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fishballer06

Opinion on tournament pressure on small lakes

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One of my local bass clubs made an announcement last night that has it's members very upset. So I wanted to make a post about this subject and see what Bass Resources opinion is on a matter like this. The announcement was that the PA Fish And Boat Commission (PFBC) told the club that they now have to limit their tournaments on a particular lake (lets call it Lake XYZ) to only 25 boats from here on out. So the club announced that in order to make this the fairest to everyone in accordance to the PFBC rules, they're making guys who are in the top 25 in points pre-register for the events on Lake XYZ. If they do not fill the 25 boat limit, they will open the event up to everyone the day of the event, and cut everyone off if/when they hit 25 boats. 

 

So, the background on this club. The club director says there are 28 teams registered as members in the club. This club also allows non-members to fish all of their events for an extra $10 entry fee and no points get added up for your performance(s). One thing that makes this club unique is that all of their events are electric motors only (no outboards/inboards). Because of this rule, the lakes they fish are smaller in size. They fish 12 total events per year, on 3 different lakes. 

 

So, a little background on Lake XYZ. Lake XYZ is a small 300 acre lake on top of a mountain in central Pennsylvania. This lake has two boat ramps, one on the north shore and one on the south shore, and the parking lots at each ramp will accommodate 20 trucks/trailers. There is one dock at each ramp, and these docks will hold one boat on each side of them. The boat ramps are only one lane wide and the water around them are very shallow and rocky, making them dangerous if you're not careful. So much so that the south boat ramp is basically only safe for launching kayaks. Despite being small in size, Lake XYZ produces huge fish for Pennsylvania. 5 pounders are usually a staple in each of the top performing boats, a 6 pounder is usually needed to win lunker, and a couple 7's have even been weighed in. You generally need 14+ pounds to even consider being in the money, and 19-23 pound bags are not uncommon. In fact, multiple 20+ pound bags are common in the fall tournaments. 

 

To put this all into perspective, this club had their first of four tournaments on Lake XYZ two weeks ago. They had 38 boats for this event. They normally draw 30-45 boats per event on this lake, so this was about average. Winning weight was 15lb. 11oz. Lunker was 6lb. 6oz. and there were 4 other fish over 5 pounds weighed in. There were 135 fish weighed in, 7 of which were brought to the scales dead (5% of the total). Keep in mind, they fish this lake four times a year, plus there's usually one or two other tournaments a year on this lake as well that generally draw 10-20 boats each (other clubs).

 

 

I know that's long winded, but here's where I want your opinion. The PFBC has told this club that they have to limit their tournaments on Lake XYZ to 25 boats because of over harvesting (pressure) and the parking lot not being able to accommodate 30+ vehicles plus whatever general public shows up. Just by doing some rough math with the number of fish weighed in (135) and number of fish weighed in dead (5%), if you assume that another 10% of the fish died after being released, that's 20.25 dead fish per tournament, and at four tournaments per year, that's 81 (tournament sized) fish dead per year just from 4 tournament days on a lake that's only 300 acres. So do you think this kind of constant pressure on a lake this small can be detrimental to the fish population over time?

 

Lets hear your thoughts on this matter, BassResource.

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personally i think that's a ton of boats for a lake that size i'm surprised it wasn't limited to 20 my home lake is 360 and i couldn't imagine having 35 boats on the lake all fishing 

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We hold a few tournaments a year on a 500 acre electric-only lake here in MD - And it's crowded with 20 tournament boats and then all the other fisherman and lake users.  We request to hold our tournaments there and agree to park our truck/trailers in the overflow parking so as not to crowd out other park users.  I can't imagine 35-40 tournament boats and this lake is 200 acres larger than yours.  

 

I would guess the reason for the limit has more to do with overcrowding the other lake users than it does with fishing.  Stuff like this doesn't come up out of the blue, it's likely they got complaints and had to 'do something'.   I'm usually against this sort of thing, but it does seem to be at least partially justified.  Only my opinion though.  

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That's a ton of boats for a lake that size.  I wouldn't doubt if that kind of pressure did some sort of damage out there.

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It is kind of small for that many boats, but that kind of pressure is not unusual.  There's a particular Finger Lake up here that has a tournament every evening of the week, and perhaps more than one club tournament on the weekends.  Add in the locals, and non tournament fisherman, and it gets a ton of pressure.  Yet, it is a big bass factory.  You need to be over 22# most good days, and around 20 on tough days.  Nothing less than a 6+ will win lunker bonus.  I contend that high cull rate, along with what must be favorable conditions and habitat are what actually help the lake.

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I'm not trying to flame or otherwise troll but I believe, in addition to dead fish, that "dying and/or disoriented bass" should be added to the equation. Just because a fish is not dead at weigh-in does not mean it won't later die or be so disoriented as to be negatively impacted. I'm not a tree hugger and I don't have any longitudinal studies upon which to refer but I believe (since the OP asked our OPINION) that tournaments (where the fish is removed from the lake) DO have a negative impact-particularly on small lakes.  If each boat has a marshall and the fish are quickly weighed/measured and returned to the water, I believe the impact is minimal.

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3 minutes ago, Ratherbfishing said:

I'm not trying to flame or otherwise troll but I believe, in addition to dead fish, that "dying and/or disoriented bass" should be added to the equation. Just because a fish is not dead at weigh-in does not mean it won't later die or be so disoriented as to be negatively impacted. I'm not a tree hugger and I don't have any longitudinal studies upon which to refer but I believe (since the OP asked our OPINION) that tournaments (where the fish is removed from the lake) DO have a negative impact-particularly on small lakes.  If each boat has a marshall and the fish are quickly weighed/measured and returned to the water, I believe the impact is minimal.

 

I totally agree with you. Which is why I believe probably an extra 10% of the fish we release at tournaments die after the weigh in.

 

I can think of a particular member in the club I'm in who must have a terrible livewell system in his boat. He almost always has one dead fish at weigh in, and his other couple fish are usually "alive" but with their gills barely moving and he will argue with the tournament director until he's blue in the face that his fish are indeed "alive". 

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19 minutes ago, fishballer06 said:

 

I totally agree with you. Which is why I believe probably an extra 10% of the fish we release at tournaments die after the weigh in.

 

I can think of a particular member in the club I'm in who must have a terrible livewell system in his boat. He almost always has one dead fish at weigh in, and his other couple fish are usually "alive" but with their gills barely moving and he will argue with the tournament director until he's blue in the face that his fish are indeed "alive". 

 

It's amazing how many guys I've gone with, fill their wells, turn them off the rest of the day, then wonder why their fish die.  

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38 boats on a 300 acre lake plus the other people not in the contest is A LOT.  That's what I call bumper boats.

Generally, the lake association (which consists of a group of property owners living on the lake) have a lot of say in how many parking spots are at a public access.  They don't want 40 people parking over flow at a 20 spot capacity ramp.

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Maybe split the tourney in half . Half fish saturday and half fish sunday .

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