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Fisheries Management Makes A Difference

Posted: June 11th, 2014 by Bill Dance

American anglers are blessed with vast expanses of freshwater that are well managed by various state agencies and are wide open to public use.

Of course, the main purposes of our larger waterways are typically hydro-power and as transportation for cargo barges, but recreation certainly figures into their existence. And honestly, the economy of many areas along these waters hinge on recreation.

Again, the American angler is blessed. So one has to understand that anything done to make fishing and boating better is always welcome.

Still, these reservoirs are SO VAST, that it often leads to the question I receive from many anglers. And that question is, “Can fisheries management techniques really make a difference on the larger reservoirs?”

When you think about it, this is certainly a sound question. As noted, some of our reservoirs are so large, one would have to think that annual water conditions probably dictate the success of fisheries reproduction more than anything else.

But fisheries management can and does still make a difference. And yes, the approach has to be different and considerations are, as expected, on a grander scale. But the folks that manage miles and miles of water are very dedicated, though often unappreciated. They spend most of their days on the water–and that’s fishing for facts rather than fun. Their work is geared toward making fisheries better, but for the most part, anglers only want to talk to such researchers when something is wrong with their favorite fishing hole, or when recommended regulations stray from the fishing public’s popular opinion.

Are they unappreciated? Yep, sometimes they are. And sometimes they may even be viewed more as a pest that a producer. But don’t forget their work is the foundation for our fishing fun. And too, there are plenty of things they know…that we anglers don’t.

They are watchdogs for our pastime. Sometimes you may see agency folks out on the water conducting creel surveys. I hope you welcome these creel checks and participate gladly. These fisheries folks are out there doing their job–and that job is to make our fishing better! Next time you run across these officers and/or biologists, be sure to thank them for the job they do!

A Lake’s Glory Days

Someone asked me the other day if there really is a “glory day” for a lake. What they meant, of course, was this: Does the production and/or fishing success of a lake have a peak?

Well, studies show that the best fishing in a lake is when they are between four and 10 years old, some earlier, some later. This is the time that the lake still has an abundance of submerged brushy and woody habitat. But as a lake ages much of the flooded habitat disappears through decay, which lowers the carrying capacity and subsequently the fish population of the lake. That’s why new lakes are usually the best fishing lakes. There are some things that can help revitalize an old lake, such as controlled draw downs, but it is usually impossible to bring back fishing on an old lake to the level it had when it was young.

Still, you can help an aging lake, and many anglers do, by putting out fish attractors/cover. Many individuals and fishing clubs do this annually. Where allowed by law, it really helps a fishery, I think.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance


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