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Archive for March, 2013

Alabama has a new state record for striped bass, and it is a whopper.

Bramlett and his record striped bass! (Photo: ADCNR)

Bramlett and his record striped bass! (Photo: ADCNR)

On Feb. 28, James Bramlett of Dora, Ala. hauled in a 69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass from the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam Plant. After being weighed on certified scales, this fish beat the previous record by more than 14 pounds and measured 46.75 inches long with a 37.75 inch girth.

The previous Alabama record for striped bass was caught by Charles Totty on the Tallapoosa River in 1959. It weighed 55 pounds and was one of the state’s oldest fishing records.

Heath Haley, a fisheries biologist with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, measured Bramlett’s fish shortly after it was caught. Fin clippings were also taken and sent to Auburn University for testing to determine the genetic strain of Bramlett’s catch.

“Shocking,” was Haley’s response to seeing the fish for the first time.

“This is definitely a once in a lifetime catch,” he said. “Mr. Bramlett is an extremely generous, humble person and I’m excited to see him receive recognition for this fish.”

The record also has the potential to break the International Game Fish Association’s world record for landlocked striped bass. The current record is a 67-pound, 8-ounce fish caught May 7, 1992 in Los Banos, Calif. If certified, Bramlett’s catch will be featured on the IGFA website, www.igfa.org.

Procedures for certifying the Alabama state record include weighing the fish on certified scales with witnesses and having the species confirmed by a WFF or certified fisheries biologist. The fish must be caught legally, including the possession of a valid fishing license, if required.

Alabama rules state that if a fish weighs less than 25 pounds, the new record must be two ounces more than the existing record. For fish weighing more than 25 pounds, the difference must be at least one-half of a percent more than the existing record. Otherwise, the records tie.

The complete rules and applications are available from WFF offices or www.outdooralabama.com.

— Alabama DCNR

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A tornado that struck DeSoto State Park on March 18 caused damage to the hotel, restaurant and several cabins, forcing closure of portions of the park for cleanup and assessment.

DeSoto_Hotel_Porch_DamageAccording to Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, the hotel and restaurant were most affected by the storm.

“High winds caused some major damage to the roof and walls of the hotel and some of the cabins,” he said. “We also have quite a few large trees that were blown down. The lodge area starting at Blalock Drive is still closed to traffic while we clear debris.”

Park officials believe most of the cabins will re-open very soon, but the structural damage to the hotel and restaurant likely mean they will be closed for an indefinite time.

“We ask for the public’s patience,” Lein said. “Crews will be working diligently to clean up debris and get as much of the park open as soon as possible.”

“The good news is, we are still welcoming campers and day-use visitors to the park. The improved campground, country store and nature center, primitive campground, picnic area, and the backcountry camping sites are all open.”

Camping reservations may be made by calling 256-845-5380.

The majority of DeSoto’s hiking and mountain biking trails are open as well, but visitors are asked to be cautious around downed trees and debris that may be across the trails.

Storm damage updates will be posted on the park’s website at www.alapark.com/DeSotoResort.

— Alabama DCNR

 

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Scott Rumsey and Steve Brown claimed the Semi-Pro Division title at the Crappie USA qualifying tournament Feb. 23 on Miler’s Ferry Lake in Camden, Ala.

The field was competing for cash, prizes and advancement to the Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic, which will be Oct. 23-26 on Kentucky Lake.

Rumsey and Brown, the Semi-Pro Division champions

Rumsey and Brown, the Semi-Pro Division champions

Miller’s Ferry presented a challenge, with strong current, muddy water and heavy rains predicted along with highs only in the 40’s and low 50’s. The river was very muddy with strong current and lots of floating debris making travel very challenging for most of the teams.

Semi-Pro Division Results

Scott Rumsey of Millbrook, Ala., and Steve Brown of Elmore, Ala., won the semi-pro division with 9.75 pounds and earned $1,000. They were fishing the heavy current of the north end of the lake early before moving south to Pine Barren Creek out of the current. In the creek they vertically jigged live bait tipped with Stubby Steve’s on red hooks in 8-14 feet of water. The team credited Stubby Steve’s to their success by adding scent in the stained water allowing them to catch 30 fish.

Amateur Division Results

First place in the amateur division was Roger Milby of Auburn, Ala., with a weight of 9.6 pounds, good for $1,000. He also earned an additional $54 for second-biggest crappie of the event at a weight of 1.99 pounds. Miller was spider rigging on the north end of the lake in 12-14 feet using Southern Pro black/chartreuse and lime/chartreuse jigs where the fish were suspended in 8-9 feet over a dropoff in a bay out of the current.

For full results, photos and schedules, visit www.crappieusa.com

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The disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern U.S. has been confirmed for the first time in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that bats with white-nose syndrome were found recently at two caves in Dade County.

Bats in almost two dozen states and some Canadian provinces are affected by white-nose syndrome. (Photo: USFWS)

Bats in almost two dozen states and some Canadian provinces are affected by white-nose syndrome. (Photo: USFWS)

A National Park Service biologist and volunteers discovered about 15 tri-colored bats with visible white-nose symptoms in a Lookout Mountain Cave at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in late February. On March 5, a group led by a Georgia DNR biologist also found tri-colored bats with visible symptoms in Sittons Cave at Cloudland Canyon State Park. The parks and cave are located in northeast Georgia near its border with Tennessee and Alabama.

A bat from each northwest Georgia site was sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens. Histopathology confirmed both
bats had white-nose syndrome.

The name describes a white fungus, *Geomyces destructans*, often found on the muzzles, ears and wings of infected bats. White-nose, or WNS, spreads
mainly through bat-to-bat contact. There is no evidence it infects humans or other animals. But spores may be carried cave-to-cave by people on
clothing or gear.

Detected in New York in 2006, the disease has spread steadily to 22 states and five Canadian provinces. WNS has killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7
million bats and threatens endangered species such as Indiana and gray bats. In some caves and mines, 90 to 100 percent of the bats have died.

South Carolina announced Monday that WNS had been confirmed there. Last year, the disease was found in north Alabama and on the Tennessee side of
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Hamilton County.

“We’ve been expecting the discovery of WNS in Georgia after it was confirmed in Tennessee and Alabama counties last season,” said Trina
Morris, DNR wildlife biologist. “Still, I don’t think anyone can prepare themselves to see it for the first time.”

To address the threat of WNS, Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division has been conducting more surveys to better assess bat populations, while
limiting scientific activities in caves, actions outlined in the state’s White-nose Syndrome Response Plan (www.georgiawildlife.com/WNS). Biologists
have worked with cavers, cave owners and conservation organizations to raise awareness about limiting trips into caves and following national
decontamination protocols for disinfecting clothes and gear.

DNR is urging cavers to reduce trips to Georgia caves and follow federal guidelines for disinfecting clothes and gear. Sittons Cave is currently
closed to the public for the winter to prevent disturbance to hibernating bats at the site. About 15 percent of Georgia’s caves are on state-managed
lands.

The National Park Service closed all caves at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park to the public in 2009 in an attempt to reduce the
chance of importation of the white-nose pathogen. Park caves will remain closed to minimize the risk of spreading the disease to other areas.

The National Park Service has seen no evidence of mass mortality in bats due to WNS at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. About
six dead bats were found at Sittons, although the cause of death was not determined. Researchers estimate that a third of the some 1,600 live bats
seen in the cave showed signs of white-nose.

White-nose thrives in the cold, humid conditions characteristic of caves and mines used by bats. The fungus leads to bats being awakened too often
from hibernation or less intense periods of torpor, causing them to use up fat reserves. The animals often starve to death, leaving caves in winter to
search for insects that have not yet emerged. There is also evidence the fungus may cause some bats to die from dehydration or electrolyte
imbalances.  There is no known cure for WNS.

Georgia has few known large hibernacula, or hibernation areas. Yet WNS poses a significant threat to the 16 bats species in the state. Of nine
species confirmed with either the disease or the fungus so far, eight are found in Georgia. Two, the Indiana and gray bats, are federally endangered
species.  One, the small-footed myotis, is state-listed as a species of concern.

Bats play a critical role in ecosystems, serving as a natural pest control that saves the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year and
also helping limit insects that can spread disease to people. Many bat populations are already in decline because of habitat loss. Their ability
to rebound is limited by reproduction rates as low as one offspring a year.

“Some bat populations were beginning to recover due to conservation efforts to protect caves and other critical habitats,” Morris also said. “WNS now
threatens these populations with significant declines that they may not be able to recover from.”

According to the National Park Service Office of Public Health, WNS does not appear to pose a threat to human health since the fungus that causes
the disease only grows at temperatures well below human body temperature. Yet, while people are not at risk of contracting WNS, the public is
cautioned against handling bats, which can carry other diseases such as rabies.

Please contact a Wildlife Resources Division office (www.georgiawildlife.com) or – if on national parklands – the National Park Service (www.nps.gov) if
you find dead bats or see bats flying outside during the day in winter months when they would usually be roosting or hibernating.

For more:
http://www.georgiawildlife.com/WNS
http://www.nature.nps.gov/biology/wns/index/cfm
http://whitenosesyndrome.org

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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White-nose syndrome is affecting bats throughout almost two dozen states. (Photo: USFWS)

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources recently received confirmation
that white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of bats in
eastern North American, is now officially in South Carolina.

Until now, South Carolina appeared to be insulated from white-nose syndrome. However, a dead bat discovered recently at Table Rock State Park in
northern Pickens County has been confirmed to have WNS, which spreads
mainly through bat-to-bat contact and has not been found to infect humans
or other animals.

“We have been expecting WNS in South Carolina,” said Mary Bunch, wildlife
biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) based in
Clemson. “We have watched the roll call of states and counties and Canadian
provinces grow each year since the first bat deaths were noted in New York
in 2007.” Estimates of bat mortality from WNS in North America range from
5.7-6.7 million bats since the new pathogen was first discovered.

Table Rock State Park staff informed Bunch about what appeared to be a dead
bat and asked whether it should undergo WNS testing. Bunch was doing
routine WNS monitoring in the area and collected the bat, a tri-colored
bat. The bat was collected on Feb. 21, transported on ice, and submitted to
the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga. The
Wildlife Disease Study confirmed the presence of Geomyces destructans
fungus, which causes WNS.

Table Rock’s bat colony is in a remote portion of the park not accessible
to the public, and the discovery of the white-nose syndrome bat is not a
threat to park visitors’ health and safety and will not have any negative
effects upon their visits to Table Rock State Park.

With the addition of South Carolina, WNS has now been confirmed in 21
states and five Canadian provinces.

Currently there is no cure or effective treatment for WNS, and mortality in
some species, such as the small tri-colored bat, has exceeded 98 percent.
Bats have very low reproductive rates so recovery from losses takes a long
time. Formerly common bats are becoming rare, and some rare bats may be
lost. The fungus grows best in a cool moist environment, the same places
bats go to hibernate.

Bat species that hibernate in mines or caves are susceptible to WNS. In
South Carolina, those species are big brown bat, little brown bat, Eastern
small-footed bat, Northern long-eared bat, tricolored bat and Southeastern
bat.

In the Southeast, there are some other colonial, non-hibernating, bats in
which WNS has not been detected, such as the free-tailed bat and the
evening bat.

While WNS is not harmful to humans, scientists believe it is possible for
humans to transport fungal spores on clothing and gear. In 2009, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service advised cavers and researchers to curtail caving
activities and implement decontamination procedures in an effort to reduce
the spread of WNS. The fungus cannot be killed simply by washing clothing.

Bats play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and have an
enormous impact on pest control, benefitting the economies of both forestry
and agriculture in the United States. For example, the one million little
brown bats that have already died due to WNS would have eaten between 660
and 1,320 metric tons of insects in one year. A recent study published in
Science estimates that insect-eating bats provide a significant
pest-control service, saving the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3
billion a year.

“The news that white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in South Carolina is
devastating for these very important mammals,” Bunch said. “We will
continue to work closely with our partners to understand the spread of this
deadly disease and to help minimize its impacts to affected bat species.”

For more information about white-nose syndrome, visit
www.WhiteNoseSyndrome.org.

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler brought the largest limit to the scales Sunday – for the third time in four days of competition – to win the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake in Cullman, Ala.

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Brent Ehrler wins for the fifth time in his FLW Tour career with a wire-to-wire run on Alabama’s famed Smith Lake. (Photo: FLW Tour)

Ehrler weighed in a five-bass limit of 14 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the $125,000 prize after leading wire-to-wire in the four-day tournament that showcased a full field of the best bass fishing professionals in the world.

The Redlands, Calif., native weighed in 20 bass totaling 60 pounds, 9 ounces throughout the four days of competition. Second-place pro Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., weighed 20 bass totaling 53 pounds, 5 ounces, giving Ehrler the win by a decisive 7-pound, 4-ounce margin.

“This was one of the toughest tournaments that I have ever fished,” said Ehrler, who became only the third angler in FLW history to surpass $2 million in career earnings with his win. “I was so stressed out; I was waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. every morning thinking about where I was going to fish that day. Fortunately, I was able to catch a couple of big ones off of a couple of areas where I knew they lived. They were very tough to catch, though.

“Most of the fish I weighed in this week came on a green pumpkin-colored Yamamoto Senko wacky-rigged with a Gamakatsu hook,” he said. “The other guys weren’t doing that. The only other angler that I think was throwing a Senko was Cody Meyer (who finished in eighth place). It was one of the keys for me this week, as the bigger fish really favored that Senko worm.

“Three or four fish that I weighed in earlier this week came from drop-shotting a Roboworm,” Ehrler said. “Sunday, conditions changed and the wind was blowing real hard. I picked up a Picasso School E Rig when it got nasty and was able to catch my kicker on it. After that, I was able to slow down and relax. I culled up a few more times in the afternoon on the Senko.”

Ehrler said he fished mostly around the main body of Ryan Creek and never tried venturing back into the pockets as some anglers did.

“Those fish are coming off that main river and starting to stage,” he said. “They were suspending deep on the trees. I would throw the Senko, and the bait would take a long time to get down there.”

After his second-place finish at the first FLW Tour event of the year last month at Lake Okeechobee and his win on Smith, Ehrler now has his sights set on even bigger prizes – Kellogg’s Angler of the Year and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

“I’ve been real close in the past, but I’ve never had that Angler of the Year title,” Ehrler said. “To be in the hunt for Angler of the Year feels really great right now, but my number one goal is always to make it to the Forrest Wood Cup. That’s the most prestigious tournament that you can ever win. We’re early in the season, but I feel good right now and I hope it can pan out for me for the rest of the year.”

The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 20 bass, 60-9, $125,000
2nd: Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., 20 bass, 53-5, $35,000
3rd: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 50-8, $30,000
4th: Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., 20 bass, 50-5, $25,000
5th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 20 bass, 50-3, $20,000
6th: Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas, 19 bass, 49-9, $17,000
7th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., 20 bass, 47-4, $16,000
8th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 20 bass, 46-5, $15,000
9th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 20 bass, 45-13, $14,000
10th: Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark., 20 bass, 43-14, $13,000

A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.

Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Ala., in second place with 15 bass weighing 29-5 worth $7,500.

Pros competed for a top award of up to $125,000 plus valuable points toward qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.

Source: FLW Tour Communications

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One of the best crappie fishing lakes in the country, Weiss Lake, hosted the Crappie USA semi-pros and amateurs from eight states on March 9 in one of the organization’s qualifying tournaments.

With temps comfortably in the upper 50s and a bit of wind under cloudy skies, the field was vying for cash and prizes along with a berth in the Crappie USA Classic set for Oct. 23-26 on Kentucky Lake. The semi-pros and amateurs used some of the best crappie fishing tactics, including trolling jigs in shallow and deep water.

Semi-Pro Division Results

Donny Burris of Gradyville, Ky., and Darren Adams of Columbia, Ky., won the Semi-Pro title with 8.13 pounds, good for $1,200. They were fishing in Little River pulling jigs at .5 mph in 20 feet. The team was concentrating on pre-spawn females located under schools of shad. Most of the 20 fish they caught were on black/chartreuse jigs.

Second place went Janette and Joe Carter of Gilbert, S.C., who weighed 7.88 pounds and earned $700, along with $250.00 for semi-pro division Ranger Cup award. The team was long line trolling under power lines, catching suspended fish in 7-15 feet. They used bright orange and acid rain Southern Pro jigs tipped with Stubby Steve’s bait  in very stained waters to catch 35 fish for the day.

Tony Thomas and Michael Hardeman of Rainsville, Ala., were third with 7.76 pounds, good for $500. They were in Cowan Creek pulling clear jigs with metal flake in 11 feet and said they caught between 50-60 fish.

Amateur Division Results

Stanley and Leonard Steed of Cave Springs, Ga., won the amateur title with 8.9 pounds. They were up the river near the Georgia-Alabama border state line in 2-6 feet of water using blue/brown homemade jigs and caught more than 50 keeper fish long line trolling, targeting spawning females in shallow water.

Second place went to the Piedmont, Ala., team of Donny Butler and Mo Spears, who weighed in 8.44 pounds and earned $500. Kelly and Justin Matthews of Centre, Ala., were third with 8.29 pounds.

For complete standings and photos visit www.crappieusa.com then go to Tournament Results.

 Source: Crappie USA

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