(Updated July 3, 2017)
Three Ft. Loudoun Lake boaters survive serious accident
Three East Tennessee boaters are lucky to be alive after crashing their boat into a private boat dock on Ft. Loudoun Lake in Blount County. Officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were notified of the accident by the Blount County Sheriff's Department around 3 a.m. on a Sunday in mid-June. At the accident scene, TWRA officers found that the boaters had crashed into an unoccupied private boat dock. The impact appears to have sent their vessel airborne and it came to rest on top of another nearby boat. Two individuals identified as passengers were immediately detained. Both indicated to officers that they were returning from a night of recreation when the accident occurred.
The alleged operator of the boat left the scene and after an hour search was located and questioned by officers. While the boat's speed at the time of impact is undetermined, it was operating outside of the buoys that mark the lake channel. Officers did perform a field sobriety test on the driver and placed him under arrest for alleged intoxication. While all three boaters sustained injuries, none were considered serious. TWRA officers will continue their investigation into this accident and court appearances will be set later this year in Blount County.
First confirmed snakehead fish caught in Mississippi lake
A Northern Snakehead Fish was caught in Lake Whittington, an oxbow lake of the Mississippi River in Bolivar County, by bow fishermen Brad Baugh and Bubba Steadman, of Cleveland in early June. They kept the fish, photographed it, and immediately contacted the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). "Snakeheads have been present in the White River Basin in Arkansas since 2008 and have been steadily expanding their range towards the Mississippi River," says MDWFP Delta fisheries biologist Nathan Aycock. "The Mississippi River provides these fish with access to connected oxbows like Lake Whittington as well as the Yazoo and Big Black Rivers."
Northern Snakeheads are native to China, Russia, and Korea. Established populations have been found in Arkansas, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia where their impacts to native fish populations are unknown. Northern Snakeheads are typically found in shallow, backwater areas and can breathe air, which allows them to survive for extended periods of time out of the water.
Northern Snakeheads appear similar to Mississippi's native Bowfin, also known as grinnel. MDWFP encourages anyone who thinks they catch a snakehead to keep the fish, photograph it, and call our office at 601- 432-2200. It is illegal to transport, offer for sale, or possess live snakeheads in Mississippi.
MDWFP conservation officers place No. 1 at National LawFit Challenge
Conservation Officers from the MDWFP claimed the title of "Fittest in the Nation" as they took the top spot at the 16th annual National LawFit Challenge held in Pearl. Over 135 law enforcement officers from around the country competed in this year's event which tests officers in 6 different events: bench press, 1.5 mile run, sit-ups, flexibility, pull-ups, and a suspect pursuit course.
The 2017 MDWFP LawFit team:
Capt Chris Reed, Lt Marcus Christon, SGM Ron McMillan, Cpl Justin Gates, Pvt Derrick Scott, and Pvt Tamarrius Good. All six MDWFP officers placed in the top 16 overall with Scott, Christon, and Gates finishing first, second, and third respectively.
Catfish stocked into Coahoma County Lake
The MDWFP Fisheries Bureau stocked 300 adult channel catfish into Coahoma County Lake in Clarksdale. Located on the grounds of the Coahoma County Expo Center, this lake is part of MDWFP's Community Fishing Assistance Program and is managed jointly by MDWFP and the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors.
Coahoma County Lake has a five fish per day limit for catfish. A valid fishing license is required to fish the lake for all anglers except those legally exempt from license requirements. The lake is open to fishing daily from sunrise to sunset.
McKinley to lead MDWFP's deer program as coordinator
William McKinley has been named the MDWFP's new Deer Program Coordinator. William started with the MDWFP in 2001 as a District Biologist and moved into the Deer Program in 2003. He has served as the Deer Program Leader and more recently as the Enclosure Program Coordinator.
"Working as a deer biologist for the last 16 years, I am aware of the dynamic nature of Mississippi's deer herd," McKinley said. "New diseases are present in the herd and others threaten. There is an increased awareness of predator populations, such as coyotes, bobcats, and black bears. Wild hogs are proving to be a menace to deer management by threatening the herd through food competition, predation, and the possibility of disease transfer. Hunter expectations are changing and so is Mississippi's deer herd. Research is needed to better understand and confront these changes and challenges. I look forward to working with hunters and policy makers in managing our deer herd into the future."
Big gators not uncommon in Arkansas
In 2017, Arkansas will celebrate its 11th modern-day alligator hunting season. The largest alligator taken to date has been 13 feet, 10 inches, which was taken in the 2015 season.
"We always have some big gators come in during the hunt," said Mark Barbee, regional biologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Monticello regional office. "It seems like each year was trading back and forth between the southwest and the southeast corners of the state for who could break the record."
According to Barbee, 101 permits were available in this year's drawing, which closed on June 30. Private-land-at-large tags will represent 60 of those permits, 21 will be available for public land in Alligator Zone 1 (Southeast Arkansas), and 20 will be available for public land in Zone 3 (Southwest Arkansas). Private-land-at-large tags are available through the regular draw application process, but people who are drawn must provide written landowner permission and a map identifying their hunt area at a mandatory orientation.
Each permit authorizes the harvest of one alligator, which must be at least 4 feet long. Alligator hunting is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise during the approved alligator hunting season dates – Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25.
Successful hunters also will be able to check their alligator online instead of the mobile check stations that were required when the hunts began.
Datto Access on Black River to see increased parking, new name
In mid-June the AGFC held dedication ceremony at the Datto Access on the Black River near Pocahontas. The Commission accepted a donation of one-and-a-half acres bordering the access to increase parking and enable more hunters and anglers to enjoy Dave Donaldson Black River Wildlife Management Area. The donation came from Harold "Blue" Riggan of Paragould.
"The Datto Access is situated in the heart of the WMA and is used heavily during many parts of the year, especially for waterfowl hunting," said Brad Carner, chief of wildlife management for the AGFC. "We have been looking for ways to increase its parking area, but the land directly beside the access was privately owned by a private club.
"When I spoke to Blue, he was aware of all the crowded conditions you can have at the ramp because of its lack of parking," Brown said. "He generously donated an acre and a half of his property from the Squareshooter Land Company to help make it easier for people to access this wonderful place that his son loved so much."
Riggan's son, Kody Riggan, who had spent many years hunting and fishing on the Dave Donaldson Black River WMA, unexpectedly passed away Aug. 1, 2016 at the age of 46.
Commission OKs regulation concerning nonresident waterfowl hunters
Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved changes to Arkansas's Nonresident Waterfowl Wildlife Management Area Permit at its June meeting in Jonesboro. The changes are an attempt to provide additional hunting opportunity to residents during waterfowl season on AGFC-controlled public lands.
With the changes, the annual Nonresident Waterfowl WMA Permit has been eliminated, leaving only the 5-day permit as a purchasing option for nonresidents who wish to hunt a WMA for waterfowl. The five-day permit is specific to a single WMA, which the buyer will choose at the time of purchase. Nonresidents will be allowed to purchase six such permits per waterfowl season, and the price has been increased from $25 to $30.50.
Caney County angler catches state-record sunfish
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports Dominik Penner of Merriam Woods Village became the most recent record-breaking angler in Missouri when he caught a redear sunfish on Table Rock Lake. The new "alternative method" record fish caught by Penner weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces. Penner's recent catch broke the previous state record of 1-pound, 1-ounce, caught earlier this year.
Penner caught the fish on a trotline. A trotline is a heavy fishing line with baited hooks attached at intervals by means of branch lines called snoods. A snood is a short length of line which is attached to the main line using a clip or swivel with the hook at the end.
"This is the sixth state-record fish this year. 2017 is shaping up to be a year for state-record fish," said Andrew Branson, MDC Fisheries Programs Specialist. "The mild weather we have had this year means more anglers are fishing, and catching big fish."