Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation

With Marcellus Shale gas development increasing at a rapid pace and scale across northern Appalachia, fishermen, hunters, trappers and other sportsmen and women in the region have joined forces and created an alliance to urge state and federal agencies and the energy industry to protect outdoor traditions.

The Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation (Sportsmen Alliance) is an affiliation of sportsmen and women working together to identify and mitigate the impacts of Marcellus Shale gas drilling on hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor sporting activities.

Members of the Sportsmen Alliance include Trout Unlimited (TU) and its Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Mid-Atlantic and New Jersey state councils, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Izaak Walton League
of America and its New York and Pennsylvania state divisions, New York State Trappers Association, Quality Deer Management Association, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition and The Wildlife Society. Collectively, the Sportsmen Alliance members represent 60,000 sportsmen and women in the Marcellus Shale states.

According to an initial press release, the Sportsmen Alliance is not opposed to gas drilling and recognizes its potential economic and social benefits. Rather, it is concerned that the current state and local policies governing gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale do not adequately protect valuable and irreplaceable natural resources, including clean water and critical habitat for fish and wildlife.

Hunting and fishing in the Marcellus Shale region is big business. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than $8.4 billion in revenue is generated each year in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia - the three largest Marcellus Shale states - from fishing, hunting and wildlife-related recreation.

"Our members are very concerned about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water resources, fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation," said Scott Kovarovics, Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America. "The Sportsmen Alliance’s common sense recommendations strike the right balance between energy development and conserving the region’s most important natural resources."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Trout Infected with Whirling Disease Released into Maryland Streams

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently confirmed the presence of whirling disease in a delivery of 8,000 commercially produced rainbow trout that were stocked in several Western Maryland streams..

On May 11, DNR staff observed suspicious behavior in fish that had been stocked in the North Branch Delayed Harvest Area, Evitts Creek, Jennings Run and Sidling Hill Creek. They immediately ceased stocking activities and took samples for testing. Results of this sampling confirmed the presence of whirling disease.

The whirling disease parasite was introduced into the eastern United States from Europe in the late 1950s and is currently known to exist in 24 states. It was first discovered in Maryland in 1995 in the North Branch Potomac River.

Whirling disease is harmless to humans, but the parasite can be fatal to trout and is particularly harmful to rainbow trout.

According to Maryland DNR, hatchery resources cannot meet all the demand for stocked trout, so commercially produced fish are used to supplement spring trout stocking. Vendors that supply fish to the State are required to be certified disease free for three years.

source: MD DNR

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tips for Catching Trophy Sunfish

a trophy bluegill sunfish (bream)

For panfish anglers, nothing tops a good day catching trophy sized bluegill (bream), pumpkinseed, green sunfish, shellcrackers, or other species of sunfish.

This list offers a few tips for catching trophy sunfish:

* During the warm months, sunfish orient to overhanging tree limbs where insects are likely to fall into the water.

* Cast lures or live baits as close to structure as possible. If a sunfish is present, strikes usually come immediately.

* for trophy sunfish, try using slightly larger baits and hooks to discourage bites from smaller individuals.

* Most sunfish species are attracted to bright colored, flashy lures, but prefer a slower retrieve than some species.

* When targeting trophy-class sunfish with live baits, experiment with using circle hooks. These specialized hooks can be used to help curb smaller fish and avoid gut-hooking. Never snatch when bites occur with circle hooks, instead reel steadily until resistance is felt.

* When choosing bobbers, using the smallest, most streamlined bobber possible will increase strikes. Wary sunfish will often spit out a bait if too much resistance is felt.

* In clear water conditions, using flourocarbon leaders may result in more strikes from line-shy fish.

* Where currents exist, look for eddies or calm water adjacent to fast moving water.

* Experiment in deep areas by jigging vertically or letting a free-lined bait sink to the bottom.

* When sunfish are located in deep areas, try another pass as more fish may be nearby.

* Fishing kayaks can be highly effective for catching sunfish. These craft allow anglers to seek out trophy bluegill in swamps and other hard to access areas.

* Talk to fishing guides. Professional guides often know where large bluegill can be found and will share information with anglers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Beetle Spin Lures for Catching Panfish

Beetle spins are a traditional lure for catching panfish. This small but effective spinnerbait is used to catch crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, white perch, sauger and other species.

This specialized lure design consists of a wire arm, to which a jig and spinner blade are attached. The original design uses a soft plastic "grub" body with a spit tail. Although the body itself has no action, it provides a natural feel and gives the lure color. Modern variations use a wide range of jigs and bodies. The spinner blade can be silver, gold, or painted and is usually available in several sizes.

The beetle spin design benefits from modular construction. The simple wire arm allows anglers to quickly change the jig, allowing for variations of weights, colors, or head shape. The spinner arm adds an element of flash, while allowing the rig to maintain mid-depth at slower speeds than a solo jig of similar weight. In areas where debris are a problem, the spinner arm also helps lessen the likelihood of snagging.

Simple painted or unpainted jig heads rigged with soft plastic "curly tail" bodies are one of the most popular options for a jig variation. The simple head and body makes changing colors a simple process.

Color can important for success when fishing beetle spins or other small spinnerbaits. Some anglers swear by black, white, chartreuse, or another solid color. Multi-color bodies are also popular. Red and white is a popular color combination but others may be favored, depending on local conditions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maryland State Record Musky

A 12 year-old West Virginia boy has set a new Maryland state record for musky (muskellunge) with a 31.75 pound fish.

On April 14, Kenneth Files of Falling Waters, W. Va., and his father were fishing in the Potomac River, which was in a flood stage.

The young angler spotted an eddy and cast a large white plastic grub lure into the stained waters and a large fish took the bait

The monster musky, measuring 45 inches long with a girth of 24 inches, was eventually maneuvered  into shallow waters and landed.

The previous Maryland state record musky of 28.25 pounds was also caught in the Upper Potomac River.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Best Lures for Catching Sunfish

bream sunfish (bluegill)

Sunfish are favorite panfish of American anglers.Several sunfish species are found throughout the USA, with bream (bluegills), pumpkinseeds, green sunfish, redears (shellcrackers), and longears being among the most commonly caught sunfish.

The list of best lures for catching sunfish is often debated, with top lures often varying widely by region. Most lists include a few basic types of fishing lures such as jigs, spinnerbaits, inline spinners, plugs, spoons, poppers, flies and soft plastics.

The top lure for catching sunfish is usually some form of jig. These include several classic designs such as the shad dart, crappie jig, beetle spin, and others. Tiny versions of famous bass fishing lures are also popular for catching sunfish.

The following is a typical list of best lures for catching sunfish:

1/16 oz. shad dart - red and white
1/16 oz. crappie jig - red-black-white
1/16 oz. beetle spin - white with red dot
1/16 oz. plain jig head and soft plastic twister tail
1/16 oz. Rapala floating minnow - silver w/black back
Strike King 3/32 oz. bitzy minnow - gizzard shad pattern
1/4 oz. Daredevle spoon - red and white
.13 oz. Hopkins lure - metal hammered finish

This list does not include ice fishing for fly fishing lures. Each of those specialties have their own sets of top performing sunfish lures.

These same lures are usually good choices for other members of the bass and sunfish family such as rock bass, warmouth, black crappie, white crappie, fliers and others.

Most of these lures are also excellent choices for catching perch and other panfish.