Sunday, August 12, 2012

What is Bass Fishing All About?

What is bass fishing really about? Do bass fishing organizations think they can compete with professional sports like baseball and football? Is bass fishing a competitive sport for making money? Should we all quit our day jobs and go pro?

No. I think the answer to all these questions is "no." Somewhere along the way we listened to marketers who pushed bass fishing as a competitive sport in order to sell tackle and boats. Bass fishing should not be about making money or gaining sponsors. It should be about enjoying the outdoors and fishing and showing the next generation how to fish and care for the fishery.

Bass fishing should be showing the next generation the joy of living in balance with nature--not about beating the other guy or making money. The Take a Kid Fishing Foundation has the right idea.

When I was four years old, I made a fishing pole out of a stick and caught fish off the dock. I spent hours there mesmerized with watching and catching fish there. When I was fishing, time seemed to freeze, and I did not think about anything else.That is the core of the joy of fishing.

Read American BeheMouth to learn how we are out of balance in America. Even something like bass fishing can become an obsession or addiction.

American BeheMouth can now be previewed and purchased on Google Play.

Read the story about Kentucky Lake in the 1950s--what bass fishing was like back then.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Clear Lake: A Microcosm of our Economy

I just returned from a bass fishing trip to Clear Lake, California. Clear Lake promoters advertise that Clear Lake is the "biggest lake in California"; however, in reality, the slogan is more like a half-true political ad, since Lake Tahoe is in fact thee biggest, but Clear Lake promoters "disqualify" Tahoe since part of it is in Nevada.

Everything about Clear Lake is half fast and cheap compared to Lake Tahoe. Tahoe is beautiful, clear and has world-class accomodations and entertainment. Clear Lake, namely Lakeport, CA, is a rat hole with a couple mediocre places to eat that are not always open, a couple stores, a K-Mart, and now a mossy and gross lake, where no one wants to water ski anymore.

Clear Lake was not always like this. In fact, it once was thriving, clear, beautiful, and touted as one of the best bass fishing lakes. I would say that is no longer true, and the reason is bad management. In so many ways, Clear Lake is a microcosm of our mismanaged economy.

Several years ago, a new casino came to town, bringing in new revenue, a great concert venue, and tourism. Mismanagement and corruption quickly led to its demise. Along with that, illegal marijuana growers in this poverty-stricken Lake County have ruined Clear Lake with their fertilizer run-off. The fertilizer has led to the prolific growth of algae all over the lake. The nasty algae leaves a green film on your body after you swim. Try getting that stuff in your mouth while water skiing. No fun!

Decline of the Clear Lake, CA fishery

So the lake is too nasty for water skiing, but the fishing is still good, right? Not exactly. The story is not much different there either. At one time, the fishing was superb and B.A.S.S. held their 2007 Elite Series tournament there, with Steve Kennedy breaking the 20 fish limit with almost 123 pounds. Since then, the numbers and size of the bass has been on the decline. Why? Fishing pressure, mismanagement, bass tournament fallout, death and lack of restocking of threadfin shad, and other reasons. The numbers of fish caught is down by more than 50%. The algae is up over 100+%, while fishing pressure remains high. Bass mortality from bass tournaments is up, from the death of hundreds of huge fish in recent years' tournaments.


The solutions to the decline at Clear Lake, California are simple:

1) Better management of the fishery, stocking, and tournament restrictions

a) Restock threadfin shad! There used to be acres of them, and now after a couple of hard winters, the majority of them died off. Bass depend on threadfin as the mainstay of their diet.

b) Reduce the number and size of tournaments at Clear Lake. Do not allow tournaments in hot weather. Make sure that anglers all have a fizz kit and use it when they catch deep water bass.

c) Change creel limits to better manage how many big fish are removed from the lake.

2) Enforcement of illegal marijuana growing/fertilizers and enforcement/replacement of faulty septic systems from the surrounding area. Fertilizer and sewer run-off causes the algae to grow in the lake. People in the community and state and county agencies have to go after those violators to fix the problem. People also need to take individual responsibility.

For more fisheries solutions on creating the world's perfect fishery, read American BeheMouth, where one fisheries hobbyist creates the perfect fish-to-food ratio and raises the world-record bass.