Friday, April 17, 2015

Over 76 percent of boatowners have a household income of less than $100,000 according to NMMA.
During the week of April 20-26, 2015, the Nevada Department of Wildlife in conjunction with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) encourages boaters to Spring Aboard by enrolling in a boating education course.
Maryland Natural Resources Police urges anglers to conduct a safety check of their boats before heading out Saturday.

The Coast Guard is urging boaters, fishers, divers and beachgoers to exercise caution in and around the waters along the Northern and Central California Coast due to forecasted strong swells Friday through Saturday evening.

An argument that started on opposite banks of the St. Croix River led to a fatal stabbing at Interstate State Park in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, reports

Journalist David Gregory headlines the annual session, which also includes Eileen Sobek, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.

Gag grouper is the 37th stock to be rebuilt since 2000, according to the NOAA Fisheries' 2014 Status of Stocks report.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a 70-day recreational red snapper season for Gulf state waters at the April 16 meeting in Tallahassee.

Jackson Kayak will invest $6.5 million to expand their current operations in Tennessee by opening a new manufacturing facility in Sparta in the former Philips Lighting building. This expansion will create 250 new jobs in White County.
The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas today announced the hiring of William Higgins as MRAA public policy manager.
This industry event will convene at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY from Tuesday, September 15 through Thursday, September 17, 2015. Pre-conference Super Sessions to be held on Monday, September 14.
Arctic Ice is proud to partner with Morse Sporting Goods at 85 Contoocook Falls Road to bring their innovative product offerings to the avid outdoor enthusiasts of Hillsboro, N.H.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and Foundation seeks an in-house designer for their Columbus, Ohio, headquarters.

Unlike some anglers who won't even tell you where the good fishing holes are located, Schultz reveals all in The Complete Guide to North American Fishing, a modern, informative, and handsomely illustrated book that is an ideal reference for the 50 million anglers in the United States.

Paul Glover of Sallisaw caught the new record April 4, 2015, in the Lower Illinois River below Tenkiller Ferry dam. The trout weighed 11 pounds 4.32 ounces, measured 29 3/16 inches in length and 16 9/16 inches in girth.

The newest Gander Mountain will be located in a new 52,000-square-foot store in the Snellville Exchange shopping complex, near the intersection of Scenic Highway and Essex Drive, adjacent to the existing Hobby Lobby store

As a result of feedback from the Chicagoland boating industry and NMMA stakeholders, the decision has been made not to produce the Progressive® Insurance Chicago In-Water Boat Show®scheduled for June 11-14, 2015.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has announced several changes in its staff ahead of the 75th Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show, taking place February 11-15, 2016 at its new location – Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced today its creative and media relations partners for the 75th Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show, taking place February 11-15, 2016 at its new location – Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.
The Charleston In-Water Boat Show takes place every April at the Bristol Marina and Brittlebank Park in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Are you interested in seeing what the population trends are in different parts of the state for certain fish species?
Then you should check out the DNR's Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer, available online at
Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener, but low water may play a major role.
Twelve waters that are part of the Department's program expansion as well as Tempe Town Lake will get stocked with catfish next week.
State and tribal co-managers today agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks.

Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) applauds the introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act in the Senate yesterday by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

McMurdo has announced that its 2015 Search and Rescue (SAR) Thought Leadership series will kick-off on April 21. The monthly webinars will feature real-life rescue stories, prominent industry experts and technology innovations that will shape the future of search and rescue.

Gill nets for TVA Lakes are a bad idea

By Frank Sargeant

A gillnet, like a handgun, is not inherently evil. The problem arises when it becomes the wrong tool in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The idea of permitting gill nets in North Alabama's TVA lakes apparently has some appeal to somebody, otherwise it would not have been made into a bill, HB 258, and passed by the Alabama House of Representatives recently.

But thousands of recreational fishermen (and women) as well as homeowners and fishing/boating/resort industry execs in the affected areas are pretty much universally opposed to bringing this highly effective gear to the river lakes, which include Lake Guntersville, frequently cited as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the nation.

Not that the netters or the legislators who backed them propose to net bass commercially--state laws prohibit net harvest of gamefish. The targets would be shad, drum and other "rough fish" that some say are currently going to waste in the fertile waters of the big river.

But one issue that must surely concern anglers is the fact that gill nets do not work well for catch and release in many cases. They're called "fish chokers" in saltwater, for good reason. They function via squares of mesh that slide over the head of a fish and then jam tight right behind the gill plates--they're locked in place.

Getting a fish out of the mesh without killing it is not easy, particularly when it's being done rapidly and/or at night, both of which conditions often apply in net fishing because that's the nature of the fishery.

While the nets presumably would not be set around the grass beds where the majority of bass hang out for a part of the year, they might well be set around the bars, humps and other offshore structure where shad and drum are most abundant. And in the TVA lakes, this structure is also where huge schools of bass gather, both in the dead of summer and the chill of winter.

Crappies also gather in schools of hundreds around these offshore ledges in winter and again in July, August and September.

Both these species of gamefish would very likely be caught, occasionally in large numbers, as a by-catch of the nets, which can extend for hundreds of feet, forming a sort of "wall of death" around anything on the inside. While the commercial netters could not legally land them, they very likely would be killed in the process of being shucked out of the mesh--they'd wind up as buzzard bait along the shores. The bill as written has no limitations on net length or square footage--whole feeder creeks could be "stop netted" with a damming effect from shore to shore.

Gill nets of a given mesh size catch fish of a given size--it's one of the reasons netters like them, because they let small fish swim through while trapping the larger ones. But the mesh that would be appropriate for a big gizzard shad would also be about right for a 1 to 2 pound bass or crappie, and the mesh that would catch a 5 pound drum or buffalo would also choke a 5 pound largemouth.

The bill also permits trammel nets, which catch pretty much everything that hits them--a large mesh net is suspended in front of a small mesh net, and the fish "pocket" in the folds when they hit the net. Again, accidentally-caught gamefish would suffer.

At the last meeting of the Conservation Advisory Board in Guntersville recently, a commercial hook-and-line catfish angler complained to the board that Tennessee commercial fishermen are already taking unlimited quantities of catfish out of the river, and requested relief. How much worse will this issue become if gill nets are added to the mix?

Once this fishery gets underway and working fishermen have invested in their nets, it will be no easy matter to shut it down--in Florida, it took a constitutional amendment to get rid of gillnets in coastal use. The people of the state rose up and passed the amendment, and the fisheries have improved steadily ever since. But the state--i.e. the taxpayers--was put on the hook for millions to buy back nets from the netters. Allow this gear again in Alabama? Why?

Bottom line is, this is a bill that has benefit for very few in the state of Alabama, and a potentially enormous downside. It's hard to imagine how any caring legislator could pass it, and if it manages to get past the Senate, how Governor Bentley, who reportedly enjoys recreational fishing, could sign it. But stranger things have happened in politics.

Anglers and conservationists would do well to keep an eye on this effort, and to bring it to a halt if possible by making their feelings known to their legislators. You'll find contact info on state senators at

(A word of advice--like most folks, the legislators take council better from a polite, well-reasoned letter, email or phone call rather than angry bluster.)

Frank Sargeant can be contacted at

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Outdoors Calendar

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Apr. 17 - Apr. 18: Paddlepalooza XII Kayak Fishing Tournament, Topwater Marina, Leeville, LA;

Apr. 17 - Apr. 18: 22nd annual East Idaho Fly Tying and Fishing Expo, Shilo Inn, Idaho Falls, ID;

Apr. 18 - Apr. 19: Oakley Big Bass Tour. Lake Norman, North Carolina.

Apr. 19: Kansas City Catfish Circuit tournament at Milford Lake, KS;

Apr. 23: Minnows & Monsters kayak fishing seminar with Derick Burgos of Phatfish Kayak Charters, 7 p.m. at the shop, 3625 S. Manhattan in Tampa, FL;

Apr. 25: Texas Team Trail at Lake Texoma;

Apr. 25: 3rd Annual Warrior Bass Tournament at Ingram's Marina, Lake Talquin, (Quincy, FL):

Apr. 25 - Apr. 26: Oakley Big Bass Tour Event. Smith Mountain Lake, VA.

May 1 - May 3: Flat Cat Classic (FCC5), southwest's largest catfish tournament. Arizona Catfish Conservation Association (ACCA) event. Cash prizes, trophies;

May 2: 10th annual Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association Spring Tournament, Shoreline South Park, Gulf Breeze, FL;

May 2: 6th annual Bass On The Fly Tournament, Lake Fork Marina, Lake Fork, TX;

May 2 - May 3: IFA Redfish and Kayak Tours at Georgetown, S.C.;

May 8 - May 9: National Walleye Tour at Lake City, Minn.;

May 16 - May 17: Oakley Big Bass Tour Event. Table Rock Lake, Missouri.

May 30 - May 31: Oakley Big Bass Tour Event. Grand Lake, Oklahoma.

May 30 - May 31: IFA Redfish and Kayak Tours at Lafitte, La.;

June 1 - June 7: Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Biloxi, MS. Blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo weight categories. Billfish catch and release division. $1 Million-plus in prize money.

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