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By Pete Thomas

An angler who caught and killed a great white shark Jan. 5 on Oceanside Pier was sentenced Friday to three years probation and fined $250.

Bodi Dee Roberts, 21, also was banned from the popular fishing pier in north San Diego County.

Roberts caught the juvenile shark from the pier and was confronted by angry bystanders as he left with the carcass, according to 10 News San Diego.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers eventually confronted Roberts and seized the shark.

Great white sharks are protected by state and federal regulations off California. According to the CDFW, “It is illegal to catch, pursue, hunt, capture or kill a white shark, which includes intentionally attracting white sharks with bait or other methods.”

According to the Tracking Sharks blog, a witness said the 6-foot shark was initially identified by Roberts as a mako shark, and that it was gaffed and pulled onto the pier by several people. Catching mako sharks is legal.

Roberts was charged with one misdemeanor count of the unlawful catch of a protected species. He could have been fined up to $1,000.

According to 10 News San Diego, Roberts had also faced misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of game, deterioration and waste of a fish, and destroying or concealing documentary evidence.

Roberts is allowed to continue fishing elsewhere, as long as he stays within the law.

–Juvenile white shark image credit: ©Pete Thomas 

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By Pete Thomas

Yellowstone National Park has announced that select roads and concession services will reopen for spring and summer on Friday at 8 a.m.

As an added bonus for travelers this weekend, entrance fees will be waived Saturday as part of the annual National Park Week celebration.

The spring thaw is underway in the vast park, which encompasses portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Migratory birds are arriving, bears are waking up, bison births are occurring and, of course, geysers are blowing steam.

Roads scheduled to open include the West Entrance to Old Faithful;  Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful (through Norris), and Norris to Canyon Village.

The road connecting the North Entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Northeast Entrance across the park, is open year-round.

The park reminds travelers that weather can change rapidly during spring and that can affect road conditions. Visitors are urged to check the park website for updated road conditions before making daily plans.

Springtime visitors will find limited but expanding hiking opportunities, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities at higher elevations.

–Images are courtesy of Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service

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By Pete Thomas

A group of anglers on Sunday reeled in one of the largest blue marlin ever caught off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, after a 6-hour struggle that continued long after the billfish had been subdued.

Four hours into a fight that sapped the strength of four novice fishermen who had already battled several large tuna, the 814-pound marlin perished.

Tiburon deckhand Salvador “Chava” Flores spent the next two hours reeling the behemoth to the surface. (The anglers had hoped to release the fish alive.)

Their new dilemma was that the marlin, which had struck a trolled ballyhoo and a large green lure late in the afternoon, was nearly 14 feet long and more than 5 feet around.

The Tiburon, run by Pisces Sportfishing, is designed for smaller game and does not have a transom door through which to slide enormous billfish. The marlin was too massive to be tied to the transom outside the cockpit, and the weary anglers and crew were not strong enough to haul the fish over the rail.

Capt. Rosendo Gomez telephoned for assistance, and another 31-foot vessel arrived with four crewmen.

Pisces stated in a news release: “Even with all this manpower of four anglers and four additional crew it was impossible to hoist the monster fish, that had grown in estimation every hour, into the boat.”

Fortunately, a much larger Pisces yacht was nearby and arrived to save the day. The marlin was collected through its transom door and delivered to the weigh station in the Cabo San Lucas Marina.

At 814 pounds, according to Pisces General Manager Tracy Ehrenberg, it became “the largest fish we’ve seen in many years in Cabo.”

The largest on record, Ehrenberg said, was a 1,070-pound marlin caught 26 years ago – also in April.

The anglers, visitors from California who had spent 12 grueling hours at sea, seemed in the mood to celebrate.

Mark Molnar thanked Ehrenberg for the Tiburon crew’s persistence, saying, “The crew stopped at nothing to achieve the objective and we will never forget that.”

Curtis Paul added that it was a day of firsts: “The first time we have hooked one fish on two lines. The first time we have had seven tuna on at one time. The first time reinforcements were sent, and the first time we caught an 814-pound fish.”

Typical blue marlin season in Cabo San Lucas waters is late summer and fall.

–Images are courtesy of Pisces Sportfishing

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By Pete Thomas

A 17-year-old boy was attacked by a bear Sunday while shed antler hunting in Montana, but escaped with relatively minor injuries.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the unidentified male and his family were vacationing in a cabin south of Ennis. The teen “was walking down a hill around 2 p.m. when he heard a ‘thump’ behind him,” FWP stated in a news release issued Monday. “He turned around to see a bear charging at him.”

The teen was carrying bear spray but could not react before the initial impact.

The bear pinned him against a tree, then briefly backed off, allowing him to fall to his knees and crawl between two trees in an attempt to protect his head and vital areas.

While on the ground, wearing a backpack and hoodie, the teen reached over his shoulder and deployed his bear spray, and the animal fled.

The teen was able to contact his family while walking from the area. He was treated for relatively minor injuries at Madison Valley Medical Center.

FWP stated that based on the teen’s description the bear was most likely a grizzly, and that grizzly bears typically respond in this manner during surprise encounters.

The agency added that while an investigation remains open, “no further management action is being taken at this time.”

The incident occurred at a time when bears are emerging from hibernation. Hikers are urged to be aware of their surroundings and keep bear spray handy; to stay in groups if possible, and to make noise to avoid surprise encounters.

FWP stated that if a hiker should encounter a grizzly bear, “Never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.”

–Grizzly bear image is courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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By Pete Thomas

Yellowstone National Park has logged its first grizzly bear sighting of 2019 in what represents a sure sign that spring is near.

The park stated in a news release issued Tuesday that the sighting of a large grizzly occurred last Friday between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge.

Paw prints from another grizzly bear were observed Monday between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction.

With more bears expected to emerge from hibernation over the next few weeks, the park is urging visitors to stay alert, carry bear spray, and hike in groups.

Park guidelines recommend maintaining a distance of at least 100 yards from grizzly bears and black bears. Sightings should be reported to park rangers.

–Image is courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

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By Pete Thomas

Video circulating on social media shows a British Columbia commercial fisherman tossing an explosive device among dozens of sea lions resting on the surface, scattering the mammals.

The graphic footage has angered animal rights proponents and prompted an investigation by Canadian authorities, while it appears to have been published to show the extent of a sea lion “invasion” that some say threatens the livelihoods of fishermen.

Campbell River Whale & Bear excursions posted the video to Facebook Wednesday with the statement: “This video was shot over the weekend on a commercial seine vessel waiting for the Commercial Herring opening. I’m making this video public so the public is aware that this is happening repeatedly right now off Comox, Denman Island and Hornby Island.

We think this video was filmed by the BC Balance Pinniped Society who is trying to push a 50% Pinniped cull on the coast of British Columbia and Canada. This behavior is 100% illegal and goes against the Marine Mammal Guidelines.”

The Pacific Balance Pinniped Society first posted the footage Tuesday on its Facebook group page. The group stated that the “bear banger” device was used to scatter Stellar and California sea lions that were sitting over a massive school of herring.

The society wants Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans to expand indigenous harvesting rights to include the commercial sale of the seal and sea lion meat. The group believes a substantial cull would allow various fisheries to rebound, and create safer and more productive fishing conditions.

The society’s Facebook post, written by Thomas Sewid, begins by describing the scene before the explosive device was tossed: “This is what the herring test boats are dealing with at night right now. Theoretically darkness brings the herring to the surface, which makes it easier to catch them. The test boats are to toss rings with nets and drag up about fifty pounds of herring to sample for roe percentage content from the nets.

“Seeing as there’s such a high number of British Columbia resident Stellar sea lions and thousands of invasive California sea lions, the herring are being dove upon. This massive amount of sea lions diving on huge schools of herring scares them to stay deep. This makes it so captains cannot catch herring, for they’re too deep for nets.”

CBC identified the fisherman who tossed the device as Allan Marsden, and reported that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating and might file charges.

The DFO stated in a tweet: “Reminder: It is illegal to disturb #seals, #sealions or other marine mammals. This includes the use of acoustic deterrents such as seal bombs or other explosives.”

Andrew Trites, who runs the marine mammal research department at the University of British Columbia, said of the video footage: “Throwing a stick of dynamite next to the head of an animal, you’re going to blow out its hearing. If it’s near its eye, you’re going to blow the eye out.

Trites added: “I know I’ve heard them say ‘Well it doesn’t hurt the animal.’ Well if that’s the case I would challenge them to hold that stick in their hand, light it and let’s film it.”

–Image showing Stellar sea lions is courtesy of NOAA Fisheries

 

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By Pete Thomas

An avalanche swept across a portion of Interstate 70 in Colorado on Sunday, briefly engulfing at least one vehicle and shoving several others across the highway.

The accompanying footage, captured by Shaune Golemon and shared with Denver 7 News, shows the snow slide seemingly burying a white truck with a family inside.Nobody inside the truck was injured, and later in the video the family can be seen outside the vehicle, trying to dig out.

KDVR reported that I-70 was temporarily closed because of the avalanche and that no injuries were reported, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

The Denver Post reported that the avalanche occurred at about 5 p.m. as skiers were commuting home from the slopes in Summit County, between Frisco and Copper Mountain.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Tim Schaefer is quoted a saying no cars were actually buried. Schaefer added, “It was more than a dusting of snow. There was also tree debris on the road.”

–Image is a video screen shot

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By Pete Thomas

The catch Saturday of a 34-pound, 10-ounce brown trout has shattered the Missouri state record for the species.

Paul Crews of Neosho was participating in a tournament on Lake Taneycomo and said he “fought the fish from one side of the lake to the other and back” during a 20-minute struggle.

“I’m still in shock that I actually caught that giant brown trout,” Crews told the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The MDC confirmed the catch as a “pole-and-line” record on Monday, saying it beat the previous record by more than six pounds.

The trout was released back into the lake after being weighed on a certified scale.

Crews, who used 4-pound-test line and a sculpin-pattern jig, said he usually fishes only once a year – during the Vince Elfrink Memorial Trout Tournament.

He and partner Jim Rayfield Sr. were fishing from a boat when the massive trout struck and began dragging them across the lake.

“Once the fish was in the boat I just knew my partner and I had won the tournament,” Crews said. “But I was shocked to hear I was a state record holder.”

For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Assn. lists as the world record a 42-pound, 1-ounce brown trout caught in New Zealand in 2013.

–Image showing Paul Crews (middle) and his record catch is courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

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By Pete Thomas

A photographer in Western Australia has captured video footage showing four dolphins in a sprint down the beach a mere stone’s throw from shore.

A 100-meter dolphin dash, if you will. A marine mammal version of a horse race, with the inside lane seemingly producing a clear winner.

The remarkable footage was captured Wednesday at Yanchep Lagoon by Carly Sinden, who said the dolphins raised their heads collectively, as if announcing themselves, before launching their speedy exhibition.

“They were so inquisitive and friendly, and even swam around the school kids who were in the lagoon having their school swimming lesson,” Sinden, who specializes in newborn baby photography, told FTW Outdoors.

Sinden also captured a second clip showing the dolphins racing in the opposite direction, this time with people in the water. One wader was a mere inches from one of the friendly mammals, and didn’t flinch as it dashed past him.

Said Sinden: “It’s something I will never forget and makes me grateful to call this beautiful place home.”

Yanchep Lagoon, near Perth, is popular among swimmers and snorkelers, who apparently never know what they might see.

–Image and videos courtesy of Carly Sinden Photography

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By Pete Thomas

Bison are enormous and might seem ungainly, but they're surprisingly fast, which is why tourists in Yellowstone National Park are cautioned to keep a safe distance.

The accompanying footage, captured by photographer Richard Peters, shows an enormous bison sprinting past the touring vehicle at top speed on a snow-covered road.

As viewers will note, the tourists were amazed by the speed of the beast as it charged within a few feet of their vehicle.

Peters, who is based in the U.K., wrote on Facebook: “Just got back from an incredible two weeks in Yellowstone, where on one particular day our Natures Images group were reminded just how fast bison can be, when they decide! Quite the close encounter!”

According to the Yellowstone website, bison have injured more tourists than any other animal. While they appear docile, and sometimes are, they’re unpredictable “and can run three times faster than humans.”

The park advises tourists to remain at least 25 yards from bison, which are often referred to as buffalo.

Bison are the largest land-dwelling mammal in North America, with the larger males weighing up to 2,000 pounds. More than 4,500 bison reside seasonally within Yellowstone boundaries.

–Top image showing bison feeding in the snow is courtesy of the National Park Service; second image is a video screen shot

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