Thursday, July 08, 2004
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Wanted dead! Snakehead fish
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
It had to come, sooner or later. A bounty on the ugly head of the snakehead fish. That’s what the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World has announced.
Just why Virginia isn’t a part of this is a good question, since its water has produced the most snakeheads and there is a Bass Pro Shop in Hampton.
Here’s how the award system works in Maryland: $10 for snakeheads under 12 inches; $25 for snakeheads 13-24 inches; $50 for snakeheads over 24 inches.
Anglers have to take their catch by the Hanover, Md. Bass Pro Shops store. The fish then will be turned over the Maryland DNR. Successful fishermen will receive a “Snakehead Wrangler” cap from Maryland DNR and the monitory award from Bass Pro Shops.
So far, at least nine snakeheads have been discovered in the Potomac River drainage, which is shared by Virginia and Maryland. Biologists are concerned about the possible negative impact this imported species might have on native fish, especially smallmouth bass.
Information on Maryland’s efforts to deal with the challenge can be found on dnr.maryland.gov/dnrnews/infocus/snakehead.asp.
The Bass Pro bounty system is as much about promotion as anything else. It gives the store some good publicity and it draws attention to problems associated with the introduction of the undesirable snakehead fish. Probably not many people are going to be driving a long way to earn $10 for a 10-inch snakehead, but the idea is getting media attention.
BOUCHER OPPOSES BAN
Rep Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, says he won’t support a renewal of the assault-weapon ban, which is exactly what the NRA hoped he would say. Never mind that Democratic Party leaders overwhelmingly back renewing the ban, which expires in September. Boucher’s 9th District covers a wide chunk of Southwest Virginia, where guns and hunting are a tradition
“In my congressional district, we have many people who own firearms and use them responsibly. They oppose gun control, just as I do,” he is quoted in The Hill, a newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress.
The NRA has worked to repeal the ban since it was enacted in 1994 and is heading efforts to prevent its extension. Several other Democrats in tight races have said they will vote against the extension.
HIGH WATER FOR BASS CLASSIC PRACTICE
Qualifiers in the Bassmaster Classic wrapped up their practice session on Lake Wylie in North Carolina wondering if what they learned will mean much during the July 30-Aug. 1 tournament dates.
Wylie is high and discolored following frequent rains. Practice anglers reported catching plenty of bass, which they found shallow, but BASS Rookie of the, Year Greg Hackney, said he expects the lake to be down a foot or more and the water temperature up another 10 degrees during the Classic.
Hackney, from Louisiana, said he found “a lot of stuff to fish, a lot of wood and a lot of docks.”
NRA LEADER BACKED TO THE WALL
A speech by Kayne Robinson, NRA president, backfired a bit when he charged that federal agencies are discriminating against hunters by banning hunting and shooting on federal land. He told members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America that millions of acres were closed to hunters and shooters under the Clinton Administration.
When Robinson was pressed to name an example, he said he could not.
Mike Dombeck, who was chief of the U.S. Forest Service and head of the Bureau of Land Management, said, “I wonder what he is talking about.”
Robinson announced that the NRA will launch a crusade in the next few weeks called "Free Hunters" that will aggressively defend hunters' rights. The effort will include lobbying for hunters, securing more hunting lands and making it easier for hunters to travel with and transport guns, he said.
SMITH RIVER TROUT
If this past week was any indicator I would say the big bite on the Smith River has reached its peak and is moving down the other side. I fished the river three days last week and was able to catch a good number of fish, but nothing like in the recent past.
There still are plenty of fish in all areas of the river, but you have to work hard for them. Runs that recently produced a half-dozen or more fish are now only yielding one or two or maybe zero.
Two weeks ago, the majority of fish caught were stocked rainbows. My guess is that most of these have been harvested because browns are now the dominant catch.
On a very positive note, the fish appear to be a bit larger this year. The little fellows that were so prevalent in years past are not being caught with any regularity. Most fish are now in the 8-to 10-inch range, and ones that will pass the 12-inch mark are not unusual.
One recent day I got lucky and was able to measure a brown that was an honest 16.5-inches. This was my second brown that passed the 16-inch mark in recent weeks. I talked with a fellow whom I trust not to stretch the tape who said he caught one that exceeded 16 inches the day after I caught my last one.
Things are looking up for my favorite river.
Al’s Smith River Guide Service
>That airplane you saw buzzing over Smith Mountain Lake during the July 4 holiday may have been watching you. According to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, State Police assisted game wardens with boating enforcement on the lake by providing an aircraft to spot reckless boat operators. Land and water DUI checkpoints also were set up by wardens and State Police, under a DMV grant.
>According to a floor plan being distributed by BASS, Toyota will have display space in the sponsor’s section of the Bassmaster Classic outdoor show. This has caused speculation that Toyota will replace Chevy as the organization's vehicle sponsor. BASS would only say that it has "nothing to announce at this time."
>Virginia Right-to-Carry permit holders are no longer subject to the state’s one-gun-a-month restriction, thanks to a law passed by the 2004 General Assembly and effective July 1. The NRA is lauding this law and 15 others that went on the books July 1, helping to improve the Second Amendment rights of Virginians. "This has been a landmark year for the Second Amendment in the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Chris W. Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist.
>Ohio must be doing something right. Many states, including Virginia, have seen hunting license sales level off or decline. But things are headed in the other direction in Ohio. Sales of Ohio's top three hunting license types saw increases last year. Youth permits and nonresident sales were up 16 percent, and resident license sales were up 2 percent. Some 25,000-hunter education students were trained in 2003, the most since 1983. Ohio's first youth deer gun season was held, with more than 5,000 deer taken.
VIRGINIA SALTWATER FISHING TOURNAMENT
Saltwater fishing has heated up and brought a bunch of changes to the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament standings. These include the first pompano of the season and new leaders in the cobia, flounder, sea bass and sheephead categories. Here are the standings:
BLACK DRUM: 95 pounds, Joseph Roub, Baltimore, Md., Hog Island Bay.
COBIA: 87 pounds, 8 ounces, Kevin Greene, Hayes, lower York River.
CROAKER: 5 pounds, Jarvis Taylor, Richmond, lower York River.
DOLPHIN: 43 pounds, 6 ounces, Steve Richardson, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
FLOUNDER: 13 pounds, 8 ounces, Mark Roberts, Virginia Beach, lower-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TROUT: 12 pounds, 12 ounces, Greg Thayer, Gloucester, upper-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
KINGFISH: 1 pound, 14 ounce, Bobby Smith, Portsmouth, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
POMPANO: 1 POUND, 10 OUNCES, Varnell Williams, Virginia Beach off Virginia Beach.
SEA BASS: 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Mark Fueller, Rio Grande, N.J., off Virginia Beach.
SHEEPHEAD: 15 pounds, Randy Lowry, Virginia Beach, lower eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPADEFISH: 13 pounds, 10 ounces, Jake Mapp, Franktown, upper-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPECKLED TROUT: 12 pounds, 14 ounces, Ivan Hutton, Virginia Beach, Elizabeth River.
SPOT: 1 pound, 4 ounces, Gilbert Smith, Charles City, lower Rappahannock River.
STRIPED BASS: 63 pound state record, Carolyn Brown, Virginia Beach, off the Virginia Coast.
TAUTOG: 22 pounds, 9 ounces, Julie Ball, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
TUNA: 112 pounds, 4 ounces, Alan Ellison, Fruitland, Md. off Eastern Shore.
Virginia Trappers Association’s Convention and Sportsman’s Show, July 23-25, Luray, $5 admission, primitive camping available, information from Bryan Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Triangle Bowhunters of the New River Valley has announced it schedule of three 3-D archery events on its property between Christiansburg and Blacksburg. Dates for the events are July 25, Aug. 22 and Sept. 19. Information is available from vfaa.ogr or from Jim Overfelt, email@example.com.
Bassmaster Classic, July 30-Aug. 1, Lake Wylie/Charlotte, N.C.
Mother-Daughter Outdoors Event, Aug. 20-22, Appomattox, opportunity for women 9 and up to learn outdoor skills. Information from gif.state.va.us/events/
Virginia Outdoors Weekend, Sept. 17-19, for families, Westmoreland State Park, information from dgif.state.va.us/events/
Smith Mountain Striper Club fall tournament, Oct. 9., information from Rex Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CITGO Bassmaster Open tournament, Oct. 14-16, Smith Mountain Lake.
Got an event? Let us know: email@example.com