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Outdoors notebook: A closer look at stressed fish in warm weather

August 3, 2018
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A roundup of outdoor news from around the country…

Warm weather and stressed fish

With the dog days of summer approaching, state fish and wildlife agencies are advising anglers to take it easy on fish.

Trout in particular are vulnerable.

In Vermont, for example, water levels are low and temperatures are high. That can be a lethal combination.

“Trout prefer water temperatures in the upper-50′s to mid-60′s and become increasingly stressed when water temperatures climb above 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Clark Amadon, chairman of the Vermont Council of Trout Unlimited. “The stress of being caught by an angler when water temperatures are this warm makes it much more likely that the trout will die after being released.”

That’s not unique to Vermont.

It was just two years ago in August that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission closed Penns Creek — a famous wild trout stream – to angling because warm temperatures had browns congregating unnaturally at the mouths of cooler tributaries.

Steelhead and salmon suffer when the water gets too warm, too. That’s why the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging caution, on the Umpqua River in particular.

Biologists there offered some tips that trout, steelhead and salmon anglers everywhere might want to keep in mind when temperatures soar.

• Fish during the cooler early mornings or evenings.

• Land your fish quickly to help increase survival rates.

• Keep your fish in at least six inches of water while releasing it.

• Revive the fish before release. Keep the fish upright facing into the current, and if the current is slow, move the fish back and forth slowly to help oxygenate the gills.

• Avoid angling in areas where fish are vulnerable while they are seeking cooler water.

Boating safety oddities

Most boaters are experts, or at least thinks they are, regardless of whether they have any training or not.

That’s one of the findings revealed by a survey done by Progressive Insurance.

The company looked at accidents nationwide. Polled were 1,994 boaters.

The report notes that, nationwide, 80 percent consider themselves experienced boaters, even though just 50 percent took a boat safety course. Only about one quarter feel comfortable with basic boating terminology like bow, starboard and port, too.

Otherwise, things vary by region.

Boaters in Wisconsin (45 percent) and Minnesota (44 percent) are more likely to strike a rock with their prop than boaters elsewhere. Thirty-eight percent of boaters in Ohio – more than in any other state – have hit a dock.

Nearly a quarter of Michigan and Texas boaters forgot to put their drain plug in.

Then there are the tantrums.

Boaters in North Carolina were most likely to have cursed when encountering a boating problem, Progressive said.

But they’ve got nothing on their New York counterparts. Boaters there are more likely to encounter “boat rage” than those anywhere else. About 7 percent experienced that.

Captive deer and the courts

A lot of states are wrangling right now with captive deer hunting operations.

There’s concern — and controversy — over whether they’re contributing to the spread of chronic wasting disease. There’s debate, too, over whether they should be regulated by state wildlife agencies or agriculture departments.

In Missouri, the courts recently weighed in.

According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that state’s Supreme Court said state government – namely, the state’s Department of Conservation – can regulate deer farms.

Deer farmers challenged regulations imposed by the agency in 2014. The court, though, said deer – behind a fence or not – are wildlife.

That means regulations initially set to go into effect in 2015 will now be enforced. They say, among other things, that deer farmers can’t import white-tailed deer, mule deer and other hybrids into Missouri, must keep better records, install better fencing, and test all deer older than six months that die for chronic wasting disease.

The fight may not be over, though.

State lawmakers have reportedly threatened to move oversight of captive deer and elk to the department of agriculture. They tried the same thing in 2016, but the Governor vetoed that legislation.

Dinner is served

Predators aren’t dumb. They know when they’re at the top of the food chain and when they’re not.

They also know, apparently, when to check in for dinner.

That’s got consequences for hunters.

A German newspaper article suggests wolves in that country associate gunfire with food. The 60 wolf packs living there – 13 more than a year ago — coming running when a hunter kills a deer or boar.

And they don’t want to share.

Wolves are protected in Germany; they can’t be hunted or shot. And they seemingly know it.

So, according to a story on the Outdoor Wire, rather than waiting to feed on what hunters lave behind, they’re sometimes challenging hunters for their game right up front.

Previous research looked at that phenomenon in North America.

It determined bears in places like Alaska and the American West exhibit the same behavior at times. Alligators in Louisiana do, too.

What it means, experts say, is hunters shooting game around large predators – especially ones protected – need to use caution when approaching game killed but not yet collected.

More people fishing

More than 49 million Americans went fishing in 2017, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. That’s an increase of nearly two million over the year before.

That makes fishing the second-most-popular outdoor activity in the nation, trailing only running.

A report looking at fishing also notes some other things.

For starters, about 16.5 percent of Americans fish. They each take about 18 trips a year; that adds up to 885 million fishing trips annually.

Roughly 84 percent of those trips ended with fish actually being caught.

It’s some new people driving those numbers. New fishermen and women accounted for about 6 percent of all anglers. And participation among Hispanics in particular rose. About 4.3 million people of that ethnicity fished in 2017, the most since tracking began in 2007.

There are more potential fishermen and women out there, too. The report noted that 30.1 million Americans – a record – are interested in learning to fish or getting back into the sport.

Sunday hunting

The list is getting smaller all the time.

Of states that prohibit Sunday hunting, that is.

Delaware is no longer on it. Gov. John Carney signed Senate Bill 198 into law in July. It expanded Sunday hunting opportunities on private and public lands throughout the state.

Specifically, the new law eliminates the restriction on Sunday hunting on private land and gives the Delaware Department of Natural Recourses and Environmental Control authority to regulate additional Sunday hunting opportunities on public lands.

There are now just eight states restricting Sunday hunting. They are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

Birds as insect eaters

Tired of the bugs of summer? It could always be worse.

Thank birds that it’s not.

According to scientists writing in Science Daily, birds eat 500 million tons of insects annually. That provides all kinds of ecological and economic on a global scale. One of the most important, they suggest, is suppressing potentially harmful insect pests in forested areas.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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