Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A spring for W.Va. anglers to forget

After two years of drought, West Virginia needed a lot of rain.

This is ridiculous, though. For weeks now, anglers throughout the state have had to battle high and muddy water as storm after storm swept dumped rain into rivers and streams.

A casual glance at the DNR’s weekly fishing report (available in its entirety here) shows most minor streams running high and all the major rivers running muddy, and a fair number of lakes either milky or muddy.

It’s been a spring to forget so far, but a couple of weeks of fair weather would allow anglers to make up for lost time during what are arguably the best four angling weeks of the year — from mid-May to mid-June.

Record paddlefish is 125 pounds of pure ugly

Aaron Stone and his record paddlefish

I don’t know whether Aaron Stone of Pawhuska, Okla., deserves praise or pity.

One thing’s for sure — Stone had a fight on his hand when his snagging rig made contact with a 125-pound, 7-ounce paddlefish. The 21-year-old angler eventually hauled the fish from the waters of the Arkansas River, and when he did he became the Sooner State’s newest record holder.

Here’s more on the story, from the Tulsa World.

Certainly Stone deserves praise for his record-breaking catch. But let’s pity him, too — after all, if he decides to have the fish mounted, he’s gonna have one honkin’ big pile of ugly hanging on his living-room wall.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoor Pressroom.

Liability questions sideline Illinois bass teams

After two years of torrid growth, high-school bass fishing in Illinois has cooled off a bit.

Participation has leveled off at about 30 percent of the state’s schools.  That old bugaboo, liability, is causing some administrators to keep their schools’ would-be bass teams on dry land.

Details can be found here, in the Rockford Register Star.

Seems to me that if kids are willing to put in the hours to represent their schools, grownups should find a way to work out the legal technicalities. Just sayin’.

Charleston anglers have a long way to go if they hope to see the capital city named an “Ultimate Fishing Town.”

The competition, being run by the World Fishing Network, allows people to vote for their favorite fishing towns. I presume by that they mean towns where fishing is important, and where people can fish within the town limits. By that measure, Charleston is a reasonable candidate.

As of this writing, Charleston had captured 10 votes. Waddington, N.Y., led the Northeast Division competition with more than 5,000 votes. First-round voting ends May 5, and the regional winners will then vie for the honor of being named the nation’s Ultimate Fishing Town. The winning town gets $25,000 and a heck of a lot of prestige.

Readers who are so inclined can vote for Charleston by clicking this URL: www.wfnfishingtown.com/entries/charleston-wv.

U. of Fla. team captures collegiate bass title

The triumphant UF team

Congratulations to the University of Florida fishing team of Jake Gipson and Matt Wercinski, who Sunday won the 2011 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship. It was Gipson and Wercinski’s second consecutive national title, and their fourth overall win on the collegiate bass-fishing circuit.

The full story is here, on Wired2Fish.com.

Feds begin survey of hunters and anglers

Just months after they published the final results from their 2006 survey, officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have begun working on the next one.

The law requires that the survey be repeated every five years. This year’s survey itself will be conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and will involve interviews with people in approximately 53,000 households.

From the P.R. Newswire:

“Participation in this survey is important because the results help us better manage our natural resources and to understand the demands being put on our wildlife and their habitat,” said Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau. “This is one of the many surveys conducted by the Census Bureau for other federal agencies.”
The information collected for this survey focuses on individuals involved in fishing, hunting and other wildlife-associated recreation, such as observation, photography and feeding.
The latest data from the survey show that in 2006, more than 87 million Americans 16 and older enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent $122 billion in pursuit of these activities.
The questions ask in which state these activities occurred and focus on such items as the number of trips taken, duration of trips and expenditures for food, lodging, transportation and equipment. Federal and state agencies use this knowledge for conservation efforts and to maintain areas where we go for outdoor recreational activity.
Preliminary survey findings will be available in summer of 2012. The final national report will be issued in the fall of 2012, followed by a report for each state.
Data collection [began] April 1, 2011. Respondents will be surveyed primarily by telephone. Residents will receive a letter from Groves informing them of the survey. All information collected is kept strictly confidential and only statistical totals are published.
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation has been conducted since 1955 and is one of the oldest and most comprehensive continuing recreation surveys.

If past trends are any indication, people in about 100 West Virginia households will be interviewed. Information from the survey could help dictate the course of future fish- and wildlife-related programs in the Mountain State, so if you get called, please participate.

The man who made $3,000 fishing reels

The creator of some of the finest fly reels ever made (and certainly some of the most expensive) has died.

Stanley Bogdan died Monday at the ripe old age of 92. For decades, his exquisitely machined reels were sought after by fly fishing royalty — baseball great Ted Williams, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, singer Bing Crosby and jazz legend Benny Goodman.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Bogdan’s craftsmanship is that he remained active in it until just a few months before his death.

Monte Burke wrote a nice piece about Bogdan for Forbes magazine. The article can be found in this blog post Burke wrote when he learned of Bogdan’s passing.

Sure, the weather still feels more like winter than spring, but the calendar reassures us that springtime fishing should start heating up soon.

As water temperatures rise toward the mid-50s, trout will begin to feed in earnest. So will sauger, muskellunge and crappie.

Top West Virginia waters for the aforementioned species are as follows:

Trout — Elk River, Cranberry River, Williams River, Shavers Fork of Cheat River, Gandy Creek, South Branch of Potomac  River, North Fork of South Branch of Potomac River.

Sauger — Ohio River, Kanawha River.

Muskellunge — Middle Island Creek, Buckhannon River, Elk River, Mud River, Tygart River, Stonewall Jackson Lake, Stonecoal Lake.

Crappie — Stonewall Jackson Lake, Burnsville Lake, Sutton Lake, Bluestone Lake, Elk Fork Lake.

For W.Va. walleyes, it’s a numbers game

Two of the five New River walleyes captured this winter (DNR photo)

It’s a darned good thing female walleyes produce lots of eggs.

The eggs from just eight female walleyes will likely be enough to keep West Virginia’s walleye stocking program going for another year. Last week, workers at the Division of Natural Resources’ Apple Grove Hatchery harvested 334,000 eggs from those eight fish.

Every winter, DNR biologists capture large female walleyes from the New River and ship them to Apple Grove. This year, high water kept the capture crew from launching their boat until only a couple of days remained in the walleyes’ spawning season. The first evening out, the crew caught five spawning-ready females. The next evening, they caught just two, and both had already spawned. It was that close.

Fortunately for the stocking program, DNR officials had been stocking native-strain walleyes in two lakes — Moncove Lake in Monroe County and Charles Fork Lake in Roane County — in the hope that those lakes might also provide brood stock. This year they did, to the tune of three additional fish.

Tim Swisher, superintendent of the Apple Grove Hatchery, said the survival rate for walleye eggs ranges from 20 percent to 80 percent. By that measure, this year’s harvest of 334,000 eggs should produce 70,000 to 270,000 juvenile walleye “fingerlings” for stocking by summer’s end.

Mark Scott, district fisheries biologist for the New River, said last year’s harvest of eggs produced just 14,000 fingerlings for the New. This year’s harvest should produce more, despite the low number of female walleyes captured.

W.Va. trout stocking info available online

Where are they being stocked today?

It’s kind of odd in today’s Information Age, but I still get calls asking me if this or that stream got stocked with trout this week.

Folks who make those calls could get that information with a simple click of their computer mouse. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources posts same-day stocking information on the agency’s website.

DNR officials have a strict policy against releasing stocking schedules ahead of time, so the site gets updated after each day’s stockings have been completed. Still, it’s as up-to-date as the information can be.

Here’s the link to the stocking info site. Bookmark the link; otherwise you’ll have to click through the main DNR menu to get to the information.