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C&R, Dottie and Records

May 21, 2008

Gone Fishin' reader Bill Crumrine has a few thoughts on Dottie, the world-record bass chase and catch and release, which he posted on the "Special Report" blog about the death of the mega-bass:

I believe we have come to demagoging the black bass to a point that anglers could play into the hands of such freaks of nature as PETA, et.al. As Ray Scott, Bill Dance, and Dave Precht have even stated the fish is a renewable resource and was created for the pleasure of mankind. As a TOWA and OWAA member, I feel this catch and release has taken on a political and religious philosophy. I enjoy bass fishing to the nth degree, but I also keep some, yes even trophy size ones, for the skillet. Bass are good tasting if filleted correctly and eaten within a reasonable time frame. This obsession with the next world record has gone a little too far. I really have concluded some records need to remain standing and the largemouth black bass is one. Let's return to simpler times. This is certainly not to be misconstrued as being thoroughly against catch and release, especially during the primary spring spawning season. Let's allow common sense to rule our actions.

Bill, you make some great points. While covering the state of Texas for a now-defunct regional mag, I would often have conversations with guides and even biologists about catch and release.

If you dared to bring a stringer of bass to the dock at Lake Fork, or many other bodies of water in the Lone Star State, you'd likely be the one filleted and not the fish. The idea of C&R is a good one, but like any good idea taken to the extreme (call it zealotry, if you wish) is that the philosophy can sometimes do more harm than good. What can happen is that the age-class of the lake's bass population can be thrown out of whack and a lake can end up with an over abundance of smaller, younger fish that scarf up the majority of forage fish, leaving a depleted supply for up-and-coming fry and older, bigger bass.
While Mother Nature will eventually clean house and maintain equilibrium, she isn't always pleasant about it. Nature's way of fixing a problem isn't just unpleasant for the fish (disease, stress, starvation, etc); it can be equally unpleasant for the humans counting on the fish and lake as a resource (lost revenue by guides, bait shops, motels, restaurants, etc).

The bottom line is: if it's legal to keep bass from a given body of water, nobody should have a problem with it and any angler wishing to cook some up shouldn't feel intimidated to do so.

Where I differ with you is the fact that the record shouldn’t be pursued. Let's break that baby! Competition is good. Look at the advances in lures, rods and reels that have come about from the record chase. While it's a small group of guys gunning for the holy grail of freshwater fishing records, the advances they're spurring are a benefit to the rest of us who fish lakes, ponds and rivers that will never even sniff a double-digit bass, much less the record.

Brian Lynn, Senior Editor

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  • May 12, 2008

    Special Report: The Dottie Update-0

    by

    In an Outdoor Life exclusive, Fishing Editor Jerry Gibbs interviewed southern California bass angler Jed Dickerson on the death of Dottie, the legendary “world-record” largemouth bass of Dixon Lake. Dottie, nicknamed for a distinctive coloration below its jawline, has been the focus of a years-long quest by anglers intent on breaking the long-standing world record for the species. Caught and released by Dixon Lake angler Mac Weakley in 2006, Dottie weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce. Dottie, and those who were obsessed with catching her, are featured in the June issue of Outdoor Life magazine. Here is Gibbs’ latest report:

    Jed (Dickerson) had just finished a photo/filming session with National Geographic (with photog Tim Schick) for a several-part series they're doing on  the entire freshwater bass scene—tournaments to world record seekers. They'd wrapped up and had gone to lunch when Dickerson got the call from a ranger at Lake Dixon who said a bass fisherman on the lake had found a big, dead floater. Dickerson asked how big and if it had a black spot. The Ranger suggested that Dickerson have a look. He and the National Geographic crew ran back.

    Dickerson knew that it was her. Word went out fast. "People began calling me, as if I'd just lost a family member," said Dickerson. "Hell, this was the second best thing that could have happened to me.... [obviously the best being catching Dottie himself—alive] I'd been worried that somebody else might catch her, or somebody might find her just dead and claim he'd caught her. Now I can ease off a little."

    How are the other guys? Buddah (Mike Winn) is happy. He'd been transferred up to Sacramento to develop a casino there and hasn't been able to fish much.

    Mac Weakly has been out straight working the casino locally and was delighted. He asked Dickerson if he was ready to start fishing Mission Viejo. That lake, by the way, is the private water open to lake residents only. Two years ago, The Basketeers (as Dickerson, Weakley and Winn have come to be known) rented a house there so they could legally fish. They faced all kinds of grief from other anglers fishing the lake, who were defending their turf.

    Dottie looked as though she'd been dead only a day or two, Dickerson said. "She had definitely spawned this week; that's what killed her,” he said. “Like I told you last month, I saw her in Trout Cove where she'd come, probably to feed up on trout or just nosing around for a nest site. Of course you couldn't get her to eat then. So we're into this current moon phase and she had to have spawned either at night and likely deep so we couldn't find the nest. I had her pinned—I knew she was there but couldn't see her. Her tail was pretty ragged from fanning."

    Dottie is frozen at Lake Dixon. State biologist, Mike Justi, who works Diamond Valley Reservoir is supposed to be coming to get her in order to study and age her. Dickerson hopes they'll take her to a taxidermist.

    Dickerson says he'll finish fishing out the current moon at Dixon, then likely go to Diamond Valley Reservoir another lake that holds plenty of potential.

    "I don't know if we're going to see a 25 (pounder) again anytime soon,” he concluded. “I can see Perry's record falling, though. But then again, the gene pool's still in Dixon."—Jerry Gibbs

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 11, 2008

    SPECIAL REPORT: "World Record" Bass Found Dead-1

    by

    Dottie, the legendary “world-record” bass of Dixon Lake in Escondido, California is dead, seemingly ending the years-long obsession to find and rehook her in an attempt to set a new world-record mark. According to sandiego.com, "Dottie," nicknamed for a distinctive marking below her jawline, was found floating in Dixon Lake on Friday. She apparently weighed only 19 pounds, well below the 25-pound, 1 ounces she weighed when Mac Weakley caught her in 2006. Both Weakley and fellow monster bass chaser Jed Dickerson were brought in to identify the fish and agreed that it was Dottie. California Fish and Game officials are expected to take tissue samples to pinpoint the fish’s age. Weakley, Dickerson and the obsession with catching Dottie are featured in the current issue of Outdoor Life magazine.—Gerry Bethge

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 9, 2008

    The Weekend Bite-5/9-0

    by

    Northeast
    From Connecticut Outfitters (www.ct-outfitters.com), Gary Brummet reports that the sudden changes in weather have made it difficult to find the fish. As the water temperatures dropped, trout, bass and stripers went into hiding. Anglers trolling the local lakes have managed to fool a few trout with spoons, minnow plugs, and spinners. From the bank, anglers casting spoons and plugs are also catching trout. While working the bank with an artificial lure, be sure to have a minnow or worm under a slip bobber or resting on the bottom to entice any passing trout that turn up artificial baits. “Trout fishing has been productive,” Gary said, “but we’re not catching any monsters.” Bass fishing has been a challenge, too. The lakes and reservoirs are holding plenty of largemouths for anglers working jigs, swimbaits, jerkbaits and crankbaits. A few anglers have been lucky enough to find some fat walleyes.

     

    New_river_smallie
    Southeast

    P.J. Stevenson at Mountain State Anglers in West Virginia (www.mountainstateanglers.com) told us that they’ve been tearing up smallmouth bass on the New River. “We’re catching up to 50 fish per angler,” P.J. said. She admitted that most of the fish were small, but with those kinds of numbers, quantity makes up for quality. Anglers who weed through the 12- to 16-inchers will run into a few smallies over 20 inches. The guides have been focusing their efforts from Stone Cliff to Cunard or down from the Rt. 64 bridge depending on water levels. P.J. adds that the river is still high, but the water is clear so they’re using pumpkinseed tubes and worms. Several guides have taken parties on walk-and-wade trips at Dunloup and Dowdy Creeks producing good numbers of trout. A recent trip spanned two days and had anglers catching trout and smallmouth bass. “We float to the mouth of the creek, then hike up the creek, then fish back down, then camp the night, and then float the river the next day.” Sounds like fun.

    South
    Richie White at Lake Fork, Texas (www.bassfishing.org) reports that muddy water has made fishing tough. “Find the clear water and you’ll find the fish,” he said. When he finds clear water, Richie is throwing Texas-rigged tubes, lizards, or baby ring fry. Richie prefers to use a ½-ounce weight on his rigs. “It helps me pitch the bait,” he says, “and doesn’t seem to affect the fish.”  In the next couple of weeks, Richie will switch over to night fishing. “The fish bite better at night,” he said, “and it’s more comfortable in the summer.” 

    Midwest
    In Indiana, Chae Jolsen (www.websterlakeguideservice.com) took a break from hauling in giant musky to give us a fishing report. He said that they’ve started to catch fish with topwater plugs. When the topwater bite is off, he’s throwing Suzy Q Shaq Attack lures and big soft-plastics to the edge of weed beds in 20 feet of water. “The Hogy lure was hot today,” he added. Chae said that the Barbee Chain of lakes is getting ready to go off, while Webster Lake has been sputtering this spring. The guides are scoring big muskie on every trip with the biggest of the season measuring 47 inches. On the best days, his anglers will score several fish over 40 inches. “When it rains it pours,” he said.

    West
    According to John New at The Hook Up Outfitters (www.thehookupoutfitters.com) in Scottsdale, Arizona, the largemouth bass are in all three stages of spawning—prespawn, spawn and postspawn. To entice the fish off their beds, he’s using a drop shot in 5 to 20 feet of water. “There are a lot of fish guarding fry,” he adds. To catch then off guard, he’s tossing Senkos into trees and brush. “It’s not real hard to catch a bass right now,” he admits. John is finding the bass in shallow spawning areas or off points in the main lake. “On the striper side of things,” John says, “they’re up close and on the surface early in the morning.” When the wind isn’t blowing, John casts big jerkbaits to feeding stripers. During the day, he’s finding stripers on the main lake near reefs and points. “They’ll chase bait up on to the reef then run back to the deeper water.”. —Ric Burnley

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  • May 9, 2008

    Bass Life with Jason Quinn-0

    by

    8643Making the Bassmaster Classic is one goal every competitive bass angler has in his sights. Winning the Classic is one dream they all possess. BASS angler Jason Quinn missed last year's classic due to one poor tournament showing. He's bound and determined to make it to the dance this year.

    To that end, Costa Del Mar is following the pro through the demanding tour circuit and chronicling his performance on their "Channel C" website. The web-based TV episodes are well done: load and buffering time isn't too bad, video quality is great and the editing keeps you from getting bored. Pretty cool stuff.

    You can check out the first episode of Jason's quest by clicking here. The channel also features Jose Wejebe's "The Road Less Traveled" and Chris Fischer's "Beneath The Surface," as well as other fishing-adventure videos.

    —Brian Lynn

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  • May 8, 2008

    Crazy-Ass Swiss-0

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    SwissAh Switzerland, home to untraceable bank accounts, finely tuned watches, impartial neutrality and the original army knife (question: if your country insists on playing the neutral card, what do you need an army knife for anyway?) is now also the leader in "humane" fishing techniques.

    Humane being killing them immediately upon catching them. In a move typical of EU brillance, the Swiss have made catch-and-release fishing illegal. Live bait and barbed hooks are also illegal except under certain circumstances.

    Not only does this fly in the face of conservation (releasing fish to live on, reproduce and contribute to the gene pool), but it's "humane" roots completely disregard science (fish lack the brain function to feel pain).

    Additionally, anglers will have to take a course to demonstrate their humane fishing expertise before they'll be given a license.

    It's crazy-ass moves (along with a whole lot of other reasons) like these that make me shake my head and be happy to live in the USA.

    Of course, what scares me is that Europe is the birthplace of the misguided animal rights movement and is about 30 years ahead of us in the time-space continuum. Everything you see happening across the pond will eventually be brought up here. And because we're hard-working Americans (and the anti's are zealot loonies), that 30-year head start will be cut in half. Get ready for more insane moves from PETA, HSUS, etc. as they'll use the EU's "humane" laws and game management as a precedence and morale high ground in an attempt to undermine this country's game management laws and the lifestyle we all enjoy.

    —Brian Lynn

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  • May 8, 2008

    Gary Loomis Announces Retirement-0

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    Ol25_garyloomis_120G. Loomis founder, and 2007 OL 25 finalist in the Leaders category, Gary Loomis has announced his retirement from the company he started in 1982.

    Below is the press release detailing Loomis' decision, future plans and accomplishments:

    WOODLAND, Wash.—Since selling his fishing rod company in 1997 to Shimano American Corporation, Gary Loomis has spent the last eleven years at G.Loomis, Inc. in a promotional capacity and assisting when needed on new rod designs. Now, Loomis has decided it is time to move on and focus on other interests, including several conservation projects in which he’s involved. He founded Fish First, a group dedicated to restoring salmon runs in his home state of Washington in 1995, and was the driving force in bringing the first chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association to the West Coast.

    “I have nothing but many great memories and a lot of pride in our achievements here at G.Loomis,” said an emotional Loomis, as he addressed all of his employees at a recent company-wide meeting in the Woodland, Washington facility to announce his retirement. “I probably should have left a long time ago, but I really love the company and the people here so it seemed like the best thing for me to do. Other interests along with Fish First and the CCA have all been competing for my time. I spent the past eleven years helping promote G.Loomis. It carries my name and means a lot to me. I’ll always be a part of the team. G.Loomis is in good hands and headed in the right direction. As hard as this decision was, I know it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter in my life. With all of these other projects on my plate, I feel it’s in my best interest as well as G.Loomis’ to leave at this time.”

    “Gary is a dynamic individual that has a huge interest in saving our salmon,” says Bruce Holt, Executive Director at G.Loomis, “but more importantly he is a friend. I know he’s retiring from here with mixed emotions, but knowing Gary, it’s the best thing for him to do. Having worked, hunted and fished with him over the years, it will seem strange that he’s not in his office across the room, but I know where his heart will always be. He now has the time to focus his attention into his most recent challenge and that’s saving the salmon.”

    Because of his efforts with both fishing rods at G.Loomis and his very active conservation efforts, Loomis has received various acknowledgements over the years. Recently, he’s been inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame, was named one the top 25 ‘people who have changed the face of hunting and fishing’ by Outdoor Life magazine, and Field & Stream magazine recognized Loomis’ work with Fish First with its ‘Heroes of Conservation’ honor. In 2005, he received the ‘Future of Fishing’ award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the American Sportfishing Association.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 6, 2008

    Uncle Sam Wants You!-2

    by

    UnclesamwebAmerica's recreational boaters are being touted to help fight the war on terror—and the effort will likely hit their pocketbook. The Bush adminstration wants the country's 80 million boaters to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior on our coastal and inland waterways, and to report anything usual to local authorities—much like a neighborhood watch program.

    According to an intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press, "The use of a small boat as a weapon is likely to remain al Qaeda's weapon of choice in the maritime environment, given its ease in arming and deploying, low cost, and record of success."

    While the government has intel and procedures to check up on big super tankers entering our waters and ports, they're virtually blind when it comes to small, personal, recreational craft. The government's first idea was to create a federal licensing program—which was immediately shot down by boating organizations. While the government has backed down from the licensing idea, a continuing strategy is to register and regulate recreational boats.

    Now, I don't have a problem with keeping our country safe, and while this is a tentative first step by the administration at addressing a potential threat, one that could change by the time it's implemented, I fail to see how it's really going to do anything except cost recreational boaters money.

    The AP story reports that John Fetterman, deputy chief of Maine's marine patrol, said that his officers regularly get intelligence reports about unknown or unrecognized boaters taking pictures of a bridge or measurements of a dam. But he says there just aren't enough officers on the water to address every report.

    So my question is: what exactly are they going to do differently? If we're to act as a neighborhood watch and report suspicious incidents, what are local (or other) authorities going to do about the suspicious behavior in the small timeframe before said boater bolts? If they're already unable to respond to incoming calls, how are more eyes and more awareness going to help them? They'll actually have more reports coming in and the same number of officers to handle the reports...unless of course they're able to hire more officers.

    And just where do you think the money to hire more officers will come from? The logical guess would be from your pocket ala federal regulation and registration (licensing) processes, as well as increased fines from new safety standards (safety certificate on board, ID matching owner with certificate, etc).

    Get ready boaters and anglers, the cost of owning a boat could be going up in the very near future.

    —Brian Lynn

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 2, 2008

    The Weekend Bite 5/2-1

    by

    Northeast
    Ric Bourn at Anglers and Archers in Leominster, Massachusetts reports that the local lakes are full of rainbow trout and land-locked salmon. Folks fishing from shore are using ¼ to 5/8 ounce Kastmasters, Al’s Goldfish and Colorado spinners while boaters are having luck trolling small Joe’s Flies. Fort Pond has been producing trout for anglers trolling flies or working the shore with Powerbaits sweetened with a piece of mealworm. Ric said that perch and black bass in the pond are falling for shiners. A few salmon have been fooled by the old nightcrawler-under-a-bobber trick. Ric added that smallmouth bass are just starting to move off their beds. He recommends fishing area rivers with small baits or live shiners.

    Southeast
    From the mountains of North Carolina, Nathan Mitchell of Curtis Wright Outfitters (www.curtiswrightoutfitters.com) reports that trout fishing has been fantastic. Anglers fishing the delayed harvest streams are required to release their trout so there are plenty of fish for everyone. Nathan says that the stocked streams in Smokey Mountain National Park are filled to the brim with fish while the wild stretches are holding good numbers of native browns, brookies and rainbows. “The stocked fish will take anything,” Nathan says. He’s had the best luck on stimulator patterns with a flashy dropper fly and a brightly colored nymph. On the upper reaches of the river, wild trout are rising to dry flies. Nathan has been matching the red quill and caddis hatches with Palmer patterns.

    South
    When Jeff White goes fishing, he leaves his rods and reels at home and takes his bow and arrows. Jeff is among a growing number of anglers who stalk their quarry at night with high-powered lights and razor sharp arrows. When we called, Jeff was returning from a tournament on Lake Guntersville in Alabama where a 78-pound carp took the big-fish money. Back at home in Panama City, Florida, Jeff has been hunting flounder and sheepshead. He’s been taking his clients to Fort St. Joe and the shell islands around Panama City and south of Big Bayou. While bowfishermen prefer a flooding tide, Jeff says that hook-and-line anglers are having luck fishing bull minnows on a falling tide. Last week, his party ended up with a seven flounder stringer that weighed over 21 pounds. Since bowhunters can see their targets, they only shoot the biggest fish. He added that snapper season has opened and Florida skippers are returning every day with limits of reds. Along the beach, surf fishermen are catching whiting on shrimp.

    Midwest
    Tom Helgeson editor of Mid West Fly Fishing magazine (www.mwfly.com) says that trout season is open and anglers are off to the races. He’s been fishing the driftless areas of Southeast Minnesota for brown and brook trout. Following the Hendrickson and caddis hatches, he’s working #14 or 12 gold-ribbed hare’s ear nymphs or elk haired caddis and #18 Adams. “The fishing keeps getting better,” he says. Tom’s been wading the small rivers and creeks in Whitewater State Park just outside of Rochester. He expects the action to really heat up by early summer when the insects emerge. In May Tom will start fishing poppers for smallmouth bass on the Upper Mississippi and the St. Croix River. “Float down the rivers and cast to the banks and riffles,” he says.

    West
    1st_senkobass72_63_2
    The weather in Northern California has Larry Hemphill (www.thefishsniffer.com) and the largemouth bass confused. “The temperature has been up and down and up and down,” Larry says. “This is the longest spring I can remember.” He explains that the spawn has been on and off with the weather. Of course, Larry doesn’t use the conditions as an excuse, only a challenge. “We’ve had some good days,” he says. He’s been fishing Clear Lake, Lake Berryessa, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville for crappies, bluegill, and largemouth bass. He suggests coordinating fishing trips to coincide with a warming trend in order to catch the fish as soon as they thaw out. He also recommends using Senkos and jigs. “The key is to work it slow,” Larry says. He adds that a lot of anglers are finding success with drop shots.

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