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Bass Seasons.....

707 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  djkimmel
I've read quite a bit of info over the last year or so from a few fishermen who want to open a spring bass fishery on St.Clair. Studies are cited, and theories tossed about. Certain guys have written about these 'studies', but I wonder how many of them have been done on clear, shallow lakes like St.Clair? There are issues of a possible collapse of the baitfish population, less weeds for fry to hide in, goby problems, possible intensified fishing pressure, and the like. My question is with all the unknowns, why tamper with the seasons when you got something good going? I live in northern IN, and most of our lakes are beat to death. That's why we are all on St.Clair. Is it smart to open the season up? The Ohio DNR obviously thinks otherwise, as they are looking at seasonal changes on a big lake like Erie. I'm not looking to pick a fight here, just wanting some info.
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You picked a heck of topic for your first post. I like you style. If you do a search, I'm sure you will find a ton of threads on this topic.

Take it away Dan.....
I've written enough on the topic on this board already. Guys are either going to believe it or they ain't. It's the guys who don't believe even obvious things who are behind the move in Ohio several YEARS before they even have real results on their Lake Erie spawning smallmouth study including gobies.

I like the approach Maryland took when anglers pushed for a closed spawning season there. They just flat out said no thanks. We don't need it. Our fishing is fine.

Here, we're going backwards since we already have the closed season. Just think of this simple fact: we've had the same closed season for over 30 years, but we've only had the awesome Great Lakes smallmouth fishing for about half that time. If the season is why our fishing is so good, then it should have been awesome since the mid-1960s, not the late 1980s. That alone should demonstrate to anyone logical that something else must be involved.

If we didn't have 11,000 lakes or much of the Great Lakes, and had the largest BASS Federation in the country like they do in Indiana, do you really think the closed season would make much of a difference in our fishing?

The real problem is that 99.5% of anglers have never read a single complete study nor discussed this topic with several impartial fisheries biologists yet they still believe they know exactly what is needed and why???? I KNOW what the studies say - the COMPLETE studies - and lots of them, and I KNOW what most fisheries biologists say because I've talked to them at length.

Lake St. Clair has had plenty of studies done on it including the one that said there is no evidence that it needs more protection (i.e. a later opener) than any other lake in the state. I have this entire study right here next to me and I've read the entire study several times. That is just one. BUT some anglers and fisheries biologists don't want change so they will say whatever they want to avoid that change. More studies won't matter to them really which is one reason why Michigan is not doing their own goby study.

Heck, I posted the words from one of the biologists some of you are saying is spreading the word about the 'devestating' gobies. When I asked him why he was against changing the season, did he say gobies? No, he said he thinks it's just the first step in having more tournaments. He doesn't want more tournaments. We can't have regular tournaments with the change I've proposed. He also said we need to keep the gamefish numbers higher so they can eat the exotics. This is pretty funny coming from someone who has also previously stated that the MDNR does not believe bass are eating gobies or zebra mussels. At least one of you was swift enough to notice a SLIGHT contradiction there.

So why are some people against changing our bass season? Two main reasons, a lack of knowledge about the overwhelming and accepted data about closed seasons not being necessary to protect bass populations; and bias against bass tournaments. That's how simple I see it and I've been studying this issue since the mid 80s. We already know everything we need to know and I'm not the only one who knows that.

If you have good, clean water (clear helps for smallmouths), good habitat and plenty of forage, you will have good bass fishing whether you have a closed season or not.
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ohio is wanting to change lake erie to match michigan and new york and pennsilvania. but they are saying ohio can still catch and release before the 3rd sat in june. this is because of all the smallmouth charters raping the waters daily..i see no reason to eat a bunch of smallmouth when walleye are much better. and there are plenty of non-tournament fish that are eatable. i wont mind waiting to fish tournaments untill 3rd sat, if we can still practice catch and release. this should also be done on all great lakes including lake st clair.
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I started Bass fishing in 1929. As far back as I can remember Bass season opened state wide on the 20th of June. DJK is right the Bass fishing is better now than at anytime in the past. There were times when the Bass had not spawned by the 20th of june and they would still be on there beds and where caught and it didn't bother the fishing on the lakes at all. Most of the fish caught then where taken home to be eaten. I really don't think prefishing or an early opening will bother the quality of fishing we have now. That is my two cents worth on the subject.
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Thank you so much Bob. I keep trying to get it through that there is no correlation that can be made between the quality of the bass fishing and our closed season. You have spoken with years of experience on the lake that probably no one else on this site can touch.

What you are saying also matches what many biologists have told me - we've had huge years classes over the past decade or so.

If you graph out the size, quality, and numbers of bass in Michigan, especially the Great Lakes, the upswings (and past down-swings) will not be in line with season changes.

You'll get a lot better correlation in graphs if you try to match positive changes to the Clean Water Act and the introduction of zebra mussels.

I can make a long list of lakes where the fishing for bass has gotten dramatically better in many states and you will see that none of them correspond to a change in the bass seasons. They all correspond to habitat, water quality or forage changes. EVERY single one of them!

Lake Erie is NOT closed in Pennsylvania. It is open all year to bass fishing, but they recently went to a reduced creel of 1 - 20" bass during the approximate spawn and no tournaments. Lake Erie is NOT closed in New York either during the spawn. Bass season opens May 1 with a reduced creel of 1 - 15" bass. So you can legally fish both during the spawn and even keep a bass.

You all have to know there is no scientific proof that fishing tournaments during the spawn are bad for bass populations of any kind. This is just another Northern, conservative biologist/uneducated bass angler position. No one, including Mark Ridgway has shown this. Don't be in such a hurry to give up what you already have, especially when you're being sold a line that isn't even accurate or shown necessary. They can't use matching other states since they aren't all closed on Erie. If Ohio wants to use gobies, then make them wait the 3 to 4 years they need before they will actually have any real results from the study.

If charters are a problem, then regulate the charters. Charters already have special regulations anyway. Creel and size limits are how you regulate overharvest. I think a lot of this still goes simply to some Northern biologists (and some of the public) not liking tournaments, so they are using the spawn as an excuse to limit them without the scientific support. This is a social and bias problem, not a biological problem. Regardless, the season I've proposed won't allow remote weigh-in tournaments anyway.

It's pretty obvious the way some of the public and a few biologists think of us, and based on our overall relationship with the MDNR, that we probably can't ever expect to have special tournament regulations in Michigan. So to say we shouldn't change the season because it might allow more tournaments seems silly to me in the first place regardless of what studies really show or not. It's not going to happen even if common recommendations are to spread tournaments out over a longer season and hold more in cool water periods.
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