FLW vs. bass population

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Posted by Mike Kelley on June 25, 2003 at 11:28:24:

Great thread, guys! I just had to open a new thread because of the length. I think we are getting a bit off -course here. FLW tournaments and extinction of bass are not related, I assure you. Look at the BIG picture here. I'm going to try to offer real facts and/or phone contacts to verify my statements. Please try to do so in your responses (I'm sure there will be many!) I think it's great that we all are so emotionally charged about bass and fishing in general. We are the future of our sport. With that said, let's try this...
1) Yes, Kerry they do stock bass into the Wheeler Lake. There is a tournament out of Riverwalk sponsored by an Athens club that uses the proceeds to purchase Florida strain bass for stocking at Decatur Boat Harbor. It has been held the last few years. Contact Jerry Hooper (Hoop) in Athens at 230-6460. He was the guy who started that format for the tournament. I might also add, he has a fisheries degree from Auburn. And by the way, the NASCAR remark was irrelevant and not related, I agree. Just as FLW and killing bass also are not related!
2) How can we talk factually about 24-72 hr mortality rates of tournaments? I don't know how to keep those facts because the fish swim away at release. You can count them as alive or dead at release and BASS and FLW do that. They can give you mortality rates for any tournament that they have ever sponsored. Go to www.operationbass.com and click on FLW. There is a contact link there. Contact them and ask for the results. Also for BASS go to Bassmaster.com and click on their contact us link. They will furnish the info. Here's a site that they have also of interest - espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster/s/bass_conserv_launch.html - this is their conservation site. Take a look at their info on the largemouth virus that is killing so many bass. It's a great site. I suggest everyone read all the links on both the FLW and the BASS sites. There is a lot of good stuff going on there.
3) releasing them at Shoal Creek made more sense than driving back to Rogersville, right? I would think that decision was made in favor of the bass, not FLW crews. You certainly don't think releasing about 100-110 Wheeler bass into Wilson lake will greatly affect the Wheeler population, do you? I would bet that many were removed from Wheeler on Saturday by weekend fishermen taking them to eat!!
4) As for killing bass - I don't think anyone does that as an intentional act! Even folks who take fish home to eat don't KILL the fish. They are simply harvesting them with a better use in mind. I have fished since before many of you were born (man, I'm getting old!) and people have eaten their catches ever since I can remember. back before catch and release, most everyone fished for their table, not the fun of it. I remember fishing with my Dad and he would get mad because my brother and I would try to cast for bass while he was catching a "mess of crappies" for us to eat. There are folks who live by me who get together and go fishing just to catch fish for a fish fry. I had a neighbor who had a disease and couldn't eat very many foods, but the doc told her to eat fish as often as possible. I often have taken her small bass and catfish to eat and she was very grateful. She has since passed away. Moral of this story - harvesting fish for eating is natural and legal. No one is mad at folks for eating their catch, but I would bet that 10,000 bass are eaten every year for any one that was killed by FLW last weekend. Sorry, but for that I have no source or contact!!! Here's a did-u-know ! If you fish Smith Lake you certainly should know about the slot down there. Well, did you know that the state fisheries folks are telling the locals to EAT all the short fish (within a 10 fish limit, of course) that they can? Yep, the state is encouraging removing that size fish from the lake. Hmmm, maybe taking some to eat ain't so bad...
5) You guys ever seen a fish kill on the lake or nearby stream? I have seen literally thousands of bass, catfish, crappie , bream and other fishes floating belly up for miles on the river. Yes, that was many years ago thank goodness, but it has happened more often in the 50's and 60's than you could imagine. These big plants came to Decatur and gave people a good job but let some bad stuff out their raw discharges into the river! It still happens, but not intentionally. Thank goodness it's against the law now. If you want info on that, call Keith Floyd and company at the Game & Fish Office at Swan Creek 353-2634. I worked there as a radio operator back in the 70's when I was a college student. It was great to work with all those great conservation officers and fisheries folks - all who have retired! (geez, did I say I'm getting old?)
6) Last, but not least... as for our fish being depleted - NAW, it ain't happening. Ask Keith Floyd for fish count data at your favorite fishing spot. He'll probably produce it. They do survey by shocking and chemical inputs. You'll be surprised. There is a science to preserving our fish and wildlife. And, they are doing a great job. And, NOPE, bass aren't going to become extinct, even if we eat a few or accidentally kill a few in a tournament.
Bottom line, if fish are harder to catch today (and I believe they are) don't you think that they could be evolving and getting wiser to our fishing methods, rather than being KILLED by big time tournaments??? I know that I can't catch them where I used to catch them, and certainly not on the same lures and techniques. In order to avoid extinction, most species of creatures evolve and change their habits and often habitat. Could that be what's happening to our crappie and bass population? Replies encouraged and expected. Thanks Kerry for this great forum format where we can express our views openly. God Bless America!

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