Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Michigan Fish Kills Due To Cold Winter

A fish kill involving gizzard shad which occurred in southeast Michigan is a natural event due to harsh winter weather conditions and a large year-class, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The department received reports of fish die-offs in southern Michigan beginning shortly after the New Year. The reports are coming from the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie.

Gizzard shad are native to the Great Lakes with the exception of Lake Superior. Shad can be seen concentrated at warm water discharges of industrial plants.

Gizzard shad are an important forage fish, providing a high-energy food resource for predator species such as walleye, muskellunge, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Like many forage fish species, annual abundance of gizzard shad can vary drastically between years.

Shad are filter feeders, feeding on both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and can reach a size of 19 inches. However, most of the gizzard shad involved in the fish die-offs are five to six inches long. There was a very large hatch of shad this spring throughout the St. Clair system, resulting in large schools of these young shad.

Anglers along Lake St. Clair have reported seeing large schools of these fish passing through their ice holes while perch fishing. According to the department, the public should expect to see more shad die-offs through the winter and into spring.

source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Salmon - Trout Education Conference

"Teach today. Fish tomorrow." is the theme for a March conference for volunteers and educators who teach about fish and help protect habitat. The event will be held March 26 and 27 in Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

The event is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program (STEP).

The conference also is a chance for teachers and informal educators to see what educational resources and partnerships are available through the STEP program and the organizations it works with.

The conference begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 26 at the Twin Rocks Friends Camp in Rockaway Beach, Ore. Participants will be able to select from sessions on a variety of topics such as partnering with local teachers, connecting STEP to local communities, managing volunteers and the impact of changing social, political and environmental climates on STEP programs.

On Sunday, March 27 attendees may choose between two optional field trips – a half-day drift boat trip on a nearby river to capture wild winter steelhead for the local broodstock program, or a half-day kayak tour of the Nehalem Bay. There is an additional $20 fee for the field trips.

Registration for the conference is $45 and must be received by March 6, 2011. Pre-registration is required for both the conference and the Sunday field trips.

To register or learn more about the conference and nearby lodging, go to:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Panfish Project Receives National Award

A national panel of fisheries scientists has recognized the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) for its work on a decades-long research project which demonstrated that restrictive harvest regulations can increase panfish populations while creating a positive fishing experience for anglers targeting these popular fish.

The American Fisheries Society (AFS) selected the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management for an outstanding project award in the Research and Surveys category of its 2010 Sport Fish Restoration Project Award Program, which recognizes excellence in fisheries management, research and education.

The study used both contemporary and historical fisheries data dating back to 1982 with more intensive and formal sampling conducted from 1999-2007. The panfish program was initially proposed by fisheries management staff in 1994 after agency biologists and anglers alike became concerned about apparent declines in numbers of large or “keeper” size sunfish, crappie and yellow perch at some lakes.

Conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University, the project sought to increase the number of “large” panfish through size and creel limits and to increase anglers’ satisfaction with their fishing experience.

“Because they are widely available and generally taste good, panfish are one of the most popular fish targeted by anglers,” said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management and the project leader for the research study. “In fact, PFBC surveys have shown that nearly half of all fishing time is spent pursuing them. And because panfish are easy to catch, they play a key role in introducing new and young anglers to the sport.”

Historically, the PFBC had encouraged panfish fishing under the belief that the species was underutilized and were not likely to be overfished. Anglers were allowed to harvest 50 fish per day with no minimum size limit. But in 1999, after almost five years of planning and coordination and amid the concerns about the decline in larger panfish at some waters, the PFBC placed size and creel limits on select reservoirs and lakes meeting biological criteria and where it was felt that angler harvest reduced the size structure of panfish populations.

The regulations established minimum size limits of 9 inches for crappie and yellow perch and 7 inches for sunfish. Creel limits also were reduced to 20 fish per species group (i.e. crappie, yellow perch and sunfish) and a combined total of 50 fish per day.

After analyzing data from this long-term project during 2008-09, PFBC scientists believe that restrictive regulations can be an effective technique for increasing panfish populations in some waters where angler harvest is a major limiting factor. For example, catch rates of legal-size crappie in trapnets, used to sample panfish, tripled in the treatment lakes over the 10-year period following implementation of the regulations.

Catch rates remained unchanged in control lakes, which had remained under statewide regulations, providing strong evidence that the experimental regulations and not natural variation worked to increase the population. Results for sunfish and yellow perch were less definitive, but nonetheless positive, with trapnet catch rates nearly doubling in the treatment lakes and remaining unchanged in the control waters.

The final report of the research project is being reviewed by PFBC staff with an eye toward applying the project to other waters where the necessary criteria would be met and benefits would be anticipated. These reviews are expected to be completed by early summer, at which point the full results will be made available.

source: Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Monday, January 17, 2011

Angler Accidentally Catches Florida State Record Yellow Bullhead

A yellow bullhead caught in Florida's Crystal River is the new state record for the species of catfish, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists.

Tom Flynn of Homosassa was fishing with minnows when he hooked into the catfish. The new state record yellow bullhead weighed 5 pounds, .75 ounces and was 20 inches in length.

"Actually, I was fishing for mangrove snapper," Flynn said. "However, I started catching catfish and decided to keep them. I caught seven and took them home."

Yellow bullhead are similar in appearance to the more common brown bullhead, with a nearly square tail, but the chin barbels (whiskers) are pale yellow or pink, unlike the somewhat larger brown bullhead (state record: 5 pounds, 12 ounces) that has darker pigmented chin barbels.

The world record for this species is a 6-pound, 6-ounce yellow bullhead that John Irvin caught in Bates County, Mo., on May 27, 2006.

"I can't believe what good eating these fish are," Flynn said. "I think I'm going to keep going for them and see if I can catch the new world's record."

source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission press release

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Show

The Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Show is scheduled for March 5th and 6th at the Valley Forge Convention Center in the King of Prussia area. The event offers free parking, convenient hotels and restaurants, and other amenities.

The Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Show precedes the opening of trout season, which allows the attendees to purchase needed products for the coming season.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Salmon Restoration Plan for Klamath River

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved California’s water quality improvement plan for restoring salmon fisheries and water quality in the Klamath River. The plan calls for massive pollution reductions for the California portion of the river, including a 57 % reduction in phosphorus, 32% in nitrogen, and 16% in carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD). The plan also calls for annual reductions in the river's reservoirs of more than 120,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 22,000 pounds of phosphorus.

The Klamath River, a federally protected "Wild and Scenic River," flows 255 miles southwest from Oregon through northern California, and empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Klamath River drains an extensive watershed covering over 12,600 square miles, and has been called the "Everglades of the West.”

The Klamath River and its tributaries support the highest diversity of anadromous fishes of any river in California, including salmon, cutthroat trout, steelhead and sturgeon. Upstream in Oregon, the river hosts the state's most robust population of redband and bull trout. In 2002, a massive die-off of more than 33,000 salmon brought national attention to this area.

“This historic Klamath River plan charts the path to restoring one of our nation’s largest, most scenic and biologically important watersheds,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By establishing clear benchmarks and accountability this plan will ensure that Klamath River can thrive long into the future.”

"The Klamath particularly is a troubled river system, and once supported the third largest salmon runs in the nation. Implementation of these Klamath Mainstem TMDLs will go a long way toward helping restore those key salmon runs, and the jobs those salmon once supported," said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

The State’s plan identifies actions to improve water quality to restore salmon and other fisheries in the River, protect Native American cultural uses and enhance general recreational uses of the Klamath River. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, the Regional Board, U.S. EPA and many other partners are developing a watershed-wide tracking program to increase the pace and reduce the cost of improving Klamath Basin water quality to support all water-related uses in the Basin. The plan also addresses water quality impacts of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, establishes a policy to protect thermal refuges (cooler areas in the river that provide critical habitat for fish during high temperatures), and addresses nonpoint sources of pollution such as roads and agriculture.

source: EPA press release

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 2011 Winter Steelhead Guide

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a 2011 Winter Steelhead Guide. The guide offers the novice steelhead angler an overview of where and when to fish during the winter steelhead season.

The guide also includes updates on access and regulations, and lists other changes that could affect fishing.

Anglers will find the guide on ODFW’s website at