According to the Alabama DNR, a year ago it took 22-25 pounds to win a tourney on AL’s Lake Eufaula. Now it’s down to 13-15 pounds, a pretty drastic swing.
According to fish biologist Ken Weathers, from a recent AL DNR article, the current “poor bass condition at Eufaula” can be chalked up to three things:
1. Bassers aren’t keeping enough basses = stunting.
2. Aquatic vegggies have declined.
3. That decline in vegetation has caused a shift of forage species from sunfish to shad, which aren’t as stable a forage base.
Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Not enough taken
This type of thing makes me laugh:
“It is important for anglers to understand the role of harvest in managing a fish population,” said Stan Cook, Fisheries Section Chief. “Bass creel and length limit restrictions are designed to improve the health of bass by directing angler behavior to produce a desired outcome.
“Sometimes ‘catch and release’ is not in the best interest of improving a bass population. We need anglers to practice a selective harvest in order to set a state of balance between bass and available forage. When this occurs, growth, condition and yield of larger fish improve.”
I’ve been saying that these limits either mostly or entirely DON’T WORK. If people aren’t keeping fish â€“ and, in fact, peer pressure is pretty much against it â€“ how much sense does it make to come up with a management strategy that depends on keeping fish?
You want bassers to keep fish? Pay ’em. Have a charity tournament/fish fry. Get beyond the 50-year-old regs process.
2. Not enough veggies
From the article:
“In 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers released 13,440 grass carp in the lake, followed by 5,200 more in 2009. The Corps also sprayed herbicide on several hundred more acres of vegetation, which limited the vegetation to the northern section of the lake.”
Doh! I’m pretty sure a monkey juggling apples could tell you the bass pop would sink like the freakin’ Titanic because of that.
Who’s making those decisions and are fish-heads involved?
Weathers said: “If the Corps continues its policy of managing for very little aquatic vegetation, we’ll likely go back to a cyclic pattern like the ’80s and ’90s. We had some great years in the ’80s and ’90s, but we had some stinking years too.”
Yeah. What he said.
3. Forage switch
Really, you can’t do anything about this because of #2, but here’s a little more info on it:
> When there’s abundant aquatic vegetation bass will have plenty of places to ambush sunfish like bluegills and shellcrackers in relatively shallow water. When the bass transition from shallow grass to deeper river and creek ledges, the forage base changes to shad, which tends to be available in boom and bust cycles.
> Weathers said the current shad population offers very little forage for the larger bass because of several years of below average shad spawns.
> Weathers is concerned that the condition of the bass population may not have bottomed out just yet. “I think it’s going to get a little worse before it gets better,” he said. “The threadfins were really spawning heavily in the backs of the coves this spring, but you’ve got to give them time to grow to feed these bigger bass.”
Just one guy’s opinion: If the AL (and GA) DNR can’t get the Corps to stop doing crazy things to the lake’s vegetation, the only option available seems to be for the DNRs to hold however many catch-and-keep tourneys needed to remove a bunch of bass. Short of the sky raining shad, anyway….
On the other hand, if it’s somehow not as bad as what the AL DNR is saying, let us know….