One of the main reasons that I like tournament fishing is that it allows you to help a good cause and have fun at the same time.
On Saturday, April 16, you can help a really good cause and have fun on one of Florida’s best bass fisheries by participating in the 15th Annual Save Rodman Reservoir (SRR) Open Bass Tournament. For more information, go to Save Rodman Reservoir’s website or call (386) 326-1112.
Don’t own a bass boat? No problem. SRR has a special small-boat category for craft with engines of 50 horsepower or less. But you must have a working livewell system.
Now, why is this such a good cause? SRR is the first line of defense against Rodman’s destruction, and it needs your support to continue protecting this resource from Florida Defenders of the Environment and its political allies.
No conflict better demonstrates the divide between conservation and preservation than the decades-long battle regarding the fate of this world-class bass fishery and popular destination for camping, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor recreation.
Constructed on the Ocklawaha River during the 1960s, Rodman was part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal project, designed to facilitate navigation from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico without going all the way around Florida. It was a stupid idea and could have been devastating to the natural beauty and bounty of the Sunshine State.
Realization of its catastrophic potential occurred right about the time we had an environmental awakening as a country. We saw that we needed to do more to protect our water, land, and air. We created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We passed the federal Clean Water Act.
And we stopped the canal.
But the 9,600-acre reservoir already had been dug. It was filled with water by the Ocklawaha. And because of the unique combination of climate and geology, with perhaps a little magic mixed in by Mother Nature, it quickly appeared as if it were a part of the natural landscape --- except for the dam, of course.
Shallows turned into wetlands that attracted far more numbers and varieties of birds than had ever been there before. Submerged grasses and other aquatic vegetation provided fertile spawning and nursery grounds for bass and other fish. As Florida Sportsman explained, alligators, turtles, otters, muskrats, raccoons, and other reptiles and mammals also moved in.
According to SRR, Rodman has more visitors than all but 12 of Florida’s state parks and supports more than three times the recreational use of the Oklawaha River.
Additionally, the reservoir serves as a “sink” for nutrients that otherwise would degrade the St. Johns River, just downstream from the dam. And now that resource managers finally are awakening to the fact that water is limited in Florida and storage reservoirs will be necessary, they have a ready-made facility in Rodman.
But none of that matters to FDE and others on the preservationist side. Rodman is not “natural” and so must be destroyed. It stands in the way of a free-flowing river.
It represents man’s arrogance and ignorance and, no matter that we got lucky and created a unique ecosystem rich with fish and wildlife and recreational opportunities, it must be destroyed for what it symbolizes.
Those of us on the conservation side see it another way.
Should we dig any more canals in Florida? No.
Should Rodman have been created in the first place? No.
But should it be destroyed. No.
Rodman should be conserved for the wonderful aquatic resource that we created, albeit unintentionally.
Created by man or by nature, it is a resource worth preserving and celebrating.