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Bass and Game Fish Conservation Proposal
By Larry Bird


Tuesday, December 21, 1999, Toledo Bend Lake, TX/LA.

As some of you reading this know there have been some problems in recent years on Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Sam Rayburn. These problems are extremely evident when you start looking at the weigh-in results from major and local tournaments as well as the number of fish weighed into the lunker programs for these respective lakes. I am contacting you today to invite you to get involved in what we know will make the largest single impact on these fisheries since they were originally built years ago.

This is not simply another restocking program, but instead a long-term, 100% Non-Profit Conservation Program of the game fish of these reservoirs. One hundred percent of all money received by this association will be used in this program. The targeted fish of this association will be the Largemouth Bass. In addition the association will promote the conservation of the other fish in these reservoirs such as Crappie, Bream and Catfish.

Below are some of these suggestions from biologists and other knowledgeable parties that have been contacted during the preliminary stages of this program:

Education of the fishermen, businesses and general public of what is being done to improve these fisheries. Examples of points of concern in this education will be:

· Educating anglers, businesses, and tournament officials to the damage done by irresponsible handling of largemouth bass during tournament and recreational fishing. There is an abundance of literature available out there explaining the proper handling techniques of bass especially during the summer.

· There would be a recommended non-tournament season (July and August) due to hot water temps. The alternative to this would be adherence to proper handling procedures that included aids such as ice, proper recirculation systems, and periodic water exchange. Following publicized handling guidelines could prevent this non-tournament season from being necessary.

· The use of state-of -the-art livewell systems would also aid in the care and handling of fish. Tournament organizers could require these to participate in their tournaments.

· This will be an ongoing effort through the media, seminars, businesses, clubs, major tournament associations and governmental agencies support.

· Tournament organizers and businesses providing anglers with creel survey sheets that would be returned at the end of each day of fishing. These would be returned to Texas Parks and Wildlife and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists, so they can collect much needed information in the conservation efforts. This data is one of the best tools biologist has in recruiting information. Information received from this program would supplement data from state agency shocking surveys.

· Tournament organizers would inform fisheries biologists of the events scheduled. The biologists would provide survey data sheets and try to have a representative there to collect information needed in on going research. NOTE: The Texas and Louisiana state agencies are not against tournament fishing.

· A voluntary slot limit for largemouth bass by association members and tournament fishermen during non-tournament hours and would follow the agreed upon guideline suggestions of the Louisiana/Texas Fisheries Biologists.

· Programs for the stocking of Florida largemouth bass to alter the genetic component (i.e., increase trophy bass potential), not necessarily increase numbers of bass. Mother Nature typically takes care of bass recruitment and survival in large reservoirs like Toledo Bend.

· We will be asking for donations from businesses and the general public that will be ear marked to go directly to work in this program.

· There will be an opportunity for each person to belong to this association and become a part of the on going task involved in making a difference in the quality of fishing in the before mentioned lakes. Members of the association will agree to follow the guidelines set forth by the association while fishing the lakes. These will include guidelines such as:

· 16-21" slot limit on bass during non-tournament fishing (to prevent confusion, you might remind anglers that they will still have to comply with the establilshed 14" minimum)
· Five Bass daily limits
· Ten Bass possession limits
· One fish over 21", one per day
· 10" length limit on Crappie (also remember that during Dec-Feb there is no minimum length limit at Toledo Bend-TX and anglers must harvest all crappie caught)
· Twenty-five Crappie daily limits
· Fifty Crappie possession limits
· Practicing catch and release during all tournament operations
· Opening of tournament scales at twelve noon during all daytime tournaments to allow for the weighing of large fish
· Opening of tournament scales after the first six hours of all night tournaments and every two hours there after to allow for the weighing of large fish.

With the assistance of business donations we will be running an ongoing tournament on each reservoir. In these tournament there will be prizes to be won for:

· Largest Bass, Crappie and Bream of the year
· Largest Bass, Crappie and Bream of the month
· The catching of a fish tagged that year by the association

But in order to qualify for any of these prizes it will be necessary to:

· Be a member of the association
· Follow the guidelines of the association for the at all times
· Join the Conservation tournament for that year

***Another thing that may be of interest once this program gets rolling at Rayburn is to incorporate a fiberglass replica program similar to SRA-LA program at Toledo***

These are just added incentives for people to join the association and become a part of one of those great opportunities of a lifetime. Yes, these are all voluntary guidelines, although as your support of this program grows so will the support of legislative governing bodies. If we are willing to do this on a voluntary basis; it will make the job of lawmakers much easier to adopt these guidelines and make them law.

It will be the responsibility of the sponsors and members of this association to constantly stay updated on the needs of these tributaries. Education and accurate information will serve as one of the greatest tools of this program. You will continue to hear the supporters of this program talk about educating the public and businesses. Only with education and peoples understanding by that education will this program survive.

The initial advertising and promotion cost of this program will be great. This is regretful but in order to inform businesses and the public about this program it is a necessary evil. As the program grows advertising cost will go down because people will be looking for the association, instead of the association looking for people.

Please join us and help make these reservoirs what they should and can be. Let's join together and leave something for our children and our children's children to carry on and remember us by. This can only be done with your continued support through Donations, Membership fees, and ongoing Education.

My motto is, "I have never seen a child or teenager with a rod in one hand and a needle or joint in the other.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,

Larry D. Byrd
776 Arrowhead Dr.
Lake Charles, LA 70611
(w) 318-882-7014
(h) 318-855-1584
Fax 318-882-7248

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