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Tim Smith

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  1. My son ran a cross country race at Kickapoo State Park today where they passed around a petiton with 17,000 signatures in support of the park there. ...but even with this massive show of support, if you don't go after Blago, he will have gotten away with this "game" of threatening beloved public resources for political advantage. If you don't punish politicians who play this cynical lowest common denominator kind of game you'll see this over and over again. Blago has to go. ...where can I sign that petition?
  2. Congratulations Don and thank you Rich for all you've done for Illinois streams. The ISA is coming off a good stretch and headed onward and upward still.
  3. Several hundred people were at Kickapoo yesterday to protest the closing of the State Park. The protest was apparently organized by Tod Satterthwaite, former mayor of Urbana, who runs the concession there and has contributed Middle Fork float trips the last 3 years to the Blow-out. Downstate Democrats are furious over the closing. Blago must go.
  4. Paul Frierichs, the IL State Rep for the Kickapoo Park was on the radio this morning and he said he was utterly disgusted by this proposal. His take was that Blago did it specifically to punish political enemies and raise anger in the state and he also felt these closures had no chance of moving ahead as conceived. Some of those parks are the best parks on the list for East Central Illinois and it is completely absurd that they are being closed. Frankly, I think Blago should get his wish... ...I think we should get mad enough to make sure the Blago reptile gets impeached.
  5. Tim Smith

    acid rain

    That is true. It has moved to the back burner of issues. I wonder what the latest information is on that? I'm sure someone is working on it. I do know there has been some significant regulation to curb acid rain. Quite a few coal sources are no longer being minded because of their sulfur content (including some Illinois coal). Scrubbers and other technology have made inroads as well. I don't think thought, that there were many places being poisoned altogether. The buffering capacity of most watersheds is pretty strong. It's the rare lake in the US that was experiencing actual problems. Limestone buildings sure were taking a hit.
  6. Wade, I agree with you. Building a dam like that can do things like modify the course of a river. The reporter is trying to connect this to the limited liability issue for landowners, but that's a stretch. Even if the land owner weren't liable, it's unrealistic to expect them to tolerate someone coming onto their property to play out their Corps of Engineers fantasies. They were out of line. Unfortunately, this one is a blow against free access to streams.
  7. Gotta use that anchor, Dick. Those downstream sleigh rides are not good for fishing...or for staying out of strainers and staying upright. All in all though, that's a great day!
  8. Steve I'm sure you're right that bass are having some success foraging during turbid condtions. If a bass is hungry it will try to feed regardless of conditoins. It will try to catch baitfish (and lures) in low turbidity, and succeed sometimes. But is it as successful on average as it would be during clear water conditions? I wonder if the fact that you're seeing baitfish in the open during turbid conditions is linked to the fact that bass can't see them. Risk of predation is specifically why baitfish and invertebrates tend to become active at dawn and dusk. For both baitfish and invertebrates, the level of activity in low light and at night is linked to the presence of predators. If no predators are there, the prey species are active all the time. When predators are present, prey wait for poor visibility to forage. Mike, those are interesting articles. I'd be curious to see the reference about benthic invertebrates. It does seem from the examples and taxa listed that the physics and biology involved are more relevant for lakes than most of the rivers I fish. There is very little phytoplankon and thus very little zooplankton in small rivers. Lakes and reservoirs (and large slow moving rivers) are where zooplakton really come into their own. There they are the primary forage for small fish. The comments in the article about barometric pressure acting as a cue for changing conditions fit with what I was saying. Connect that to a river where changing conditions often result in turbid water after a rain and you have both good conditions before the flood and bad conditions after the flood. Double sides of a coin to eat as much as you can ahead of a front.
  9. Great discussion here. Brenden's statement above is good to keep in mind in almost any discussion about a complex ecological-behavioral issue like this. There are exceptions to every rule and a few fond memories of a fluke can skew your perceptions. Sometimes too you can have a pattern down, but draw the wrong conclusions from it. More often than not, more than one thing is actually causing a pattern. I'll say this about what I've seen as a biologist. Things that happen in nature are rarely caused by "one thing". Water level rises have been happening in rivers for billions of years. Every scrap of DNA in those rivers has been sifted and sorted by those events to create the patterns in DNA that handle floods best. There is strong evolutionary pressure to handle disturbances like that as well as possible to ensure survival. Fish probably take advantage of many factors surrounding a flood, not just one. Temperature, light, new available habitat, terrestrial inputs...and possibly more. Phil and I have also talked about reasons feeding activity increases before a flood. I think we see 2 different sides of the same coin on that issue. Why do fish feed so actively before a flood? Because prey is active? Ok, well why are are prey fish etc. are more active then? Is it because there really more opportunities to feed then or is it because there diminished opportunity to feed later when conditions are bad? Could it be both? I've not researched the specific advantages fish have from feeding on rising water. I'd be curious to know what data is out there to show that prey are more available on rising water. I have, however, researched the disadvantages to feeding after a flood. Once the flood hits and water clarity drops, search distances plummet. If you're a visual predator like bass, you can't catch what you can't see. Hunting success declines in cloudy water. That fits with what others here have said about clear water being the key to success with or without fronts. The scientific data is pretty clear for visual fish predators. That doesn't mean fish can't hunt in turbid water, but it does take away some of their hunting options and it lowers their overall success rate over the long run. All of this feeds into natural selection. An animal that loads up on forage before a flood will have a greater total energy intake than an animal that doesn't binge before a period of bad hunting conditions. Remember that natural selection has a tendancy to drive these fish to maximize their growth. Body size is a key predictor of overwinter survival, spawning success, over all fecundity, vulnerability to predators and a host of other things. Big fish almost always has the advantage for survival and reproduction. They must grow to succeed. To prepare for a storm, the fish only needs to know the front is coming (and apparently they do...see below). They're also too primitive to reason out why they should feed before a flood comes, so they need a physiological trigger that drives them to raise their feed. That exists. Environmental cues (like light levels, but other things too) can trigger specific neurotransmitter releases at their nerve synapses. Those can increase aggression and activity levels which can in turn trigger things like feeding binges (think of it as them setting muscles on a hair trigger...the slighted inclination to do something results in action). Back when I was really excited by this I had all the citations for this stuff...I can look it up again if anyone cares. Norm feels river fish can't perceive barometric pressue, and maybe that's true. However, fish can definitely tell when a front is coming before it arrives. We ran a 3 year gill net survey on the upper Kaskaskia River from 1989-1991 and in the river, all the gizzard shad that had running eggs were collected within 48 hours of rain event (before and after, rising and pre-rising hydrograph). That's many dozens of fish and a statistically microscopic chance that's a fluke. I've seen other studies that showed the same thing. I do still wonder about barometric pressure and fish. The time frame in our study leaves a small number of environmental cues for the fish to pick up to know that a front is coming. Barometric pressure is one. Light due to cloud cover might work. In this case, however, rising water was not the cue that drove that behavior. The fish are probably monitoring several cues because the better information they have about when floods are coming, the better they can cope with them. Norm's right that pressure changes in depth are much greater than barometric pressure changes. Maybe that mechanism just won't work. Maybe too, the fish can calibrate the differences in pressure against known depth and velocities. I don't know. I'm just questioning and I haven't seen enough research on that point to have a strong opinion about that. It's probably the case that the fish is monitoring several cues, perhaps including some we haven't thought about. The idea that temperature generally drives the drop in feeding after floods has some interesting angles that should be addressed. For instance, in summer when the bass are stressed by hot temperatures, cooler water temperatures after a rain event may actually make the water MORE suitable for foraging and growth (mid to low 70s). Reduced light and search area is still out there as an alternative hypothesis for the main driver in reduced feeding in post-flood conditions. Again, those mechanisms may well work in conjuction toward the same effect. Here are some questions whose answers might help determine which factor is important or which factor is important when: Look for the amount the temperature drops after a front against the optimal temperatures smallmouth prefer. Is the drop in feeding less when the drop is say...from 65 to 55 than it is when the drop is from 78 to 72 or from 82 to 78? What about post-front days that produce too little rain to cloud the water but are still very bright and have high barometric pressue. Is river fishing still impaired then? (In my experience, no). In systems where forage is scarce are the bass unable to binge ahead of a front? Maybe you could see differences in post-front feeding depressions between systems with fat fish and systems with lean fish. If a binge is unsuccessful and the fish is still hungry after the front, maybe they continue to feed at the same rate. Plenty to think about here with nice practical applications for chosing times and places to fish. Again. Great topic. Nice stuff all around.
  10. They're not discharging yet. Their biggest impact at this point would be erosion. Hopefully they're got their haybales and silt fences in place... ...do they?
  11. That's why suggesting helicopters was supposed to be funny.
  12. I like Eric's suggestion about keeping SMB out of the derby, but I suspect it will meet resistance. Not to open another can of worms, but I've actually been involved with small catch and release tournaments among groups of friends. They worked well. I suppose it's not practical for a larger derby where cheating is already an issue (although if everyone had a camera and Norm's ruler..and judges spaced along the bank...and helicopters ...).
  13. Maybe "dominion" is just a fancy word for being able to do something...if that's true I agree with you Ron that humans surely do have "dominion". I also agree that some of these cases are knottier than others. There are plenty of grey areas. Still, not every lake and river was made for fish and fishing. Hopefully anglers can agree that even though fisheries are obviously an important ecosystem service, anything that contributes to the extinction of another species is just wrong if you can avoid doing it. Those "voids" have other species there that probably can't handle competition and predation from sportfish. One reason for bringing all of this to the fore here, is because anglers are in a unique position where this issue is concerned. A large, educated group of anglers that focuses targeted effort on an exotic species might make a difference. We won't ever remove an exotic species, but we might dampen their effects...and maybe enjoy doing it.
  14. I would say this about that program, though... ...they might do better to promote hook and line management of the existing smallmouth population than to try to remove them with more invasive means (they probably can't accomplish a full removal anyway...might as well get the benefit of the fish that are there).
  15. Jim. Interesting link. You can see from the negative reactions on the board to the USFWS management plan there that the idea of preserving native fish isn't one that has caught on in most/some quarters. The responses are all pretty typical. "What's so special about chubs anyway? Why are they playing God? If I'm catching fish it must be a healthy river so back off." What's so special about chubs? We don't even have enough information to know yet. Every species is unique in what it can do and what compounds and activities it creates. Once a species is lost, you can never get back what was unique to it. Medicines, useful compounds, ecological services of kinds we don't even understand yet all go down the tubes when we allow a species to go extinct. If the choice is one more of many choices to engage in sport fishing vs. losing a species...preserving the species should trump fishing. Playing God? Stocking the bass there in the first place was playing God. Taking them out is trying to restore the natural balance. Judging the health of a river by how big your favorite fish are there? By that standard, we should all be fishing the brood stock raceways and ponds at the hatchery.
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