Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 
CHEVY FLORIDA INSIDER FISHING REPORT
Late summer and early fall are prime to target wahoo in the East Region because the bonito, one of their favorite foods, are schooled up in big numbers.

COAST GUARD
The Coast Guard along with fire departments from Seabrook and Kemah, Texas, responded to a boat fire under the Highway 146 bridge Friday.
The Coast Guard rescued two missing boaters who were stranded 10 miles northwest of Anclote Key, Florida, Saturday.
The Coast Guard, along with the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the New Jersey State Police Marine Division, rescued six boaters Sunday after their 25-foot pleasure craft started to sink one mile offshore from Sea Girt, New Jersey.

CONSERVATION
At the request of the Colville Tribe, NOAA Fisheries used a provision in the ESA to designate an "experimental population" of spring-run Chinook salmon for the Okanogan River.

ENFORCEMENT
Joseph Morris III, 30, pleaded guilty to selling fish without a fresh products license, failing to maintain records, taking commercial fish without a vessel license, selling game fish illegally, selling spotted sea trout without a permit, selling spotted sea trout without a rod and reel license, taking/selling undersized spotted sea trout, possessing commercial red drum illegally and failing to comply with charter boat regulations.

ENVIRONMENT
Thousands of fishing traps are lost or abandoned each year in U.S. waters and become what are known as derelict traps, which continue to catch and kill fish, crabs, and other species such as turtles.
With more than 73 percent of all land in the U.S. in private ownership - and more than 75 percent of fish and wildlife species dependent on private lands for their survival - it's clear that public lands - federal, state and local - alone cannot protect America's wildlife and wild places.
Volunteers are needed to participate in the Army Corps of Engineers' annual fall litter pickup Sept. 6 at Nimrod Lake.

EVENTS
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is hosting or supporting free*, family-oriented events that highlight our state's extraordinary hunting and fishing heritage and remarkable wildlife conservation efforts through the years.

FISHERIES
An estimated run of 1.5 million chinook salmon - and hundreds of thousands of coho - is moving up the Columbia River, drawing anglers by the thousands.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be stocking 100 "retired" channel catfish broodstock from the A.E. Wood Hatchery in San Marcos into Lake Kyle, a 12-acre water body in Hays County.
The West Fork of Drakes Creek drains Blackjack Corner and a good portion of Simpson County, offering excellent fishing for smallmouth, largemouth and rock bass along with populations of bluegill and even some muskellunge
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene a meeting of its Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Working Group from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday, September 19, 2014, at the Council office - 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Florida.

HONORS AND AWARDS
Bob Sealy, originator of the Big Bass Splash hourly award tournament concept, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Nashville August 16.

INDUSTRY
Following a very successful spring launch of Arctic Ice to the Do It Best retail centers, Do It Best has taken the initiative to place all brands and sizes of the Arctic Ice family on their e-commerce website for purchase online.
Justina Whalen will represent top hunting and fishing brands and products to outdoors professionals and media

SHOWS
Tampa-based Family Boating and Marine Centers, the nation's top Ranger Boats saltwater dealer, will be displaying the newest saltwater models at this year's Tampa Boat Show starting Sept. 5.

STATES
This year's move to close the river ahead of schedule is intended to protect drought-stressed waters and their salmonid populations during the fall spawning.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the closure of the Klamath River Spit fishery as of Sept. 1.
Florida residents and visitors can experience Florida's unique saltwater fishing opportunities without being required to have a recreational saltwater fishing license on Sept. 6.
Lee County Public Fishing Lake will reopen on September 5, 2014, under the operation of new lake manager Elizabeth Johnson.
Keeping the fish you catch - up to your legal limit - is the key to providing enough food and space for fish to grow in some lakes, says Utah DFW.

WEBSITES
It's a new look and better functionality for the recently redesigned www.outdooralabama.com, the official website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

YOUTH EVENTS
Participants at this south Florida event will go through five skill stations: knot
tying, tackle, angler ethics, casting and fishing.

Florida's Manatees--A Conservation Success Story

By Frank Sargeant, Editor

Manatees are thriving these days in Florida's coastal rivers and inshore flats, mostly because of decades of protection at both the state and federal levels. (Photo Credit U.S. FWS)
The restoration of manatees in Florida is a classic conservation success story, but many people looking at the population today may not be aware of the history of the species, properly called the West Indian manatee, in the Sunshine State.

After I moved to Florida in 1966, I was on the water on the west coast regularly for almost two years before I saw the first "sea cow". At that time, the state estimated that there were only 600 of them left--they were perilously close to extinction.

The numbers were down pure and simple because people were killing them and eating them--and had been for a long time, including well before Europeans first arrived on this side of the Atlantic. Though a Florida law banned hunting them starting in 1893, in the remote backwaters of the state it was common knowledge that a few locals continued to take them at least into the late 1950's. For a slow-maturing and slow-reproducing species, their future was dim until they were given full federal protection in the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Federal enforcement stopped even the few remaining outlaws from killing manatees, but boat strikes soon became a recognized problem as more and more boaters started plying the coastal shallows with the rise of flats fishing statewide.

Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists fly aerial counts each winter over warm-water gathering zones to count manatees massed there to avoid the chill. This one shows the amazing numbers at the Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach, on the shores of Tampa Bay. (Photo Credit FFWCC)
The state of Florida soon after added many more layers of protection from this only remaining human-caused mortality by creating ever larger no-wake zones and seasonal no-boating zones.

Predictably, many anglers and boaters--the people who by far most use the water where manatees live--were not happy with the restrictions on the areas where they could operate. In some areas where the no-wake zones stretched for miles, they were truly problematic; simply getting a boat from the dock in Crystal River out to the mouth where the Gulf of Mexico fishing and boating awaited could take many hours at the required idle speed.

But over the years the no-wake zones have been tweaked to be less onerous in some areas--though extended even longer and wider in others--and the boating and fishing public have for the most part come to accept them as one of the costs of recreation in this natural corner of inshore paradise.

And manatees have responded incredibly well to these protections. There are now at least 5,000 manatees, give or take several hundred, in state waters. Florida FWC Biologists count the animals every winter, mostly from the air, when they gather in warm-water refuges. The number they publish is not, they acknowledge, an exact figure, but it is a minimum figure--it's reasonable to assume a fair portion are not counted.

There are hundreds of low speed zones around the state today designed to protect manatees from boat strikes, and many areas are designated as no entry zones during winter when numbers are highest. The protections appear to be working-populations are thriving in most of the state. (Frank Sargeant Photo)
As the numbers have gone up, the mortality has gone up also--wildlife biologists know this is a natural function of a growing population, but news media--and organizations that depend on an "endangered" manatee to get donations--use every increase in total number of annual deaths to shriek that the species is on the verge of collapse. Clearly, that is not true.

Manatee numbers have gone up about 10 percent per year for decades, and as any stock trader can quickly point out via the rule of 72, plus 10 percent per year will double a population (or your portfolio) about every seven years.

To be sure, there have been some unusual mortality events since the populations have reached healthier numbers. Manatees are subject to pneumonia in unusually cold water--that's why few are found outside Florida's peninsular waters most of the year-- and also can die from swimming in areas where red tide is intense. They intake air right at the surface, and the noxious algae is inhaled, causing lung issues. But in general, the numbers of manatees being born has continued to outpace the number dying in most parts of the state--otherwise, the populations could not continue to climb.

Be that as it may, a recent proposal by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to downlist manatees from "endangered" to "threatened" status has caused much hand-wringing, mostly among folks who have never seen a manatee anywhere outside the Nature Channel or an aquarium. It should not.

No protections will be removed under the changed designation--it is merely an honest assessment of the condition of the population, a necessary part of modern, science-based wildlife management. Continuing to call a species endangered when its status is no longer all that precarious would devalue the designation. Science, not emotionalism, brought the manatee back, and continued science should define the path the management takes in the future.

To be sure, the concern that the change in designation might eliminate some of the boating restrictions that helped to get us where we are today is valid--there are some property owners in the town of Crystal River, on Florida's West Coast, who would like easier access to the Gulf of Mexico, and who are pushing for open lanes down the river. They will not get them, at least not as a result of the "threatened" designation.

Manatee females bear a single calf every two years in prime conditions, so the species' reproductive potential is limited, but tight protections appear to be allowing the numbers to expand steadily. (Photo Credit FFWCC)
However, if the manatee population continues to grow, at some point down the road, clearly the regulators will have to say "enough". There is a very limited frosting of sea grass around Florida's coastline, and it will not support an unlimited number of manatees--as with deer in a forest, there is a "carrying capacity" beyond which the population will begin to starve itself back towards the natural limit.

Meantime, as the manatees eat themselves out of groceries, they will also be wiping out the habitat that is the nursery for everything from shrimp and crabs to redfish, snook, trout and even gag grouper

Whether that number is 10,000 or somewhere higher--probably more manatees than there were here when the first Native Americans began to spear them--it is a finite number, and it will be reached remarkably soon unless natural events like extreme cold--unlikely given the steady warming trend of the world--or widespread disease or red tide slow the increase.

Will manatics continue to cry for tighter boating restrictions, even as manatees eat themselves out of house and home? Probably so, given the distance that is developing between the realities of Nature and the general experience of it in the digital age. There's no question that as the numbers of these animals go up, the number of them found dead, including those killed by boat strikes, will increase also, bringing still more cries for more restrictions even as the population swells to critical mass.

All this said, manatees are a wonderful, unique part of the natural world--I spent many hours observing the "gentle giants" at close hand from my dock on the Little Manatee River south of Tampa. State and federal regulators are to be credited with recognizing their value and acting to preserve their numbers at a time when most of us had no idea of their plight. And boaters, anglers and waterfront home owners will hopefully continue to share a watchful concern for their future with those who make their living from the species, and with those who have less opportunity to see them in the wild but still value their presence as part of Florida's remarkable ecosystem. Continuing science-based management should be central to that continuing success.

The Fishing Wire welcomes your comments and actively solicits letters and guest editorials from readers as well as fishery managers, scientists and industry experts in boating, fishing and related equipment. Please send your comments and suggestions to frank@thefishingwire.com.
Outdoors Calendar

» Got an event you'd like to see posted here? Send it to frank@thefishingwire.com.

Apr. 1 - Nov. 30: New Jersey inshore saltwater fishing tournament. Eight species, over 50 weigh stations, $100,000 in cash & prizes for the largest catches. Proceeds to the Fisheries Conservation Trust. $FREE entry using The Fishing Wire Code: 3720; www.BeachNBoat.com or 609.423.4002.

Apr. 12 - Mar. 31: 2nd Annual Lund Boats LCI Champlain Basin Derby,
50 weeks, 15 species, $25,000! www.lciderby.com

Sept. 4 - Sept. 6: Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3 presented by Allstate, Lake St. Clair, Detroit, Michigan. http://www.bassmaster.com/tournaments/bass-pro-shops-northern-open-3-presented-allstate

Sept. 4 - Sept. 6: Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3, presented by Allstate, Lake St. Clair; Detroit, MI

Sept. 6: Casting for the Cure tournament at Alabama's Logan Martin Lake, $50 entry, $1000 top prize; https://castingforthecure.wufoo.com/forms/casting-for-the-cure-rules-and-entry-form/

Sept. 6 - Sept. 7: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class, Orlando, Fla., http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Sept. 11 - Sept. 13: 2014 Bass Pro Shops Central Open #3 presented by Allstate, Arkansas River, Muskogee, Oklahoma. http://www.bassmaster.com/tournaments/2014-bass-pro-shops-central-open-3-presented-allstate

Sept. 12 - Sept. 14: 44th Annual Newport (RI) International Boat Show. Newport waterfront along America's Cup Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. Media: Andrew Golden Rushton Gregory Communications 617-413-6521 agolden@rushtongregory.com www.newportboatshow.com.

Sept. 18: Florida CCA Pinellas Chapter's 27th Annual Banquet & Auction, Gulfport Casino, Gulfport, FL; 727-244-9474.

Sept. 20 - Sept. 21: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class, Mobile, Ala., http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Sept. 20 - Sept. 21: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class,. The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, Mobile, Ala.. http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Sept. 20 - Sept. 21: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class,. The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, Mobile, Ala.. http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Sept. 25 - Sept. 27: TrawlerFest, Harborview Marine Center, Baltimore; www.passagemaker.com.

Oct. 11 - Oct. 12: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class, Minneapolis, Minn., http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Oct. 11 - Oct. 12: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class, Minneapolis, Minn., http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Oct. 11 - Oct. 12: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class. Minneapolis Marriott West, Minneapolis, Minn. http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Oct. 17 - Oct. 19: Bisbee's Los Cabos Offshore Tournament, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. $750,000 in cash prizes. www.bisbees.com

Oct. 21 - Oct. 25: Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. $2.5 million-plus in cash prizes. www.bisbees.com





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