|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-07-15                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
July 15, 2009
'Take Me Fishing 101' Videos Help New Anglers Gear Up
AUSTIN, Texas -- You walk into a sporting goods store and see a row of fishing poles hanging from a shelf. All of them look the same, and you become so overwhelmed that you leave in frustration. You've always wanted to pick up the sport but don't really know where to even begin.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's "Take Me Fishing 101" 11-part video series will help get you from the sporting goods store to the water to landing your first big catch in no time. The series provides beginning anglers will all the necessary information to start fishing.
As TPWD Aquatic Education Coordinator Ann Miller notes at the beginning of segment 3, "The fishing department at a sporting goods store can be a little overwhelming."
And, asking questions of even the friendliest of shop clerks can be a little intimidating for those new to the sport. However, through the course of three short segments, 'Basic Gear Assembly,' 'Tackle Box and Supplies,' and 'Bait and Lures,' Miller and TPW Outdoor Education Program staffer Steve Campbell guide new fishermen through the maze of available tackle, equipment and bait.
Starting with 'Basic Gear Assembly' in segment 3, Miller walks beginners through assembling a multi-piece rod, threading line through eyelets, tying a Palomar knot and attaching a bobber and sinker. She also explains the purpose and function of each piece of gear.
Segment 4, 'Tackle Box and Supplies,' provides anglers with an extensive, yet necessary list of tackle and equipment. Miller covers the presence of obvious items such as hooks and lures in a tackle box but also details other often overlooked necessities such as pliers, clippers, first aid kit and TPWD's Outdoor Annual. Other items, like bug spray, sun protection and hand sanitizer are shown being packed into a small bag, giving new fishermen a practical means to carry all the gear needed to have an enjoyable and productive day on the water.
Campbell takes the lead in segment 5, 'Bait and Lures,' and navigates new anglers through the dizzying array of lures and baits available in tackle shops. He lists a number of natural baits such as worms, minnows and crawfish, as well as some unconventional, yet effective baits such as corn and hot dogs. He also offers advice for how to keep bait fresh and how to get whatever bait you may use on a hook.
All of this information will come in handy for TPWD's year-round "Free Fishing in State Parks" program. TPWD has waived the normal fishing license and stamp requirements for anyone fishing inside the property boundary of a state park. Access banks, piers, rivers or creeks by land or from a boat for only the cost of the park entrance fee. Some parks will even provide free loaner equipment and bait.
TPWD's "Take Me Fishing 101" video series was made possible by federal Sportfish Restoration Act funds and a donation from Toyota and the Texas Bass Classic Foundation. The entire series is available online at the TPWD Web site and on TPWD's official YouTube channel.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
July 15, 2009
Texas Moves to Protect Trophy Alligator Gar Fishery
ATHENS, Texas -- The 82-inch, 140-pound alligator gar I pulled from the Trinity River in April 2008 will likely remain my fish of a lifetime.
Many other anglers can probably say the same-or would love to be able to.
That's the goal of the new one-fish-per-day limit imposed on alligator gar harvest that goes into effect September 1, 2009.
Under the new regulation, only one alligator gar of any size per day may be taken by anglers or bow-fishers. Anglers may keep only one, and bow-fishers may shoot only one fish per day.
Proper management of the fishery is the key to providing the opportunity to land a trophy alligator gar for present and future generations of anglers. "A management strategy that ensures sustainability while allowing all types of anglers to continue to utilize the fishery is the goal," said Dave Buckmeier, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologist now studying alligator gar populations.
Buckmeier is leading several studies designed to provide information about key population characteristics, including population size, growth, recruitment and habitat needs.
Until those scientific studies are completed and management regulations crafted to fit each population, TPWD has opted to take a statewide approach to regulating alligator gar harvest-an approach being used in other states, Buckmeier said. "Texas is fortunate to have the best remaining trophy alligator gar fishery in the world, and we want to make sure it is available to future generations."
While some people choose to fish for gar with rod and reel, as I did, many others prefer to bow-fish. Steve Barclay and Sam Lovell specialize in guiding bow-fishing trips for alligator gar on the Trinity River. "[The new regulation] is fine from our standpoint," Barclay said. "We have always limited our clients to one fish a day. When rod and reel fishing you can catch and release, but when bow-fishing, if a client takes a fish, that's it for the day. Nobody has a stronger interest in healthy gar populations in numbers and size than we do, because it's our livelihood."
Kirk Kirkland guides rod-and-reel anglers for alligator gar on the Trinity, and he has been assisting TPWD with data collection since 2007. "Kirkland has been doing a mark and recapture study from US 287 above Palestine down to Lake Livingston," Buckmeier said. "Last year he tagged and noted recaptures from more than 350 alligator gar."
What information is known about alligator gar suggests that protecting the large fish that anglers tend to target is a vital component of a successful management strategy. "Alligator gar mature between 10 to 14 years of age and are thought to spawn in flooded backwater areas," Buckmeier said. "Because spawning is linked to seasonal flooding, successful spawns may be infrequent." And because gar spawn in shallow water, they are vulnerable to overharvest during this crucial time in their life cycle.
In addition, human activities have significantly altered alligator gar habitat over the last century. Reservoir-building and the loss of wetlands have reduced the amount of spawning habitat available. Increased water demands by our growing population will further reduce spring-time flooding of riverine backwaters needed for spawning. Such conditions will reduce the frequency of successful spawns and increase the need to limit harvest to sustainable levels.
In the case of the Trinity River, a number of successful spawns in recent years is good news for the fishery. "Those fish will support the fishery 25 to 35 years from now if they survive," Buckmeier points out.
His comment illustrates another key fact about the alligator gar fishery: managing it is a long-term process.
"With the aid of anglers, TPWD is working to get additional data that will improve our ability to manage alligator gar at a waterbody or population level," Buckmeier said.
"We are providing TPWD with otoliths [ear bones] from fish our clients harvest along with data on fish harvest that will help TPWD develop better aging techniques," Barclay said. "Without a doubt, we can have a positive impact on gar populations through proper management. We support science-based management on a waterbody-by-waterbody basis."
It's the job of biologists like Buckmeier to provide that science, but in the meantime, TPWD wants to be sure there will be alligator gar to manage once the research is done. "In Texas, increased fishing pressure for alligator gar and future degradation of habitats potentially threaten existing alligator gar populations," Buckmeier said. "The declines in other states and vulnerability to overfishing indicate a conservative approach is warranted until populations and potential threats can be fully assessed."
Anglers play the key role in conserving the species they fish for. In 2009 TPWD biologists began collecting otoliths and tissue samples from alligator gar around the state with the help of local anglers. "It is vital for anglers and biologists to collaborate in order to better understand the species and this important fishery," said TPWD biologist Dan Bennett. "This will improve resource managers' ability to find the best solutions to ensure current and future generations have the opportunity to catch a trophy alligator gar."
Anglers, taxidermy studios or bow-fishing tournaments wishing to provide samples to TPWD should contact Bennett at (903) 439-8331 or dan.bennett@tpwd.texas.gov.