TWRA’s efforts in raising Florida largemouth bass is continuing at its Humboldt Fish Hatchery. A new indoor facility was built in 2016 at the Gibson County location with the goal of becoming self-sufficient in raising and stocking Florida bass for the state’s anglers. After 500,000 fish in the first year, the numbers have increased to more than 1.2 million.
The TWRA plans to expand the Florida largemouth bass stocking program into more waters across the state. After the hugely successful and popular Florida largemouth bass stocking into Chickamauga Reservoir, plans are now to ramp up the program to include Nickajack, Watts Bar, Fort Loudoun, and Kentucky Reservoirs.
Here are some highlights from the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, held at the Holly Fork Shooting Complex. Concerning chronic wasting disease (CWD), the current positive and high-risk counties will remain in Unit L, but will have some additional harvest opportunities. During the August deer hunt, gun, muzzleloader, and archery will be allowed with an extra limit of two antlered deer in addition to a hunter’s annual antlered deer limit of two. WMAs will be open to the public for the August hunt. During the other seasons, for a buck found to be CWD-positive, a replacement buck will be allowed. Harvests made on select weekends will require mandatory check-in at stations. The commission passed a rule to permanently establish carcass exportation and feeding restrictions for positive and high risk CWD zone counties.
An Asian carp update was given, citing that commercial harvest is the most effective method in the removal of invasive species. The Asian carp incentive program, which began last fall, is continuing to grow and has resulted in 718,000 pounds removed to date. Also discussed were the containment measures including the accidental transport and reduction of immigration at navigation locks.
The commission approved a federally-funded study on mallard behavior and use of wetlands. Mallards provide 74 percent of the migrating birds in Tennessee. The project will help the agency be more efficient and effective with habitat management. The TFWC also approved a federally-funded cooperative project with Ducks Unlimited to enhance some wetland area within the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The TFWC’s next scheduled meeting is May 23-24 in Nashville at the TWRA Region II headquarters in Nashville.
Sports banquets are without a doubt a most enjoyable way to contribute to wildlife conservation. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter banquets are no exception. RMEF has seven chapters in Tennessee and six banquets queued for the remainder of the year (East Tennessee Chapter was in February). Plan to join one of these soirees and enjoy the camaraderie, as well as the raffles, games, live and silent auctions, and the good food.
For quick reference there are banquets set for these Tennessee cities and dates: May 4, Johnson City; May 18, LaFollette; June 1, Chattanooga; July 20, Shelbyville; Aug. 17, Upper Cumberland; Aug. 24, Franklin. For tickets and contact information go to https://www.rmef.org/Events/StateChapterEvents.aspx.
For the 11th year Orvis is offering outdoor adventurers free fly fishing clinics. Every year more than 15,000 people in 43 states take advantage of the classes, also receiving a free membership in Trout Unlimited. Additionally, Orvis donates one dollar per FF101 student to Casting for Recovery®, a unique organization that provides therapeutic fly-fishing retreats to women with breast cancer.
“At Orvis, we believe that fly fishing can have a positive impact on people’s lives, and we want as many folks as possible to have the opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy the sport,” states Tom Rosenbauer, fly-fishing mentor, author, and host of the Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast. “We created FF101 classes to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to come learn to fish. Our hope is that we can help break down the barriers to entry and provide a unique opportunity for families and friends to come together and connect in the outdoors.”
Orvis is an instructional leader within the fly fishing industry, hosting schools in the U.S. since the early 1970s. Students get hands on experience with the rods, reels and fly lines, and learn the basic types of flies and knots needed for a successful day on the water.
For the 2019 season, classes will be offered from May through July at Orvis retail stores across the country. Tennessee will have clinics near Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Find the specific locations at www.Orvis.com/flyfishing101.
Warning: Some Rossi revolvers may fire when dropped. A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit claiming that certain Rossi brand revolvers are defective in that they could unintentionally fire when dropped. Rossi is a division of Forjas Taurus, S.A. The presiding court is the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Rossi issued a Warning about these safety concerns in September 2018. The company denies all allegations of wrongdoing and liability alleged in the lawsuit, and the Court has not decided who is right. The parties have agreed to settle.
The "Class Revolvers" means Rossi brand .38 Special and .357 revolver models made between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017. The Settlement establishes an "Enhanced Warranty" allowing current or future owners to return their Class Revolvers for inspection, repair if necessary, certification, and cleaning, all free of charge (including shipping, labor, and parts). Additionally, each claimant will receive a $50 cash "Inconvenience Payment." The settlement does not include claims for personal injury.
The deadline to participate in this action is July 15, 2019.For detailed information including the full notice, the Settlement agreement, and claim forms information, visit www.RossiRevolverSettlement.com or call 888-724-0242.
Public comments requested now: E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuels can severely damage your boat’s engine and fuel lines, and it is about to get even easier to misfuel your boat. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving toward permitting the sale of (E15) during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). Currently available only in the colder months, the E15 summertime ban was implemented years ago to address concerns over its contribution to ground level air pollution (ozone and smog) on hot days.
The problem begins with a serious flaw in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is the 2005 federal law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. This is where our now-common regular gasoline with 10 percent ethanol blended in (E10) came from. Now E15 is scheduled to replace E10. The trouble is that all marine engines, motorcycles, ATV, small engines (lawnmowers, chain saws, etc.), and older automobiles might tolerate E10, but they are damaged by E15. And manufacturer’s warrantees are often voided by use of E15.
When the RFS was written, it was assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, U.S. gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the RFS law forces more corn ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline. What’s more, RFS dictates a reduction in the production of non-blended gasoline (E0), the fuel that all of the above engines were designed to use.
The nation’s largest boating advocacy, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), wants EPA to immediately halt any expansion of E15 fuel availability and is asking recreational boaters to speak up now to stop the summertime sale of E15. It offers an easy way contact the EPA by going to http://bit.ly/2UyyMFV . Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Among other useful information this site has a helpful chart that names the older automobiles at risk.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is also concerned with the EPA’s proposed increase of E15 fuels. It offers the following link to submit original comments to the EPA: www.votervoice.net/NMMA/Campaigns/64343/Respond. The NMMA strongly encourages filers to personalize the beginning and end of the pre-populated message in “Boating United”. EPA will not count identical comments.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold its April 25-26 meeting in Henry County at the Holly Fork Shooting Complex located near Paris. Committee meetings will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday, while the regular commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday.
The meeting will be the first with Kurt Holbert (Decaturville) serving as TFWC chair. Other officers elected at the last meeting held in February are vice chair Brian McLerran (Moss) and secretary Angie Box (Jackson). It will also be the first meeting for appointed commissioners Jimmy Granbery (Nashville), Steve Jones (Clinton), Jim Ripley (Kodak), Thomas Woods (Piney Flatts), and Hank Wright (Collierville).
Among the items on the April agenda is an update on efforts to combat Asian carp. The TWRA will present information on the agency teamwork with commercial fishermen to remove Asian carp from Tennessee waterways through the Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program (ACHIP). In the past six months, more than 600,000 pounds of fish have been removed.
James Kelly, Deer Management Program leader, will share a concept being considered for hunting regulations for CWD (chronic wasting disease) positive and high-risk counties.
The TWRA is constantly striving to provide more opportunities for families and millennials to try hunting and fishing. These efforts are key in increasing hunting and angler numbers in the state. The agency will present a proposal for a statewide program that would reach thousands of Tennesseans who do not hunt or fish each year. And the agency will provide previews of several of the new videos recently produced for television, radio, Pandora and Social media.
That’s more like it. The first spring turkey hunt of 2019 on the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area was on April 13-14, and the harvest was back to normal. A total of 22 birds was taken, 19 adults and three juveniles. The largest tom weighed 23.6 pounds, the longest beard was 11.2 inches, and the longest spur was 1.2 inches. None was retained due to internal radiological contamination.
Last year the first hunt harvest was only 10 turkeys, half of the average harvest for the last 10 years; in 2017 it was a more typical 21 birds. The lowest take has been 8 in 2008 and the highest was 36 in 2011.
Attention, Tennessee expatriates – that is anyone born in the Volunteer State but no longer resides here. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has a special bargain for those that want to hunt, fish and trap in their home state. The Native Tennessean licenses allow regular annual hunting/fishing/trapping licenses to be purchased at the same cost as residents.
A variety of annual licenses are available, including the Resident Sportsman License for all ages. A complete list of the licenses can be viewed on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Website at www.tnwildlife.org, or see pages 8-9 of the 2018-2019 Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Nonresidents must apply for the Native Tennessean licenses on an annual basis. First time applicants must provide valid current photo identification, a certified birth certificate showing the applicant was born in Tennessee and/or the parents’ address was in Tennessee at the time of birth as shown on the certified birth certificate. Photocopies will not be accepted. First time license applicants may send the materials to: TWRA, Licensing Division, P.O. Box 41729 or at any of TWRA’s four regional locations in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown.
Returning applicants just have to return the application each year they want to hunt. It can be mailed to the above address, or returned by email: email@example.com or by fax at 615-837-4262. Renewal applications can also be made at any of TWRA’s four regional offices.
Spring turkey season ends May 12. For the turkey hunter that is looking for an edge, check out the “Gobble Map” app from the National Wild Turkey Federation. It is available free for all smart phones. Hunters will find many features to improve their chances in the field, including reports of turkey activity in their area, public land maps, harvest reports, scoring details, and more.
Tens of thousands of hunters throughout the country already are contributing to the Gobble Map’s interactive heat map of activity, which can reveal local harvest trends in time to change your day’s luck. Find it at www.nwtf.org. It may be time to get some camouflage for your smart phone.
On April 10 near Chattanooga, scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and some Chattanooga students carefully eased 89 dinosaurs into the Tennessee River. At just 15-inches long, the nine-month-old Lake Sturgeon that slipped into the current still have many years of growing before potentially becoming an eight-foot river giant. Even at this early stage, however, these sleek, armor-plated fish embodied a wealth of promise.
Each of these young fish represents the latest chapter in a now-21-year effort by the Aquarium and its conservation partners to restore the Lake Sturgeon to its historic range. “The hard work of the Aquarium and its partners, plus so many others who have joined over the past twenty years, have really changed things for Lake Sturgeon,” says Dr. Anna George, the Aquarium’s vice president of conservation science and education. “This group effort has shown that, together, we can make steps towards our goal of having healthy rivers that are full of life.”
Now back in their ancestral waters, each Lake Sturgeon could live for more than a century. These fish represent the next generation of a species that first appeared alongside dinosaurs during the late Cretaceous Period but whose story almost ended abruptly not from a meteor strike, but our own poor decisions just a few decades ago.
In the 1970s the Lake Sturgeon had all but disappeared from the Tennessee River due to overfishing, poor water quality and man-made alterations to the waterway (hydroelectric dams). By the late 1990s, landmark legislation and responsible water management practices had improved conditions to the point that biologists thought it possible for the river to once again support a population of these ancient fish.
In 1998, with the aim of restoring the Lake Sturgeon to the river, the Aquarium and several partner organizations created the Lake Sturgeon Working Group. Since the formation of that organization, more than 220,000 juvenile Lake Sturgeon raised from eggs collected in the Great Lakes have been reintroduced to the Tennessee and Cumberland river drainages. For more information about Lake Sturgeon and the Aquarium’s work with this species, visit tnaqua.org/protecting-animals/lake-sturgeon.
Right now nature's renewal process is giving birth to all kinds of wildlife and there is something important you can do to help: Nothing. Wild animals rarely abandon their young. Leaving young unattended is normal for many species. To minimize discovery by predators, adults return only a few times a day. The parent may be out of sight and watching, or eating or resting nearby.
If you are concerned, check on the baby periodically from a distance, but do not hover near the young; the parent will not return if people are in the area. Do not handle the young; you may pass germs to them to which they are not immune.
Human scent does not necessarily cause rejection to most wild babies, but it can help attract a predator. If necessary to move them, handle them with a paper towel. This is good for a bird fallen from its nest. Remember: Rescuing threatened wildlife is legal; keeping them is not.
It is the largest hunting, shooting and outdoors sport show in the country, and this year it is within driving distance of Tennessee (280 miles north of Nashville). The National Rifle Association’s 148th Annual Meeting and Exhibits is in Indianapolis, Ind. on April 26-28. At least 80,000 outdoors enthusiasts, hunters and shooters will descend upon the Indiana Convention Center.
You do not have to be a NRA member to appreciate the three-day Guns, Gear and Outfitters Show: More than 800 exhibitors on 15 acres representing major manufacturers of firearms and sporting goods. Admission is free to members, uniformed military, law enforcement personnel, and organized youth groups.
Additionally, there is fun for the whole family with an air gun range, seminars on hunting and firearms, country music, and other entertainment. The Saturday Night Concert features Alan Jackson and William Michael Morgan. Go to www.nraam.org for more information.
The 10th annual Tennessee Outdoors Youth Summit (TOYS) is set for July 14-19 for students in high schools across Tennessee, conducted by the TWRA. Students will spend a week in hands-on classes that will teach outdoor skills and the importance of the natural resources and their management. Instructors will be wildlife and fisheries biologists, wildlife officers, college professors, professional shooting coaches, and other experts.
TOYS students will be introduced to many different outdoor activities including: Boating, hunting, trapping, fishing, archery, ATV safety, turkey calling, antler scoring, wilderness survival, photography, marksmanship, plant identification, forestry, camping, water quality, trap shooting, skeet shooting, wildlife identification, and several classes focusing on wildlife and fishery biology.
Activities will take place at the Clyde York 4-H Center near Crossville and lodging will be in modern cabins onsite. The fee for the weeklong experience is $350 with lodging, meals and beverages included.
TOYS enrollment deadline is May 17, but apply early; space is limited to 120 students and it fills up quickly. Scholarships are available based on financial need. Applications can be downloaded at www.twrf.net/toys/ or go to www.tnwildlife.org and select Upcoming Events. For more information contact Lacey Lane at telephone 615-831-9311 ext.114, or email LLane@twrf.net.
A “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” (BOW) event is set for May 31 – June 2 near Crossville at the Clyde M. York 4-H Center. These weekend workshops are an ideal way for women age 18 and older to learn or improve their outdoor recreation skills.
This year the following workshops will be offered: Firearms and firearms safety, basic fishing skills, advanced fishing techniques, all-terrain vehicle operation, basic archery, boating safety education, outdoor cooking, wild edible foray, beginning fly fishing, nature photography basics, basic canoeing, paddle boarding, basic shotgun, backyard habitat, map/compass, introductions to muzzleloading, turkey hunting and deer hunting, reading the woods, discover scuba, and stream ecology.
The fee of $225 includes two nights lodging, meals, event t-shirt, and a 2019-20 Tennessee hunting and fishing license. Social gatherings are planned for Friday and Saturday evenings. BOW weekends are popular so apply early.
Applications may be obtained from the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org, or any TWRA regional office. For more information contact Donald Hosse, Wildlife Education Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 615-781-6541.
Are there some fishing regulations you would like to see changed? Perhaps a creel limit or size limit? The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is accepting public comments until April 23 on the 2020 and 2021 fishing regulations. The fisheries managers will consider your ideas, which should be presented as proposals and should include the expected results if enacted. Your next comment period for fishing will be in two years.
Email your suggestions to FishingReg.Comments@tn.gov; include “Sport Fish Comments” in the subject line. Or use postal mail: TWRA Sport Fish Comments, Fisheries Management Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. No phone calls. The TWRA will submit their proposed regulations at the August TFWC meeting; another public comment period will follow; and the TFWC will decide at its September meeting.
At its March 2018 meeting the TFWC voted to establish hunting and fishing regulations biannually rather than the current annual basis. Beginning in 2018 the hunting regulations are set in May on the even years. Fishing regulations will be set in September on odd years beginning in 2019. The commission also directed the TWRA to hold public meetings twice a year in each of the four TWRA regions. The meetings will offer a time for sportsmen to offer input and ask questions of TWRA personnel.
For those wishing to hunt elk close to home, consider this: Tennessee has about 300-plus animals; but Kentucky has the largest elk herd in the eastern United States, estimated at 11,000 head. A chance in their hunt lottery costs only $10, same as ours. Why not increase your elk hunting odds by also applying for Kentucky’s quota elk hunt.
Tennessee had a mere six rifle and five archery elk licenses issued last year. [The Tennessee elk drawing will occur in July; more on that later.] Kentucky will issue 594 elk licenses this year, and the hunter success rate is above 55 percent. The whole Kentucky process is done online at fw.ky.gov/Hunt/Pages/Elk-Info.aspx, or call the Kentucky Elk Information Center at 800-858-1549 for assistance. The deadline to apply is April 30.
Kentucky’s drawing for quota elk hunts is open to out-of-state hunters. Kentucky does not employ a preference points system for its quota elk hunts, meaning everyone who applies has an equal chance of being drawn. Non-residents will get ten percent of the total tags.
Hunters may apply for all of the four permit types: Bull firearms, bull archery or crossbow, cow firearms, and cow archery or crossbow. New for the 2019 season, elk hunters can now apply for an either-sex archery/crossbow permit.
If successful in the lottery a non-resident may buy a cow license for $400 or a bull for $550; the youth permit is only $200. The various archery seasons begin on Sept.14 and end on Dec. 13; the various rifle seasons begin on Sept. 28 and end on Jan. 1.
The big wildlife conservation payoff from the 2019 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds is $1.04 billion, nearly matching the 2018 figure of $1.10 billion. Hunters and anglers contribute this money for wildlife through the 11 percent excise tax on sporting goods (Pittman-Robertson Act), plus approximately 10 percent on fishing and boating equipment (Dingell-Johnson Act). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually distributes the revenues to all the states proportionally by their land mass and their license sales.
Tennessee’s share of the 2019 Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds will be $26,245,289. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is in charge of apportioning it. This year marks $21 billion total contributions to the Fund by hunters and anglers nationwide. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.3 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
TWRA Public Notice:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will award an agricultural lease totaling approximately 500 acres at Percy Priest Wildlife Management Area in Rutherford County. The submitted sealed bids will be opened Monday April 29, 2019. To receive further information or an invitation to bid, call 615-444-6673 or 615-355-0914.
There is a hunting season about to begin that is off the radar: Tick season has arrived. Millions of the suckers are hatching now. By the end of May most will have been eaten by birds, but plenty of ticks stay around until the first frost.
Since they can’t fly or jump, ticks brush onto victims from grass, bushes or trees. For protection when outdoors use insect repellents and wear long pants and shirtsleeves. After being outdoors, inspect your whole body well, especially major crevices. It takes several hours for a tick to attach.
If bitten don’t try to smother or burn the sucker. Those techniques don’t work and they risk added injury to your skin. Firmly grasp the tick (tweezers are best) and gently pull for a long time (two or three minutes) until it has a chance to let go. Afterwards clean the bite with an antiseptic. Finally, save the corpus delicti in a plastic baggy or a piece of cellophane tape for future reference in case a serious infection ensues (The Lyme disease’s “red bulls-eye” can take more than two weeks to appear).
Here is another tick removal that I can’t wait to try. Moisten a cotton ball and rub in some hand soap until it is very soapy. Place it over the attached tick and rub it gently in a counterclockwise direction (It won’t work clockwise). In a few minutes the tick will release and back out. And for you wiseacres out there that dare to challenge the counterclockwise tenet, it’s your tick.
For more vitally important health information on ticks, go to Babe Winkelman’s Tick-Borne Illness Information Center here.
The North Carolina hatchery supported trout waters will open to fishing on April 6. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will be stocking about 930,000 trout on more than 900 miles of trout streams for the next four months, and anglers are encouraged to take some home to dinner. Hatchery supported trout waters are marked by green-and-white signs.
About 96 percent of the stocked trout will average 10 inches long and the rest will exceed 14 inches. Daily creel limit is seven trout with no minimum size or bait restriction. For future stocking schedules and more information go to the fishing section of www.ncwildlife.org, or call the N.C. Inland Fisheries Division at 919-707-0220. Trout season goes until Feb. 29, 2020.