Short casts

— -- The scientific angle Yellow Perch/Perca flavescens
(Pronounced Perk-uh flav-es-sens) Regionally referred to as a coon, jack or lake perch, the yellow perch is the most common of all the members of the Percidae family. The current IGFA record stands at 4 pounds, 3 ounces. Caught in 1865, it's the oldest freshwater sportfish record on the books. Yellow perch range as far north as Nova Scotia in the East, south to the Carolinas, and cover most of southern and central Canada all the way to British Columbia. The fish is widely distributed in the Midwest and in the lakes of the Northern plain states. Their population in the South is limited, and some fisheries in the U.S. consider them a threat to stable bass populations. Spawning in water temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees, yellow perch release their eggs in weedy lakes or in nearby river tributaries. The eggs are released in ribbons and are often fertilized by up to a dozen males. The perch eats just about anything that swims or crawls, including their own young. Small yellow perch fry and fingerlings are a favorite food for northern largemouth and smallmouth. State of bass: Nevada 12-0 The state record largemouth bass caught on Lake Mead in 1999. 6-4 The state record smallmouth bass caught on South Fork Reservoir in 2002. 4-2 The state record spotted bass caught on Rye Patch Reservoir in 2000. 157,900 The number of surface acres of Lake Mead, the state's largest reservoir. 400,000 The number of fishable surface acres of lakes and ponds in the state. 1,162 The number of miles of the Humboldt River Drainage, the state's longest river system. 143,578* The number of miles of streams and rivers in the state. * Nevada Department of Wildlife estimates that 3,000 river miles contain sportfish. Angling economics: Nevada The state of Nevada's economic impact from freshwater fishing is as follows: $382,303,623 ? Total economic output $247,936,468 ? Retail sales $79,717,258 ? Salaries and wages 2,882 ? Number of jobs from the fishing industry $18,546,712 ? Sales and motor fuel taxes $0 ? State income tax $13,7881,000 ? Federal income tax Endangered Species Act targeted Special to Bassmaster A group of congressmen recently proposed bipartisan legislation to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, a measure that environmental groups say would gut the landmark 1973 law. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Resources Committee, scheduled a hearing on the measure. He and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., argued that it is time to return to the original goal of the act ? increasing threatened or endangered species' populations to the point that they can be removed from the list. In all, six Democrats and eight Republicans ? from Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming ? signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill. The bill would require the government to compensate property owners at fair market value for losses that result from protecting endangered species. If compensation is not paid, the government could not enforce the act. Fast facts Who knew in the 18th century? 1760 Naturalist and explorer William Bartram watches American Indians of the southeast catch largemouth bass with a "bob and long pole." 1770 British reel maker, Onesimus Ustonson, markets the first multiplying fishing reel. 1773 William Bartram catches a 30-pound largemouth on the St. Johns River with a deer hair jiggerbob (That's what he said!). Health and Fitness: Asleep at the wheel By Alan Clemons Few things are as scary as cruising along at night listening to the radio and snapping awake to discover you're in the emergency lane about to run off the road. Falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle is one of the most common and dangerous problems drivers encounter. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue or drowsiness is the main cause of about 100,000 police-reported crashes each year and 1,500 fatalities. Additionally, at least 71,000 people are injured annually due to "fall asleep" accidents, and about 1 million crashes each year are due to driver inattention. Many times that inattention is caused by lack of sleep. The National Transportation Safety Board also estimates about 31 percent of all commercial driver deaths and 58 percent of commercial single-truck accidents are related to fatigue. "Going without sleep for 18 to 24 hours is like being legally drunk," says Dr. Kingman Strohl, a sleep specialist with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "It can be an impairment. You can't test for it like with a breathalyzer, fall-asleep attacks can occur very suddenly." Strohl specializes in sleep disorders, which affect millions of people across the country. Due to the time constraints of daily life, many people are sleep deprived. Our bodies are internally programmed, and in darkness the natural desire to sleep kicks in. Finding yourself behind the wheel of a vehicle at night, after a long day at work or on the water, can be a recipe for disaster. After a day of fishing, the combination of sun, wind, waves and concentration can wear down your body mentally and physically. Add that to a lack of proper sleep ? anywhere from 5 to 9 hours a night for most people ? and a trip to or from the lake could turn into a tragedy. While you're driving, indicators of sleep deprivation include repeated yawning, jerking your vehicle back into the correct lane, and an inability to keep your eyes open or your head up. Running the air conditioner on full blast, drinking coffee, opening windows and playing loud music typically don't have long-term benefits. When you are sleep deprived, your judgment is impaired. The truck that may seem a good ways in front of you actually may be too close for you to stop in time. Your awareness of surroundings also is reduced, and reaction times will be decreased. Your body is craving sleep, and the best thing to do is provide it. Pull over in a rest area or well-lit parking lot and sleep, or find a hotel. Don't push yourself and become a statistic. Plug and cast Staff report Every bass angler worth his rod and reel has used a plug when trying to catch bass. Now, anglers can use a new plug-and-play game by JAKKS Pacific to do the exact same thing from the comfort of their living rooms. The new BASS Angler Championship TV Game packs surprisingly realistic bass fishing action in just a single controller and is currently hitting retailers nationwide. The game controller features real-life fishing elements such as weather, temperature and water conditions; more than 30 different types of lures and six unique lakes to create a realistic, true-to-life bass fishing experience, all for the suggested retail price of $20. Two game modes include a tournament and customizable arcade mode; three minigames; multiple fishing variants in two levels of difficulty and a save feature to store high scores. The patent pending controller is shaped like a fishing reel with force feedback vibration so gamers can have a realistic fishing experience. All that is needed are batteries and a TV ? no video game consoles are required. Simply plug the TV Games controller into the A/V jacks of any standard television set, turn it on and play. The lightweight, compact, all-inclusive controller houses a combination of video games with all of the hardware and software built right in. For more information, visit Cast from the past "It is contended by some of our authoritative observers that bass do not hibernate except in the Northern States; but evidence is produced to show that they frequently bury themselves in mud, the crevices of rocks, under masses of weeds or under sunken logs, in deep water, and remain there until spring." ? Harry B. Hawes, My Friend: The Black Bass Anglers cast hope to hurricane victims Staff Report In September, the Angel Anglers, led by 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle and two-time Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam, traveled to Long Beach, Miss., offering help and hope to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In all, 24 professional anglers all around the country worked to gather donations in their areas so that they could render aid to those in the hurricane's path. The Angel Anglers brought with them a variety of nonperishable items such as water, sports drinks, air mattresses, canned food, large tarps and more. They also traveled with a barbecue truck in order to host a cookout for hurricane victims, police, fire fighters and other emergency workers. Angel Anglers was founded by Swindle as an outreach program for persons in need of aid or spiritual uplift. Swindle and others travel the country pursuing their angling careers as well as visiting with hospital patients, children in need and victims of disaster. Fishing clothes for the plus-sized angler By Tim Tucker For years, bass enthusiasts who fall into the big-and-tall category have been left out of the advancements in clothing designed specifically for fishermen. That is no longer the case, thanks to The Husky Angler, a Connecticut-based web- and mail-order business that caters to larger anglers. The Husky Angler is an IGFA-authorized outfitter that offers top-quality activewear in sizes up to 5XL. Among their products is technical clothing that is UV-rated for sun protection and designed to repel water, dry quickly and resist staining. They are also the exclusive Internet retailer for the Air/X-100 Shirt and Abaco Zip-Off Pants (manufactured for The Husky Angler by Hook and Tackle outfitters). Their oversized offerings include short- and long-sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, Polartec fleece, fishing vests, belts, waders and hats. The Air/X-100 shirt is impressive, offering SPF 50 incorporated into the garment. This Hook and Tackle invention is actually patented. Also, the shirt has a built-in cooling system. Simply opening the zipper vents below the arms and zipper vents across the shoulders allows air to enter the shirt. After warming from body heat, the air escapes through shoulder vents. There is no trapped hot air as in conventional fishing shirts. The Air/X-100 features multiple storage pockets with mesh drainage and is lined with CoolMax mesh. A dry, roll-up collar and roll-up sleeves (with a tab) provide maximum sun protection. For more information, call 203-470-8940 or go to Record blooper Staff Report Dorathea A. Small, of Waterville, Maine, poses in this 1949 file photo with a fish she caught that held a 53-year record as the world's largest white perch. The fish, once proudly displayed in the Maine State Museum, is losing its title as the world's largest white perch. The 4-pound, 12-ounce fish was 55 percent heavier than any perch caught before or since. That's because it was actually a largemouth bass, not a perch, according to biologists who examined it in September 2000, after getting a tip from a suspicious curator who worked at the museum where it has been displayed since 1971. "Pooley" earns Bass' biggest honor Staff Report Long careers with a single company seem to be a thing of the past now. So, James "Pooley" Dawson's 35 years with BASS were not only a rare accomplishment, but also very special for the people he worked with for so many years. When Pooley joined BASS, the company had been founded just two years earlier. Members numbered in the low thousands, not the hundreds of thousands, and the Bassmaster Classic was still just an idea in Ray Scott's fertile mind. By the time Pooley retired from BASS' tournament department immediately following the 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh, the championship has become the biggest thing in sportfishing, BASS has more than half a million members and the sport is being nationally televised. Pooley was there for all of it ? the most explosive growth period in the history of the sport ? rubbing shoulders with the best anglers in the business, industry leaders and even presidents of our nation. For the three and a half decades of service and his undying commitment to BASS, Pooley was awarded the BASS Outstanding Achievement Award for 2005. When asked how he felt when receiving the award, Pooley said, "I guess this means I did a good job." In addition to the Award, which previously honored Rick Clunn, Ray Scott and Roland Martin, Pooley was given retirement gifts including a Triton Tr186 bass boat fully rigged and ready to fish, a $500 CITGO Cash Card, a $500 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card, 20 cases of Busch beer and a Busch jacket, a tournament towel with the autographs of all the 2005 Classic contenders, two Abu Garcia rod and reel combos, a $500 Berkley tackle pack, a Lowrance X51 depthfinder, a 150 hp Mercury Opti Max, MotorGuide trolling motor and a year's supply of Purolator oil and air filters. Yes, Pooley, you did a very good job. Hi-tech fish center Special to Bassmaster Fisheries science has come a very long way in the past several decades. Biologists have made great strides in recognizing diseases and ailments that can decimate the population of largemouth in a lake or reservoir, like Largemouth Bass Virus and golden algae. On September 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made another positive step in caring for fish by dedicating its new Lower Columbia Fish Health Center in Willard, Wash. The new state-of-the-art facility features the latest technology and a staff of scientists with expertise in bacteriology, virology, parasitology and "DNA-ology." It is a reflection of how much fish health science and technology has changed over the past 50 years. In 1953, Harland Johnson, the first hatchery biologist in the Service's Pacific Region, staffed the Little White Salmon Lab, the predecessor to today's Lower Columbia River Fish Health Center. He was armed with little more than a microscope as his weapon to prevent disease outbreaks in the fish of the Columbia River hatcheries. The Lower Columbia River Fish Health Center is one of nine fish health centers operated nationwide by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, these centers have revamped the Service's Fish Health Policy, written a handbook that standardizes national fish health methodologies and created a public-access national database ( that catalogs the first concentrated efforts to discover the unknowns of wild fish and disease. Bass-Ackwards By Ken Duke If you hang around enough people talking about the future of bass fishing and how it's growing and developing as a sport, you'll eventually hear someone compare it to NASCAR and to the boom period that auto racing had in this country in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's an interesting comparison. For one thing, bass fishing and NASCAR have very similar demographics. They're strongest in the South but have followers all over the country. They've both been around a long time but only recently found a spotlight in major newspapers, magazines and on television. ESPN had a big role with both, bringing NASCAR (Motto: "Drive Fast, Turn Left") to the forefront in the 1980s and launching BASS Saturday in 2005. Both sports have natural spectator appeal for fans. In the most important area, however, NASCAR's got a big advantage over bass fishing. It's easy to assemble spectators to watch auto racing and easy to televise the races. NASCAR races are held in big arenas ? with fans spread throughout the grandstands and infields watching 30-odd cars. Bass tournaments are held on massive bodies of water that often cover a hundred thousand surface acres and involve hundreds of competitors. While NASCAR drivers turn left all day ? easily within reach of camera lenses ? bass fisherman turn left, right, go back and forth and generally scatter to the four winds in search of fish. Now I'm not saying that NASCAR doesn't involve some strategy (Driver: "I wonder if Gordon's gonna turn left here.") and even some insightful commentary (Announcer: "Oooh, he's into the wall. I think he shoulda turned left there."), but it pales in comparison to the number of variables and the amount of strategy in a bass tournament. With so many different areas to choose from, so many different rod, reel, line and lure combinations to wade through and so many depth and speed choices to make, it's no wonder that bass fishing is more challenging to present to its audience. Maybe the better comparison is between bass fishing and poker. The difficulty with both sports is finding a way to bring their excitement and drama to the masses. In poker, they do it through those little cameras on the edge of the table that let us peek at the players' cards. In bass tournaments, we've generally had to wait until the final day or so before a cameraman is assigned to each of the leaders. Even so, the camera may not be running when Kevin VanDam sets the hook or Gerald Swindle loses a big fish at the boat. Someday, and hopefully soon, we might have cameras on the consoles of tournament boats to record the actions of everyone in the tournament all throughout the day. Maybe we'll even be able to log onto the Internet and watch live action from the back of the boat of our favorite angler. Until then, bass fishing is still more exciting than driving around in a circle, no matter what hand an angler is dealt. Airboaters to the rescue By Andy Crawford Bobby Hall and his 16-year-old son Trevor spend most of their free time chasing shallow-water redfish along the Florida coast near their Ocala home, but they quickly hooked up their airboat and headed west after hearing about tens of thousands of people stranded in flood waters after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans. Hall said they made the trip with eight other airboaters from around Florida, arriving the morning of Aug. 31. "We met at 8:30 p.m. (Aug. 30), and got here about 8 a.m. (Aug. 31)," the elder Hall said. However, it was more than 24 hours before they went into action. "We were ready to go at 9 o'clock that morning (Aug. 31), but it wasn't secure," Hall explained. By the afternoon of Sept. 1, the airboats were launched, and their work began. "Each boat had a shotgun rider, mostly from Texas Parks and Wildlife," he explained. "We rescued people from Charity and University hospitals (in downtown New Orleans). We pulled out six to eight people per boat." The airboaters worked the area until dark, and then began again the following morning. "It was well coordinated by that point," Hall said. "We got everybody out of Charity Hospital." The eight boats made 25 to 30 trips into the flood waters, and Hall estimated that they hauled out about 2,000 people. "That's how many people were in Charity," he said. Hall finally pulled out of the operation on Sept. 3, when the slick coating was completely rubbed off the bottom of his airboat. "My dad's place got destroyed in (Hurricane) Ivan last year. My sister's house had 2 feet of water in it," he said. "We just wanted to come help out. We knew what it was like." Ask Uncle Homer By Homer Circle Every bass fishing trip can present ponderings that need solving. Lay yours on Uncle Homer; with over a half century of bassing America, he wants to be of help. Uncle Homer, I buy line in big quantities and store it in our refrigerator, thinking it prolongs its life. Does it? I posed this question to Berkley, the biggest line producer, and here's their answer: Braided lines aren't affected by time. Store them in a closet. But, monos, like nylon, should not be kept in a fridge because moisture can deteriorate them. Store them away from ultraviolet light, which can damage them. Lines are expensive, and I want to change only when necessary. How often do pros change lines? Many do it every day because a broken line can lose a tournament. But I cut off the terminal 2 feet after each day's fishing and replace the entire line only when it gets too short for my longest casts. What do you believe is the deadliest bass lure? A 6-inch sinking plastic worm rigged weedless, with no weight by the hook. Fish it from top to bottom, slowly and patiently. Hey Unc, tell me true. Do you ever get skunked? Yes, and once I wrote why I believe it is meant to be. "When the good Lord designed fishing, He meant that men should catch fish, but not always, because some men are greedy cusses and would eventually wipe out the species. And doesn't it follow that it's the skunking days that make the catching days all the sweeter?" I fish a stream where there's a bunch of bass, but the bottom is so snaggy I spend too much time retrieving lures. Got a snagless lure choice? My favorite over many years is an in-line spinner with a single hook. The spinner engages the snag first and lets you know to raise your rod tip and roll it free. Try it. I have a pond where we see dozens of bass swimming around. Every time I catch one bass, that's it, they will not hit anything I offer them. Why? My guess is, if you see them, they also see you. And that hooked bass may give off sounds, or fluids, that spook the other bass into a nonfeeding mood. I've had it happen, too. For years, I have taken my reels apart to clean and oil, so they're ready for the next trip. Today's compact, high-tech reels make it impossible not only to take apart, but to reassemble. How do you combat this? I have the same problem. For the impossibles, I use a can of WD-40 with the spray tube and squirt it into every opening. So far, it is working fine. When a bass strikes at your lure but doesn't get hooked, what's your strategy? First, I offer the same lure again, just in case it missed. Then, I offer both slower and faster retrieves. If there are no takers, I offer a smorgasbord of lures to see which interests its striking fancy. I hooked a BIG bass; and while I was fighting it, the bass jumped out of the water and threw the lure at me. What did I do wrong? You probably gave it slack line and leverage to shake the lure free. When fighting a bass, keep a bend in the rod tip to maintain continual tension on the lure, so the bass can't eject it. How do you check your line strength? I run a monofilament tip over my lips to check for nicks, and I jerk braids with gloved hands to be sure they aren't weakened. Uncle Homer's newest book is Bass Wisdom, containing know-how gleaned from over a half-century of obsession with bass fishing ? including deadliest lures, seasonal tactics, fly rodding, trolling, fishing secrets of the pros, bass intelligence, and sounds and wiles that trigger strikes. For an autographed copy, send $19 to Homer Circle, 1900 S.W. 55th Lane, Ocala, FL 34474