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Post #555 by Rajesh Kumar on May 11th 2016, 7:07 PM (in topic “Different times: Fishing has changed and so has the industry as anglers look ahead to opener”)
Different times: Fishing has changed and so has the industry as anglers look ahead to opener
Al Skaar (left) of Alexandria and Dick Dyke were all smiles with a stringer of walleyes they caught on Lake Chippewa near Brandon during the Minnesota opener in 1975. (File photo)
This Saturday at midnight, there will be anglers backing their boats into waters around Douglas County, and landings on some of the most popular lakes in the area will likely still be filled.
There are those who live for Minnesota's fishing opener. The Department of Natural Resources states that Minnesota is ranked first nationally in the sale of fishing licenses per capita. Numbers released by the DNR before the 2015 opener stated that fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the economy in direct retail sales.
Plenty of anglers still live to be on the water, but are they coming to Alexandria as much as they used to?
"I remember one time on Lake Mary in 1977, I was working in the barber shop at that time so I went to work until noon, but in the morning I counted 124 boats out my window," Alexandria's Chuck Bokinskie said of how he recalls opening weekend almost four decades ago. "It's completely different now. Now you might hear there were 100 boats on Mary, but if you actually go out and counted them there might be 50. Maybe. That's just opening weekend."
A CHANGED INDUSTRY
Things have changed dramatically in the world of fishing since the mid-1970s.
Lakes fluctuate over time due to weather conditions. The differences in technology available to anglers is night and day, and industries that may have relied on fishing have also conformed. There were a lot more lake resorts around the area in the 1970s. Today, those that remain don't necessarily count on filling up their rentals with fishermen.
"I do know our local resorts tell me that the opener does not generate the same type of lodging interest it did 20 years ago," Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Coni McKay said. "I don't believe that is a situation exclusive to Alexandria. Some of it is thought to be generational. The boomers and greatest generations were and are a group that love to fish, but the younger generations are not as likely to be a fishing-opener enthusiast."
Joe and Terri Martin, who have owned Big Foot Resort on Lake Mary since 1998, have 77 seasonal RV sites and five short-stay sites, along with 10 cabins for rent. Three of the cabins and two of the RV sites were available for opening weekend as of May 5.
"Our first years we sold out, but not anymore," Joe said.
Martin bought Big Foot Resort knowing he couldn't rely on fishing to be his primary way of filling beds. It's part of the draw, but many local resorts have made the updates necessary to appeal to a wide range of interests for families.
"We've changed the resort quite a bit since we bought it so there's more reason for people to be here," Martin said.
Andrew Brinkman of Christopherson Bait in Alexandria says the amount of people they see come through their doors the week of opener can depend a lot on weather situations. Early springs like this year can mean anglers get ready for opener earlier. A sunny forecast can also lead to more people on the water on Saturday.
"It can be very busy here," Brinkman said on Monday. "The days leading up are usually more busy than an average day in the middle of summer."
THE NEED FOR WALLEYES
Advancements in technology have opened up an entirely new underwater world for anglers.
The ability to learn a lake has never been easier with today's depth finders.
When the bite is on, anglers can more easily follow to wherever the lake might be and have confidence.
"Part of it is fishermen are a lot more mobile," Alexandria's LeRoy Ras said. "They hear about something and that's where they go. I think of those lakes in Northeast South Dakota, I know a lot of guys who live in Alexandria that have cabins over there now just to fish walleyes. Everyone has depth finders, everyone has a GPS. All of that stuff just allows them to be that much more mobile."
The need for Minnesota's favorite game fish, the walleye, is at a fever pitch.
Ras, who was inducted into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame in 2015, took his first paid guiding job in 1967. He targets walleyes through the middle of June before switching to bass, but he knows what drives the industry year around.
"The majority of people want walleyes, and it's very difficult to take a walleye fisherman and turn him into a bass fisherman," Ras said. "The walleye fishing here, let's face it, if you go way back there were walleyes only on a few lakes. The Chippewa Chain and Minnewaska and so forth had them. Most of the rest of them are artificially made into walleye lakes. I'm not saying that's good or bad, I'm just saying that's what's happened."
The DNR stocks roughly 900 lakes throughout Minnesota. Glenwood Area Fisheries Manager Dean Beck said in 2015 that they release anywhere from 10,000 to 17,000 pounds of walleyes into local waters, depending on the year. It's not uncommon to hear of anglers wanting even more.
Bokinskie has been a part of a six-year stocking program through the Alexandria Viking Sportsmen group. He says the effort has helped put close to 1.5 million walleye fingerlings into 21 different area lakes.
"I know it's working," Bokinskie said. "It's doing wonderful things. The only way you're going to know that is by talking to the fishermen."
'I CAN'T SAY THE ACTUAL FISH COMMUNITIES HAVE CHANGED A LOT'
The majority of the lakes in the area, those small-to-medium sized waters, don't naturally produce walleyes, but pike, bass and panfish tend to naturally thrive in them.
Beck says he remembers a time when he first came to the area in 1989 that Alexandria proudly claimed itself as a great bass fishing destination. Prior to that, northern pike were more emphasized, he says.
The area still has some prestige among bass enthusiasts with the Alexandria Chain of Lakes being ranked among the top 50 waters nationwide by Bassmaster Magazine in 2015.
"I guess I have some concerns that people have become so specialized," Beck said. "We have surplus numbers of northern pike and bass in a lot of these lakes that could stand to be harvested and everyone is keying in on the walleyes. I can't say that the actual fish communities have changed a lot. We definitely get some variability in recruitment and population structure based on climatic conditions, drought versus heavy rainfall periods and the high water levels. But the basic fish communities are not all that changed."
Beck wonders if the greatest change to local lakes might still be coming with the impact zebra mussels could have.
"The real productivity of a lake occurs as fish are very small," he said. "At that point, all those fish are scrapping for similar food sources. If I would suggest a primary concern and fear for changes in fish community structure around here it would be following the zebra mussel infestations and losing some of the base primary productivity to zebra mussels. They're grazing down on the green algae, which is the basis of our whole system productivity."
Many area lakes feature an incredibly diverse fishery.
Beck says waters like the Alexandria Chain of Lakes easily home 40 fish species, from standard game fish down to non-game minnows. That provides its own set of challenges for producing the kinds of walleye fisheries people might want, but it also creates options for anglers.
"Selective harvest," Bokinskie said. "If the walleyes aren't biting, the crappies and sunfish are. That's an easy switch."
AREA WALLEYE WATERS
For those in search of walleyes, there are still plenty of options in the Douglas County area. Beck says the best walleye waters tend to be the fertile systems that can grow fish fast and have some level of natural reproduction. These systems often respond well to stocking efforts, too.
A 2014 DNR gillnetting assessment on Lake Reno caught 18.8 walleyes per gillnet with an average size of 17.5 inches. To put that into perspective, the DNR considers Minnesota lakes similar in size to Reno as having better-than-average walleye abundance when catch rates reach nine per gillnet.
Reno has the ingredients to produce a healthy walleye population — strong yellow perch numbers, and a reasonable northern pike population.
Lake Pelican by Ashby, Lake Osakis, Minnewaska, Amelia, Ida, Emily, Andrew, Miltona, Mary and Big Chippewa are other lakes the DNR suggest targeting for opener.
There are fish to be caught this weekend. Times have changed. Tactics have changed, but the general rule of fishing still applies — the fish will need to cooperate to fill a livewell.
LOCAL RESORTS DOWN DRAMATICALLY
The local resort scene paints perhaps the most dramatic picture of how things have shifted in the fishing and outdoor tourism industry over the decades.
Coni McKay, the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, says she did a research project on the changes in lake resorts in the area almost 10 years ago. Through that, she learned there were approximately 150 small resorts on area lakes in 1975. That had dwindled to less than 50 by the time of her research.
Explore Minnesota Tourism also looked at the subject statewide in the late 2000s. Their research showed that in 1985 between Pope, Douglas and Todd Counties there were more than 80 resorts. In 2014, there were less than 35. The study showed a similar trend statewide with 3,200 resorts on lakes across Minnesota in 1985 falling to 1,200 in 2005.
Post #554 by Rajesh Kumar on May 11th 2016, 6:57 PM (in topic “Pro angler Delvisco gives fishing tips at charity event”)
Pro angler Delvisco gives fishing tips at charity event
KNOXVILLE,Tenn.--(WVLT) Professional bass angler Mike Delvisco was casting out advice and tips at the Texas Roadhouse in Turkey Creek Tuesday evening.
"Not sticking with things long enough (when not catching fish)," Delvisco says is a common mistake the weekend fisherman makes.
"And when they catch some fish, not sticking with that area long enough, too," Delvisco added. "You'll be surprised how many fish live in a certain area."
Delvisco also says to "maximize" your efforts in one particular area as opposed to running all over the lake trying to duplicate what you're doing.
The 30-year pro was at the popular restaurant chain as part of a charity fundraiser for the upcoming 3rd Annual Roane County Bass Tournament, which benefits St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
"I fished it last year. It was tons of fun. We had around a 100 boats fish it and I hope we get more this year. Fishing was awesome there last year."
The fishing tournament is Saturday, May 21 at Kingston City Park.
"I've been fortunate enough to do this for a living for 30 years and not have a job other than fishing, so when I have an opportunity to come and try and give something back for a cause like this, I'm all over it," Delvisco said.
Delvisco makes his home in Dandridge, so he's familiar with the lakes of East Tennessee. He says this time of year is one of his favorite times of year to fish because of the diversity in which you can fish with.
"There's a lot of ways to catch fish (right now). I caught 5 or six fish today. I caught them on six different baits. They are biting some top water baits, they're biting some plastic worms, they're biting some crank baits and jigs and things like that. Pretty much how ever you like to catch fish right now, you can catch them. You can catch them shallow, deep, or in the middle, because fish are doing a lot of different things right now."
Delvisco says the biggest misnomer about being a pro is that it doesn't always look as easy as it sometimes appears.
"They watch us on TV and it seems like we're catching a fish every time we throw something in the lake, that's really not the case. They don't see the hours that we spend trying to actually figure out how to catch a few fish. It's really that mystery--how am I going to catch them today... and then the satisfaction that you get once you figure it out. Once you figure it all out, that's the great part about fishing."
For more information, including how to register for the 3rd Annual Roane County Bass Tournament to benefit St. Jude's, you can call Travis Lemons at 865-776-6387.
Post #553 by Rajesh Kumar on May 10th 2016, 1:23 PM (in topic “Phillips column: Always plan for the unplanned costs of fishing trips”)
Phillips column: Always plan for the unplanned costs of fishing trips
It seems like the cost of going fishing just keeps going up and up.
Just purchasing a license anymore can put a dent in the old wallet. Add special fees and enhancements for where you want to fish, what you want to catch and how many fishing rods you’d like to use, and it gets kind of spendy.
Add into that the gas, food and lodging for a few days on the river and now you are talking some serious money.
Then there are the incidentals.
No, I’m not talking about the lures, weights, fishing line and other tackle. I am talking about the incidental costs that just kind of pop up on a fishing trip.
Last year one of the little incidentals was created by me backing my trailer off of the launch in the middle of a rainstorm in the pre-dawn darkness. That little mishap ruined a perfectly good tire and boogered up my trailer fender. The tire cost $120 to replace. I haven’t had the stomach to see what a new fender replacement will cost. For now, I’m just towing the boat with a messed-up fender.
Just the year before that, I blew a tire traveling up to Brewster for the sockeye season, and the year before that the bearings in one of the hubs got so hot they welded to the spindle on the axle. Just for your information, replacing an axle is not cheap.
This past week I spent a few days fishing for salmon with family and friends. There were a couple of minor mishaps during the outing that will add a few dollars to the trip.
After proudly telling everyone in my boat how much I liked wearing my $100 Costa sunglasses, I immediately dropped them into the river. They were on the bill of my cap, and when I reached up to scratch my head, plunk, into the drink they went, never to be seen again.
In case you weren’t aware, sunglasses don’t float. My next pair will have a lanyard.
And I have no idea where to go about finding a mount for a ship-to-shore antennae, but I need to start looking. The one on Doug Jewett’s nice Hewescraft boat is now busted, thanks to what I thought was some quick thinking on my part.
We had been trolling along, fishing for salmon. We each had our two-rod endorsement and had different types of lures and baits deployed. And we were having some success — at least in getting bites and hook-ups. Landing the fish was a different story.
The third fish of the day hit my favorite Magnum FatFish plug, and Doug cleared the other three rods as I battled the hard-fighting fish. The first two fish of the morning had somehow gotten off, so I was more than a little concerned this fish might do the same.
My worries came to life when, just before Doug could net the struggling fish off the back corner of the boat, the lure came out of its mouth. It didn’t just fall out of its mouth — it shot out. Because I was trying to pull the fish to the net, the line and rod had plenty of backward energy loaded into it and in an instant the lure flew right past my face.
The thing is, the fish was still sort of rolling on the surface of the water, not realizing it was no longer hooked.
Sometimes a person’s brain works faster than a computer, and as I downloaded all the information about what was occurring, I instantly thought if I could whip the lure back at the fish I might just have a slight chance of hooking it again.
I know, stupid thought. But in that nano-second, that’s what my brain was telling my arms and hands to do.
Unfortunately, my brain had not downloaded ALL the information, which included that little bit of data about the antennae being located just up off my right shoulder, right where my lure was headed. Naturally, the lure somehow hooked the antennae, so my speedy whip forward on the rod pulled to antennae the wrong way, and the mount broke.
I don’t know what made me feel worse — losing another fish or breaking Doug’s antennae mount.
Luckily, we hooked and landed several more salmon that day, so the sting of the lost fish eased a bit. However, Doug can’t hardly talk ship-to-ship, let alone ship-to-shore on his radio, because the antennae won’t stand up without a mount.
My sunglasses will be fairly easy to replace. The antennae base, I’m not so sure.
One thing I do know: The cost of my fishing trip is going to be a tad more than I expected.
• Rob Phillips is a freelance outdoor writer and partner in the advertising firm of Smith, Phillips & DiPietro. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post #552 by Rajesh Kumar on May 10th 2016, 1:15 PM (in topic “Fishing season open for walleye and more”)
Fishing season open for walleye and more
New York state's freshwater fishing season kicked off Saturday for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Fishing is a proud tradition in New York,” Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a media release. “I encourage all New Yorkers and visitors to take advantage of the great fishing opportunities our state provides and celebrate the success of our efforts to sustain our popular and economically important recreational fisheries.”
The statewide opening day for muskellunge was changed last year on most waters to the last Saturday in May (May 28). The statewide minimum size limit was also increased to 40 inches. These regulations apply to most New York muskellunge waters. On these waters, the minimum size limit is 54 inches and the season opens on the third Saturday of June (June 18). Additional exceptions to the statewide regulations for muskellunge and other species exist; details are available in the 2016-17 Freshwater Fishing Regulations guide, at all DEC offices and sporting license vendors.
Anglers searching for places to fish can visit the DEC’s fishing site on its website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/fishing.html. Maps of public fishing locations and boat launches can also be found on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/103457.html.
Anglers and boaters can help the state prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by taking appropriate measures before and after their boating or fishing trip. Anglers and boaters should be sure to clean, dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water, the DEC advised. Boaters should drain all water holding compartments before leaving a water body.
Anglers 16 and older must have a state fishing license, which are now valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. License fees were reduced in 2014 and are now $25 for adults and $5 for senior citizens for state residents. Licenses can be purchased online and printed; purchased by phone by calling (866) 933-2257 FREE, or from license issuing agents across the state.
Post #551 by Rajesh Kumar on May 10th 2016, 1:05 PM (in topic “Fly Fishing Cuba: Orvis Now Offering Charters”)
Fly Fishing Cuba: Orvis Now Offering Charters
Like many other American anglers, I yearned to someday fish in Cuba. The forbidden fruit. The Hemingway lore. Pristine natural resources and willing bonefish, tarpon, even permit. My dreams danced with the possibilities.
But I never acted on it. Oh sure, I knew how to get there through the side entrance—flying through Cancun and tucking a twenty in your passport so it wouldn’t get stamped. But I didn’t test the embargo—not so much out of patriotic obligation, rather because I was chicken. I often travel internationally, and I didn’t want to risk the nightmare of ending up on some special Customs and Border Patrol list I'd imagined could earn me “special service” every time I flew back home.
But that’s all changed now. Not changing. Not about to change. Changed.
By and large, Cuba is open for business. And all you have to do is note the dozens of Havana charter flights on the departure board at Miami International Airport on any given day now to realize how much this change has already happened.
I was on one of those charter flights within weeks after President Obama’s historic visit to Havana, in order to experience saltwater fishing as part of an Orvis exploratory trip to Cuba. The largest flyfishing company in America has just announced it would be offering guided fishing packages to Cuba. That's a significant milestone on a number of levels, but most importantly, it's a breakthrough for many anglers like myself who are interested in the full Cuba experience, but want it dialed in and fully compliant with "people-to-people" visa regulations. Orvis has spent the past 18 months getting its program together with expert legal and diplomatic counsel.
I was immediately struck that Cuba is one of the few places I've visited that was almost exactly as I had envisioned it to be. Cuba is indeed a time warp, replete with 1950s autos, billboard murals of El Commandante, incredible music, art, interesting food, and much more. We drove from Havana to Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs (two hours), and on the way, noted the road sign that marked the spot where the invasion was halted, Castro himself leading the defense.
We fished a part of the nearby Zapata National Park that encompasses roughly 300,000 hectares, where only four boats per day are allowed to fish. While parts of Havana are seemingly locked in the 1950s, the shoreline and flats here, minus almost any hint of human existence, are locked in what I imagine they may have appeared before 1492. At one spot, I jumped out of the boat, and waded a full mile, in bare feet, on soft but firm sand, and had shots at dozens of 3-5-pound bonefish.
The thing that makes the Orvis travel package different from the others is pretty simple. There have been many fishing programs available to anglers for years. I’ve heard wonderful things about many of them. I’ve heard about chasing the permit that ride the wakes of stingrays. But I’ve also heard about the seven-hour bus rides, followed by four-hour boat rides, and such. That's great if you are completely focused on the fishing. I was as much or more interested in the cultural aspects of the trip, and am eager to go back with my wife, who will surely do some fishing, but is also interested in the other options. Orvis seems to strike a good balance in that regard.
Answers to logistical questions: The fishing guides are great. They speak perfect English, and are very much in tune with the fishery. Their conservation ethic is among the best I have noticed anywhere. All the people we met were quite friendly. I felt safer in Cuba than in many other countries I visited. The food is quite good, especially in the newly-opened "paladares" restaurants, where you eat fresh grilled lobster, crab, pork and other local dishes in what are literally extensions of people's homes. And after dinner, of course, one can smoke a fresh Cuban cigar.
Despite rumor to the contrary, Cuba is not necessarily cheap. The government and locals have found ways to tap into the blossoming tourism industry, and there seems to be almost two parallel economies--one for the Cubans, and one for tourists. Americans are more and more present in the tourism mix; one fishing guide told me that two years ago, Canadians and Europeans comprised 90 percent of his business, and today, already, American anglers account for over 80 percent of the mix.
If you are considering a trip, I’d say go sooner than later. Stroll the Malecon and experience some of the grit and hustle in Old Havana. Listen to the music. But go with a program that’s dialed. And if you fish, be sure to appreciate the rawness of the natural settings to be found in Cuba.
There are, of course, no guarantees as to what will happen in the future. But for now, the present is far more exciting and brimming with opportunity for Americans than it has been in a very long time.
Post #550 by Rajesh Kumar on May 10th 2016, 1:01 PM (in topic “Float fishing 101 covers river basics”)
Float fishing 101 covers river basics
Floating an Ozark stream is the closest thing to a guarantee that you'll catch fish. Lots of fish. Catching and releasing 50 or more fish during a float trip isn't unusual on our area streams like the Kings, Elk and Illinois rivers.
Talking about this good fishing was part of the fun of a program on floating and fishing held April 10 at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. I was honored and privileged to be invited to give a talk at the visitor center on the basics of float-fishing, how to do it safely and how to get fish to bite.
I catch fewer fish per man hours of fishing than anyone on the planet, but even I can put a few in the boat drifting down a beautiful river. We're truly blessed to have several that are a short drive for most river rats in our corner of the Ozarks.
Telling the audience that it's routine to catch 50 fish a day got their attention. Next came a few tips on handling a canoe or kayak on moving water. That included how not to tip over in a canoe.
The No. 1 thing a canoe paddler can do to stay upright is to kneel down in the canoe. No need to kneel all day, just when you come to some rough water or any stretch you're not sure about. Kneel with your knees braced against the sides of the canoe and rest your rear against the seat. It lowers your center of gravity.
One person in the audience piped it also helps when saying your prayers going into wicked rapids. Most of the waterways we talked about, mainly the Kings, Elk, War Eagle and Illinois are gentle, easy rivers to paddle with little rough water. If you haven't tried kneeling in your canoe, the difference in stability is remarkable.
Most people who river fish are after smallmouth bass. Smallmouths rule the roost in our Ozark streams. They're beautiful, hard-fighting trophy fish. They're protected to the point smallmouth fishing in streams is basically catch and release. On most of the Kings River, the daily limit is two fish that are 14 inches or longer. Smallmouth regulations are tight on all the Ozarks' streams.
Next, we talked about lures that are almost guaranteed to catch a bunch of smallmouth bass. There's the tiny-sized Rebel crawdad crank bait. These will catch any fish that swims in the river, including sunfish, goggle-eye and smallmouths. To target smallmouths specifically, fishermen can't go wrong with a tube bait, soft-plastic crawdad or any lure that looks like a crawdad. An Arkie Crawling Grub, sold by Arkie Lures of Springdale, is a local favorite.
How long is a good fishing float trip? Expect to travel about one river mile per hour if you're fishing. Four or five miles is a good fishing float that lasts five or six hours. If you're with a group, it's almost guaranteed that around 2 p.m., people will start asking, "How much farther to the take-out?" There will be some crabby paddlers if you've bitten off too long a trip and still have four miles to go.
"What about snakes?" someone asked.
Float a few rivers, and you're going to see one or two. Give them lots or room and leave them alone. Most people who get bit are messing with the snake, trying to catch it or kill it. If you see a snake in the water and can see only its head, it's probably a harmless northern banded water snake. If the snake is swimming with a lot of its back out of the water, it could be a poisonous cottonmouth.
When you're on the river, you're in the snake's home. Give them some peace.
All this talk about good fishing and floating has me itching to get on the river. Smallmouth bass, here we come.
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