Goshen News, Goshen, IN

August 4, 2013

OUTDOOR COLUMN: DNR in process of studying St. Joe bass

By LOUIE STOUT
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — A major study of St. Joseph River bass kicks off this week and the Indiana DNR needs your help.

Biologists will be sampling bass from Bristol, Ind. to the Michigan state line and some 150 will be tagged with small metal clips to their jaws.

Anglers who catch those tagged bass can earn Bass Pro Shops gift cards valued from $5 to $25. The gift cards were purchased from contributions made by several fishing and conservation clubs. Locally, the St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers were a contributor.

The study is part of a state-wide assessment of river bass populations in which the DNR will tag 500 fish on the West Fork White River (Madison, Hamilton and Marion counties), Eel River (Wabash, Miami and Cass counties), and St. Joseph River (St. Joseph and Elkhart counties) throughout this summer and fall.

Information derived by angler reports of tagged fish will help it compile statistical information.

The work is part of a state study to determine the affect of the new slot limit in effect on several Hoosier rivers and streams. Under the new regulation, bass must be less than 12 inches long or more than 15 inches to be kept, with not more than two being greater than 15 inches long.

This study’s results will be compared to a similar one scheduled in 2017 to determine what impact the slot limit has on the bass fisheries in those rivers.

River biologist Neil Ledet said his crew will begin work on the St. Joe this week, operating an electro-shocking boat to capture bass for measurements, scale samples and weights. Scale samples will be studied later to determine ages and year classes to help the DNR determine growth rates.

Before they are released, bass will be tagged with a jaw tag stamped with a DNR phone number and serial number. When an angler catches a fish, he will need to remove the tag and report it to the DNR. Fish can either be released or harvested, but tags must be returned to the DNR to receive a reward. Tags can be removed with pliers without harming the fish.

The DNR will want to know the tag number, whether the fish was kept or released, date of the catch, length of the fish and approximate location of the catch.

Ledet said the focus of the study is on smallmouth bass although largemouth also will be part of the survey. His crew has established sample stations in each section of the river but won’t be sampling the entire stretches.

For more information, contact Sandy Clark-Kolaks at (812) 287-8300 or sclark-kolaks@dnr.IN.gov.

Youth tourney

Michiana youngsters are reminded of the 37th annual St. Joe Valley Bassmasters Youth Fishing Tournament at Potato Creek State Park Aug. 10.

The youth event is one of the oldest and largest kid fishing contests in this region. There will be divisions for boys and girls and the free contest is open to youth ages 4 to 14 and several prizes will be awarded. Only the first 300 youths to register will be accepted. You can register online at www.stjoevalleybassmasters.com.

The contest will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. but youths must be ready to go at 8:30 a.m. Youngsters must bring their own fishing poles, bait and a parent or guardian.

For info, call Blaine, 574-259-5240, during daytime hours.

Waterfowl workshop

A waterfowl hunting workshop for novice hunters will be offered at Kankakee Fish and Wildlife area in North Judson, Ind. Aug. 10.

The workshop, which focuses on Canada goose hunting, will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some information on ducks will be provided, but the focus will be goose hunting.

Presentation topics will include waterfowl hunting regulations, goose and duck identification, equipment and techniques. There also will be a show-and-tell segment.

Waterfowl hunting equipment, including blinds, waders, clothing, decoys and gadgets will be displayed and discussed. DNR Law Enforcement and wildlife personnel will be available to answer questions.

Lunch will be provided.

All ages are welcome. Advance registration is required.

Parents who already hunt waterfowl are welcome to bring children, but the material is tailored for beginners. Experienced waterfowl hunters are unlikely to learn much.

The workshop will occur at least partially outdoors and take place rain or shine. Participants should consider bringing a lawn chair and a jacket or raincoat.  To register, call (574) 896-3522.

TBF State Team

Two South Bend area anglers have qualified for The Bass Federation Indiana State Team and will compete in the TBF Northern Division Championship on the Ohio River in Wheeling, Va. Sept. 1-6.

Curtis Werner (Osceola) and Lee Duracz (South Bend) finished 8th and 10th respectively in last weekend’s TBF Indiana Championship on Lake Wawasee.

The top 12 finishers advance to the Divisional Championship.

Brian Whitaker of Winona Lake, Ind. won the Wawasee event and will lead the state team into Virginia where they will compete against teams from South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

The top two finishers from each state will earn berths in next year’s National Championship.

Hoosier pro results

Dan Milligan (Bremen) and Kris Shipley (Syracuse) won the Hoosier Pro event on Winona Lake with 17.60 pounds for four fish.

Kyle Slejan and Tim Rasala (Hammond) were second ($156) with 16.27 pounds and had the Big Bass ($65), a 5.79 Largemouth. Rich Patton (Plymouth) and Dave Marrow (Knox) were third ($104) with a five-fish limit weighing 14.68.

 The 13 teams weighed in 127.09 pounds and it took 10 pounds or more to finish in the top eight. Several of the bass were caught on jigs in weeds.

Contact Goshen News outdoor writer Louie at stoutoutdoors@comcast.net.