Weekly Outdoors Report
By BOB HOOD
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Ducks, ducks, ducks
Duck populations on the western U.S. and Canadian breeding grounds have increased 14 percent since last year, with approximately 36.16 million mature ducks on the prairies, according to a preliminary report of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the year.
The increase is in the 10 most common species: mallard, gadwall, American widgeon, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, northern pintail, redhead, canvasback and scaup.
Fair to good precipitation in most areas last summer and fall are credited with creating better conditions at freeze-up times for many ponds.
Although mallards showed a smaller than expected 8 percent increase, with an overall population estimated at about 7.28 million, the mallard populations are at healthy levels, only about 3 percent below the long-term average, officials reported.
Wildlife officials are particularly encouraged by the rise in pintail numbers, which are up about 32 percent from last year. Although pintail numbers, about 3.39 million, are about 18 percent below the long-term average, this year's increase will help considerably, especially in the birds' core breeding areas in Saskatchewan.
A rundown of the other eight species:
Gadwall, up 30 percent to 2.83 million, 67 percent above the long-term average
Widgeon, down 17 percent to 2.17 million, 17 percent below
Green-winged teal, up 20 percent to 2.59 million, 39 percent above
Blue-winged teal, up 28 percent to 5.86 million, 30 percent above
Shoveler, up 2 percent to 3.68 million, 69 percent above
Redhead, up 55 percent to 916,000, 47 percent above
Canvasback, up 33 percent to 691,000, 23 percent above
Scaup, down 4.2 percent to 3.25 million, 37 percent below.
The report is available at www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/reports/reports.html.
Professional bass fisherman Bill Dance of Memphis, Tenn., is among five anglers scheduled to be inducted into the International Game Fish Association's Fishing Hall of Fame this fall.
Dance is credited with catching the first bass in Ray Scott's 1967 All-American Bass Tournament, the forerunner to today's Bassmaster Tournament Trail. Dance also became the first full-time bass pro competing in the tournaments. He went on to win eight BASS tournaments from 1968 to 1970 and has won three BASS Angler of the Year titles. His TV show, Bill Dance Outdoors, has been on the air since 1968.
The rest of the 2006 class:
John Anderson II, who has caught just about every species of fish all over the world, including black marlin over 1,000 pounds, and has been an IGFA trustee since 1976.
Charles Alma Baker, a businessman and pioneer big-game angler in New Zealand, who persuaded author Zane Grey to visit the country in 1926.
Hidenori Onishi, one of the founders of the Japan Game Fish Association in 1979 who served as its chairman until his death in 1998.
Milton Shedd, co-founder of Sea World who was a leading oceanographer, lifetime conservationist and one of the first anglers to participate in tagging studies, and who pioneered live-bait casting for marlin.
Falcon Lake results
Anglers in the Falcon Lake Hall of Fame Big Bass Tournament on July 1-2 caught 13 bass weighing more than 7 pounds including the winning bass, a 12.22-pounder caught on the first day by Israel Garcia.
Tom Haralson was second with a 10.23-pounder and fourth with an 8.94-pounder. Mike Bowers was third with a 9.68-pounder.
Speedy Collett, Sandy Leyendecker and Jessica Walker won the Pro-Guide Division, in which fishing guides and professional anglers could compete as teams with guests in their boats for the heaviest two-day stringer. They hauled in 47.25 pounds.
Louisiana club reopens
Hackberry Rod and Gun Club, on Louisiana's southeast coast and hit hard by Hurricane Rita, reopened full-scale operations last weekend.
The club boasts being the Speckled Trout Capital of the World but lost its housing and dining facilities to Hurricane Rita. More than 50 employees from North Houston Pole Line helped Hackberry employees celebrate the opening of the recently completed lodge last weekend by going fishing.
"They caught over 800 fish for the two-day period," Captain Buddy Oakes said. "Fish in the 6- and 7-pound size range have been the order of the day for the past week."
For more information on the club, call 888-762-3391.
Kayaking for redfish
Fly fishing expert Lefty Ray Chapa has scheduled two weekend seminars next month in Port Aransas on stalking redfish on the flats from a kayak.
The two-day seminars cover kayak tactics, techniques and strategies, using conventional gear Aug. 12-13 and fly fishing gear Aug. 19-20.
Each seminar costs $150 per person; advance registration is required at www.kayak4redfish.com or 210-260-6154.
The Colorado Convention Center at Denver will host the ninth annual Fly Fishing Retailer Convention on Aug. 24-26 in Denver. For more information, call Scott Kaier at 802-583-6070 starting next week or send e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second stop of the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series Gulf Coast Division tournaments is July 22 at Teakwood Marina in Galveston with anglers vying for a total purse of $100,000. The final regular-season Gulf Coast Division tournament is Sept. 9 at Port Aransas.
Bob Hood, 817-390-7760