Thursday, August 11, 2005
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Striper club says “no”
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
- Virginia’s hunting totals produce mixed results
- A good trade: Virginia trout for Kentucky elk
- Forget the odds-makers; Salem’s John Crews believes he can win the Bassmaster Classic.
- 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
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The Smith Mountain Striper Club has announced its opposition to a number of management changes for striped bass that are being recommended by biologists of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
The recommendations are scheduled to be considered by the DGIF board during a meeting in Richmond Aug. 18. Club members say they will voice their opposition during one of the public meetings that have been scheduled (see this week’s Cochran column).
Dan Wilson, DGIF biologist, believes current regulations need to be adjusted in order to enhance Smith Mountain’s declining population of large stripers. He has recommended eliminating the current 20-inch minimum size limit and implementing a 26- to 37-inch slot limit from Oct. 1-May 31. During this period, anglers could keep two stripers outside the slot limit measurements. From June 1 to Sept. 30 there would be no size limit and the catch limit would be four. (See “A new approach for Smith Mountain Lake stripers,” March 24.)
Past management practices just aren’t working; in fact, they are taking the striper population in the opposite direction, Wilson said.
In a poll that attracted 67 members of the striper club, 70 percent of the participants said they opposed removing the minimum 20-inch limit. Input on the cold-weather slot limit and the warm-weather creel limit were evenly divided.
Wilson, who has worked closely with the club, said DGIF is proceeding with the proposals and the club along with other anglers will be given an opportunity to make their position known.
“It is up to the anglers to decide if the new regs are something they would like to have,” Wilson said.
Club members also have expressed opposition -- 82 percent against -- to reducing the striper-stocking rate at Smith Mountain; however, that is a management decision, not a regulation matter.
A PLATTER FUL OF PLOVER
As soon as Pat Weston heard that Cape Point has been reopened to beech traffic, she jumped into her 4-wheel drive and headed that way with her camera. Since July 14, the public has been banned from the Point by the National Park Service to protect three piping plover chicks. The point happens to be the most popular surf-fishing spot along the fabled Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The closure has caused a buzz in the small communities along the 2 miles of beach that have been off limits to vehicles. One Buxton restaurant, Diamond Shoals, has advertised fried piping plover and piping plover potpie. Another has advertised fresh plucked plover. An establishment in Avon has advertised piping plover subs.
In short, the ban has not gone well with anglers and some of the businesses that cater to them and other tourists.
But the National Park Service says the piping plover is a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act and it is the job of park officials to protect it.
Some of the controversy took wing Sunday when the chicks learned to fly. On Tuesday the ban was lifted, meaning beach vehicles could reclaim most of the Point. But not at night. A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. restriction was posted, not for plover, but for another species, the black skimmer.
Word of the July 14 closure spread quickly and soon about 50 vehicles were parked at the off-limits area, which was guarded, by park rangers, sheriff’s deputies and state police. One tackle shop website called it “Chick Point Charlie.”
Off-road vehicle groups say the park service needs to enact a plan that would give more access to the beach. For over 30 years there has been a need for a management plan. In the 1970s, one was proposed and sent to Washington, but was never advertised or adopted.
DGIF REACHES OUT TO DIVERSE COMMUNITIES
Many wildlife officials will tell you that the major challenge of their job isn’t dealing with wildlife, but dealing with people. That has become even more challenging now that Virginia has become what one legislator called “a melting pot of cultural diversity.”
Recently Col. W. Gerald Massengill, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries interim director, traveled to Northern Virginia where he and others meet with Korean Americans during a workshop to stress the importance of the state’s black bear population and other environmental issues.
About a year ago, a sting operation in the area lead to the indictments of more than 100 people, many who were dealing in the illegal sale of bear parts, chiefly gallbladders which are valuable medical aids in some Asian cultures. The sting led to cries of racism.
“We are looking at that workshop as a first step of the agency meeting with diverse groups to explain what the DGIF does,” said Massengill.
About 80 people turned out for the workshop where, in addition to talk about bears, the subjects included preserving wild ginseng and guarding against the release of snakehead fish into Virginia waters.
Out of this could come a new law, which would allow the sale of parts from legally killed black bear. Vivian Watts, D-Springfield, said she would introduce a bill to accomplish this in the next session of the General Assembly. In the meantime, there is an effort to get Gov. Warner to pardon the charges.
Most years you pretty well can forget about catching one of those jumbo largemouth bass from Briery Creek Lake once the spawn is over. Not this year. Huge bass are being caught even during the Dog Days of August.
The past week, Worsham Grocery, near the lake, weighed bass that were 8-2, 8-5, 8-6, 8-13, 9-9 and 10-9.
>Fishing for striped bass in the lower reaches of Kerr Lake has been especially productive. The area between the Dam and Buoy 6 has been good, but the hot spot is Buoy 4.
>Fishing for flathead catfish has been excellent in the Richmond section of the James River. Blue catfish up to 66 pounds also have been caught in the area.
>Mike and P.J. Buchanan of Richmond landed 18 largemouth bass from Chickahominy River on plastic worms and the Mann’s Minus-1.
>Trollers using deep-running Red Fin plugs are catching walleye at Lake Gaston. One anger weighed four up to 8 pounds apiece.
>John Crews of Salem is in the 2006 Bassmaster Classic at Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga near Kissimmee. In order to fill the quota, several anglers who did well during the regular tour last season were awarded a spot in the 2006 Classic to compensate for the fact that the event is being moved from summertime to late winter. Crews competed in the recent 2005 Classic held in Pittsburgh, but did not make the final cut.
>Hunters participating in the Radford Army Ammunition Plant deer hunt will have the option of using crossbows this season.
>Cape Point, the most popular fishing spot of the fabled Outer Banks of North Carolina was reopened to 4-wheel drive beach traffic Tuesday. The National Park Service closed the Point near Buxton July 14 to protect three piping plover chicks. The reopening is for daytime hours only, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
>For Sale: 14-foot johnboat that is longing to float a river. Trevor Ruble has such a craft and the money will go for a good cause. Ruble is the executive director of Hooked for Life, a Christian/angler organization. The boat is a late 1990s Bass Tracker Topper with a 6-h.p. Mercury outboard, 50-pound thrust Minnkota trolling motor and Lowe Trailer. Life jackets, paddles and battery are included. The price is $1,100. Check hookedforlife.org.
>BASS says that an average 405,000 households tuned into the 2005 Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins televised on ESPN and ESPN2. That's a modest 9 percent increase from last year. The two stations totaled 12 hours of Classic programming. BASS stated a total of 29,295 spectators attended the three days of weigh-ins in Pittsburgh, which was the largest audience since ESPN acquired BASS in 2001. In addition, 76,872 people attended the ESPN Outdoors Expo and Bassmaster Family Fest.
>North Dakota has scheduled its first modern-day mountain lion season this fall with the stated goal being to provide information on the species. There have been five confirmed sightings of the big cat so far this year and seven in 2004, wildlife officials report.
>Congress recently approved $40 million in appropriations for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act for the upcoming fiscal year. After remaining flat for the past three fiscal years, this is an increase of $2 million to be used in wildlife habitat protection.
>One of the lures that helped Kevin VanDam win the Bassmaster Classic was a Smithwick original RB 1200 Rattlin’ Rogue. Anglers who scurried to find their own RB1200 were disappointed. This design has been out of production for more than 10 years. But fear not. Smith is rushing to get it back into production. It should be available at top fishing retailers in October.
>Ducks Unlimited recently hired two new employees in its Mid-Atlantic Field Office in Annapolis, Md. Phil Poux joins DU as the Mid-Atlantic Director of Development and will be responsible for building major donor gift programs in Virginia four other states. Kurt Dyroff was hired as DU’s newest engineer involved in habitat restoration projects.
There are new leaders in the gray triggerfish, Spanish mackerel and wahoo categories of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Here are the standings.
BLACK DRUM: 93 pounds, 9 ounces, Willie McWhite, Jr., Richmond, lower eastern Chesapeake Bay.
COBIA: 89 pounds, Mark Shaffer, Fredericksburg, upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
CROAKER: 4-pounds, 8 ounces, Elliott Souldourian, Virginia Beach, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
DOLPHIN: 35 pounds, Richard Brink, Chesapeake, off Virginia Beach.
FLOUNDER: 17 pounds, 2 ounces, Hopie Firth, Poquoson, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TRIGGERFISH: 4 pounds, 4 ounces, Keith Trewick, Virginia Beach, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TROUT: 12 pounds, 14 ounces, William Flipin, Hayes, upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
KING MACKEREL, 47 pounds, Frank Riganto, Virginia Beach off Virginia Beach.
KINGFISH: 1 pound, 12 ounces, Damon Moore, Sterling, off Virginia Beach.
SEA BASS: 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Chad Stoker, Chesapeake, off Virginia Beach.
SHEEPSHEAD: 16 pounds, 2 ounces, Bob Lee, Portsmouth, lower-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPADEFISH: 12 pounds, 8 ounces, Jerry Carnell, Jr. Oxford, N.C. upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPANISH MACKEREL: 8 pounds, Charles Lewis III, Pasadena, Md., ocean off Eastern Shore.
SPECKLED TROUT: 11 pounds, 3 ounces, Brain Pomije, Chesapeake, Elizabeth River.
SPOT: 1 pound, 4 ounces, Robert Richardson, Richmond, Elizabeth River.
STRIPED BASS: 63 pounds, 8 ounces, state record, Paul Leckner, Greenbackville, Bradford Bay.
TAUTOG: 18 pounds, 4 ounces, Larry Larue, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
TUNA (BLUEFIN) 128 pounds, Robert Hughes, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
TUNA: 90 pounds, 8 ounces, John Mackey, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
WAHOO: 79 pounds, 3 ounces, Barry Jones Saint Michaels, Md., ocean off Eastern Shore.
Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show/Virginia Deer Classic, Aug. 12-14, Showplace, Mechanicsville, contact Denny Quaiff, 804-743-1290.
Inaugural Virginia State Sporting Clays Challenge, presented by Ruffed Grouse Society, Aug. 13, The Homestead Shooting Club, Hot springs, $275 for singles, contact is Michelle Benedict, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inaugural Highland Drummer Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society banquet, Aug. 27, Brier Inn, Lewisburg, W.Va. $45 pr $65 for couple, ticket information from Todd Spencer, 304-645-7039.
Virginia’s dove season opens Sept. 3.
Dove shoot sponsored by the Kanawha Valley Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society, Sept. 3, Mountain Meadows Hunting Preserve, Greenville, W.Va., $100, contact Larry Rodgers, 304-206-3303 or Steve Cale, 304-757-6465.
Western Division of Virginia Big Game Contest, Sept. 10 and 11, Rockingham County Fairgrounds near Harrisonburg, see vpsa.org for details.
Urban archery season, Sept. 17-30 and Jan. 9-25.
Eastern Division and state finals of Virginia Big Game Contest, Sept. 24 and 25, Southampton County Fairgrounds, Franklin, see vpsa.org for details.
Bowhunting/crossbow season, Oct. 1-Nov. 18 and Dec. 5-Jan. 7.
Roanoke Valley Friends of NRA banquet, Oct. 15, Salem Civic Center, $30 single, $50 couple, lots of guns to give away, proceeds go to grants and programs for youth and sports shooting programs, information from Chris Kessler, 884-3259.
Fall turkey hunting season, Oct. 31-Nov. 12; Nov. 24 and Dec. 12-Jan. 7.
Muzzleloading season east of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 5-18.
Muzzleloading season west of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 12-18
Deer hunting season west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 19-Dec. 3
Deer hunting season east of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 19-Jan. 7
Late muzzleloading season, Dec. 17-Jan. 7.
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