Thursday, February 23, 2006
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Bassmaster Classic details
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
- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
WHEN: Friday through Sunday. This is the first time the Classic has been moved away from a mid-summer date. That should mean much more spectacular fishing, but the winter-time dates in the future are going to limit the places available for this event.
WHERE: Celebration, Fla. (Kissimmee area)
ARENA: Lake Tohopekaliga, Toho for short. It is 22,750 acres, which makes it comparable to Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake in size. That’s considered small for a Classic. Most people call the venue “Toho” for short.
CONTENDERES: Fifth-one pro anglers, including two from Virginia: John Crews of Salem and Rick Morris of Lanexa.
FAVORITES: Terry Scroggins, a Florida bass guide who has spent every free hour the past year on the lake; Aaron Martens, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year; Dean Rojas, whose flipping skills are perfect for the lake if the bass are spawning; Kevan VanDam, defending Classic champ and winner of the last three BASS events of the 2004-05 season; Tim Horton, who could shine if the weather turns bad and David Walker, a young pro who spends lots of time in Florida and knows how to deal with Florida bass.
THE BASS: Toho bass are plentiful and big, and there is talk of a record catch in both weight and size of the biggest fish caught. A four-day tournament on the lake five years ago produced a winning catch of 108 pounds, 12 ounces. That would be tough to top. A mark more likely to fall is the Classic all-time big bass record, an 8-pound-9-ounce catch taken in Alabama during the 1976 Classic. Last year’s winning total in Pittsburg was 12 pounds, 15 ounces. A single bass from Toho could top that.
TIMING: This is the season to catch big spawning bass at Toho. The moon phase is favorable. If the weather is right and the fish are spawning, look for lots of bass flopping on the scales.
POTENTIAL PROBLEM: Florida bass are notorious for becoming inactive when a cold front sweeps through. That happened during the recent three days of practice.
COVERAGE: Major newspapers in Virginia won’t have a reporter at the event, but there will be plenty of ways to keep up with the Classic. ESPN and ESPN2 are setting up 30 cameras and 250 staff people for 14 hours of live or same day TV coverage. Web site reports can be found on www.Bassmaster.com.
FORMAT: Following two days of fishing, the top 25 fishermen will advance to the final round Sunday.
WHITTINGTON MY KIND OF HUNTING PARTNER
If I were to choose a hunting partner, it would be a sportsman like Harry Whittington. After being shot accidentally by Vice President Dick Cheney during a quail hunt, Whittington graciously said he was “deeply sorry for everything Vice President Cheney and his family have had to deal with,” that “accidents do and will happen,” that he hoped the sport of hunting had not be harmed.
Whittington came across as a sportsman, a true friend, a gentle man, somebody who savors a quality hunting companion, good bird dog work and a covey of birds flushing against the Texas sky.
His grace, spirituality and humbleness, along with his deep appreciation for what others had done for him, was in stark contrast to the jokes, the dogged actions of the media, the demeaning letters to the editor, the belittling of small people.
STRIPER FISHING GOES ON AND ON
The ocean striped bass fishing along Virginia Beach could last into mid-March. That’s what some of the experts now are predicting.
“The key is to have good weather patterns continue,” said Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
The action got off to a slow start in December and the first half of January. “Ocean fishing was sporadic, with the most consistent fishing 40 miles south, between Corolla and Duck, N.C.,” Bain said. “Bay fishing was also not up to par through the end of the December season.”
The past month, ocean fishing has been outstanding when the weather cooperates, which has been often. The hotspots are close to port, at Cape Henry and just below Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. The fish are there and the birds have been pinpointing them, something that occurred only occasionally during the earlier season.
“The bite is very predictable now,” said Bain. “The fishing slows when the wind shifts north and it gets cold. The bite turns back on the second day after the wind shifts to the west, southwest or south and the temperatures warm and continues until the next front with north winds. So I expect the pattern to continue until the early to mid-March timeframe.”
It is difficult to determine whether the late season success is a case of the fish arriving from the north later than normal or whether they are returning form the south earlier than usual due to a warm winter, Bain said.
The slow start to the fall/winter fishery has been overcome to the point that Bain believes when the months of December, January and February are looked at as a unit the fishing will be judged as above average.
>Bobby Fowler has reported catching several striped bass at Smith Mountain Lake that have weighed 7 to 14 pounds apiece. His technique is to use Flukes in standing timber. Flower also caught a limit of 3-to 6-pound black bass with live bait during a 10-minute flurry.
>Pickerel have turned on in Lake Chesdin where some 4-pounders have been reported.
>Catfish action has been good in the Rappahannock River where a 43-pound, 12-ounce blue cat was reported.
>The yellow perch run has stared in the tidal James River. Philip Bailey of Chester landed 56, including a citation.
>Numerous bass are being caught at Beaverdam Reservoir (Gloucester), some exceeding 5 pounds. Charles Blum of Newport News landed a 6-pound 12-ounce bass.
BUILDING A BETTER LIFE JACKET
Is your lifejacket uncomfortable? Does it restrict your movement, chafe your neck and make you hot?
These are common complaints among boaters. Safety officials long have known that comfortable life jackets could increase the use of personal-flotation devices and save lives.
But how to accomplish that? BoatU.S. Foundation and the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers decided to hold a contest and award a prize for the best new design. That drew 182 entries from as far away as China. Students from Virginia universities grabbed the spotlight, not to mention the top prize.
The first place, $5,000 prize, presented at the Miami Boat Show, went to Adam Malcom, a graduate student in the University of Virginia’s Mechanical Aerospace Engineering Program.
The contest sponsors described Malcom's winning entry as a slender belt worn around the waist. “The unit would stay out of the way and not retain body heat. When activated either manually with a ripcord or automatically via a CO2 gas cylinder, slender, symmetrically-arranged air bladders stored inside the belt inflate rising up to surround the wearer on all sides. No secondary action, such as sliding flotation over the head, is necessary. You simply float much like you would in an inner tube.”
Two of the five Honorable Mentions were Virginia Tech students, Sean Denham and Andrew Valentine.
>The “Sportsman of Virginia” Web site has been quiet this year. Organized in April, 2003, with the idea of keeping outdoorsmen informed, particularly about the General Assembly, the site has not been updated since 2005, according to one subscriber. From the beginning, it has been difficult to access and it really never got off the ground, even thought the National Wild Turkey Federation poured money into it and it got technical assistance from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
>A national Safety Council report shows that accidental firearms-related fatalities declined nearly 50 percent during the 10-year period that ended in 2004.
>Stories this week of the death of Curt Gowdy featured the famed broadcaster’s coverage of baseball, football and the Olympics, but many outdoorsmen remember him best as host of the long-running American Sportsman, the first major outdoor TV show. Gowdy fit the outdoor host roll well, with his Stetson hat, fly rod and deep love of the outdoor sports.
>Roger Cowburn, who spent more than 35 years working to document his belief that mountain lions roam his home state, Pennsylvania, died Saturday. John Lutz, of the Eastern Puma Research network, praised Cowburn as a “legendary figure” who stood up to officials that ridiculed his reports of “cat sightings.”
SALTWATER FISHING TOURNAMENT
Flounder in February? The first report of the 2006 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament reports two flounder citation catches. The biggest is a 9-pounder for David Butler caught off Virginia Beach.
The tournament has registered more than 200 striped bass citations, including the leading 57-pounder for Norman Gallagher of Mechanicsville, who was fishing off Virginia Beach.
Here are the tournament standings:
FLOUNDER: 9 pounds, caught by David Butler, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
SEA BASS: 7 pounds, 2 ounces, Steve Harding, Norfolk, off Virginia Beach.
SPECKLED TROUT: 12 pounds, 1 ounce, Barclay Shepard, Poquoson, Elizabeth River.
STRIPED BASS: 57 pounds, Norman Gallagher, Mechanicsville, off Virginia Beach.
TAUTOG: 13 pounds, 10 ounces, Shawn Shapiro, Norfolk, off Virginia Beach.
Natural resources education program for educators, Feb. 24 & 25, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, information from ext.vt.edu/resources/4h/holiday.
Southwest Virginia Boat Show, Feb. 24-26, Roanoke Civic Center.
Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.
Old Forge Sporting Claus 5th annual Fun shoot for Ducks Unlimited, Feb. 25, Providence Forge, $50 person, $200 for four-person team. Information from claytargetsonline.com/club.php/1900.
Smith River Trout Unlimited meeting, 7 p.m. March 2 at Riana’s Restaurant in downtown Martinsville, program will feature major players in improving the Smith River trout fishery, contact is Al Kittredge, email@example.com.
Policy Committee meeting of Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board, March 2, 4 p.m. DGIF headquarters 40-16 West Board St., Richmond.
Dixie Deer Classic, March 3-5, North Carolina Fairground, Raleigh, N.C., dixiedeerclassic.org.
Highland Drummer Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society, Doubles Fund Hunt/Field Trial, march 4, at Mountain View Wingshooting Preserve in Covington, $50 per team, which includes two hunters and one dog, information from Shawn Gilmore, 304-799-6480.
Appalachian Highlands Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society banquet, March 4, Holiday Inn, Bristol, information from Mark Tester, 423-926-9323.
National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, March 4, 7 pm, V.F.W. building Hillsville contact Jerry Nester 276-398-2670.
Tidewater Fresh and Saltwater Fishing Expo, March 10-12, Virginia Beach.
Wilderness First Aid Class, March 25-26, Blacksburg, two-days of classroom study, hands-on practice that results in a two-year certification, $160. For additional information and to register, phone 703 836-8905 or visit wfa.net.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, March 21, 4000 W. Broad St., Richmond.
ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series tournament, March 26, Lake Gaston, Americamps in South Hill, Bassmaster.com for registration and details.
Wal-Mart BFL bass tournament, Smith Mountain Lake, April 1, information from flwoutdoors.com.
Spring gobbler season, April 8-May. 13.
Virginia Ducks Unlimited State Convention, April 21-22, DoubleTree Hotel, Charlottesville, information from Tom Colligan, TColligan@verizon.net.
Sixth annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival and Wine Tasting, Waynesboro, April 22-23, vaflyfishingfestival.org.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, April 25, 4000 W. Broad St., Richmond.
Annual Bluefish Derby, June 9-10, sponsored by Smith Point Sea Rescue, $5,000 prize for the largest bluefish and largest striped bass; $250 for largest croaker, information from Jett Hardware in Reedville, 804-453-5325.
NRA Whittingon Adventure Camp for youngsters, June 11 for two weeks, teaches shooting and traditional outdoor sports, information from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, June 20, 4000 W. Broad St., Richmond.
NRA Whittingon Adventure Camp for youngsters, July 25, for two weeks, teaches shooting and traditional outdoor sports, information from email@example.com.
Smith Mountain Lake Classic and Antique Boat Society Show, The Point at Mariners Landing, Aug. 11 & 12, woodenboats.net.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, Aug. 22, 4000 W. Broad St., Richmond.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, Oct. 17, 4000 W. Broad St., Richmond.
Got an event? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.