The following article was originally published by The Colorado Springs Gazette, written by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.
“America unequivocally loves its national parks and public lands. For decades, each president and members of Congress talked about how much they care about these lands, but have not been willing to do much more than talk. Their failure to act resulted in neglect and wear and tear on our national park roads, water systems, lodging and facilities.
Billions of dollars are needed to restore our national parks as more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails and 24,000 buildings need upgrades and improvements. In Colorado alone, $238 million is needed to tackle deferred maintenance. Just as they failed to fund our national parks, in the over half century since making a commitment to fund conservation projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1964, Congress has seldom provided full funding.
In March, President Trump called on Congress to stop kicking the can down the road, fix the aging infrastructure at our national parks and permanently fund conservation projects through the LWCF. Colorado’s own Sen. Cory Gardner introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in Congress. The House of Representatives passed this Senate bill without a single amendment. When President Trump signs this legislation into law, it will be the most significant conservation law in decades.
The law will use royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to repair critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and American Indian schools. It will also permanently fund the LWCF to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country. In a time when political divides have seemingly widened, conservation and outdoor recreation have brought both parties together in support of the more than 486 million visitors the Department of the Interior welcomes to our public lands each year. The importance of finding solace in the outdoors and having ample space to recreate and social distance has never been more critical to the mental health and well-being of our country. There is also no better place to do so than at any of our 419 national parks, 568 wildlife refuges, and numerous other public sites across the 500 million acres of public lands we are entrusted to manage.
As we work to strategically invest in what we have, we must also expand outdoor recreation opportunities for the American people. Permanently funding the LWCF will enable us to leverage public and private dollars to help state and local governments create and improve parks, trails and other recreation areas in their communities for public enjoyment and outdoor recreation. This will allow us to find additional, practical ways to systematically improve access to our public lands and expand recreation opportunities.The LWCF also has great potential to support the federal government and other partners’ efforts to improve habitat quality for wildlife – specifically, winter range and migration corridors for Western big-game species that migrate across thousands of miles of federal, state, tribal and private lands during their annual journeys. The Department has funded numerous priority research projects chosen by recipient state wildlife agencies to help identify priority corridors or winter range areas, or to identify movement corridors that either cross or are impeded by highways.
Funding to address habitat conservation actions within state-identified priority areas will help ensure robust herds of big-game species exist for all Americans to enjoy. In fact, Colorado has specifically acknowledged that conservation easements are needed to protect habitat within five priority migration corridors or winter range areas. Permanent funding provided through the LWCF will provide much needed resources to enter into voluntary transactions in these priority areas.
The most significant legislative accomplishment for conservation stewardship in generations is now on the brink of becoming law. Without the leadership of President Trump, Sen. Gardner and a few other legislators, the effort would have never happened.”
• Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club: Due to continued challenges from the current pandemic, making it impossible for large gatherings, the club’s board of directors has been forced to cancel plans for the club’s annual fundraiser, the Mike Mitchell Dove Hunter’s Barbecue in September. Plans will continue for the Sept. 5 Clint Curry Memorial Youth Dove Hunt as well as the Jim Breck Memorial Dove Derby with modifications from previous years – masks and distancing required during raffle drawings, and lunches will be dropped from the youth dove hunt. If this situation changes, I’ll let you know as early as possible before any event, or you can contact president Pat Headington at 928-257-8143 or vice president Billy Morgan at 928-210-2478.
The club’s online raffles of some great stuff of interest to all outdoors enthusiasts will continue each month including, for starters, a barbecue donated by Larry Pikula, a product package from Truck Mates, a Browning Cynergy Over & Under Shotgun and more. The best way to keep up with all the raffles is to check out the YVRGC.org website for latest updates and how to purchase tickets. You could be a winner!
• Winners of the 15th annual Arizona Big Game super raffle at Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix have been announced. Prizes included a total of 10 special big game tags, one for each of the state’s big game species. The permit tags were awarded by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Raffle tickets ranged from $5 to $25, depending on the species. During the 15-year history of the raffle, more than $8.4 million has been raised for wildlife and wildlife management in Arizona. This year’s event generated $864,415, crushing the previous record of $692,500 set in 2018. The raffle is conducted by a nonprofit entity to raise money for wildlife conservation efforts. A volunteer board of directors, comprised of representatives from sponsoring organizations, oversees the operation of the raffle. Every dollar raised for each species through the raffle is returned to the department and managed by the Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee (AHPC) for that particular species. With input from local habitat partners across the state and sponsoring organizations involved in the fundraising, project priorities are determined that will provide the most benefit to each species. For more information, visit arizonabiggamesuperraffle.com.
2020 hunt winners – Bighorn sheep: Joshua Ankert, Mesa, Ariz.; black bear: Nathan Rodriguez, Haughton, La.; bison: Timothy Anderson, Tucson; elk: Paul Herrick, Green Valley, Ariz.; javelina: Gerald Ramaklus, Phoenix; mountain lion: Matt Parmeter, Las Cruces, N.M.; mule deer: Terry Schupp, Tempe, Ariz.; pronghorn: Bradley Hoffman, Lake Elsinore, Calif.; turkey: Richard Messinger, Yuma; white-tailed deer: Darren Choate, Mesa, Ariz; New Mexico elk hunt – Alan Burch, Shreveport, La.; Alaska dream hunt – Daniel Potter, Buena Vista, Colo.; Swarovski optics package – Steve Lewellen, Queen Creek, Ariz.
There are no updates at this time for current fishing tournaments but check with Desert Anglers bass club, contact Michael Obney at 928-750-7081 or visit email@example.com; American Bass – Yuma region with Bill Clothier at 928-919-0304; or YVRGC with Travis Hurley at 803-463-3655.
You might also stop by and check with The Hideaway (where Mitch’s Bait Shop used to be) on East 16th Street as you leave Yuma – also a good time to ask fishing questions you might have. Some of the fishing clubs have their sign-up sheets at the store as well. Once the COVID-19 is gone, we’ll all be glad to hit the water again with fishing pole and be so very glad it’s over and done with, although we can still fish as long as distance for safety and masks are put to work and give others space so they can enjoy it as well.
• Yuma High School Bass Fishing Club: Even with school not being in session until fall, if you’re a high school student interested in getting together with these other youngsters who are already members of this club for the great learning on how best to fish for bass, call Terry Hurt, school sponsor, at 928-580-6567 or David Parrish at 928-941-6168. Now that virus problem restrictions are partially lifted in Arizona, you might even be able to get together with them during summer months if they go fishing at all to get an early start for school to be in session again this fall.
• The Hideaway bait and tackle tournaments: The latest tournament at the Hideaway was held June 15-July 15 tournament for “Biggest Bass.” The winner Bryce Jackson with his 9 pound, 11 ounce largemouth. Congrats to Bryce for your fine fishing! The “Big Fish Takes All” just began. Call the shop at 928-783-0010 to see if you can still sign up for this one even though it’s already started. If that doesn’t work, call Robby Ballew at 928-919-2453 with questions – you might also ask him about the Bordertown Bait Shop while you have him on the phone.
Fishing Tips for Today
The latest news from Dan Eggerton, who enjoys sharing his fishing knowledge includes another batch of tips about one of the most sought-after by cat anglers, the channel catfish for its incredible fighting power, even in a smaller fish, and also for its delectable eating qualities. There’s the fact that a decent-sized channel cat can easily be in the mid-20 pound range, with specimens having been taken at nearly 60 pounds – no small catch, indeed. However, taking a fish like this requires proper tackle, bait and technique, and above all, the right spot to find the fish you want. Channel cats, as with virtually all catfish, prefer deeper water, but channel cats also like it clean, clear and with a decent current running through. The ideal spots for channel cats are in places such as the deep holes carved out under a dam outfall, before the shallow “white water” that usually ensues, or in a deep, fast channel in between two lakes, hence the fish’s name.
Bottom conditions that are mostly rock or rocky, and without too many weeds, are other features to look for in selecting the ideal channel cat spot. Above all, find deep water, preferably a hole, where the constant darkness gives the cats the edge on everything else that swims or floats there. Due to their exceptional, almost shark-like sense of smell, and their set of eight barbels, or “whiskers” around their mouths, which are not only tactile sensors, but highly developed taste organs as well, enabling the fish to navigate, plus detect, locate, quantify and qualify food items easily, in near total darkness. As with all catfish, channel cats have weak eyesight, but their aforementioned superpowers of smell and sightless sensation more than make up for this. Because of this particular development, channel cats, and cats in general, are most easily attracted to baits that exhibit an exceptional level of odor, whether or not it’s a bad odor.
Once you’ve found a spot that you think, or know, can produce a good-sized channel cat, you’ll want to prepare the fish, the spot and your tackle for your coming fishing expedition. Preparing the fish, and the spot, means chumming the water with a suitably prepared concoction, preferably a few times in advance of the first time you put a line in the water, and at least once, and possibly several times, during your fishing time. Chumming is one way to gradually condition the fish to accept a particular bait, by presenting them with its smell, again and again, until they are willing to take a large piece of that food, when they find it as bait on the end of your line.
There are dozens of recipes for chum, but most all of them are based on a a moist base of stale bread crust, with a bran, oatmeal or flour stiffening agent mixed into it, plus some small pieces of the same bait that you will be using when you fish the spot, and then, some kind of extra-scented additive, such as fish fertilizer or fish paste, cod liver oil, anise seed oil, or anything else you can find that will stink out the neighborhood.
Chum your intended fishing site for a day or two before you actually go fishing, to get the fish’s appetites running on high. If you can’t do that, at least chum just before and during your outing by tossing the mixture out into the fishing spot. Form balls out of the chum and throw them, or use a scoop or a large spoon. Putting small stones into the center of the chum balls will make them sink faster, which may improve your accuracy in areas with a high current. Sink your chum over the spot where your bait will be by throwing the chum upstream of your fishing spot, so that it washes back downstream over your spot with the current. While you’re fishing, replenish the chum every half an hour or so after the initial chumming, or more often in high current.
On fishing day, or better, night – far and away the best time to catch channel cats – bring a strong rod with either a star-drag reel, or a heavy spinning rig, loaded with 20-pound test or better, and prepare to fight. While this weight of gear may be overkill for the smaller cats, a big channel cat can pull like a tugboat and will break a lighter rig, as soon as the angler pulls back too hard.
To rig up for battle, given the channel cat’s preference for fast current plus their strong tendency to drop a bait, if the resistance is high when they grab it, the recommended system is a slip-weight, or sliding ledger rig. To make one, you’ll need to find a “bomb” shaped, conical sinker, with a metal loop at the top of the body. You will also need an inline swivel, which you should check to make sure that it is of a large enough size, that it can’t slip into or through the loop on the top of the sinker you want to use. Holding the sinker, feed your main fishing line through the loop at the top of it, and then tie the swivel onto the free end of your line, clipping off any excess, after the knot is pulled tight. Preferred knots for this application are the Improved Clinch Knot, or the Palomar Knot. Finally, tie an additional piece of fishing line, maybe 18 to 24 inches long, to the other end of the swivel, and then, to your chosen hook.
Using a very slightly lighter weight of line for this short leader piece may save you some gear if your line does break or snag, because it will likely break in this section, below the weight and sinker. Use a hook big and strong enough to hold both the bait and the biggest fish you might catch ... and don’t be shy. A size 6 baitholder is a minimum. Too small, or weak, hooks will lose you catfish. Bait up, using the bait that you put small pieces of in your chum. Anything smelly, naturally sourced and dead seems to work best, though live baits have yielded some big fish, too. A caveat, if you use a “sloppy” bait: My experience is that a smaller bait holds on better, not tearing itself apart during the cast, as the bait will tend to rotate around the weight in a slip-weight rig, when it is cast. Regardless of size, make sure your bait is firmly hooked onto your rig, before you cast. Hook your bait so that the body of the hook is buried, but so the point of the hook is exposed.
Drop your baited rig down into your chosen hole, and set it up so that when the rig is set, the line is tight to the weight. (with the slip weight, the bait is free to float about at the end, held in place but not held down by the sinker, and any pull on it pulls directly at the rod tip, and not the sinker, which just “slips” on the line). When you get a strike, it will often be a very hard, fast strike ... don’t panic. Instead, pick up your rod (or hold onto it) and, instead of pulling back right away, as you might with most fish, point the rod directly at the fish, at arm’s length, and let the fish take the slack up and then, pull back. Pulling too hard, too soon, will make the cat spit your bait out, before you can set the hook, most of the time. So when the line comes tight, after you let the fish swim with the bait, set the hook. Circle hook users should pull slowly and smoothly, but most of the rest of us can just “jerk” the hook set, as the line tightens up and the fight is on. A big channel cat will fight virtually forever, so it’s up to you to land it and claim victory, which will require strength, cunning, endurance, wisdom ... and a big net.
• Yuma 4-H Shooting Sports: Stanley Gourley reports two new schedules for shooting sports will hopefully begin soon. The first is for the last shoot of the 2019-20 training year, as the club did not get the opportunity to have its last day of competition and awards. And, that can only happen if state and UofA restrictions are lifted, TBD. Gourley’s new contact phone number is 928-388-8995. I have the schedule that appeared in my latest two columns in case you would like a copy, or call Gourley if you have questions. I’ll include the full schedule again just prior to September. In the meantime, if you’re interested in the shooting sports with 4-H, contact the Yuma 4-H office to learn about a club you might join to be eligible for the shooting sports season coming up.
• Yuma Trap and Skeet Club: Summer shooting matches have resumed with new hours from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays with the following conditions until such time as it becomes necessary to close again due to virus concerns. Members use the range at their own risk. if you are sick or don’t feel well, stay home. Protect yourself and others. Recommend members have their own supply of hand sanitizing wipes/spray or lotion. Wearing of face masks is encouraged but not required. Maintain a minimum of 6 feet from others. Disinfectant voice release equipment after each use. Limit five persons per range. Clubhouse and classroom are closed, bathrooms are open during club hours. When paying, use small bills or check. Sodas, Gatorade and water only are available. Should the number of COVID-19 victims in our community significantly increase in the coming weeks, it may be necessary to close the facility again. Check this column for necessary changes or call Bob Avila at 928-919-0304.
• The Yuma Young Guns shooting the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) are not shooting now until further notice. Call head coach H. McNutt at 928-580-0918 or John Gross at 928-580-1836 for answers to questions.
• Yuma Territorial Longrifles Club: Call Roger Bickel at 928-726-7453 with questions about shooting at the black powder range at Adair Park.
• Cholla Gun Club: Scheduled matches are done until fall, but the range is open daylight to dusk for shooting practice for those interested. Call president Rick Kelley at 928-502-0736 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
• High Power Rifle and Pistol Club of Yuma: Call Joseph Murek at 928-627-4556 with questions, or check the club website at hprifleyuma.com.
• Yuma Matchmasters: Call Irene Snyder at 920-613-4598 to learn what their plans are.
• Southwest Bowhunters Archery Club: Get in on archery shoots from 7 to 10 a.m. each Sunday (summer hours) with monthly meetings at 9 a.m. the first Sunday of each month at the Adair Park archery range. Archers are welcome to attend to learn what shooting will be done during the month. If you haven’t done so already, here’s a reminder to renew your 2020 membership dues and bring a friend or young one. Call president Rick Bielke at 928-750-6279 to learn about possible changes to current shooting plans or email the club for more information at email@example.com, also visit southwestbowhunters.net.
Contact Jean Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-247-4450.