Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska
This is an article from the March 26, 1956 issue
Montana conservationists notched a substantial victory last week when the State Land Board voted to remove 3,400 acres in the Sun River Game Refuge from a scheduled oil-and gas-lease sale. Conservationists and sportsmen alike felt that any development of the area would seriously jeopardize it as excellent winter range for elk. One vigorous opponent of the lease sale was Leslie H. Peters, Great Falls artist and, incidentally, son of a millionaire oil man.
Intricate as modern wildlife management can be, a good old-fashioned trade sometimes solves problems. Not long ago, for example, Colorado swapped 16 bighorn sheep to Montana for eight mountain goats. South Dakota shipped spare catfish to Colorado, taking wild turkeys in return. New Mexico traded eight wild turkeys for 25 South Dakota sage grouse. Wyoming also wanted New Mexican turkeys and relinquished some elk to get them. Idaho last year gave cutthroat trout eggs to Wyoming and took golden trout eggs in return. What happens if a state can't find anything to trade? It swaps dollars for the game it needs.
CATCH BY A COACH
Bobby Dodd, the Georgia Tech football coach, is a man who likes to fish. A few days ago with wife and son, Dodd was sitting in a skiff on Callaway Lake at Hamilton, Ga., casting for bass. He was using a standard casting rod, 15-pound test line, and surface plug. What happened next is best expressed in Dodd's own words which prove that a coach can rhapsodize about something besides a bowl victory. "I tried this top water bait," said Dodd, "and just plunked around. I never had such a big strike. I thought he'd overturn us. He looked so big banging up out of the water. He just inhaled that little plug and away he went. I never had one this big take his whole body out of water more than once, I mean just like a tarpon, looping up into the sky nearly twice his length above the water. He did that three times. In between those jumps he was thrashing around just like a drowning heifer and just as loud. I don't know how long it took but I boated him and I still couldn't believe it."
Dodd's "he" turned out to be a "she," a female laden with roe and weighing 13 pounds 1½ ounces. It was one of the heftiest bass taken from Georgia waters in more than 10 years. Stuffed, it will replace a nine-pounder on Dodd's office wall.
TEST CASE (Cont.)
On March 12 SI reported on the forthcoming murder trial of West Virginia Conservation Officer Elmer Anderson and its implications for future game law enforcement. Now from Ohio comes a dispatch that leads to speculation on the status of conservation officers throughout the nation.
On the opening day of Ohio's rabbit and pheasant season last Nov. 15, Game Protector Irvin Patrick, aged 43, approached a party of hunters near Washington Court House in Fayette County. He inspected their bag, found several hen pheasants and attempted to make an arrest. Some of the hunters objected. A scuffle ensued and a shotgun in the hands of one of the hunters, former Adams County Sheriff George Baldridge, went off. Patrick died on the way to the hospital. On March 7 a Fayette County jury found Baldridge guilty of first degree manslaughter.
That would seem to justify Patrick's position as an officer. But under the Ohio statutes, game protectors are not entitled to the death and injury benefits accorded other law enforcement officers. Patrick's widow will thus get no compensation, has had to file suit against Baldridge. Meanwhile, the Ohio Game Protectors Association and the Ohio Wildlife Division will go on trying to earn for their officers the same benefits granted other state law enforcement personnel and are readying a bill for the 1957 legislature.
SHOOTING THE MOON
The Widgeon is one duck with an unfortunate affinity for California's Imperial Valley. Every fall immense flocks of baldpate descend on this grain-rich area, and until they depart in the spring it is a battle of farmer ingenuity against duck appetite. For perverse reasons all their own, the widgeon feed only at night and can reduce a field to stubble with remarkable efficiency. Farmer gambits to discourage this activity include searchlights, grenades and a mechanism which alternately goes bang and flashes light. Also, under a special game depredation order, the Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized round-the-clock widgeon hunting, and, in this situation at least, the farmer welcomes the hunter. But a wildfowler, no matter how enthusiastic, experiences a certain difficulty in hitting ducks he can't see and so except during a full moon, no vast number of the estimated 40,000 valley baldpate winds up on the dinner table. An exception is furnished by one man who seemingly couldn't miss while everyone else couldn't hit. Confounded, the duckless gunners asked this chap how he did it. No mystery, it seems. He was a Britisher, and in England much duck hunting is done at night.
WOLVES AT THE DOOR
James Curran, late publisher of the SaultSte. Marie (Ontario) Daily Star, once observed: "Any man who says he has been 'et' by a wolf is a damned liar." Until recently no one turned up to challenge Curran's pithy dogmatism, but in the last month Ontario has reported two authenticated wolf attacks on man, the first recorded in the province's history. Frank Milton of Englehart was walking down a bush road when a wolf suddenly leaped on his back. Milton bopped the animal with his ax and escaped without a bite. The attack was witnessed by a man who knows a wolf when he sees one. Two other bush workers were attacked in January, and on the outskirts of Sudbury (population almost 100,000) a wolf followed two dogs right onto a farmhouse veranda. This unexpected spate of wolf activity is directly traceable to a rabies epidemic now sweeping Ontario. Foxes, dogs and cats have also munched on Ontario residents, but luckily the province has yet to report a death due to rabies.
BOOING THE CARIBOU
When The Canadian post office recently made public the designs of two new wildlife stamps, a wave of purple prose crested and thundered through Parliament. "The mountain goat on that stamp has the ears of an ass, the mouth of a cow, the eyes of a sleepwalker and the horns of a yak," wailed post-office critic William Hamilton of the Conservative Party, and then he added, "the caribou stamp looks like a drunkard's nightmare." Hamilton's calumny, picturesque as it was, still didn't faze L.J. Mills, director of the post office's financial branch, which issues the stamps. In fact, he seemed delighted. "The very fact that the stamps are being criticized," retorted Mills, "is an indication of the fact that they are attracting attention and that people are thinking about them. We stand by the accuracy of the reproduction." SI readers (see above) can draw their own conclusions.
Mike Fink, the oldtime king of river boating, has been immortalized in prose, ballad and, recently, on TV's Disneyland. One of Mike's favorite in-his-cups amusements, so the story goes, was to shoot tin cans off any available head, particularly off that of his young friend Carpenter. Carpenter in turn did the same for Mike. Inevitably this harmless bit of frontier horseplay began to take on competitive overtones and it was no surprise that the whole affair skidded toward alcoholic disaster. Carpenter, somewhat sozzled, creased Mike's scalp one day. Mike thereupon drilled Carpenter right between the eyes. Some chroniclers insist that Fink never missed unless he wanted to, but he died protesting that Carpenter's demise was a dreadful mistake.
The spirit of Mike Fink lives on, and no one can better testify to that than West Virginia Conservation Officer Claude E. Rice. Hearing shots near his house recently, Rice slipped out to apprehend what he assumed were out-of-season hunters. Instead he found three nontippling teen-agers plinking tin cans off each other's beans with a .22 rifle. Rice delivered a stern lecture on gun safety but later remarked that the lads were pretty good shots. At least, none of them shot low.
LICENSE TO DABBLE
A feature of many sportsmen's shows these days is a portable tank stuffed with unhappy trout. For a fee, one may dabble a fly and catch a fish. Missing, of course, is the whisper of wind through streamside foliage and the roar of water bounding down its mountain course. But, as far as the Pennsylvania Fish Commission is concerned, esthetic considerations don't mitigate the law. Whether one dabbles in a tank or famous Bushkill Creek one still buys a Pennsylvania fishing license or just doesn't fish. The legal damper thus applied, officials of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Sportsmen's Show (which opened March 20 in Harrisburg) provided license-buying facilities. It is not known if a warden was assigned to patrol the tank.
Among last week's noteworthy catches: a 112-pound 8-ounce WHITE MARLIN boated after a 40-minute battle on 20-pound test line by Mrs. Jack Donichy of Morrison, Ill. fishing out of Marathon, Florida Keys. By Ike Boone, Detroit third baseman, a 90-pound LARGE-MOUTH BASS from Lake Morton, Fla. A 17-pound 4-ounce STEELHEAD taken from Box Canyon Hole, Idaho on 6-pound test line by Trev Baugh of Boise. Ron Gammie landed an 8-pound 9-ounce BROWN TROUT from Cowichan River, British Columbia for possible provincial record. A 67-pound 8-ounce ALLISON TUNA boated off Nassau, BWI by Charles Hayward of London, England.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
BLACK BASS: NORTH CAROLINA: FG and OG for largemouth bass to 5 pounds in ponds, lakes, roadside canals and freshwater sounds from Currituck to Kittyhawk. Nags Head agent reports FF/G in Kittyhawk Bay with artificial lures but bass are still fairly deep.
LOUISIANA: 300 fishermen opened season at Laccassine Waterfowl Refuge last Thursday, and most of them took limits from the 15,000 acres of impounded rainwater open to fishing for first time in two years.
MISSOURI: Best fishing in state is in Mingo-Duck Creek area where SO March 15; water is clear, outlook is excellent, best lures are medium-deep plugs.
FLORIDA: Lake Okeechobee is at lowest level in 10 years and most lakes throughout state need rain for improved fishing. St. John's River, near Riverdale, was producing bass in 4-pound class for live-bait fishermen last week and OG. Lake Tarpon near Tarpon Springs produced a pair of 11-pound bass last week and four others above 8 pounds; OVG.
TENNESSEE: Last Sunday was B-day for Randall Grammer of Decherd, Tenn. Mr. Grammer went to the Morris Ferry dock on Wood's Reservoir to look at the water; it looked good, so he borrowed a rod and reel and in two hours caught a limit of bass to 4½ pounds. When he got home, Mrs. Grammer presented him with an eight-pound baby boy. FG and OG at Kentucky, Dale Hollow, Center Hill, Cherokee, Norris and Douglas lakes. On-spot agent says hottest spots at Center Hill are Cove Hollow and Indian Creek.
CALIFORNIA: FF/G, says Shasta Lake agent as water is murky except in tributary arms and bass are hitting surface lures without much enthusiasm. Colorado River reservoirs report spotty sport on account of winds but OVG as calmer weather is forecast. SO April 6 at Railroad Canyon Lake, April 7 at El Capitan Reservoir, both in San Diego County, and OVG for both.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Rising Santee-Cooper waters providing fast action in three-to-four-foot-deep water around edges; shallow-running plugs get best results but a few outsize bass are being hauled from deep holes by live-baiters.
PACIFIC SALMON: WASHINCTON : Calm weather brought anticipated good blackmouth fishing to Bellingham Bay, now crammed with herring; Hale's Pass and waters off Chuckanut yielding fish to 22 pounds, and OG.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: FF/G at Horseshoe Bay for springs to 20 pounds; FG continues off Campbell River and other island points, and OG.
CALIFORNIA: High winds kept most salmon party boats inside Golden Gate last week, but calmer weather is due and OG; most fish last week were silvers to 10 pounds. Mouths of Smith and Mattole rivers producing bluebacks despite murky water. Sacramento River to Keswick Dam SH, D and FVP.
KINGFISH: FLORIDA: Kings are now being clobbered all along the Gulf Coast from Naples to Clearwater or farther north. Trollers off John's Pass north of St. Petersburg and off Indian Rocks south of Clearwater are scoring heavily on No. 7 to 10 spoons, and fish are averaging nearly 10 pounds. Action is slower off Sarasota but it's hard to find any place north of Naples where there isn't a school within cruising distance.
MARLIN: BAHAMA ISLANDS: Whites were plentiful off Bimini and Cat Cay last week; successful anglers included John Standard of Grosse Pointe, Mich. who boated a 60-pounder, and Mrs. Martin Tollard of Los Angeles with a 50-pounder.
FLORIDA: As kingfish departed Miami area last week, white marlin and sailfish took up some of slack for charter boatmen; some report averaging one marlin or sail each tide.
TROUT: WASHINGTON: First reports from lowland lakes in Skagit and Whatcom counties are excellent, may indicate unusually good season.
TENNESSEE: Biggest recent fishing news in state is heavy trout catches in headwaters of Watauga Lake in upper east Tennessee near North Carolina line where SO March 15 and rainbows are "running like suckers," with 15-to-20 big trout in every pool and several over 6 pounds recorded. Fastest action is at junction of Roan Creek and Doe Creek; OVG.
NEVADA: As Walker Lake continues to produce cutthroats to 12 pounds on wobblers, two Inglewood, Calif. anglers took nine trout in two days with total weight over 70 pounds; OVG for lunker hunters.
CALIFORNIA: San Diego County SO March 31 and OG for Pine Valley Creek, Doane Lake and San Luis Rey River despite drought, as these waters are well stocked on put-and-take basis. General SO April 28 for rest of state and stocking of one million legal trout now under way.
STRIPED BASS: NEW JERSEY: OF/P for surf fishing from Seaside Park south to Barnegat Inlet as blizzardy weekend slowed fishing all along coast. Deep Hole in Toms River about a mile east of town of Toms River apparently holds a fair concentration of bass and rowboat fishermen report fair catches with worms fished on bottom.
CALIFORNIA: Calming waters and gentle breezes make OF for lower delta and San Joaquin River, where action centered at San Pablo Bay; San Joaquin informer says limits are common, with last week's best fish a 35-pounder and choicest section from Antioch upriver to north tip of Medford Island. FG at Frank's Tract for stripers to 25 pounds.
CHANNEL BASS: FLORIDA: Redfish to 12 pounds are prowling up and down jetty at Venice Inlet and can be caught on white buck-tail by anyone with persistence and a fly rod.
NORTH CAROLINA: At Pamlico Sound, commercial fishermen are taking big channel bass in pound nets; fish should be in surf and hungry for bait by first week in April.
STEELHEAD: WASHINGTON: Skagit River, pistol-hot last week, has cooled off a bit but is still fishing nicely; catches are scattered from Rockport down, with most fish in 10-to 14-pound class. Little fishing on Nooksack River last weekend as Bellingham Sportsman's Club put aside tackle and formed work parties to build trail and post access markers at nine locations along two-and-one-half-mile river-bank property recently made forever accessible to fishermen, thanks largely to efforts of Louis La Freniere, district director of state Sportsmen's Council. Program to obtain perpetual access easements also under way on Skagit and Samish rivers. Humptulips River terrific, with almost everyone getting a steelhead and many 3-fish limits reported. Bobbers, yarn, eggs and spoons all productive, with river drifters having best success. FG and OG for Quilayute, Solduc, Bogashiel and Hoh. New runs reported in Toutle and Cowlitz rivers where FF and OG now; steelhead taken from Cowlitz as far upstream as Cosmos are big, bright and hungry for brass spoons. Puyallup River is in and out, with small runs going upstream every day or so.
IDAHO: Soaring temperatures brought improved fishing to most steelhead waters last week with Weiser River outstanding; best spots are deep holes directly below Galloway Dam. On main Salmon, Box Canyon Hole FVG, Fire Hole FG. Anglers are having best luck drifting down from French Creek to sawmill at Riggins. Primitive Area fishing very good at Flying B Ranch and mouth of Camus Creek; OG, but fishermen are keeping fingers crossed as warm weather will bring snow water and poor fishing. Trev Baugh of Boise tagged a 17-pound 4-ounce steelhead in Box Canyon Hole using spin tackle and 6-pound line.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Late small run of 6-to 7-pounders showed up last week to improve fishing in upper Vancouver Island rivers, but these will be gone by end of month and larger fish already are mostly kelps or spawners. Most streams L, C, general outlook only fair for tag end of season. On mainland, best fishing is in Fraser River at Hope.
CALIFORNIA: Little steelhead action reported from most coastal waters; mouths of Battle, Mill and Deer creeks silty but some steelies taken on roe last week, and FP in general.