Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Save the sharks; to heck with the surfers

I’ll say one thing about the citizens of California:

When they go for something, they go whole-hog. Their latest all-or-nothing proposition is a ban on all selling, trading or possessing of sharks, the key ingredient for shark-fin soup.

On the surface, it sounds like a great idea. Sharks numbers are declining, largely as a result of the seemingly insatiable appetite for the $80-a-bowl delicacy. Most of the shark-fin trade funnels through California.

But before the folks of the Golden State take action, they should consider this: Since they banned the hunting of mountain lions, populations of mountain lions have increased significantly, and lions’ attacks on humans have skyrocketed. Do they want the same thing happening to surfers on their beaches?

Perhaps a more measured approach, such as strict limits within sustainable guidelines, would serve to help protect sharks while not turning California into a no-swim zone.

That’s my take on it, anyway. Here’s the full story, from the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Actress Bo Derek won’t be ordering shark-fin soup anytime soon.
She joined lawmakers at the California state Capitol on Monday promoting a bill that would ban selling, trading or possessing shark fins, which are used in a soup that is considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures.
“Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years, and yet many stocks may be wiped out in a single human generation due to the increasing demand for shark fins,” Derek told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Derek, who is a U.S. secretary of state special envoy opposing wildlife trafficking, said shark-finning has created a global environmental crisis.
Derek and other opponents, some carrying stuffed toy sharks or wearing T-shirts in support of the legislation, said the practice is leading to a decline in several populations of sharks. Fishermen slice off the fins then throw the live sharks back into the ocean to die.
U.S. law restricts the practice domestically but cannot stop it in international waters. Supporters of AB376 say that’s why lawmakers need to target use of the fins in California, which has the most demand for the fins outside Asia.
Derek told committee members that 85 percent of dried shark fin imports to the United States come through California. She said the state imports at least 30 tons of dried fins each year.
Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and several U.S. territories in the Pacific already have taken steps to eliminate the shark fin trade.
Opponents from the fishing and shark-fin marketing industry testified the bill will harm them and cost the state jobs and tax income.
“There will be a ripple effect through a number of industries,” said Michael Kwong, whose family has owned Hoo Woo Co. Inc. in San Francisco for four generations.
He said shark-finning is a global issue and should be brought up in the United Nations rather than debated state-by-state.
In addition, dozens of other opponents lined up against the bill, shouting “No on 376” in unison.
The fins can sell for $600 a pound, while the soup can cost $80 a bowl. Critics say fishermen kill 73 million sharks each year for their fins.
Opponents of the bill say there’s no need for California to act because there already are enough federal protections.
The bill is politically and culturally sensitive because shark fin soup has been used for thousands of years to mark special occasions among some Asian cultures.
AB376 was approved by the California Assembly in May. On Monday, the Senate committee sent the bill to its suspense file, which is reserved for bills that could cost the state money.
The committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, said the legislation could be amended before it is sent to the full Senate to remove some exemptions that could permit some use of sharks.
“Now I have concerns that as long as any fins are allowed in California under the guise of some being legal, that it would keep our market open to many, many, many illegal fins,” Kehoe said.
State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, questioned how much good a California ban might do to deter harvests worldwide. He cited a National Marine Fisheries Service report to Congress that showed imports and exports of shark fins from the entire United States in 2010 were a fraction of 1 percent of the worldwide market.
Highest bidder gets to fish with KVD

The folks at Michigan International Speedway have come up with a unique charity fund-raiser. They call it the “Fish Your Bass Off” tournament.

The single-day event, scheduled for Aug. 18, pairs 12 anglers from local bass clubs with NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. An auction will add a member of the general public to a 13th team. The high bidder in the auction will be paired with four-time Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam or NASCAR’s Ryan Newman.

After the tournament, all the anglers will join about 200 people (who have all paid for the privilege) for an evening that includes dinner and a cash-bar reception.

Last year’s tournament raised $27,000 for the speedway’s charity arm, MIS Cares.

Details are here, at AmericaJR.com.

Boy catches ‘severed foot’ while fishing

The 'foot' (AP Photo/Lake County Sheriff's Office via the Daily Herald)

Relax, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. From the Associated Press:

ANTIOCH, Ill. (AP) — A boy fishing in a northern Illinois lake hooked — and then lost — what he thought was a human foot, but a search determined the appendage had belonged to a mannequin.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports that divers and sonar teams spent nearly 10 hours searching Lake Marie, near Antioch, before they located the fake foot Wednesday evening.
Authorities say the boy reeled the foot to within three feet of his boat before it fell back into the murky water.
Gurnee Fire Department Battalion Chief John Skillman says the search was launched because the boy was considered a reliable source.

A 19-year-old largemouth bass?!

Ten-year-old Garrett Frost and his 19-year-old catch

It’s rare, but they apparently do get that old. The surprising thing to me was the bass’s relatively small size. Then again, bass grow pretty slowly up north, and Kalispell lies just a few miles south of Montana’s border with Canada. From the Associated Press:

KALISPELL, Mont. — A 10-year-old Kalispell boy using a rubber worm caught a largemouth bass in Western Montana that wildlife officials say is nearly twice as old as he is.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Mark Deleray said the bass caught and released by Garrett Frost in Rose Creek Slough on July 16 could be as much as 19 years old, which may be the oldest on record for Montana.
The fish was 20 to 22 inches long and weighed about 3.5 pounds.
Garrett removed a tag that had been placed on the fish in 1997 in another Flathead River backwater area about 5 miles away. Biologists estimate that the fish was 5 years old when it was tagged, based on the fact that it was just over 14 inches long and weighed 1.5 pounds at the time.
“We can be pretty confident about that age,” FWP spokesman Mark Fraley said Wednesday, adding that a bass can’t grow as big as 14 inches long in less than five years in Montana.
Tyler Frost told FWP officials his son hooked the fish on a rubber worm and landed it himself.
Most literature says largemouth bass can live to be 15 or 16 in the northern United States, Fraley said. Fish tend to grow slower and live longer in colder waters.

A 34-pound rainbow trout? Wow!!!

Mark Adams and his 34.74-pound rainbow

Mark Adams of Pocatello, Idaho, is probably getting a lot of phone calls right now.

Not only did Adams catch a new state record rainbow trout, he shattered the existing record by more than 14 pounds. Adams’ catch, taken from American River Reservoir,  measured more than 41 inches in length and weighed a whopping 34.74 pounds. Idaho authorities are researching other states’ records to see whether the fish is a record for the lower 48 states.

The world record of 48 pounds was caught in 2009 from Canada’s Lake Diefenbaker.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at the Outdoor Pressroom.

Four-year-old shot, killed while fishing

Such a shame. Such a waste.

From the Associated Press:

OSSIAN, Ind. (AP) — A 4-year-old boy who was fatally shot while fishing with his father in northeastern Indiana was struck in the head by an errant bullet, a sheriff and a family friend said.
Wells County Sheriff Monte Fisher told The Associated Press on Sunday that Jacob Michuda was shot in the head late Friday night while he and his father were fishing from a pier at a pond outside Ossian, a rural community about 15 miles south of Fort Wayne.
Trisha Ulmer told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne for a Sunday story that the boy’s mother told her the boy was shot in the temple.
Fisher said an autopsy was performed Saturday.
Forty-six-year-old neighbor Bruce Pond was being held without bond on a preliminary charge of reckless homicide and due to appear in court Monday. Fisher told the Bluffton News-Banner alcohol was involved and Pond apparently shot at a light on the pier where the father and son were fishing.
“I think it was just a freak accident,” Ulmer said.
Police and medics were called to the scene at 11:07 p.m. Friday. Police said an ambulance took the boy to a hospital in Fort Wayne, where he was pronounced dead at 3:12 a.m. Saturday. Police arrested Pond later that day.

Woman gives birth while on fishing trip

At least the big one didn’t get away…

From the Associated Press:

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas family returned from a fishing trip with more than mere fish to show for their outing.

Lorraina Fortine (FOR’-teyn) was 39 weeks pregnant and scheduled for a C-section Monday. But her doctor told her she wouldn’t go into labor before then, so the family headed Friday to Cheney (CHEE’-nee) Lake for the weekend to celebrate her 3-year-old’s birthday.

But her new baby wouldn’t wait. Fortine told KWCH-TV she woke up Saturday morning in labor, had a few small contractions, and gave birth — in her tent.

The newborn girl is named Summer Fortine. She came into the world weighing seven pounds, 13 ounces.

W.Va.’s Blackwater River to get new bridge

Here’s some good news for hikers, hunters and anglers who wish to explore the Canaan Valley section of West Virginia’s Blackwater River. The Associated Press has the story:

DAVIS, W.Va. (AP) — Construction is set to begin soon on a trail bridge across the Blackwater River in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it has contracted with Kovilic Construction Company from Franklin Park, Illinois, for the project at Camp 70.

Officials with the refuge say the bridge is an important part of the trail system and acknowledge that many visitors are eager to have the trailhead restored.

The new bridge replaces the swinging bridge that fell in the spring of 2010. It will be in the same location as the old railroad bridge that provided access from Camp 70 south of the river until the flood of 1985.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall.

A lunker bass … on trout PowerBait?

This week’s column tells the story:

Experts would say Hilda Baker didn’t have the right gear to fish for bass.
Maybe so, but no one can argue with her results.
Earlier this month, while staying at her family’s Pocahontas County camp, Baker went fishing for trout at Seneca State Forest and ended up landing one of the biggest largemouth bass ever caught in West Virginia.
Weighed on official scales more than 12 hours after it was caught, the lunker largemouth checked in at 9.55 pounds and measured 24 inches in length. Since dead fish tend to quickly lose body mass, it’s reasonable to believe the bass weighed close to 10 pounds when Baker caught it.
What’s most remarkable about the fish is that it came from a 4-acre public pond not known to yield many bass of any size, let alone a whopper.
Baker, who lives in West Hamlin, certainly wasn’t thinking about bass on June 7, when she and her husband loaded up their ultralight spinning rods and made the short drive from their Huntersville camp to Seneca State Forest. Hatchery crews had stocked Seneca Lake a couple of weeks before, and plenty of trout remained to be caught.
“By 6 o’clock that afternoon, we had only caught three or four trout,” Baker said. “I was sitting there, fishing with PowerBait on a No. 16 treble hook, when something jerked on the line.”
When Baker jerked back, she felt weight and power like nothing she’d ever experienced.
“I only started fishing about a year ago, and I’d never caught anything very big,” she said. “I could tell that this was something really big.”
Baker began to reel. At first, the monster largemouth came in easily.
“It came in almost to the bank with nearly no effort,” she said. “But then it began doing its thing. Three other people were fishing near where we were, and when they saw how big the fish was, everyone got pretty excited.”
Baker knew she couldn’t put much pressure on the bass without breaking the fragile 4-pound test line. She let the fish run and thrash about, and hoped against hope that it would eventually tire.
“People were worried that it would get away, and I was, too,” she said.
As the battle wore on, her husband and the other anglers offered, as she put it, “a lot of unsolicited advice.”
“I told them there would be trouble if the fish ended up getting away,” Baker recalled.
An anxious 15 minutes passed before the bass began to tire.
“All I could think was ‘Don’t let that sucker get off,'” Baker said. “I finally got it in close, and one of the guys netted it. I don’t even remember who it was. I just looked at it and said, ‘It’s here!'”
After taking the bass around the lake to show it to another angler, Baker and her husband took the fish to be weighed. The forest’s office didn’t have any scales. Neither did a local sporting-goods store.
“We ended up taking it the following day to the Fas Chek supermarket in Marlinton,” Baker said.
At 9.55 pounds, Baker’s bass fell considerably shy of the state weight record of 12.28 pounds, caught from a private Grant County pond in 1994 by David Heeter. It also fell short of the length record of 25.75 inches, caught by Eli Gain in 2001 from Harrison County’s Dog Run Lake.
Baker doesn’t care about records. She hopes to have the bass mounted, and plans to claim permanent bragging rights over her husband and son.
“This will be hard for me ever to improve on,” she said. “But it will be hard for anyone to beat me, either.”

Collegiate fishing names All-America team

Let’s hear it for college bass-fishing teams!

The big-money sports of football and basketball have become almost boring in their homogeneity. Each year, the same old teams seem to head up the polls, the same old teams end up in the bowl games, and the same old teams end up in the Elite Eight and Final Four.

There are exceptions, of course. Cinderella shows up from time to time, but her coach usually turns back into a pumpkin before the champion gets crowned at midnight.

That’s why collegiate fishing is such a breath of fresh air. This year’s FLW Collegiate Fishing All-America team contains anglers from some of the usual suspects — Auburn, Florida, N.C. State, Indiana — but it also contains representatives from Chico (Calif) State, Lamar University, LSU-Shreveport, Wisconsin-Stout, Cal-San Luis Obispo  and Christopher Newport University.

A complete list of the honorees, as named by FLW Outdoors Magazine,  is here.