Controlled burns play key role in land managementWhile controlled burns are a useful part of land management, we don’t often see it in South Dakota. On April 11, a good friend and I were fishing in the White Swan area of the Francis Case Reservoir when we began to notice significant smoke coming from the Gregory County side of the river.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
While controlled burns are a useful part of land management, we don’t often see it in South Dakota.
On April 11, a good friend and I were fishing in the White Swan area of the Francis Case Reservoir when we began to notice significant smoke coming from the Gregory County side of the river. Soon after we could smell smoke, and eventually white ash fell on us like gentle snowflakes.
From our vantage point, it appeared the fire may have begun on the north side of Highway 18 and carried north with the wind. It burned all the way to the river bank, and appeared to stop directly opposite White Swan. In places the fire was intense. Thousands of acres were burned.
It surprised me that a fire of this magnitude did not make the six o’clock news. I saw nothing in the newspapers. The fire left others and me with questions. Was the fire intentional? Was it under control? Did wildlife suffer? Was any private property burned?
Rather than speculate about what happened, I visited with Cody Wilson of the Army Corps of Engineers at Pickstown. I learned that the fire was intentional and was carried out as planned. There was no loss of control. However, what I will call the “primaries” were landowners, not South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks or the Army Corps of Engineers. The burning was done with the approval of the SDGFP and the COE, and in Cody’s words, it accomplished exactly what the COE wanted to see happen.
Perhaps to verify what he was telling me, Cody mentioned the names of the landowners to me, and gave me a name and phone number so I could personally gain a landowner point of view. I did exactly that.
Everything was just as Cody told me. Months of planning went into the burn. There were seven land owners plus three agencies involved with the fire — the two previously named plus the Department of Transportation.
Thinning an out-of-control cedar population was a primary goal. Other than the possible loss of early turkey nests, I doubt that any wildlife was seriously affected.
I think because of last year’s unfortunate flooding, some folks have become quick to blame the Corps of Engineers for anything that appears to be out of order. I know that the COE was being blamed for the above mentioned fire that was deemed out of control by skeptics. Relative to the flooding, the COE people who are our neighbors were following orders. Let’s not vent our anger on them.
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I would guess that fluorocarbon line is the single biggest advancement to hit the sport fishing industry in the past few years.
A few weeks ago I gave Berkley’s VANISH, a fluorocarbon fishing line, a very positive endorsement as it appeared to withstand the ravages of northern pike dentures better than other lines when I tied a lure directly to my line. While I will still attest to the line’s toughness, I’m having major problems with the 6-pound test fluorocarbon line I put on my spinning reels.
The line wants to kink and curl. I believe they call this “memory” in the tackle industry. It likes to wrap itself around the end of my rod, giving me no tolerance when a fish strikes or I’m snagged on the bottom. Rewinding the line gives me temporary satisfaction, but that gets old in a hurry.
I will continue to use fluorocarbon line, but rather than filling up a reel spool with it, I will use it as leader material, and tie it to my braided Fireline with a barrel knot. I’d like to know the thoughts of other anglers on this subject. Perhaps I improperly loaded the line onto my reels, but I don’t think so.
The smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing remains hot on Francis Case Reservoir. We’re catching lots of walleyes, but most aren’t large enough to make the 15-inch minimum. I know others have had better success, but I do believe that we’ll see a lot of smaller fish this spring and summer.
For me personally, the highlight of my spring angling has been the size of the white bass we are taking beneath the dam at Pickstown. I’ve taken a lot of white bass over the years, but I believe these are the biggest I’ve seen.
*See you next week.