Conservation: New Mexico BFN takes charge!

Earl Conway
Earl Conway

Pushing against an immovable object uses up a lot of energy, but it won’t get you anywhere. Complaining about the drought and irrigation or municipal water rights isn’t going to make fishing better, so let’s work where we can make a difference. Please help me make the best desert bass fishing lakes we can achieve.

I wish I had great news, but it is going to be a really tough year for water. To add insult to injury, I hear it is just a matter of time until they start pulling water out of Ute Lake for Clovis and other communities. But rather than sit and mope about it, I have started discussions with the Corp of Engineers and New Mexico Game & Fish about a project to restore vegetation at Conchas in a way that it will survive future water fluctuations when the lake comes back up. The project may not happen this year as I am learning that it takes a lot of time to get a project through all of the red tape. However, the good news is that these agencies are very willing to listen to new ideas and do what they can to help make our lakes as productive as possible. I will need your support and some volunteers when the time comes to get our hands dirty!

Speaking of getting dirty, Russel Whited and I overdid it. We relocated the spawning platform from Tingley Beach to “Lost Lake” (cow pond) east of Roswell, where Whited and Shawn Denny, New Mexico G&F, will watch after it. Whited deserves a huge ‘thank you’ for working a deal to put the platform in a great place to see whether bass will use the suspended spawning beds. The pond may not look that impressive with all of the cows and cow pies, but I think we have a good chance of seeing some serious spawning activity. Did you know that one successful bed may produce 5,000 to 25,000 fry? Of course only a few will make it to adulthood, but if we can get one or two beds per cove to be productive, it will greatly help our fish populations. I’m still hopeful that these experiments will show us how we can make it happen even when the bottom falls out of our lakes.

I saw the New Mexico bass license number 49 on the back of a Subaru! That means we have about $500 in that pot for fish habitat. I am hoping we can use it as “seed money” to write proposals that will bring in federal and sponsor money for new projects. If you haven’t got your license yet, get with it! Casey Harthorn, New Mexico G&F and I met last Sunday to discuss potential projects like Conchas, a draft fisheries management plan and collecting tournament creel data.

I am also working on a new fish habitat that is cheap, easier to deploy than Christmas trees/brushpiles and uses recycled materials. I’m trying it out at Elephant Butte and I’ll let you know at Ute how to build it. There were a few red tape hoops, but the local Corps of Engineers and others are OK with the design.

As far as we know, New Mexico is still free of Zebra and quagga mussels. The good news is that studies are showing that bluegill and some other fish are eating them. The bad news is that they can get into your livewells when the bass regurgitate their stomach contents! One of the boats that went to Grand Lake last year did have some mussels in a livewell after the trip. My guess is that a bass ate a bluegill that had eaten the mussels. Make sure you keep your boat dry and clean. If you go somewhere that has mussels, you must have it inspected before you put it on a New Mexico lake. Along those lines, we are very close to being able to do our own boat inspections at tournaments. We have a few details to work out, but we should be able to put our qualified inspectors to work by May.

If you haven’t checked out the Conservation page at www.nmbfn.com for a while, check it out. The new page is going to cover a lot of new stuff like the cool video on how to fizz bass, artificial fish structures, plans for Conchas and much more.

On the national scene, B.A.S.S. Conservation is getting it back together with Noreen Clough at the helm. She has great experience, connections and leadership skills that are already making a big difference. I am expecting great support from her and B.A.S.S. Stay tuned as she sets a new course.

Take care of those fish and get involved!

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