to

relocate accessible parking locations closer to the trailhead staging area, which is now accessed by a ramp. A new elevated boardwalk trail with resting benches leads to the recently constructed viewing deck overlooking the Lake of the Clouds. Additional accessible amenities at the overlook include lowered railing sections and audio interpretation of the informative signage.

 

The trail begins at the end of M-107 and connects the Big Carp River and Escarpment trails. The previous trail did not meet the incline recommendations nor provide a stable surface.


Minnesota

DNR permit guideline notice

Public Comments due by July 18

Minnesota DNR officials plan to identify and make changes that would make it clear what guidelines the DNR will use to determine when to impose permit conditions on BASS and other sanctioned tournaments. The DNR has been meeting with tournament organizers to discuss their recommendations for permit conditions.

 

The following was posted in the State Register:

► “Changes, additions, or clarifications of conditions for fishing contest operations and permits, including, but not limited to, permittee requirements, disposal of fish, off-site weigh-ins, high use periods, live release tournaments, pre-fishing, and negative impacts to the resource.”

The DNR has not yet prepared a draft of the possible rule amendments or repeals and does not anticipate that a draft of the rules will be available before publication of the proposed rule.

 

Interested persons or groups may submit comments or information on these possible rules in writing or orally until 4:30 p.m. on July 18, 2005. The DNR does not contemplate appointing an advisory committee to comment on the possible rules. Written or oral comments should be addressed to: Linda Erickson-Eastwood, MN DNR,  651-296-3325 or 888-MINNDNR, Linda.Erickson-Eastwood@dnr.state.mn.us    www.dnr.state.mn.us

 


Red Lake tributaries closed to fishing during peak walleye spawning

The Minnesota DNR announced a temporary fishing closure on three major tributaries to the Red Lakes to protect spawning walleyes. All of the Tamarac River, Shotley Brook from Roger’s Campground bridge upstream, and the Blackduck River north of County Road 32 will be closed during this period.

 

These tributaries will be closed to all angling and rough fish spearing beginning Saturday, April 16, and will most likely remain closed through Friday, May 13. DNR Fisheries staff will be monitoring walleye spawning activity in the Tamarac River and may rescind the closure earlier if the walleye run appears to be over. Major access points will be posted during the period of closure.  One major difference between this year’s closure and those previous is that all of the Tamarac River will be closed this year.

 

Walleye harvest has been prohibited on the Red Lakes during the past six years to allow the population to recover from over-

fishing. According to the DNR, the recovery effort is going well

with numbers of spawning walleye increasing substantially.

 

Meanwhile, an exceptional crappie fishery developed on Upper Red Lake, which has been a real benefit for local communities, while the walleye population recovers. But as interest in Red Lake crappie fishing continues, there is concern that spring angling in tributary streams could hinder the walleye recovery.

 

“Although we’ve prohibited all walleye harvest on the Red Lakes, we need this temporary fishing closure on the tributaries to reduce incidental hooking mortality of spawning walleye,” said Gary Barnard, DNR Bemidji Area Fisheries supervisor. “We have a big investment in the Red Lake recovery effort and it makes sense to protect walleye during this short period when they’re really vulnerable.”

 

Upper Red Lake will remain open for crappie fishing. Boat access from the Tamarac River to the lake will continue to be allowed.


Minn Sea Grant Awards $566,650 for Aquatic Research

The University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program recently chose eight research projects involving Lake Superior and the Great Lakes for funding. The award money, which is provided by the National Sea Grant College Program and matched by the University of Minnesota, collectively totals $566,650.

 

The following projects will be funded through U of Minnesota departments for 2005-2007:

 ► Pinpointing Sources of Bacteria that Contribute to Beach Closures

 ► Understanding the Links Between Lake Superior’s Animal

Life, Upwellings, and Temperature

► A Step Towards Defining the Carbon Cycle in Lake Superior

► Developing More Efficient Monitoring Methods for Rocky Coasts

► Investigating the Relationship Between Dissolved Phosphorus and Oxygen Released by Sunlight in Lake Superior

► Defining Potential Effects of Endocrine Disrupters in Wastewater on Female Fish and Fish Populations

► Calculating Biomass and Energy Flow from Plankton to Lake Superior’s Top Predators

► A New Approach for Identifying Environmental Estrogens in Great Lakes Estuaries


Duck Meeting Slated for April 28

Public meetings scheduled in 18 locations

The status of Minnesota’s duck populations, hunting regulation options and habitat issues will be discussed at concurrent public input meetings around the state on Thursday, April 28.

           

The Minnesota DNR has selected 18 locations for the meetings which will run from 7-9 p.m. Jeff Lightfoot, DNR Northeast Region Wildlife Manager at Grand Rapids, said the meetings are an opportunity for duck hunters to learn more about statewide and local issues as well as to provide input on regulation options.

           

“We have not held duck meetings in spring before,” said Lightfoot, “but it makes sense this year because there is great interest in the topic and sustaining that interest is important.” He said the DNR wants to hear hunter opinions about bag limits, season length, zones and split seasons, spinning wing decoys and the youth waterfowl hunt, among other things. The

DNR staff also want to share information on habitat conditions, duck populations and what might be done to improve matters, Lightfoot explained.

 

DNR wildlife managers will be present at each of the meetings to provide information and answer questions. The meetings will include a video presentation, survey form and discussion time.

           

"There are a lot of good things happening for ducks in Minnesota these days but the truth is much more needs to be done," Lightfoot said. "And that is going to require all of us - hunters, wildlife managers, private landowners, and concerned citizens – working together. The April 28 meetings are intended to help build on the positive things already happening."

 

For more info: Jeff Lightfoot, DNR NE Region Wildlife Manager, Grand Rapids, 218-999-7938


Wisconsin

Biologists reviewing musky management

State wants to assure trophy fishing opportunities

MADISON -- With Wisconsin musky populations at historical highs and anglers catching them with fewer casts than at any other time in at least 40 years, state fisheries biologists are focusing on assuring the fish are trophy quality, at least in those waters managed to provide trophy fish.

 

DNR fish biologists and researchers and propagation specialists are mid-way through a project to evaluate stocking rates on musky waters in light of increasing catch and release fishing for musky and studies showing that overstocking a lake can result in high musky populations that grow slowly.

 

The biologists on DNR's musky committee are evaluating the results of higher minimum size limits on a variety of lakes. They also are developing a plan to evaluate alternate strains of musky including allowing some fishing groups as soon as this fall to stock different strains of musky in Lake Wissota, the Petenwell and Castle Rock flowages, and Lake Monona.

 

The major effort this year is to fully evaluate Wisconsin's program for collecting the wild fish, or "broodstock," to produce the offspring raised in state hatcheries and stocked in Wisconsin waters.

 

"We've got several efforts underway to improve our musky management programs, including starting a long overdue evaluation of the way we select fish for obtaining eggs for our hatchery system, " says Tim Simonson, a fish biologist who leads DNR's musky committee. Genetic strain is one of several factors that determines the growth and size structure of muskellunge populations, and the analytical tools now available to fish geneticists are a lot better than just a few years ago, he says.

 

"We want to make sure we're using the fish that's going to provide the best fishing by maximizing survival and growth rates because that's why we're stocking those waters in the first place," Simonson says.

 

Wisconsin manages musky as a trophy fish, meaning its size limits are higher and bag limits lower than for many other species that grow more quickly. Those size limits, combined with a growing catch and release ethic and a hatchery system hitting its stride, have helped musky populations recover from a near collapse after three world record fish caught in the 1950s touched off a fishing frenzy. Now, monster musky are again being caught in growing numbers: In 2004, for example, the Vilas County Musky Marathon reported 17 muskies caught that were 50 inches or greater, Simonson says.

 

The state has 711 lakes and some 80 river segments that support musky fishing; the majority sustain naturally reproducing populations of musky but 200-plus waters do not and are stocked to maintain fisheries. Wisconsin stocks fish hatched from eggs collected from wild fish every spring. The fish are native to the Upper Chippewa, Upper Wisconsin and Great Lake basins of Wisconsin, and have never been mixed with any strains from outside the area.

 

Brian Sloss, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point fisheries

professor will be conducting the genetic studies, including

identifying the genetic structure of Wisconsin's naturally reproducing populations, and where specific strains should be stocked to preserve the genetic integrity of the fish.

 

"One of the key questions, is, how many brood sources are needed in Wisconsin?" Simonson says. "Within the appropriate geographic areas, we'll use the most appropriate brood source lakes, based on the strain's population traits such as survival, growth, and trophy potential."

 

Minnesota took a closer look at their broodstock a number of years ago and realized they were stocking a slow growing strain of fish. They switched to a faster growing strain native to Leech Lake, a lake in north central Minnesota where anglers pull in a greater number of fish exceeding 50 inches.

 

Simonson cautioned that regardless of what strains Wisconsin stocks, the results won’t be the same as Minnesota's. "We're never going to produce as many 50 inch fish as a state like Minnesota because of the smaller size of our lakes, the forage type and abundance, and the greater fishing pressure in Wisconsin," he says.

 

Wisconsin may have 15,000 lakes, but only 268 are 500 acres or greater. Lake of the Woods, a popular musky water straddling Minnesota and Ontario, covers 1 million surface acres -- the total surface area of all Wisconsin's inland lakes. Leech Lake is roughly equal in size to all Wisconsin's Class A1 trophy musky waters combined.

 

Angler fishing pressure and harvest also affect Wisconsin size structure. While catch and release has really caught on, anglers are still keeping fish once the fish reach mid-40 inches, and fish that are released may die from the stress of fighting and handling. In fact, anglers responding to a random mail survey conducted by UW-Stevens Point in 2000-2001 reported harvesting 37,000 musky.

 

“On a typical 1,000 acre lake anglers can expect to find about 300 adult muskies and even under the best of circumstances, only one or two of them will reach 50 inches or greater,” Simonson says. "It doesn't take harvesting many of the fish at 45 inches to really affect the trophy potential."

 

Simonson stresses that Wisconsin has been managing musky for trophy potential overall, and will continue that management philosophy in the future. But anglers must keep in mind the various factors that determine the trophy potential of musky waters, not just the genetic strain of fish stocked, and that Wisconsin cannot ignore the other, ultimately more important tools of musky management: protecting habitat and fishing regulations.

 

"The strain used for stocking is clearly important in those waters that need stocking," Simonson says. "But there are no short cuts when it comes to managing for trophy musky, and job #1 is to protect our naturally reproducing populations of musky.  "They don't cost us much compared to stocked fisheries, which cost a lot to maintain through stocking, and fishing is generally better in naturally reproducing waters."


Thirteen Men Facing Numerous Charges Over Deer And Turkey Poaching

A two-year investigation proved unlucky for 13 men accused of illegally killing white-tailed deer and wild turkeys in five counties of Wisconsin. The state's Department of Natural Resources issued a total of 106 citations. The investigation was launched due to involved citizens who reported hearing gunshots at night.

The majority of citations involve shooting deer at night with the aid of a spotlight, hunting deer during the closed season, road hunting, and numerous safety violations including loaded and uncased guns in a vehicle and hunting within 50 feet of the

road.

 

Turkey related charges include hunting turkeys without a valid permit, hunting turkeys with a rifle, road hunting, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, and loaded and uncased guns in a vehicle.

 

Together, the 106 citations carry a total of $36,416 in fines and a possible 41 years revocation of hunting privileges. Individual fines range from $437 to over $7000. The following were charged in either Richland, Vernon, Sauk, Juneau and Taylor County Circuit Courts, with many charged in several counties.


Wisconsin offers year-round hunting opportunities

MADISON – Hunters in Wisconsin could pursue their sport 365 days a year by taking advantage of the numerous seasons available throughout the year. There are high-interest hunts, such as the gun deer hunt that runs nine days in November, and much longer seasons, such as coyote hunting, which runs year-round except for a few weeks in some areas.

 

Seasons for specific game animals start and stop throughout the year but overall, hunting opportunities in Wisconsin are abundant and this opportunity is one of the assets that makes Wisconsin a conservation leader, according to state wildlife officials.

Wildlife management activities, including habitat improvement and restoration, species population surveys, wildlife research and hunt management are funded in part by hunters and trappers who by license and special stamps that fund wildlife programs and staff.

 

“There are over 30 different hunting and trapping seasons available to sportsmen and women,” said Tom Hauge, director of the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Wildlife Management. “and they can pursue their sport on over 6 million acres of public hunting lands in Wisconsin.”

 

Wisconsin is among the top five states in the nation in active hunters as a percentage of the state’s population according to federal statistics. In 2001, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 15 percent of Wisconsinites indicated they hunted.

 

“I don’t think there’s any question that you get a lot for your 

money in Wisconsin,” Hauge said. “Archers, for example, enjoy a nearly three-and-half-month deer season – gun deer hunters will have 27 hunting days in 2005. In many years, waterfowl hunters have a full 60-day goose season. The full ruffed grouse season will run 137 days in 2005 and there are six weeks of turkey hunting in the spring and again in the fall.”

 

Wisconsin offers deer hunters a good value when compared to other states in the Midwest. In Iowa for instance, it costs $52 to hunt deer; in Minnesota $79 and in Illinois $28. The Governor’s proposed budget calls for adjusting the cost of a Wisconsin deer hunting license from $20 to $32 – the first increase in this license in nine years.

 

The quality of Wisconsin’s legendary deer hunt is consistently high and regularly produces trophy animals. Wisconsin annually is among the top five states in producing deer registered in the Boone and Crocket Club and Pope & Young Club scoring records.

 

Another aspect to hunting and trapping in Wisconsin important to local businesses is the $960 million in retail sales attributed to these sports. This economic engine also supports 19,000 jobs and generates $52 million in sales tax revenue for the state budget.

 

Wisconsin’s Wildlife Management Areas are open year round to all citizens for hiking, skiing, birding, photography and general enjoyment of the outdoors. Wildlife areas and all other state owned lands managed by the Department of Natural. Resources can be located at: http://www.dnr.wi.gov/org/land/facilities/dnr_lands_mapping.html


Mercury survey planned

Some 25-30 lakes will be tested in Wisconsin this year as part of the annual testing of walleyes for mercury. The survey will be conducted by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  The Lake Superior Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior will test in conjunction with the annual GLIFWC surveys in the western Upper Peninsula

and northern Wisconsin.

 

Joe Dan Rose, inland fisheries section leader with the GLIFWC, said electrofishing crews will collect up to 12 adult walleyes from selected lakes for mercury testing. Mercury levels tend to be highest in older fish.


Ontario

Province opens new chapter in Bear Wise Program

Launches Electronic Educational Book About Black Bears

TIMMINS -Helping young people be bear wise and bear safe is the goal of an educational web-based book launched today by Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay in a Timmins classroom.  "We are building on the success of last year's Bear Wise program and making learning about black bears fun for students," said Ramsay. "By sharing what they've learned with their family and friends, we'll have fewer bear problems and that means safer communities."

 

Designed for kids between the ages of 10 and 14, the e-book highlights facts about black bears, ways to avoid bear problems and includes mini-movies of bears in action. The 

ministry is distributing the book to schools in a mini-CD format. It will be available shortly on the ministry's bear website at www.bears.mnr.gov.on.ca .

 

Now in its second year, the Bear Wise program aims to reduce human-bear conflicts through education and awareness, reporting, response and prevention. People who have bear problems, or want more information about bears, can call the Bear Wise toll-free line at 1-866-514-2327,24 hours a day, seven days a week from April 1 to November 30, 2005.

 

For emergency bear situations, call 911 or local police.


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