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Rainfall a welcome sight for lakes and rivers but more needed

Rainfall a welcome sight for lakes and rivers but more needed

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 3:01 pm

Finally, a fresh drink of water for our area lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, it’s not near enough for what we really need.
Over the last three months, many places in our area have seen less than two inches of total rainfall. But on Monday, 1.50 inches of rain area-wide — with some reporting 1.75 inches — was a welcome relief for sure. Every little bit will help. I was told that our rain this past week was good for about 10 days — for whatever that is worth in knowing.
Going into the hot and humid summer months of late June, July and August, places like Reelfoot and Gibson County lakes depend on what falls from the sky and into the lake in that particular area.
Kentucky Lake, on the other hand, can benefit from rains somewhere else up stream on he Tennessee River System. But this hasn’t happened yet to amount to much. Kentucky Lake still remains around a foot and a half below the summer pool level mark of 359.0. Right now Kentucky Lake has been hanging around 357.50 mark, give or take a inch.
Reelfoot’s normal pool level mark is 282.20 feet above sea level. Right now the lake has been in the 281.50 mark.
It is simply amazing what things were like one year ago right now in our area with all of the flooding, and now we are on the other end of the extreme.
One thing that does play a major role in water levels in Reelfoot Lake is the Mississippi River. When the water levels are high or low on the Mississippi River, that determines how high the water table is that surrounds the river and, with the river being so close to Reelfoot Lake, this does play a big part. Right now, the river is very, very low. So low that some riverports are either closed or are closing until the river comes up.
Another thing that we could be facing is with the warmest months of the summer now here, especially July and August, evaporation rates will increase. Right now our area is already in a pretty major drought, even with this rainfall. Typically, July and August are like what we have seen the last two months in April and May.
Add all of this together and it spells for a possible long summer on some area river and lakes with continued low water levels. But all it takes is one good tropical storm to move up into the Mississippi River Valley to change all of this and just maybe this might take place later in the summer.
Now that we are facing the warmest months of the season, this also means a slow-down in most area bass tournaments.
Typically, most of your bass and crappie tournaments are held in the late winter, spring and early summer months with very few taking place in July and August. The main reason for this is usually fish care.
The cooler the water and weather, the better it is on the releasing the fish healthy with a better survival rate.
In general, fishing tournaments generate lots of money from the small-scale local tournaments all the way up to the big boys’ touring pro levels.
As for the weather and time of year, most of the tournament trails such as BASS, FLW Outdoors and PAA, their tournaments start out in the southern states early in the year and work their way northward as the water and air temperatures warm. There are tournament that are fished in July and August but most of the time they are fish in the far northern states. Most of the trails try to stay away from these two months simply due to fish care and that is their No. 1 concern — taking care of our resources.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
I want to pass along to you that the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge presents “Feathered Friends,” a summer-long series of programs about a variety of birds. These programs will be presented every Thursday from 10-10:30 during June and July. Programs will cover a variety of subjects related to Tennessee’s birds and will culminate to a nature hike where children will learn about birding. Programs are meant for ages three to eight and will feature several interactive games.
For more information, or to make reservations, you can contact Tara Dowdy at the Reelfoot NWR at (731) 538-2481, Monday-Friday at 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
About USF&WS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which my late grandfather Harvell Denton spent 32 plus years working, is the primary federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. I was able to hang around down at the Reelfoot office with my grandfather and the rest of the crew growing up as a kid. It was a hands-on experience I will never forget.
The service manages the 150 million acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 550 National Wildlife Refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of moneys in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
The application period for all Wildlife Management Area 2012 Big Game Quota Hunts will run through July 25, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The instruction sheet lists information about which WMAs will hold the hunts, the bag limits, any antler restrictions and hunting implement types allowed on each hunt. Applications are available and will be accepted at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office, or online at the TWRA website at Mailed applications will not be accepted. The application must be received by midnight July 25.
Sportsmen are reminded to read the instruction sheet carefully, fill out all requested information, double-check the form and take it to a licensed agent where it will be entered into the system. When applying at any TWRA license agent, there is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders or seniors possessing a Type 167 permit. For all other applicants, there is a non-refundable $10 permit fee for each drawing entered plus a $1 agent fee.
Hunters may also apply over the Internet at the TWRA website. There is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, or seniors possessing a Type 167 permit.
All other applicants, in addition to the $2 Internet usage fee, will be charged a non-refundable permit fee of $10 per drawing entered. The $2 usage fee is collected by the company that maintains the Internet site. (It is not a fee that is charged by the TWRA.)
TWRA’s priority drawing system gives priority points (this year a maximum of 7 points) to hunters based on the number of years they have participated without being drawn for a hunt. Applicants who were successful last year will start over with a priority of zero.
When applying at a license agent, hunters must remain at the location while the application is processed to verify the information, such as hunt codes and their TWRA ID number on their receipt, is correct.
After all the drawings are conducted, leftover permits will be sold by all license agents on-line on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Aug. 29.
I want to continue to remind each of you that if you have any outdoors information, calendar events or pictures that you would like to share with our readers, please contact me by either emailing me at or call me at 731-446-3678. You can also drop by The Messenger’s office on Jackson Street in Union City.
Thanks again to all of you who tell me how much you enjoy my column.
I do this simply for you, people who are interested on what is going on in the great outdoors.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.

Published in The Messenger 6.15.12

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