06/14/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3    Light Cahills - hatching
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8. Green Sedges - hatching
9. Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
15. Beetles
16. Grasshoppers

Catch and Release

In the early seventies, or at least close to that time frame, Ray Scott's Bass Anglers
Sportsman Society was going strong. The tournaments were being filled, the prize
money was getting larger, BASS was growing and Bass Master Magazine was the
publication driving it. The only way Ray Scott could get the local folks near a lake
he selected for a bass tournament to put up with 250 anglers catching their bass
was to release them back into the lake. He learned that in the late 1960s. In 1972
he started the "Don't Kill Your Catch" campaign that eventually became what is now
"Catch and Release". I am sure it wasn't the first time anyone had ever put a fish
back in the water but it was the publicity that changed the thinking of anglers from a
pure "catch and kill" to a "catch and release" ideology. Up until then, it was common
to see bass and trout on a stringer. Look at the older pictures of the popular trout
streams and Yellowstone Park for example. The lodge restaurant served cutthroat.

Ray Scott is from Montgomery Alabama, which is still the home base of BASS, now
owned by ESPN. I learned early in my TV years that the most difficult people to get
along with are local folks. They are the ones who become jealous of the success of
other locals they know.. I guess that was a problem for Ray back in those years. If
someone does something right and become successful, there is always going to be
those envious guys who will go out of their way to hurt the successful ones.

Ray was scheduling tournaments at one of the top lakes in the country right at his
own back door - Lake Eufaula, Alabama. It was the hottest fishing spot in the nation.
It was a fairly new lake that was loaded with large bass. It was the beginning of
structure fishing on his newly formed bass tournament circuit. This was before I
ever fished a national bass tournament but I remember the story told to me by
Blake Honeycut, from North Carolina very well. He won a BASS tournament at
Eufaula in 1969 with a three day total weight of 139 pounds. The fish averaged
something like six pounds each. It stayed a record catch for years. I know my old
friend Paul Elias broke the BASS all time catch record down in Texas just fairly
recently.

I did fish Lake Eufaula back in those days. You could line up on an underwater
structure, an old bridge, road bed, drop off, tree top, etc. and catch several large
bass almost every time you tried. It was the beginning of the plastic worm hay day.
Just five or six years ago,
Tom Mann showed me a picture of two, tractor trailer
loads of plastic worms being shipped from his Southern Plastics Company in
Eufaula, Alabama to Johney Morris, at Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri. Two
tractor trailer loads of plastic worms is a lot of worms. Tom also owned Mann's Bait
Company. Thanks to the bailouts, now we all now know what the world "billion"
means, I will tell that Tom sold over a billion of his lures. His "Humminbird", Mann's
Bait" and "Southern Plastics" Companies were all fueled by Ray Scott's Bass
Anglers Sportsman's Society as well as Lake Eufaula.

What worried anglers in the tournaments at Eufaula was that at least in their minds,
when a bass was caught from a tree top, for example, and then released, it would
go back to the tree and warn or alert the other bass something was wrong. What no
one but a few tight mouth fisherman knew was that some guys, not everyone but a
few guys, were killing the bass before they released them. They would
stick an ice
pick through their eyes
and then throw them back. That way they wouldn't warn
the other bass. However, because partners are drawn each day, the word finally got
out and the folks at the Alabama Game and Fish Department along with some folks
from Auburn University found out about it. Ray Scott was banned from having BASS
tournaments at Lake Eufaula for some time.

In defense of Ray, someone I rarely defend, this was not his or anyone that was a
part of the tournament organization's direct fault. They didn't learn about it until it
was too late. When they did, they immediately took action to stop it. They ruled it
out, of course, but they did a lot more. They placed penalties on dead fish at the
weigh-ins. A fish caught after the limit was reached had to be released before
another one could be put in the live well. Live wells became the most important
thing on a bass boat. The new BASS "Don't Kill Your Catch" slogan became the one
of the most important things in fishing.

In effect, this bad situation helped turn into something good that forever changed
tournament fishing and in fact, changed fishing period. In my opinion, Ray Scott is
responsible for saving not only the life of millions of bass but many other species of
fish. All the sportfishing industry put together was still just a drop in a bucket
compared to bass fishing. I won't go so far as to say Ray's motivation was entirely
focused on the life of the fish. It also had a lot to do with the life of Bass Angers
Sportsman Society.

Now many of you may not think this has much to do with trout fishing and certainly
not trout fishing in the Smokies. Well, in fact it does. It has a lot to do with the fact
that nowadays,
most all trout that are caught are released back into the
streams alive even though the rules allow fish to be kept
from the streams in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Releasing fish became the right thing
and even the cool thing to do.
This change would never have taken place, at
least within the time frame it did, without the leading role and publicity of Bass
Anglers Sportsman Society.

When I was required to obtain a special permit to catch a mayfly in a net to
photograph it by a Great Smoky Mountains Park Ranger, he said "we don't allow
you to catch our other animals, do we Mr. Marsh". I replied, "yes, as a matter of fact
you do. You allow anyone to catch and even kill the trout". I have no complaints
about the rules but I will be quick to point things out. I understand the problems they
have faced over the years with these types of things and they have my full support
and I hope everyone else.

Because Ray Scott started bass tournaments, sportsman and authorities in control
of fish management began to worry about the sustainable populations of the fish
due to the added pressure of the tournaments. Because Ray started "Don't Kill
Your Catch", "Catch and Release" become the popular thing to do.
Catch and
release spread to eventually involve most all sportfish species.

We all learned years ago that there was much more to fishing that to eating them
and as the days go by more and more anglers are leaning there is much more to
fishing than just "catching" fish. That is a completely different subject though and
one I will be writing about in the near future.


Copyright James Marsh 2009