Thursday, March 31, 2011
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Big catfish a state record
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
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- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
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Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
The 109-pound blue catfish caught from Kerr Lake on St. Patrick’s Day by Tony Milam of South Boston has been certified as a Virginia record by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (See last week’s Cochran column).
Some people, including the DGIF staff, are thinking world record. The blue catfish world record is a 130-pound catch taken last July from the Missouri River near Florissant, Mo. The 53-inch Kerr fish was only four inches shy of the world record fish.
Coming up with another 21-plus pounds is a huge order, but anglers are optimists. So is Julia Dixon, DGIF spokesperson.
“The blue catfish population in Buggs Island Lake [Kerr] is still relatively young, so a fish of world record size could indeed be caught there in the coming years. Of course, it could just as easily happen in the tidal James River as well.”
Dixon is acknowledging that Kerr and the James have been in competition when it comes to producing a record blue catfish. The previous record was a James River fish that weighed 102-pounds, 4-ounces. In 2004, Kerr held the record with a 92-pound fish.
SMITH MOUNTAIN MUSKIE A RARE CATCH
Mark Taylor’s blog this week featured a picture of Roger Haynes holding a 45.5-inch; 28-pound muskie he caught from Smith Mountain Lake. Twenty or so years ago, such pictures were commonplace. The big lake was Virginia’s top producer of muskies, the home of an active muskie club and the site of muskie tournaments.
In recent years, it has become a rarity to catch a muskie from the lake. In fact, last year not a single muskie citation came from Smith Mountain. Elsewhere, it was a good season, with just over 150 citations registered.
When Smith Mountain began to fade as a muskie producer, the James River took off then the New River grabbed the honor and has held on.
Last year, the New produced 107 citations, dwarfing all competitors. It also yielded the biggest fish, a 42-pounder caught mid-January by Mitchell Dowdy. There were a couple of impressive back-to-back catches from the New. John Saville caught a 36-pounder one day and a 34-pound, 8-ounce fish the following day. William Haines caught a 39-pound, 5-ounce muskie October 10 and a 29-pound, 8-ounce fish the next day.
For the first time, the Shenandoah River (26 citations) grabbed second place from the James River (17 citations). During one three-day period on the Shenandoah, John Jensen landed three citation muskie weighing 17 to 19 pounds apiece.
SATURDAY ANGLERS CAN REENACT OPENING DAY
If you enjoyed the tangle of traffic, tangle of fishing lines and tangle of nerves that were part of the old opening day of trout season, then Saturday’s Trout Heritage Day is for you.
Eighteen streams and impoundments will be closed briefly, stocked with trout then opened 9 a.m. Saturday to give fishermen a taste of what it was like prior to the state’s current year-round trout season.
Here is the water involved:
Beartree Lake and Clinch Mountain fee-fishing area, Washington County
Bark Camp Lake, Scott County
Cripple Creek in the Ravens Cliff area, Wythe County
Crooked Creek fee fishing area, Carroll County
Douthat Lake fee fishing area, Bath County
Jennings Creek, Botetourt County
Lake Witten and Lincolnshire Lake, Tazewell County
Liberty Lake, Bedford County
Middle Fork Holston River, Smyth County
Passage Creek, Shenandoah County
Pedlar River (upper) Amherst County
Pigg River, Franklin County
Quantico Marine Corps Base, Prince William County
Robison River and Rose River, Madison County
Tinker Creek, Roanoke City
Paul Ebert caught this 4-pound smallmouth bass on a Smith Mountain fishing outing with Dale Wilson.
DALE WILSON’S SMITH MOUNTAIN REPORT
In April, game fish in Smith Mountain Lake begin to move shallow as the temperatures warm, producing one of the best months of the year for angling success. Even night fishing takes off as bass and stripers follow baitfish into the shallows.
Here is some advice from veteran guide Dale Wilson on how you can take advantage of the spring fishing:
LARGEMOUTH BASS: Look for them around docks, stumps and on rocky secondary points. Some will be beginning to spawn. Best lures include plastic worms, jig-and-pigs, swim baits small crank baits, shaky heads, drop shots and spinner baits.
SMALLMOUTH BASS: Search the mid-to-lower sections of the lake and fish areas close to where these fish will spawn. Best lures include jig-and-pigs, swim baits, small crank baits and jerk baits.
STRIPED BASS: The top spots will be the larger creeks, the upper sections of both rivers and the around the dam. Prime depths are 3 to 15 feet. Productive lures are Red Fins, swim baits, jerk baits, bucktails and Zoom flukes fished on 1/4 to 3/8 ounce lead heads. Live bait and trolling also will be productive. Night fishing will be good.
CRAPPIE: Look for them in depths of 2 to 10 feet in the main creeks of the mid-to-upper lake around docks, fallen trees, stumps and brush piles. Try small minnows and 1.5-inch tubes fished on 1/32nd. or 1/16-ounce lead heads.
Wilson will present a program at the Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, April 1, 7 p.m., at the Moneta Community Center.
OUTDOORS 40 YEARS AGO
A curly-haired man from Norfolk stood up in a Virginia Game Commission meeting in Richmond and asked: “Would someone here please tell me why it’s illegal to hunt on Sundays in Virginia?”
There was no answer. The meeting continued another five hours. When it was time to adjourn, the curly-haired man rose to his feet and said: “I still haven’t received an answer to my question. Is there some sort of law like the blue law or is there some biological reason not to hunt on Sunday?”
The prodding caused the commissioners to establish a committee to study Sunday hunting. That was late March 1971. The issue continues to be debated; in fact, as late as last week it was under discussion by board members of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
>Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officials seized and destroyed 10 fallow deer reported to be held illegally in an enclosure on a Chesterfield County property. Two white-tailed deer escaped. A permit is required to hold deer captive and DGIF has not been issuing permits to private landowners out of concerns of spreading diseases in the native deer herd. Tissue from the captured deer was extracted for testing.
>On Tuesday, Maryland became the first state to ban felt-soled waders for stream fishing in hopes of curbing the spread of certain invasive species. Similar bans will take place April 1 in Vermont and in Alaska next year.
>Now available is a new Web site designed to provide consumers with information on boats, power sports products and recreational vehicles. It is patterned after sites in the automotive market. Check seedealercost.com.
>Hunters in Virginia who have been debating a $5 increase in license fees can take comfort in the fact that a North Dakota bighorn sheep license sold at auction for $41,000. The money will go for sheep management in that state.
MEETINGS, SEASONS AND EVENTS
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public meeting to hear opinions on hunting season proposals, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Buffalo Gap High School, Buffalo Gap, March 31.
Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, April 1, 7 p.m., Moneta Community Center program by veteran guide Dale Wilson.
Youth spring gobbler day, April 2, one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, participants must be 15 or younger.
Basic Trapping Course by Virginia Trappers Association, April 2, 7:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Bedford Moose Lodge # 1897, free but pre-registration required, Greg Mason
Spring gobbler season April 9-May 14.
Capt. Zed’s Marina Spring Flounder Tournament, Wachapreague, April 15-24, $2,000 top prize.
Eleventh annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, April 16 and 17, Waynesboro.
Smith Mountain Striper Club members/guest tournament, April 16, $25 for members; $30 guests, information at March 4 and April 1 club meetings, 7 p.m. at Moneta Community Center or from Mike Bondzus, 540-576-2841.
NRA annual meeting, April 29-May 1, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburg.
The Cave Springs Optimist Club 43rd annual Smith Mountain Lake fishing tournament, April 29-May 1, cash prizes for the largest largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, striped bass and muskie, tickets are $40 and can be ordered from the club, P.O. Box 1276, Salem, Va. 24153 or purchased at Gill’s Creek Marina (formally Foxport Marina, Crazy Horse Marina, Virginia Outdoorsman, Franklin Outdoors, Captain’s Quarters, Metro Heavy Duty Distributors. Event includes the Bill Cochran Youth Tournament April 30, open to youngsters age 12 and under at not cost, but must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Fishing is for large fish (carp) and small fish (sunfish). Prizes include savings bonds. Information from Carol at 540-588-3502.
Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, April 30, Lord Botetourt High School, information and tickets from Richard Pauley.
Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, May 6, 7 p.m., Moneta Community Center program on striped bass fishing strategies by Marshall Harris.
Blue Ridge Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society annual conservation and sportsmen’s banquet, May 7, Roanoke Elks Lodge, doors open 5 p.m. dinner at 7:30 p.m. tickets and information from Charles Kempfer.
Augusta County Area Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, May 7, Verona Volunteer Fire Department, Verona, information and tickets from Leonard Tolley.
Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, June 3, 7 p.m., Moneta Community Center.
North Carolina State University Sport Fishing School, June 5-9, Hatteras, N.C.
Roanoke Valley Friends of the NRA banquet, Aug. 27, Salem Civic Center, information from Mike Kessler, 540-884-2917 or Al Milton, 540-797-7777.
Got an event? Let us know: email@example.com.