Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Something Nice about Fishing

In general, fishing has no season(s). If one enjoys bass fishing, they can do so all year round here in Pennsylvania. We do, however, have closed seasons for some species (i.e. walleye). Pa. anglers can fish for bass all year round as long as we don't target bass on spawning beds during a certain time period designated by the state. During that same period of time, bass tournaments are halted in order to give our bass an opportunity to spawn without threat of being caught and disrupting their spawning process.

This can and continues to be a problem for some licensed anglers to follow. Of course, most of us have probably caught a spawning bass on occasion, not because we were targeting them, but more or less, because we threw a lure in a specific spot that a bass chose as their bed.

That may sound strange, but I have a pretty good idea, as do many experienced anglers, where bass spawn in most river and lake locations. However, there are those occasional bass that do not follow the norm and we happen to run across them every now and then.

Just like in all things, we all fall on a continuum for fishing. On one end are the die-hard animal lovers who refuse any type of hunting or fishing. The opposite end of the continuum has the gung-ho hunters and anglers that kill for the simple pleasure of killing. The rest of us fall somewhere between the two.

There are those anglers who will fish at all times except during the spawn season. Our state has a designated time period that tries to capture the seasonal spawning pattern of our bass. It's pretty close to what is correct, but it may fall short during some seasons depending on environmental factors.

I tend to follow research studies that I've read and what I've heard at seminars presented by our own PFBC regarding the spawn to develop my own fishing habits.

Our Susquehanna River smallmouth bass have been struggling along since the 2005 columnaris fish kill. Not only did it strike in 2005, but several more times since, especially on the main stem and Lower Susquehanna River.

Although, the Susquehanna River is cleaner than it was 40 years ago, it is the new chemicals and agricultural by-products that have been introduce over that time that have me worried.

Mother Nature is very powerful. We have had numerous years of drought, heat, and high water events, and extended low water periods that have contributed to the blight of the Susquehanna River smallmouth population.

Combine the above two factors and we can see how and why our bass population is suffering.

Our own Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has been very slow in responding to the needs of our bass population and protecting the breeding stock that we now have. Government works extremely slow and departments in the government even slower.

Yes, we have some great people in the role of Commissioner. They are dedicated anglers and boaters who do a thankless job on a daily basis. They have to rely on their professional staff to guide them in the right direction. I hope that the right decisions will be made in the future to protect our bass populations. Only time will tell.