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The Big Mouth

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January 2018,

Message from the President and Conservation Director:

I hope everyone is doing well this year.   I’m looking forward to a great year.  But I am also looking forward to a great retirement.

I would like to move on in a couple of years to fun retirement activities and more travel.  I need some people to step up and take over the President and Conservation Position.  My heart will always be in Conservation and I will be around to help as long as I am in New Mexico.  But it is time for someone else to take the leads.  Over the last three years, we have greatly increased our membership, tournament fishing opportunities and fish.  Some of it was just good luck but I think the leadership team and our conservation efforts had a lot to do with it too.  I'd like to thank the officers and directors for their hard work and cooperation in making some needed changes. Please let your Director know if you are interested in one of these positions.  The Alliance program also has some incentives for the President and Conservation positions if you are looking to buy a new motor or electronics.

Two of my goals were to increase communication and membership.  Membership has surged and the Pecos Valley Bassmasters have rejoined us. Social media in the form of facebook pages has greatly increased participation and communications while the use of the website has diminished.  The primary facebook pages are New Mexico BASS Nation, New Mexico Bass Team Trail, and Elephant Butte Adapt-a-Cove.  We have over 350 different followers on these pages and the numbers continue to increase.  We had over 60 new followers join New Mexico BASS Nation page just in January. 

We are returning to Elephant Butte Reservoir after a lot of efforts by both us and the NM Game and Fish to enhance the stocked fish population and habitat.  We are also going to Conchas Lake where water levels almost reached the spillway in 2017.  There is almost no snowpack so we will almost certainly be fishing lakes that are dropping every day.  It will be challenging conditions, but I am hoping for many and large bass.  The first qualifier at Elephant Butte should happen before they begin irrigating, so I am looking forward to a fun tournament where we will be fishing tree-choked coves in areas that many of us have not been able to access for years.

2018 State Qualifiers:

Since 2015, we have dramatically changed the format of the four state qualifier tournaments to be held:

Elephant Butte, April 28 and April 29

Conchas,   August 11 and August 12

You fish each tournament with the person you sign up with.  Family and youth are encouraged.  And yes, we will have to just trust each other not to cheat.  That is the only down side that has been brought repeatedly to my attention.  If necessary, we will do a polygraph but I hope it never comes to that.  I expect clubs to police their membership and not send a pair that would ever consider cheating.  There will be no draw at the lake unless we have unpaired boaters. Only in special situations will a person be allowed to fish alone in the case of a personal emergency or illness.  At most there will be only one boater (odd man out) fishing without another person in the boat.  If a boater doesn’t sign up with a non-boater, they will be paired with another unpaired boater and have to flip to see which boat they use.  So far, we have been able to find non-boaters and attract new members.  It isn’t that hard to do!

Conchas accommodations are still difficult, but conflicts with other tournaments at Ute and Navajo led us back to Conchas this year.  The tournament will be held at the Corps of Engineers south ramp and hosted by the American Legion.  Lodging is tricky at Conchas but there are several options ranging from camping at the State Park to cheap rooms in Tucumcari.  The Adobe Belle is already booked up but there are still some trailer and house rentals.

The lake is almost full again and fishing is fantastic so we should have a good tournament. 

New Mexico BASS Team Trail

We also will have a new state team trail run by Cedar Cove.  This one-day format is partially in response to member feedback over the last two years, asking for a team format option.

2018 Western Regional (Clear Lake)

We have an exceptionally strong State  Team going to the Western Regional at Clear Lake in May.  I wish them well.

We have some great items for the team raffle this year with a rifle from Charlie's Sporting Goods, a custom rod from Mark Sawyer at Los Pinos Fly and Tackle, and a Lew's rod/reel combo from Delmar Silva at S-T Bait, Tackle and Marine.  This year we are hoping to get tickets in the hands of any member that is willing to help out instead of just relying on team members to sell tickets.  Let me know if you can sell some for the team.

We also have cash donations from Hanseatic Management Services and several private donations.  We have product donations from Bio Bait and a few members.  The generosity is very much appreciated.

Conservation Efforts

NM BASS Nation continues to rack up accomplishments in the Conservation arena and is recognized by B.A.S.S. and Friends of Reservoirs as one of the top efforts in the United States.  Bassmaster routinely publishes media releases covering the progress at Elephant Butte and the efforts at Morgan Lake.  We were also recognized for building a handicapped fishing pier at Escondida Lake.  We also appreciate the donation of a shade awning by Ron and Betty Gilworth for Escondida Lake.  Of course Ron was incredibly influential with the county in getting a concrete walkway and pad installed to leverage our grant funds.

New Mexico Game and Fish staff are working on grants to transition the project at Elephant Butte.  The project has expanded to include vegetation plans as well as some new artificial structure designs.  Volunteer participation has been steady and the local community support continues to grow largely due to the unending dedication of Randell and Tawny Bell.  Electrofishing studies of the lake are showing a high survival rate for stocked bass as opposed to natural reproduction.  This is an unusual result that is being looked at more carefully to determine the best management practices for the Butte.  I have my theories but I'll let the biologists do their work.

New Mexico Game and Fish tried a voluntary effort to protect a few of the best spawning coves at the Butte.  However, the signs were having a negative affect by leading anglers to the best spawning areas.  The signs have been removed this year to see if anglers will quit focusing on the coves.

Most of the other lakes are doing very well but I have my eyes on angler recruitment waters.  We get a lot of our new anglers from small ponds and local lakes.  We are still working with the Roswell Zoo Spring River Pond and we have a $1000 grant to pull some of the debris off the dam at Cochiti Lake to make spawning habitat near the dam. 


We are back on our feet financially and our sponsorship has increased.  We still need support for scholarships and it would be nice to build a small buffer.  One huge income is the rebate from Mercury for an outboard motor purchase.  Kevin Smith at Smith RV and Marine helped us out again in 2017 to recover most of the rebate. Please let me know if you know of anyone that is buying a new Mercury motor.  We can get a substantial rebate if we can sign them up as a member and get the dealer to share the invoice.  It makes sense for us to pay their membership if needed.

We get an incredible break on Yamalube and Mercury oil, props and trolling motors that can be passed on through fundraising efforts.  Please save yourself some money and help us raise a little at the same time.  Talk to me before you buy these items at retail.

We had a pretty good raffle at Navajo.  We need sponsors and items to auction/raffle off this year at Conchas.  Then we need all clubs and members to help with these auctions and raffles.  Start rounding up items now for Conchas or possibly an on-line auction later this year. 

Go Fish and I will see you at Elephant Butte,

Earl Conway

President and Conservation Director, NM BASS Nation

Still way2busy2fish@aol.com or president@nmbfn.com

(505) 610-5156

Go Fish and I will see you at Elephant Butte,

Earl Conway

President and Conservation Director, NM BASS Nation

Still way2busy2fish@aol.com or president@nmbfn.com

(505) 610-5156