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Re: SmallMouth protection

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Obvious comment: In every stream smallmouth pops fluctuate based on rainfall, temps, pollution events, etc. I suppose local fluctuations can be extended to regions based on those same patterns too.

Here in SW PA, I've had the best big bass year in quite a while. I also have noticed that due to the warmer summers of late, there are also very, very few holdover trout in many of those same streams. Is there a connection between bigger bass and fewer stocked trout? Nah, of course not... but then again.

Idea: Stop stocking many of these marginal waters with trout. Dump funds into habitat improvement for bass and other warm water fish. That's the future of the sport anyway.


Posted on: 2011/8/9 19:51
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Re: SmallMouth protection

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From Bozeman
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Quote:

greenghost wrote:
Idea: Stop stocking many of these marginal waters with trout. Dump funds into habitat improvement for bass and other warm water fish. That's the future of the sport anyway.



Ian_brown and I discussed this before, and I agree with him:

Instead of putting trout in some streams where they don't belong (or survive through June), I'd love to see the PAFBC concentrate on promoting the smallmouth.

Posted on: 2011/8/9 20:13


Re: SmallMouth protection

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The last 2 posts get a big +1 from me.

Posted on: 2011/8/9 21:05
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Re: SmallMouth protection
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Yep, me too.

Too many warm water streams are managed for trout that can't hold fish over the summer. Does the stocking of trout hurt the bass pops? I doubt it. Perhaps a better management plan would be to put more trout in these creeks in the pre-season and reduce in-season stocking. In my neck of the woods, few folks fish for trout after about the first week of May and many (probably most) trout stocked in-season are not harvested and simply die off in July/Aug. I do a lot of bassing in these "trout" streams during summer. To be honest, during the spring there are very few bass in these creeks anyway and they show up in numbers as the trout are fading away so there isn't much overlap. Regarding their value as a different fish and managing the creeks for them....I'm not sure how to go about this. The bass are wild and populate the streams themselves. In the creeks I frequent, there are far more stocked trout in them in springtime than there are wild bass in summer. SMBs simply don't exist in creeks in as high a numbers as trout. A good wild trout stream of typical size can hold over 1000 fish per mile and stocking rates are sometimes comparable. By summer, even the best bass creeks almost never see this many fish (maybe a couple hundred per mile) and bass over a foot long are much older and rarer than trout of this size. Finally, I doubt the traditional anglers of PA would respond well to a suggestion that they give up their stocked trout for bass. Small stream SMBs over about 11' are much harder to catch, more intelligent, and much more wily than springtime stocked trout. An average traditional angler would have to work too hard to catch a couple big smallies when catching a dozen or so stocked trout would be much easier. Overall though - to a degree, we can have our cake and eat it too. Let the traditional anglers fish these creeks in spring for stocked trout. They won't harvest many bass due to closed season (and the bass aren't there anyway) and we can come back in summer and fish for smallies.

Posted on: 2011/8/9 22:03


Re: SmallMouth protection

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2009/12/2 19:56
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Quote:
Instead of putting trout in some streams where they don't belong (or survive through June), I'd love to see the PAFBC concentrate on promoting the smallmouth.

+1 on that

Quote:
Too many warm water streams are managed for trout that can't hold fish over the summer. Does the stocking of trout hurt the bass pops? I doubt it.

No offense, but maybe that's because you're experience is not in densly populated SEPA where trout streams are mobbed, trampled, and unless it's a restricted harvest, many fish are gut hooked with bait.

I'm not being a wise guy, and I'm no fishery expert. But if this wouldn't help and and C&R wouldn't help what would? Thanks!

Or maybe my experience over the last 45 (and especially the last 10) years is different for others and the issue really doesn't exist in SEPA.

Posted on: 2011/8/11 21:33


Re: SmallMouth protection

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From Bozeman
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I distinctly remember gut hooking a decent number of smallish bass in SE ATWs when I was a kid.

That said, a big reason for that may be that I trout fished long into the summer, which was a reason I moved toward fly fishing for wild trout as I got older.

Posted on: 2011/8/11 21:45


Re: SmallMouth protection
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Quote:

springer1 wrote:
[]
No offense, but maybe that's because you're experience is not in densly populated SEPA where trout streams are mobbed, trampled, and unless it's a restricted harvest, many fish are gut hooked with bait.


No offense taken.

I'm assuming you mean SMBs gut hooked with bait(?)

Streams in in SEPA (esp trout streams) are indeed fished much harder than here in SC and I'm not a SEPA angler. However, SMBs in smaller streams are migratory populations and this is true throughout their range in PA. Do some fish winter over in small creeks? Sure (mostly smaller fish under 8" based on my unscientific observations), however most SMBs don't repopulate small streams until mid summer. I fish pretty hard for trout in springtime in the same streams I fish for SMBs in summer and I honestly cannot remember the last SMB I caught in one of these creeks during the spring trout season nor can I even remember seeing anyone else catch one. So I really don't think incidental gut hooking is having much effect on small stream bass populations. Again, I'm mainly referring to small streams that see virtually no angler pressure after the first month or so of trout season. Perhaps in SEPA the trout fishermen are indeed hitting these creeks in summer and thus are probably catching some bass. Would I personally prefer to see more C&R regs on SMBs? Absolutely - and I'm glad they put these regs on the Susky/Juniata. Do I think such regs on small ATWs where bass are (almost) non-existent from Oct - June be worthwhile in raising SMB populations? Not in my neck of the woods (and probably not SEPA either).

Posted on: 2011/8/11 23:05


Re: SmallMouth protection

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Quote:
No offense taken. I'm assuming you mean SMBs gut hooked with bait(?) Streams in in SEPA (esp trout streams) are indeed fished much harder than here in SC and I'm not a SEPA angler. However, SMBs in smaller streams are migratory populations and this is true throughout their range in PA. Do some fish winter over in small creeks? Sure (mostly smaller fish under 8" based on my unscientific observations), however most SMBs don't repopulate small streams until mid summer. I fish pretty hard for trout in springtime in the same streams I fish for SMBs in summer and I honestly cannot remember the last SMB I caught in one of these creeks during the spring trout season nor can I even remember seeing anyone else catch one. So I really don't think incidental gut hooking is having much effect on small stream bass populations. Again, I'm mainly referring to small streams that see virtually no angler pressure after the first month or so of trout season. Perhaps in SEPA the trout fishermen are indeed hitting these creeks in summer and thus are probably catching some bass. Would I personally prefer to see more C&R regs on SMBs? Absolutely - and I'm glad they put these regs on the Susky/Juniata. Do I think such regs on small ATWs where bass are (almost) non-existent from Oct - June be worthwhile in raising SMB populations? Not in my neck of the woods (and probably not SEPA either).


I agree with what you say.

I think its even more in depth than you stated. I can remember catching one and only one smallmouth during spring trout and that was one in the 4 lb range. Spring smallmouth is bad because bass may want to feed for a short time, but it wont last long.The reason this will not last is because temperatures restricts the Bass food absorption, lowing the energy gained.

Since this is true along with most the larger fish migrating, angler harvest is low on big bass during early trout season on small ATW's and rivers. All this said, many large fish will not migrate back and stay in the larger watershed.

When do people keep them?

The larger rivers during the summer. Large fish should always be returned to ensure the best genes are past on. The small ATW's in SEPA get pressure. I saw 2 dads and kids fishing to today, along with an old man. They should also be C&RLF (large fish) during summer months. Make a 11" and under limit. Bass grow too slow be harvest large ones. All this would be ideal except for one thing.

Problem:
Bass habitat needs improved on many of these streams. There is a reason they can't support trout year round and have bass in them.

Improve habitat, make the regs I said above and enforce them heavy for a larger bass river system for 6 years. Watch what happens.



Posted on: 2011/8/12 1:39
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Re: SmallMouth protection
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It's an interesting, and worthwhile, debate. I think there are two different issues being conflated and confused here:

C&R regs for bass.
Cessation of stocking trout.

The C&R regs would probably have little effect on incidental mortality of bass in small ATWs - the fish being killed are mainly under 12" and/or being caught during closed season. They're dying because of gut hooking (at least if you're following Springers' SEPA angle) not because of legal harvest. Keep in mind that the overwhelming population of SMBs in these creeks are under 12" and already protected anyway.

If incidental mortality (and maybe the occasional 12" fish harvested in summer) by trout fisherman is the problem, then the only real solution would be an abatement of trout stocking to get the fishermen off these creeks. Realistically speaking, as personally sympathetic as I may be to this concept, it simply isn't a viable management option, esp in SEPA. It's unfair and unrealistic for us bass guys to expect the great majority of anglers who fish these waters for stocked trout, to give it up to protect bass (which they don't care about anyway). If you wish to seek a cessation of trout stocking, esp in heavily fished SEPA.....as the saying goes, good luck with that.

Posted on: 2011/8/12 7:51


Re: SmallMouth protection
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Regarding C&R for bass in bigger waters that are not stocked with trout, which is where this C&R option actually has a chance, there should be more consideration of this IMHO. These waters don't get the huge pressure seen on ATWs (although they can be fished pretty hard in summer by bass guys)....and, more importantly, they hold bass throughout the year. SMBs do migrate in medium and larger rivers, but usually to winter hybernacula rather than completely out of the systems as is more common in the smaller creeks.

To my knowledge, there are no C&R regs for SMBs on any significant waterways here in PA other than the lower Susky and Juniata(?) Of course these new rules have been implemented due to population problems. Prior to this, these sections were "Big Bass" allowing limited harvest of large fish. I have mixed feelings about "Big Bass" as I sometimes think this encourages anglers to harvest 18" fish during the pre-spawn. Nevertheless, studies on these waters did reveal an overall increase of bass in larger sizes. Would they have been even better with complete C&R? I'd like to think so. Would it have been politically possible to get those regs? Maybe, maybe not.

An encouraging situation in a similar vein....is the Maryland DNR. MD, to her credit, has implemented total C&R regs on good bass populations in sections of the upper Potomac and Monocacy Rivers and these seem to have been welcomed by anglers. Studies continue to show strong bass pops and happy anglers. Should we try something like this on some of our better bass waters here in PA? I'd love to see it.
(Hint: Hey Mike, go talk to John Mullican over in MDDNR).


Posted on: 2011/8/12 8:06


Re: SmallMouth protection

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2009/12/2 19:56
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Quote:
An encouraging situation in a similar vein....is the Maryland DNR. MD, to her credit, has implemented total C&R regs on good bass populations in sections of the upper Potomac and Monocacy Rivers and these seem to have been welcomed by anglers. Studies continue to show strong bass pops and happy anglers. Should we try something like this on some of our better bass waters here in PA? I'd love to see it.

I'd also love to see some sort of step like this in the SEPA & SEPA effecting waters like the Schuylkill, Delaware, and larger creeks.

Posted on: 2011/8/12 11:36


Re: SmallMouth protection

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Pa already tried C&R on a typical Pa. SMB stream (Dunkard Ck in SW Pa) for a number of year period. It did not improve the SMB population or size structure; therefore, the reg. was removed.

As for reduced numbers of SMB in some (all?) SE Pa streams, there is a gaping hole in the populations because the 2009 year class was a bust due to wet late spring/early summer weather conditions/high stream flows. Additionally, as sediment is being transported downstream on a number of creeks the good SMB habitat is filling in with sand and gravel, along with some silt. The lower gradient, larger pool downstream areas where larger fish are likely to be are losing big fish (deeper, rocky) habitat to this effect.

Posted on: 2011/8/12 12:46


Re: SmallMouth protection

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2006/9/9 17:18
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Quote:
Pa already tried C&R on a typical Pa. SMB stream (Dunkard Ck in SW Pa) for a number of year period. It did not improve the SMB population or size structure; therefore, the reg. was removed. As for reduced numbers of SMB in some (all?) SE Pa streams, there is a gaping hole in the populations because the 2009 year class was a bust due to wet late spring/early summer weather conditions/high stream flows. Additionally, as sediment is being transported downstream on a number of creeks the good SMB habitat is filling in with sand and gravel, along with some silt. The lower gradient, larger pool downstream areas where larger fish are likely to be are losing big fish (deeper, rocky) habitat to this effect.


As I said.........

Quote:
Problem: Bass habitat needs improved on many of these streams. There is a reason they can't support trout year round and have bass in them. Improve habitat, make the regs I said above and enforce them heavy for a larger bass river system for 6 years. Watch what happens.


Habitat needs improved long before the regs change. It will make a difference then.

Mike in my last post I meant a large river system with the regs on the entire thing. Ex: Conestoga River all its tributaries and watersheds in those tributaries. If habitat was improved drastically, C&R regs imposed for the whole thing, then bass C&R would be wonderful. But the watersheds needs a ton of work.




Posted on: 2011/8/12 14:22
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