Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.














Thank You, B.A.S.S.

Back in November 1985, the new editor of Bassmaster Magazine, Dave Precht, asked a high school English/journalism teacher to be Senior/Writer Conservation for B.A.S.S. Publications. Thirty years later, I'm proud to say that I remain the first and only conservation writer in the company's history. Most of my articles in the early days appeared in Bassmaster. Today, they're mostly in B.A.S.S. Times or at

B.A.S.S. is a wonderful organization, staffed with remarkable people, and I'm so blessed to be a part of that. As such, I know that anglers, fisheries, and the fishing industry all have benefitted from its existence, often in ways that outsiders can't imagine. I reveal what this company founded by Ray Scott has done for sport fishing in "The B.A.S.S. Factor," an essay in Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.

Here's an excerpt:

In 1970, B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott gained national attention by filing lawsuits against more than 200 polluters and creating Anglers for Clean Water (ACW), a non-profit conservation arm. One of ACW’s most important contributions for more than a decade was Living Waters, an annual environmental supplement dealing with fishery and water quality issues nationwide.

In 1972, Scott initiated catch-and-release at bass tournaments. Conservation-minded trout anglers had been releasing their fish for decades before that, but it was Scott and B.A.S.S. who generated mass acceptance.

“B.A.S.S. has inspired a lot of young fishermen,” Bill Dance said. “I see it all the time in the mail that I get.

“One little boy talked about catching his first big bass and how good it felt to release that fish. Years ago, that little boy never would have released that fish.”

 Earl Bentz of Triton Boats added that the practice of releasing tournament-caught fish has had a massive ripple effect in salt water. “I remember when they would weigh in blue marlin and throw them n the dump,” he said. “Now most of the tournaments are live-release tournaments, and it all began after B.A.S.S. started promoting catch-and-release.”


Unspoken Rules for a Good Time on the Water

Don’t Crowd other Anglers.  Leave ample room between you and fellow anglers either when wading or boating.  Fishing cheek-to-cheek usually results in tangled lines and creates a lot of unnecessary stress.  There isn’t a rule of thumb because space depends on the water and the area.  Some areas are known for their crowds, so ask yourself if that’s the kind of fishing you enjoy.  And when you decide where to fish, leave room for your fellow fishermen.  Small streams require lots of room whereas the ocean not so much.  More is better, though.

Honor anglers who arrived before you.  The early bird gets the worm and if someone set his alarm earlier than you and got to the honey hole first there is no reason to jump in front of him.  Go someplace else, sit on the bank until he’s done, but respect the fact that he made a sacrifice that you did not.  And for tomorrow, set your clock a bit earlier…

Rest the water.  Boats running around put down fish as do lures constantly hitting the surface.  If you’re not catching much then rest the water.  After a quiet spell the fish will come out of their safety zones and resume feeding.

Be clean.  Pack out what you packed in and the environment stays clean.  Hanks of mono tangles birds and fish that eat pieces of soft plastic bait get clogged digestive tracts.  Also be careful not to spill oil or gas when boating at local fishing spots, particularly at the gas dock.

Boaters should yield to wade fishermen.  Shore-bound anglers don’t have the ability to access deep water or to move around quickly like boaters do.  Sometimes it’s their turn, and if the fish are blitzing off the beach then boaters should give way to shore fishermen.


A careful approach.  Be careful how you approach the water.  In a river, silt or mud kicked up by clumsy wading spooks fish downstream.  Walking behind anglers prohibits their casting, and shadows can spook fish.  Walk around so you don’t louse up an angler working a fish.

A little thoughtfulness goes a long way, and it makes fishing at local fishing spots a lot more fun than it already is! Check to learn more how fishing and boating help to conserve our waterways!

From Take Me Fishing.


Anti-Fishing Movement on the Rise

Recreational fishing as we know it no longer exists in portions of Western Europe.

Even more disturbing, the seeds of its destruction are well established here, especially in the anti-hunting movement,  as you can see by the "photo" above.  Of course, anyone who hunts and fishes knows that the photo was staged and that the comments are a lie. No state allows hunting during the spring, when fawns are that size. And if a poacher illegally shot the doe, he wouldn't leave it there for an animal rights activist to photograph it. Likely, the doe was killed on the highway. But truth means nothing to these zealots. For them, the end--- banning fishing and hunting--- justifies the use of any means, including dishonesty.

And don’t be misled by the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans still approve of legal fishing and support using fish for food.

When people are asked whether they approve of recreational fishing for sport, answers change dramatically. Twenty-five to 30 percent view angling for sport as cruel in more urbanized states such as Colorado and Arizona,  while about 20 percent feel the same way in more rural states, including Alaska and the Dakotas.

Those disturbing revelations come from researchers in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, who recently compiled their findings in a report entitled, “A Primer on Anti-Angling Philosophy and Its Relevance for Recreational Fisheries in Urbanized Societies.”

Such attitudes, the authors say, raise the possibility “that extremist positions (or elements thereof) influenced by animal liberation or animal rights arguments might find their way into nongovernmental organizations, science, politics, and ultimately legislation.

“Such a development is particularly challenging for recreational fishers when it occurs where they have little political support. Without sufficient support, radical claims portraying anglers as cruel sadists who play with fish for no good reason can be rhetorically effective.”

Why is this happening?

Basically, the answer is that attitudes change regarding fish and wildlife as people move away from nature and into more urban settings. Their beliefs become guided more by what they see on television and in the movies than what they personally experience.

Anglers and hunters view fish and wildlife as resources to be used, while being managed wisely and treated with respect. Traditionally, most Americans have agreed with that “utilitarian” philosophy.

But as people become more urbanized (and often more affluent), some begin to favor a “mutualism wildlife value orientation, viewing wildlife as capable of relationships of trust with humans, as if part of an extended family, and as deserving of rights and caring.”

Mutualists, the authors say, “are more likely to view fish and wildlife in human terms, with human personalities and characteristics.”


How ignorant are many of those who oppose hunting and fishing? Awhile back, some of these mental giants viciously attacked Steven Spielberg after Jay Branscomb posted a photo with this caption on his Facebook page:

“Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”

By the way, triceratops, along with all other dinosaurs, have been extinct for about 65 million years. And Branscomb was having a little fun in the wake of the outrage expressed by these same people after Kendall Jones posted photos of African big game that she had shot.

But the obvious obviously wasn’t so obvious for the true believers. Here are some of the comments:

 “Steven Spielberg has absolutely no respect for animals. Posing infront [sic] of this poor dead animal like that. Barbaric.”

 “if these animals are so rare they should be moved to a reservation where it’s illegal to kill them.”

 “He’s a disgusting inhumane [bleep] Id love to see these hunters be stopped…I think zoos are the best way to keep animals safe…[bleep]holes like this piece of [bleep] are going into these beautiful animals HOME and killing them… its no different than someone coming into your home and murdering you…” 


What’s coming down the road in the United States if mutualism prevails?

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 highlights the nightmarish possibilities. The legislation makes catch-and-release illegal because “it is in conflict with the dignity of the fish and its presumed ability to suffer and feel pain.”

A similar rule has been in place since the 1980s in Germany, where anglers also must take a course in fish handing before they can obtain a license.

“The argument runs that it is legally acceptable to go fishing only if one has the intention to catch fish for food,” the study says.

“Wider economic benefits created by angling are usually not considered a sufficient justification --- it all boils down to the individual benefits experienced by the angler, and here food provision is currently the only acceptable reason.” 

In other words, recreational fishing as millions of Americans now enjoy it is not allowed.

What would imposition of such a system in the United States mean?

 It would mean that a majority of the nation’s more than licensed 30 million anglers would stop fishing.

It would mean an end to family outings and buddy tournaments, and depressurizing for a few hours after work at a local lake or pond.

It would mean the collapse of economies for coastal communities and cities along the Great Lakes, as well as hundreds of towns near popular inland lakes and reservoirs.

In the United States, more people fish than play golf and tennis combined, and, in doing so, they support more than one million jobs.

Through license fees and excise taxes, recreational anglers contribute $1.2 billion annually “to preserve, protect, and enhance not just their sport, but also the environment that makes such sportfishing possible,” the American Sportfishing Association says. “Across much of the country, angler dollars are the primary source for improving fish habitat, public access, and environmental education.”

All that could be gone if we allow a minority who believe fishing is cruel to dominate the conversation and dictate policy.

“Powerful intervention is needed to counterbalance such tendencies in a society where hunting and fishing are becoming less prominent and where an increasing percentage of the public has lost contact with wildlife and nature,” say the authors of the study.

What do we do about this? We go fishing, of course, and, at every opportunity, we introduce someone new to the sport. We practice good stewardship through individual actions, as well as club activities --- and we publicize accomplishments. Also, we make certain that decision makers at every level of government know about both the calculable and incalculable value of recreational fishing to individuals, families, and society.