Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska
The Senators from Oregon, Richard Neuberger and Wayne Morse, recently introduced a bill to honor the late conservationist, writer and editor Bernard DeVoto (OUTDOOR WEEK, March 12), by giving his name to what is now Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. The bill was a sincere tribute to a dedicated conservationist (and incidentally a Democrat) but immediate and strenuous reaction of Idaho Senators Dworshak and Welker, both of whom possess a built-in antipathy to Democrats dead or alive, was hardly unexpected.
Remarked Henry Dworshak: "Asinine." Remarked Herman Welker somewhat more volubly: "The antics of the two Senators from my neighboring state of Oregon never cease to amaze me. Particularly I am amused by the outstanding contributions of the junior Senator from that state, Neuberger...Having a few moments free from his staunch defense of White House squirrels, he now has the audacity to try to change the name of one of our historical landmarks in Idaho. I think," continued Welker, "that Senators Neuberger and Morse will find that they have bitten off a little more than they can chew when they attempt to tell the people of Idaho what to do with forests...in the state."
Retorted Neuberger: "I chose the Clearwater National Forest to bear Mr. DeVoto's name because it is associated in our history with the Lewis and Clark expedition which he describes in many of his notable books. I hope Senator Welker now does not try to erase Captain Meriwether Lewis' name from that part of Idaho because the immortal Captain Lewis was a Democrat from the distant state of Virginia."
THE GAME-SAVING 4004TH
The Armed Services, which often panic conservationists by repeated attempts to pre-empt large chunks of wildlife refuges in the name of national defense and by adopting at times a rather cavalier attitude toward game and game laws within the boundaries of military reservations, have recently given good cause for considered rejoicing. An outstanding example is the 4004th Air Base Squadron of the Strategic Air Command at Matagorda Island, Texas. The 4004th has just been presented with the Frank M. Wood Wildlife Conservation Award, donated by Wood himself, a conservation-minded oil man, and will receive the District Conservation Award for transforming Matagorda Island from a rather barren proposition into an area which supports a variety of game. Proposed by Brigadier General C. T. Edwinson, approved by SAC Commander in Chief Curtis LeMay, and led by Matagorda Island base commander Major Richard E. Freeman, the conservation project was started by men and officers of the 4004th in February of 1955.
With advice from state and federal wildlife experts, 300 volunteers frequently sacrificed their free time to conservation. So far they have created 34 new fresh-water areas for wildfowl use, fenced and seeded 220 acres of land to provide game food and habitat, planted 250 quail cover patches, built 35 wild-turkey roosts and increased deer browse potential. The result of little more than a year's effort shows game populations on the 35-by-2-mile island to be up significantly. Wild turkey have jumped from a few pairs to more than 40, and what was once a handful of deer has expanded to the point where 4004th sportsmen could safely harvest 200 during the past season. And those deer, like all game on Matagorda Island, were taken in full compliance, with state and federal game laws. Conservation, Major Freeman and the 4004th have convincingly demonstrated, pays handsome wildlife dividends.
Indian tribes from all corners of the Pacific Northwest gathered at The Dalles, Oregon last week to play the final act in an age-old and much publicized drama. Perched on flimsy stands over Celilo Falls, the Indians dip-netted salmon bound up the Columbia River to spawning beds in far-off Idaho—but for the last time. Before very long, famed Celilo Falls will be submerged in backed-up water from the new Dalles Dam.
When New York City recently announced that it would strip a half acre of Central Park to increase parking facilities for a tavern therein, it ran into vociferous opposition from a bevy of mothers, tree lovers and assorted conservationists. Bulldozers, nevertheless, have a weight advantage over flesh and blood, and while a tearful crowd looked on, four trees went down. The protestants retreated to court requesting a temporary injunction. Last week they got it, and in rendering his decision, State Supreme Court Justice Samuel H. Hofstadter, in an urban application, echoed conservationist sentiment generally.
"It is," the justice stated, "a sufficiently grave question whether a half acre of park land, shrubbery and trees...may be sacrificed to a contemplated use of compounded dubiety; i.e., more parking space (for 80 more cars) for an enlarged cocktail lounge of a plush restaurant."
The justice observed that it seemed "most doubtful if the benevolent and far-sighted genius of Messrs. Olmstead and Vaux who laid out Central Park envisaged a bucolic night club. Certainly it cannot be argued that there is any dearth of cocktail lounges, bars and cabarets in our city and in this very vicinity."
Justice Hofstadter then suggested that perhaps Robert Moses, New York City Commissioner of Parks, regarded a half acre as "de minimis."
"But," he concluded, "no foot, or even inch of park space is expendable in our teeming metropolis."
Most conservationists would add "or anywhere else in the United States."
In a report on the movements of wild geese in the Nine-pipe and Pablo reservoir refuges in the Flathead Valley, Montana Biologists Dwight Stockstad and John Craighead lend considerable weight to the adage "silly as a goose" and fray the popular notion that geese are peculiarly canny in avoiding hunters.
Far from learning shooting hours and staying put during them, the report states, 90% of the geese in Ninepipe and Pablo reservoirs flew out during broad and legal daylight. While at times only 38% of these sailed over waiting guns, that was due more to a lack of hunters than a prevalence of brains among geese. On days of particularly heavy hunter concentration as high as 70%; of the geese honked within range.
Even where there were safe escape routes, few geese used them. "On Nine-pipe reservoir," the report continues, "there were two corridors...where geese could, leave the refuge and attain considerable height before reaching the point where guns could shoot at them. But movement data showed that relatively few flocks utilized these corridors and probably no geese learned that such flight lanes were relatively safe. Certain flocks followed well-defined patterns day after day in spite of formidable arrays of guns and men."
In conclusion, Biologists Craighead and Stockstad offer a few statistics which indicate that goose hunters as well as geese have something to learn. During the 1954 season in Flathead Valley, only 6% of the wildfowlers shot 50% of all geese bagged. More than half of all the hunters went home altogether gooseless.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH-very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
TROUT: NEW JERSEY: Hatchery truck followers, traditional nuisances in this state, are now using airplanes to follow truck movements, says Game Warden Harry Morrison, who reports at least one private airplane being used to spot new plantings. Meanwhile warm weather has brought some fair hatches to Flatbrook and Pequest rivers, and OF/G for dry fly fishing this coming week.
WASHINGTON: Last week's hot spots were Trout Lake in Pend Oreille County, Amber Lake in Spokane County, Deer Springs in Lincoln County, Hidden, Pearygin, Patterson, Big Twin, Spectacle and Conconuloy Reservoir in Chelan-Okanogan area, Tanwax in Pierce County, Deep and Clear lakes in Thurston County, Buffalo, Blue and Park in Columbia basin. American Lake near Tacoma producing frequent limits of silver trout to still-fishermen. Lake Whatcom trollers taking occasional big cutthroats to 5½ pounds, rainbows to 5 pounds, on plugs and spoons. Hummel Lake on Lopez Island continues fairly hot. Nights are still cold but OG as water warms. High lake and stream SO May 22.
CALIFORNIA: East slope of the Sierra continues tops for big trout after first week of open season; hot spots are Crowley Lake, Owens River and West Walker; biggest trout reported so far is 9-pound 7-ounce brown taken by Darwin Tockey of Bishop, near chalk bluffs in the lower Owens. FG and OG at June and Gull lakes. All high passes snowed in by late storms and won't be open until June. West slope Sierra streams reported H and FP. Merced, Tuolumne, San Joaquin, Kings and Tule rivers H, D, FP/F. High country still closed. Lower Kern River and Isabella Reservoir FG. In northern areas bait fishermen scoring despite roily water in heavily stocked streams; best are Battle and Cow creeks. Lake Almanor was too rough for boats most of last week but FG from shore. Main Trinity River SM and D but FF in smaller creeks throughout watershed. Season two weeks late in most northern waters, and OF. SO May 19 in Plumas, Sierra, Placer, Yuba, El Dorado, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and part of Butte counties. OG for Truckee, American and Yuba rivers.
MAINE: At Eagle Lake on Mount Desert Island over 300 trout from 1 to 3 pounds have been taken by fly and spin fishermen at Nig's Cove since SO May 1. Moose River at Moosehead also hot.
PENNSYLVANIA: Despite some improvement in central Pennsylvania F still P. WT 50-55 with some Hendrickson hatches reported on the Yellow Breeches in Brandtsville area. Reports from Tuscarora Creek are poor and best spot seems to be Big Springs in Cumberland County.
MICHIGAN: All streams N, C, FF and OG when weather warms. Meanwhile experimental trout lakes are producing occasional lunkers (such as 11-pound 12-ounce rainbow caught on worm last week) in Starvation Lake, Kalkaska County.
NEW MEXICO: Upper Rio Grande, upper and lower Brazos and lower Chama FG and OG. OG for Pecos River above falls, by trail, and FF and OF for lower Pecos.
IDAHO: Lake Pend Oreille opened last week but wind and weather kept boats off lake; Don Butler, Sandpoint high school senior, nailed a 26-pounder on spinning tackle from shore in Samowen Bay. Warmer weather and settled conditions needed for FG; trolling will get most and biggest trout. On Snake River FG at Hagerman-Indian Springs and below Strike Dam.
VIRGINIA: As SO May 1 with 100,000 anglers fishing 150 stocked streams, spot check on Smith River above Basset showed that 100 fishermen fished for 256 hours on opening day to catch an average of 2.4 trout averaging 9 inches.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: OF for brook trout in southern half of state but weather is still too cold for peak fishing and northern New Hampshire is still ice-bound.
KINGFISH: BAHAMA ISLANDS: A 44-pounder was caught last week as kingfish are putting in an early summer appearance; OF/G.
FLORIDA: On west coast a few stragglers are still being taken off Sarasota and Venice but main schools are off northwest Florida in deep water 20 miles off shore; OG when they move landward, probably within next 10 days.
ATLANTIC SALMON: MAINE: Over 50 Atlantic salmon have been killed in Pleasant River in state's easternmost county, Washington, and OF/G.
NOVA SCOTIA: SO April 15 except in Hants County, Colchester and Cumberland waters flowing into Bay of Fundy and north Cumberland Strait, and Antigonish, Pictou and Inverness counties; five salmon reported last week (two from Lahave River and one each from Lequille, Round Hill and Medway). Water levels range from SH to VH all WT low but next two weeks should see marked improvement.
BLUEFISH: LOUISIANA: When an east wind isn't piling muddy water from the Mississippi River into the Gulf off Grand Isle 2½ to 3-pound bluefish have been clobbering trolled lures near the outer oil rigs. One party brought in 127 blues last Sunday taken on No. 2 and 3 drone spoons.
NORTH CAROLINA: Blues are plentiful from Virginia state line to Morehead City area; trollers and surf casters in Hatteras area have been catching hundreds of snappers and oldtimers predict a run of larger fish by mid-May.
TARPON: LOUISIANA: For second consecutive year first tarpon of season off Louisiana coast has been caught by a woman: Mrs. Lester Plaisance of Golden Meadow, La., took a 120-pounder in the Gulf four miles below Timbalier Island on a trolled spoon. OG in proven waters all along the Louisiana coast.
FLORIDA: This should be best month of tarpon season for Keys but some top guides have canceled charters and will cancel more if high winds don't let up; fish are in area but are sulking in deep water and FP/VP until wind dies down and riled water clears. On west coast hot weather and last week's rains are prodding tarpon on northward migration; they should De in Venice area within next two weeks.
MAJOR RICHARD E. FREEMAN led his men to a major conservation award.
Among last week's noteworthy catches: A 9-pound 14-ounce LARGEMOUTH BASS caught by 16-year-old Richard Madison Jr. of Lester Manor, Va., from a King William County pond on a plug; a GREAT HORNED OWL which tried to fly off with a plug cast by F. W. Purcell of Cincinnati, Ohio, at Tennessee's Center Hill Lake; a 42-pound CHANNEL BASS caught by Tommy Lane of Elizabeth City, N.C., while casting from an Elizabeth City pier with spinning rod, 12-pound test line and metal lure.