LACEY, Wash. — Mark Byrne said he can prove that working to preserve local fisheries is effective: Just look at his fish!
Byrne, conservation director for the Washington B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, caught this 8-pound, 12-ounce largemouth in August on Hicks Lake, a fishery he has worked to make productive for an entire decade.
“Hicks Lake was my first conservation project as the new Washington B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Conservation Director back in 2002,” explained Byrne. “I had been fishing this lake and talking to some lakefront homeowners. Their chief complaint was all the grass in their lake and how it was so hard for kids to swim and fish.
“The next week, I called the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and asked about what was regularly done about these issues. I really didn't like what I was hearing. Chemicals were their only option. Most of the lawns were of the golf-course quality up to the water’s edge.
“I did some research and found that there was a lot of research proving that overfertilizing lawns was a major cause in lakes that hold too much grass or plant cover,” Byrne continued. “I called Scotts, the lawn care company, to ask about how close a homeowner needs to apply fertilizer to the water’s edge to sharply reduce the amount of seepage into the lake water.
“With the help of the Hicks Lake Association, we got this information and the costs of the alternatives to the lakefront homeowners. I also spent two hours, three Saturdays a month, doing free boat inspections and talking to boat owners about plant transference via boat trailers from one body of water to another. I did this until the lake closed for the winter in early October 2002.
“It has been a slow process, but there has been a significant improvement in both water quality, and the grass has really been eradicated from the areas of the lake that are sand and gravel bottom. Swimming areas and spawning areas are now in much better shape.
“And as you can see the fishing is excellent.”