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Author Topic: Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation Speech to the NRC  (Read 2070 times)

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Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation Speech to the NRC
« on: April 10, 2015, 01:33:13 PM »

Here is my speech as Conservation Director of Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation in entirety from yesterday's Natural Resources Commission meeting (April 9th) on the Michigan bass season (I could not include this whole speech in my 5 minute talk but I have submitted it in writing to them):

Last month emotion won over science in the process to fix our closed bass season. I say fix because only 3 states now have statewide CLOSED bass seasons (no fishing allowed) while Vermont has a closure on all water except their best lake - Lake Champlain - where you can fish catch and release during their closed part of the year.

The Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation disagrees with Chief Dexter’s statement that almost all of the comments in the last month were a pushback against catch-and-delayed-release considering we turned in almost 1,500 petition signature supporting Option 4 at the March 19th meeting, and those same anglers and citizens would consider a CDR season at least a step in the right direction towards the Option 4 the process came out with and we should have adopted. These anglers know that what happens from fishing to an individual bass bed does not affect the bass population as studies have consistently shown for decades.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Bass biology and identification -
Largemouth Bass: Largely because of the male's fastidiousness in building and guarding the nest, many fry survive, and a few adult bass can quickly populate new waters. In fact, researchers have found no correlation between the number of spawning bass and the subsequent number of young-of-the-year fish. The success of the spawn depends entirely on good spawning areas and stable weather. A severe cold front, for example, may cause the male to desert the nest. Then the eggs or fry can be eaten by other fish.
Smallmouth Bass: As with the largemouth, research on smallmouth has shown no relationship between the number of spawning fish and the success of the spawn. The strength of the year class depends solely on water conditions - in particular, the absence of a sudden cold snap or muddy floodwaters that can kill eggs and fry.
IF MINNESOTA DNR KNOWS THIS WHY DOESN’T THE MICHIGAN DNR? The research is known and shared through publication and the American Fisheries Society. Minnesota opens their bass season at the beginning May before the bass spawn because of their knowledge of the decades of available bass research that any agency or person has access to.

Keeping emotion and personal opinion from restricting our opportunity unnecessarily is a major reason the Natural Resources Commission was formed, and the reason we fought a long, hard battle last year to give you sound scientific management authority for wildlife and fish. Call it social science if you want but it still comes down to non-scientific reasons - emotion and personal opinion - for one group of people to want to keep another group of people from enjoying our sport and our mutually-owned resource the way we want to. Even Chief Dexter has to admit there is no science that says we can't enjoy more bass tournaments. He and/or Trevor VanDyke reported three different times to the Legislature that more bass tournaments would be good for Michigan yet we are the group not getting any additional opportunity once again.

Why? Because one TV angler tried to make a bad future outcome of some video he took on different lakes and Lake St. Clair two summers ago and then twisted to make it appear we have an issue actual REAL science does not support. The bass he was worried about were tested in a lab and found to be healthy without disease. The 'skinny' bass he worried about were fat by that same fall, and last year we saw the 2nd biggest limit known ever weighed in from Lake St. Clair at an amazing 5 bass weighing 28 pounds 12 ounces! Does that sound like a lake in trouble?

The biggest shame is this same outcry like the one that kept Lake St. Clair from changing with the rest of the states’ waters in 1970 from fishing guides has now kept the entire rest of the state from getting a lot more bass fishing opportunity. Take the overprotective, ownership feelings some people have about this one lake, our best lake that is also our most restricted lake, and we probably get Option 4 for the entire rest of Michigan. I hope you think about the consequences and causes of this. Particularly knowing the actual sound science published in the last bass population study on Lake St. Clair – Fisheries Research Report 1944 published in 1988 by William Bryant and Kelley Smith stated there is no scientific support for Lake St. Clair requiring a later bass opener than any other state waters but they did not recommend changing it because ANGLERS DIDN’T WANT IT CHANGED. There’s your emotion, unnecessary restriction for the rest of us opposed to sound science. And the cost is no further choice bass angling for the entire rest of the state.

The real scientist on Lake St. Clair, MDNR Fisheries Biologist Mike Thomas, told me that even though prey numbers were down he did not see any reasons for the LSC smallmouth bass population to remain healthy and good for the foreseeable future. He's the same person who provided the only science in that video you saw saying the CIR season has been a win-win as far as he can see. Mike Thomas has also told me he believes all of our closed seasons are no longer scientifically necessary, and that we should try Option 4 because it's the only way we'll know if it is viable.

Adaptive Management is real science not an 'experiment' or a fad. It is used as part of the long term black bass population management by the one state beating us in attracting out-of-state anglers - Florida. It is credited with the success of our national waterfowl program. I have also heard Chief Mason tell you several times that they are all about Adaptive Management.

Option 4 came FROM the MDNR Fisheries Division part way as an adaptive management idea to solve their Michigan bass season data questions, and was amended to its present form through the process in place during the Warmwater Resources Steering Committee. It had the most overall support from the committee of any option. Option 4 includes more bass fishing opportunity for ALL bass anglers.

What is wrong with providing the most opportunity to the most anglers in the absence of science showing we can't do it? Chief Dexter readily admits we don’t have science showing we can’t do this. One study saying bass fishing during the spawn MIGHT have a population level effect is not good cause to deny opportunity to bass anglers demanding it. ‘Might’ is not a conclusion. It just means more study. And how does a 'might happen' override the majority of the existing science supporting no closed bass seasons or even the need of spawning closures because the environment and issues out of the control of angler management are the significant factors that impact bass populations. That has been shown over and over in studies. It’s why BOTH Minnesota AND Wisconsin actually open their bass seasons BEFORE the bass spawn. The new number one bass fishery in America is Green/Sturgeon Bay and they have big tournaments there every May, have been doing so for years, yet the smallmouth bass fishing is now better than ever there with bass up to 8 pounds being weighed in during spring tournaments.

That's real science not the words of a reporter who has to make up quotes I've never given her to make me appear to have a secret agenda or that we are more radical. There are still ZERO studies that show a negative population level effect on bass populations directly from bass fishing during the spawn because of bass biology. I have not misled or misinformed you. I leave that to those who don't want us to have more fishing on ‘their’ lake. As you have heard our MDNR FISHERIES DIVISION, the very agency you listen to most, has admitted that our bass season does not protect much of the Michigan bass spawn. That's just misinformation some people believe and want to use to keep my friends from enjoying more bass fishing their preferred way. How can we limit our bass fishing opportunity unnecessarily by in the name of protecting that spawn when we here all know we are not protecting the spawn now and have not been protecting the spawn for 45 years?

The demand to have the choice to fish our preferred method is most definitely there regardless of what some people claim. BOTH bass federations support Option 4 - there are 15,000+ B.A.S.S. members in Michigan, the 42,000+ member MUCC supports Option 4, the 17,000 member Steelheaders supports Option 4, a significant number of statewide groups of the Conservation Coalition support Option 4, Jim Dexter says 50% of his biologist do not oppose Option 4 and the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association supports Option 4 because they believe there are too many bass in LSC.

There is clearly a significant demand for more bass fishing AND more bass fishing tournaments, and in Michigan we will go as far as stocking millions of fish of other species to meet angler demands yet we have a species that 70% of our anglers say they identify as their primary species, we don't have to stock because they are prolific enough to maintain their own numbers in our quality waters and we practice what Gary Towns calls managing to the least common denominator - we limit the fishing opportunity on the majority of our good to excellent waters to the level of our few less than good waters.

That is a wasteful and unnecessarily restrictive way of limiting access to a resource. That is the purpose of the SALBRC paper - gray literature - meaning it was NOT reviewed by impartial, external fisheries experts because it has never been published in a scientific journal. So it can be as biased and misinforming as necessary to support the unwise use of the least common denominator practice that in ingrained in the old, overly conservative way of doing things that we did not fight for the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to maintain. I think this is critical going forward for real sound science bass management in Michigan because these same people that falsely believe we protect the spawn will keep coming back to you every time we try to get fair bass fishing opportunity. And we will never get fair bass fishing opportunity as long as emotion, personal opinions and the old, overly conservative way of doing things win over sound science.

One final piece of actual real, sound science - our own MDNR research by William Bryant and Kelley Smith states there is no scientific reason that Lake St. Clair needs any more protection than any of our other waters. That's the difference between science, and emotion and opinion. We could have been fishing Lake St. Clair the same season we fish our other lakes for 25 years if we had sound science win out over emotion and what some people think. What a huge loss of opportunity.

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.
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