Snakehead bounty program in MD

Dave_W

Dave_W

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An old school solution. Will be interesting to see how this program turns out.
 
Fredrick

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Id just cut the tag off the fish then release it back in the water and then collect the bounty. So much bs information in the article .
 
Fish Sticks

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Id just cut the tag off the fish then release it back in the water and then collect the bounty. So much bs information in the article .
Yea I don’t see any BS in that article and I believe Dr. Love was one if the authors on the blackwater river study. I have not seen any data on if snakeheads are harming native amphibians yet. As Dr. Love points out the original concerns of large scale negative impacts to native fish are still valid if prey base shrinks. We saw lake trout go in flathead lake and not seem to bother anything until mysis shrimp showed up then they exploded and dominated the whole lake crashing native salmonids.

Id hate to see anglers disregard the majority scientific communities management objectives for protecting our waterways.

Ironically its fishing reasons behind all these people trying promote snakeheads but when you play with non native introductions it’s usually anglers that get burnt in the end. The smallmouth came they crushed flies. Smallmouth fishermen now looking at a grim future in the susky with invasive flatheads proliferating. We are talking about a fish in smallmouth that takes like 17 years to get trophy size inches, its going to be an interesting next decade or too in the susky. I hear brown trout guys really concerned about musky and small mouth. Like this picture found on social media where the musky ate this guys brown trout while hooked drew alot of negative attention I am sure.
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The “naturalized nonnative” crowd is screaming get the muskys and smallies out in some cases.

the Flathead guys now clammoring to protect the flatheads because they want to run trips. The blue catfish were then dumped in by people who liked that invasive species because it grows to 100lbs, well bad knews for those anglers is I think they make up 75% biomass in the james river and have all stunted out at 20”s and the 100lbders are no more. And now blue cats being shown to move into salt more effectively with larger size and linked to decline in stripers and blue claw crabs most likely with further research needs highlighted.

In lake ontario the billion dollar salmon sport fishing industry has made its bed with invasive species and now has to lay in it as the invasive aleives crash and with them will likey go kings and cohos. Thats really gonna hurt that region financially in the comming years. But back to the snake heads that little experiment with alweives and salmon worked great for decades from an angling perspective and no one was talking about dangerous instability and trophic cascades rippling through the exosystem.


The ling winded message here is invasive species introduce instability, BOOM
and BUST. They didn’t coevolve to
Interact sustainably with the others in the ecosystem and they lack natural predators and diseases in many cases. So just because for a relatively short amount of time they don’t act like the four horsemen, conditions in the watershed change, species composition chnages, and they invade upstream into smaller and smaller systems. Anyone serious about conservation who thinks we are in the clear with snakeheads needs to think about this how trained fisheries scientists are.
 
M

Mike

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What are you talking about? Please elucidate.

“Smallmouth fishermen now looking at a grim future in the susky with invasive flatheads proliferating. We are talking about a fish in smallmouth that takes like 17 years to get trophy size inches, its going to be an interesting next decade or too in the susky.”
 
Fish Sticks

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First one I know of was found in 2002 in susky. Its been roughly 20 years but I don’t know how long the density has been such that they could possibly exert a negative effect on the ecosystem or SMB i dont know. You would certainly know how quickly their numbers grew better than me. I guess I should have said uncertain future in the susky but the reason flatheads are likely a threat to SMB fishery in the susky is we have seen reports of them harming other Centrarchiformes when invasive outside the susky when introduced.

I found this report put out by this guy named Mike Kauffman who worked for PAFB and found some likely impact from flatheads on the smallmouth bass population in the Delaware drainage.

The abundance of many large catfish was credited to the favorable habitat of deep pools and slow current in this reach of the river.

A very low number of smallmouth bass and almost no sunfish were collected during the 2005 and 2004 surveys. Smallmouth bass and sunfish population densities were substantially lower than historic levels (1979) when both were abundant and flathead catfish were absent. Causes for the present-day lower abundance of smallmouth bass and sunfish in this reach of the Schuylkill River are not known. Habitat change, such as lower densities of aquatic plants, and excessive predation are two current considerations.

In some southeastern U.S. locations where flathead catfish have been introduced their establishment has negatively impacted riverine catfish and sunfish populations in particular. Since flathead catfish are native to the Ohio and Mississippi River drainages, their presence as an invasive species in the Schuylkill River may be harmful to resident fish, such as resident sunfish species and resident catfish species.

Anglers may access this stretch of river from shore or boat. Shore anglers may gain access to good habitat along the west bank from a parking area near Valley Creek in Valley Forge National Historic Park. Boat anglers may use the National Park Service access area located on the north side of the Betzwood Bridge (Rt. 422). Foot access is also available adjacent to Pawlings Rd. Bridge.

Channel catfish

Channel catfish. Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann with two channel catfish from the same reach of river in 2004. Note that channel catfish have a forked tail and the fish on the left clearly displays the channel catfish’s characteristic upper jaw protruding beyond the lower jaw.

Flathead catfish
 
Fish Sticks

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What are you talking about? Please elucidate.

“Smallmouth fishermen now looking at a grim future in the susky with invasive flatheads proliferating. We are talking about a fish in smallmouth that takes like 17 years to get trophy size inches, its going to be an interesting next decade or too in the susky.”

If it takes a small mouth like what 15-20 years to reach trophy size? So if flatheads introduced in 2002 and likey were not this dense for a long while after that, are you not thinking we might see some decline in the SMB fishery in the river in the coming decades?
 
Fish Sticks

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What are you talking about? Please elucidate.

“Smallmouth fishermen now looking at a grim future in the susky with invasive flatheads proliferating. We are talking about a fish in smallmouth that takes like 17 years to get trophy size inches, its going to be an interesting next decade or too in the susky.”
Might already be happening?

 
Fish Sticks

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To be clear smallmouth in susky is death by 1000 cuts in that river. Anyway back to bounty what are chances we see bounty in Pa?? Would be nice to make enough to cover the materials in the flies I breakoff.
 
M

Mike

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First one I know of was found in 2002 in susky. Its been roughly 20 years but I don’t know how long the density has been such that they could possibly exert a negative effect on the ecosystem or SMB i dont know. You would certainly know how quickly their numbers grew better than me. I guess I should have said uncertain future in the susky but the reason flatheads are likely a threat to SMB fishery in the susky is we have seen reports of them harming other Centrarchiformes when invasive outside the susky when introduced.

I found this report put out by this guy named Mike Kauffman who worked for PAFB and found some likely impact from flatheads on the smallmouth bass population in the Delaware drainage.

The abundance of many large catfish was credited to the favorable habitat of deep pools and slow current in this reach of the river.

A very low number of smallmouth bass and almost no sunfish were collected during the 2005 and 2004 surveys. Smallmouth bass and sunfish population densities were substantially lower than historic levels (1979) when both were abundant and flathead catfish were absent. Causes for the present-day lower abundance of smallmouth bass and sunfish in this reach of the Schuylkill River are not known. Habitat change, such as lower densities of aquatic plants, and excessive predation are two current considerations.

In some southeastern U.S. locations where flathead catfish have been introduced their establishment has negatively impacted riverine catfish and sunfish populations in particular. Since flathead catfish are native to the Ohio and Mississippi River drainages, their presence as an invasive species in the Schuylkill River may be harmful to resident fish, such as resident sunfish species and resident catfish species.

Anglers may access this stretch of river from shore or boat. Shore anglers may gain access to good habitat along the west bank from a parking area near Valley Creek in Valley Forge National Historic Park. Boat anglers may use the National Park Service access area located on the north side of the Betzwood Bridge (Rt. 422). Foot access is also available adjacent to Pawlings Rd. Bridge.

Channel catfish

Channel catfish. Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann with two channel catfish from the same reach of river in 2004. Note that channel catfish have a forked tail and the fish on the left clearly displays the channel catfish’s characteristic upper jaw protruding beyond the lower jaw.

Flathead catfish
Note that we said “considerations” when we said in the following sentences: “Causes for the present-day lower abundance of smallmouth bass and sunfish in this reach of the Schuylkill River are not known. Habitat change, such as lower densities of aquatic plants, and excessive predation are two current considerations.”

Note also that these were surveys done in 2004 and 2005, the first time that we had surveyed that stretch of the river in about 20 yrs somthe change was quite a surprise. Our conclusions in the form of “considerations” were the best we could do with only two sampling yrs at the same spot. The establishment of 10 YOY sites every 10 miles from Bridgeport, Montgomery Co upstream to Port Clinton, Schuylkill Co after that (about 2008) revealed substantial problems with reproduction and substantially degraded habitat from sedimentation, clarifying the problem discovered in 2004 and 2005. Even finding 300 meter long stretches of suitable YOY habitat was difficult in much of the lower river. Those 10 sites were sampled annually for about 12 yrs. The “consideration” that we mentioned regarding the general topic of habitat change was the correct one, even though we initially cited a lack of aquatic plants as an example. Had we known the sedimentation and corresponding reproductive problems were so widespread at the time the biologist report was written, it would have read a bit differently, focusing on habitat degradation in the form of sedimentation.

I don’t know what you are calling “trophy size,” but in the Susquehanna twenty inchers are caught each year, but they are an exceptionally small part of the population, so for that river a 20 incher is a trophy. It does not, however, take 15-20 yrs to produce a 20 incher. They vary a bit in age and probably by sex, but are most likely about 8-11 yrs old based on aging of much more numerous 18-19 inchers. To reach 15 inches it takes lower Susquehanna SMB 4.5-5 yrs when pop density is high and 3.5-4 yrs when pop density is low, as in the yrs closely following the 2005 YOY die-off.

As for Centrarchids being strongly negatively impacted by flathead predation, those studies came from the south via a combination of telemetry to locate the flatheads in the river holes along embankments and then gut analyses. The flatheads would clean out one hole and then move to another over time. The Centrarchids that were depleted were sunfish, not bass. First went the bullheads and then went the sunfish.
 
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M

Mike

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Regarding muskellunge vs trout in Pa, a small segment of the trout angling population not wanting muskellunge stocked in stocked trout lakes has been an occasional occurrence for over 40 yrs.

As for an angler hooking a trout followed by the muskellunge attacking the hooked trout, that happens with other species as well. A muskellunge is an opportunist when it comes to feeding upon injured fusiform fish. This one just happened to be a trout and the unusual thing was that the angler landed both rather than the muskellunge letting go or tearing off a chunk of the trout and swimming away.
 
M

Mike

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To be clear smallmouth in susky is death by 1000 cuts in that river. Anyway back to bounty what are chances we see bounty in Pa?? Would be nice to make enough to cover the materials in the flies I breakoff.
Never say never, but I would bet highly unlikely.
 
Swattie87

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Back to the OP here. Admittedly, I’m not a Snakehead guy, though I don’t have strong feelings on one side of this issue or the other. That said, I found and read the actual MD DNR posting about this program (not a news outlet article).

Do I have this straight?…

MD wants to slow the proliferation of Snakeheads. It is not illegal to release a Snakehead caught in MD, but anglers are “encouraged” to kill any Snakehead they catch. So, MD is going to catch, tag, and RELEASE 500 Snakeheads, and then only pay a bounty on the tagged fish? Why not just kill the 500 Snakeheads you just caught? I assume they’re gonna tag bigger fish and bonk everything else they catch in the process, but still, you’re gonna release 500, presumably mature Snakeheads you just caught?

I guess the idea is to increase Snakehead angling under the assumption that bounty anglers will be killing all Snakeheads they catch, not just the tagged ones, even if they’re not required to?

It says the tagged fish will range from $10-$200. Let’s just assume for a second that all 500 were $10 each. You have the potential invested of spending at least $5,000 on this program. (Granted, all will not be caught, but for the sake of discussion assume they were.) Why not pay $1/Snakehead for the first 5,000 Snakeheads over a certain size caught, killed, documented, and reported period? You get 10x the return on your investment. If it works, and you wanna invest another $5,000, then do it, and so on.

This is silly to the point that I assume I am missing something obvious here, and am ready to have it explained to me.

Bonus Question: Is it still illegal to release a caught Snakehead in PA? I’ve never caught one, but, if still illegal to release one, I would kill it. If legal to release them, I’d probably still keep and eat the first one I caught. They’re supposed to be good right? After that I’d weigh how good they tasted vs. how good their sporting value seemed from the one I caught and go from there. Mmmmm, tasty Snakeheads? So I guess that’s my position on Snakeheads in PA.

Also, nice Cats Mike.
 
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hooker-of-men

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I don't think you are missing anything. The original press release got passed around among friends of mine months ago and everyone got a good laugh. Your sensible points don't even touch on the fact that, like Fred said, you don't even really provide evidence you killed the fish. Convoluted and silly.

As I've said before, putting the extermination of specific species in the hands of nextdoor neighbor Gary is insanity.
 
Fish Sticks

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One of those Centrarchids studied in maybe georgia I want to say was redbreast sunfish, wonder if they will be impacted by flatheads in the susky. We know the flatheads are eating smallmouth bass in the susky. Bass anglers are having to explain to WCO’s trying to fine them that they did bot keep a sub legal smallmoutb and instead the flathead head in their live well burped up the dead sub legal sized fish. People are finding high teens fish sticking out of flathead gullets. I guess the question really is, since their eating them, how much ate they eating them and is it enough on top of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, largemout bass virus, trematodes, mycobacteria and high water events during the spawn to cause a decline in the fishery. My guess is Megan Schall’s polymerase chain reaction gut content analysis might help ups quantify roughly how much of their diet SMB make up. I don’t have a horse in the race because smallmouth are non native and any conssrvation practives for them would be on the other side of the state where they are native. I am just using this to point out one man’s “naturalized non native” game fish can contribute to the undoing of someone elses non native/invasive species game fish and if we treat them as invasive or not isnt currently an ecogical decison its a fishing decision.

I don’t argue with your point about the muskys and I don’t know if SMB hurt brown trout pops or not couldnt care less. I am just illustrating that to show people iv’e spoken with in the past telling me to live and let live with one Invasive species and clamoring for removal of invasive species or even native fish species in some places if it threatens their desirable non native fishery. Thats all I was saying.

As for snakeheads in PA I like swattys idea about dollar a snakehead. I guess with the tagging and releasing it depends on how angler determines if the fish has a tag. If you have larger cash prizes and tag status can only be determined on opening fish post mortem I can see that working, thats what they do with invasive rainbow trout in the upper snake river I beleive.



Honestly from what i hear these things taste so darn good the commercial option is one that should not be overlooked. If there is a strong commercial option for blue cats these things could do better. I have heard anecdotally of people harvesting on potomac river making so much money selling snakeheads to restraunts that they sit their and snag em all day with leaded trebles for the cash. Humans can over exploit stuff one way or another we got this!!!! Lol
 
Fish Sticks

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M

Mike

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The article does not say what will occur during the phone call by the angler to the USFWS. If the angler has to answer additional questions about his or her catch during that fishing session, depending upon the questions and and quality of the responses there is a possibility that a population estimate could be generated. Furthermore, when money tags are involved the assumption made is that any tagged fish captured will be reported and, based on previous studies if they are comparable, a correction value can be generated to account for caught but unreported money tag fish in the present study. My points are that with such money tagging one can calculate the maximum percentage of fish that are being harvested by anglers and maybe even generate a population estimate.
 
silverfox

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Back to the OP here. Admittedly, I’m not a Snakehead guy, though I don’t have strong feelings on one side of this issue or the other. That said, I found and read the actual MD DNR posting about this program (not a news outlet article).

Do I have this straight?…

MD wants to slow the proliferation of Snakeheads. It is not illegal to release a Snakehead caught in MD, but anglers are “encouraged” to kill any Snakehead they catch. So, MD is going to catch, tag, and RELEASE 500 Snakeheads, and then only pay a bounty on the tagged fish? Why not just kill the 500 Snakeheads you just caught? I assume they’re gonna tag bigger fish and bonk everything else they catch in the process, but still, you’re gonna release 500, presumably mature Snakeheads you just caught?

I guess the idea is to increase Snakehead angling under the assumption that bounty anglers will be killing all Snakeheads they catch, not just the tagged ones, even if they’re not required to?

It says the tagged fish will range from $10-$200. Let’s just assume for a second that all 500 were $10 each. You have the potential invested of spending at least $5,000 on this program. (Granted, all will not be caught, but for the sake of discussion assume they were.) Why not pay $1/Snakehead for the first 5,000 Snakeheads over a certain size caught, killed, documented, and reported period? You get 10x the return on your investment. If it works, and you wanna invest another $5,000, then do it, and so on.

This is silly to the point that I assume I am missing something obvious here, and am ready to have it explained to me.

Bonus Question: Is it still illegal to release a caught Snakehead in PA? I’ve never caught one, but, if still illegal to release one, I would kill it. If legal to release them, I’d probably still keep and eat the first one I caught. They’re supposed to be good right? After that I’d weigh how good they tasted vs. how good their sporting value seemed from the one I caught and go from there. Mmmmm, tasty Snakeheads? So I guess that’s my position on Snakeheads in PA.

Also, nice Cats Mike.
The point of this bounty program is to track fish, their location (compared to tagging site), how many tagged fish are successfully caught or uncaught etc. The point of the bounty isn't to reduce numbers, but a side effect is likely to be increased angling pressure, which could result in some reduction of the population. The bounty ensures that anyone catching a tagged fish will report it. In other words, this is a research project.

Something else to consider here with regard to the cost, is consider what it would cost to PIT tag the fish and then pay staff to find the tags across a large area. This study puts the "labor" largely on anglers and expands the study area reach to wherever the fish go w/out sending staff out with radio gear. Also, PIT tags have a somewhat short lifespan/battery life. So this method allows a much longer term study of the fish's movement.
 
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