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Gary Angler Makes Progress in Battle for Public Access

Sconiers created this image commentary to express his frustration with Gary city officials.

Silas Sconiers first contacted me more than a year ago about his fight to gain access for anglers in Gary, Indiana.  Incredibly, it’s the only city on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway without access--- even though it has 22 miles fronting Lake Michigan!

In addition to posting a couple of articles at Activist Angler (see below), I made a couple of phone calls on his behalf to federal agencies. But I have no idea if they were of help.

What I do know is that Sconiers has refused to give up, and it now appears that he is picking of momentum in his quest for access. In early September, the Gary resident and his allies met with officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Service. Additionally, the Post-Tribune interviewed Sconiers.

“It makes no sense that we don’t have access,” said Sconiers in explaining why he decided to file civil rights complains as a strategy to gain access. “Gary is comprised of 93 percent minorities. And we don’t have a place to fish. Something is wrong here. We just want the same opportunity as everyone else.

“They say the beaches are open to us. That’s a joke. The first time some sunbather gets a hook in his or her foot there will be hell to pay. A grown man can cast as far as he possibly can from the shore and still be in only a foot of water. And there’s no structure — just sand. When you fish off a pier, you’re fishing in 15 to 30 feet of water. That’s where the game fish are.”

Read the full story here.

Anglers in Gary, Indiana, Need Your Help to Regain Access to Lake Michigan

Gary, Indiana, Anglers Still Need Your Help to Gain Lake Michigan Access


Help Keep America Fishing

Surf anglers at Cape Hatteras. Photo from Outer Banks Preservation Association.

As a kid, I didn’t just love to fish.

I lived to fish.

Over the years --- and usually fishing --- I’ve met many who felt the same way about their childhood.

Reading comments on Facebook and in fishing forums, I can see that many adults never outgrow that feeling. That’s good.

In fact, the world would be a better place if more people felt that way.

I’m not talking about forsaking a family, giving up a job, and throwing away responsibility to go fishing 24/7. I’m talking about recognizing the value of fishing for relaxation, enjoyment of nature, and as a dangling carrot to get you from Monday to Friday. I’m talking about time spent with children and grandchildren that allows you to share knowledge and experience, as well as pass on the passion for a wholesome activity that has brought you so much happiness.

Sadly, many who do not fish are rising to power in all levels of government. They come from a background that says preservation --- look but don’t touch --- is better than conservation --- sustainable use of a resource through good stewardship. Some are adamantly anti-fishing, with close ties to extreme environmental groups. Others simply give no thought or value to recreational fishing and would consider its demise an acceptable loss for implementation of their agendas.

What can be we about this? Well, we could take them fishing. That really is the best solution. But we might have to abduct some of them to get them out of their cubicles, and that could get complicated and messy and charges might be filed.

The alternative is to organize and stand strong for recreational fishing. I know, I know: Fishing is your escape from things like organizing and standing strong. It takes you back to childhood, when living to fish was pure and uncomplicated.

I understand and respect that feeling. But I also know that neglecting to defend what you love against an overzealous enemy is the surest way to lose it.

The irony is that those of us who fish --- about 40 million annually --- far outnumber those who would take it away. But the latter are committed to a preservationist agenda, while we who fish are committed to fishing more than we are protecting our right to fish.

Or at least that’s the way that it has been.

“We’re the biggest recreational sporting group in the country, but we’ve hardly been organized enough to tie our shoes,” said Bob Eakes, owner of Red Drum Tackle in Buxton, N.C.

Eakes and his business were among the first casualties in this war against recreational fishing, where many of the early volleys are being fired at saltwater anglers. Under the guise of protecting birds and turtles, the National Park Service (NPS) elected to side with three environmental groups and shut down access to nearly half of the world-famous surf fishery at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The battle to reclaim that fishery is still going on, but there’s no doubt that the NPS is no friend to recreational fishermen.

“Twenty-one national parks are waiting to see how this plays out,” Eakes explained. “And we’re starting to see issues in freshwater as well.”

On inland fisheries thus far, recreational fishing is being attacked mostly by groups who want to ban lead fishing tackle and associations and municipalities who use concerns about the spread of invasive species to shut down access.

But more is on the way. By executive order, the new federal National Ocean Council can decide where you can and cannot fish on oceans, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes, and it has the authority to extend its reach inland to rivers and lakes.

That’s why your support for the Keep America Fishing  campaign is so vitally needed. “No one has been trumpeting the message that the public’s right to fish is at stake. But with Keep America Fishing (KAF), we now have a way to do that,” said Eakes.

Garnering more than 43,000 messages of opposition from anglers, KAF helped defeat an attempt to impose a national ban on lead fishing tackle in 2010.

Go there to learn about the issues, get involved, and make a donation. Also, buy KAF’s “FISH!” stickers from your favorite retailers.

“Keep America Fishing is helping keep anglers informed about what matters to us all,” said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

“Ninety-four percent of Americans approve of fishing, but some folks want to stop it,” said Gordon Robertson of the American Sportfishing Association.

“We have to fight to protect recreational fishing and Keep America Fishing gives anglers a way to help do that.”

(A variation of this article was published previously in B.A.S.S. Times.)


How Fishing Makes Our Lives Better Revealed in New Book

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Have you heard the buzz about Why We Fish, a new book by award-winning writer Robert Montgomery? During the short time since its publication, it already has collected 19 five-star reviews at Amazon.

Bill Dance, one of the world’s most famous and beloved anglers, says this:

“Your new book, Why We Fish, is a perfect example of your unbelievable talents, Robert, and it’s absolutely a masterpiece.”

At Examiner, author Ron Presley adds:

“Robert Montgomery’s book is jam-packed with recollection, education, philosophy, and fun as it searches for an answer to Why We Fish. I recommend it highly.”

And at The Online Fisherman, publisher Gary Poyssick contributes:

“Whether you read it like one string of spaghetti coming out of a very tasty sauce, or you pick at it like those pistachio nuts you really should stop eating by the thirty-dollar pound, taste it. It is worth the chews, and so is anything this guy spends the time writing.”

In Why We Fish, Montgomery reveals that we fish to remember and we fish to forget. We fish when we’re happy, and when we’re sad. We fish to bond with friends and family, or to be alone.

Whatever our motivation, no matter where we on the success spectrum, he explains, fishing makes our lives better in ways we never could have imagined. It slows us down. It sets us free. It teaches us about nature, even while showing us how much we don’t know. And fishing becomes the foundation of our fondest memories.

Not wanting his voice to be the only one in the book, Montgomery also asked nine others to contribute. They include Bill Dance, Dave Precht (B.A.S.S.), Dr. Bruce Condello (, Kathy Magers, Ken Cook (Fishing Tackle Retailer), Steve Chaconas (Potomac River guide), Teeg Stouffer (Recycled Fish), Ross Gordon (Mystery Tackle Box), Ben Leal, and Timothy Chad Montgomery.

Published by NorLights Press, the 215-page book contains 50 essays. It is available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sellers.



Five-Year-Old Catches Bill Fish Grand Slam

Most of us will fish for a lifetime without catching a billfish “grand slam” ---- three species in the same day.

But following a day off the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her father, five-year-old Taylor Collins already has checked that accomplishment off her bucket list.

It’s an unofficial grand slam because she had help from the mate. Still, it’s an amazing feat.

Read the full story here.


Wind Can Be an Angler's Friend

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Pushing waves before it, wind can make boating difficult and sometimes even dangerous.

Wind also can make it tough for you to cast and even cause backlashes.

But when it doesn’t blow too hard, wind also is your friend. That’s because “reading it” properly can help you catch bass.

In fact, you’ll better know where to look for bass and how to make them bite in your favorite lake if you understand how weather in general affects them. Wind, however, is a primary key, as is cloud cover.

Know about these two aspects and the rest will fall into place, according to Bob Ponds, a former tournament angler who worked for years as a radar specialist and supervisor for the National Weather Service.

“I don’t think that it takes deep knowledge to use the weather,” he says. “It just takes common sense.”

Let’s start with the wind.

Don’t look for a place to get out of the wind, so casting and boat handling will be easier. Instead focus on the wind-blown banks and shallow points. That’s because the wind pushes plankton against it. Shad, minnows, and other baitfish then move in to feed and bass follow.

During clear, colder weather, such places also draw bass because the wind blows in upper layers of water that have been warmed by the sun.

Also, wind stirs up the surface, hindering light penetration. That creates a low-light condition below the surface, making bass feel more secure, and so encourages them to feed more aggressively. This is especially true in clear water.

Because bass prefer darker conditions, sunrise and sunset often are best times to fish, especially in shallow water. Cloudy days also can be prime, and, in fact, a topwater bite can continue from dusk until dawn when clouds and/or wind are right.

Many anglers believe that wind direction plays an important role in whether the bass will bite. In fact, an old adage says, “Wind in the east, fish bite least.”

Ponds says that’s not so. Also, he doesn’t believe that barometric pressure is as important as others insist.

Yes, a fish’s balance might be thrown off temporarily by decreasing or increasing atmospheric pressure from a passing front. That’s because its swim bladder contracts or expands with the change.

“But barometric pressure doesn’t affect how fish bite so much as indicates the conditions that affect how fish bite,” he says.

In other words, a low-pressure storm front brings with it clouds and wind. Both of those are good for the bite.

By contrast, high pressure behind that rain brings with it sunny skies and light winds. Both are bad.

“Wind in the east” signals that the clouds are passing and bright “bluebird skies” are on the way. That’s why it often is associated with poor fishing.

During winter, fish--- and fishermen--- also get hammered with colder temperatures when a high pressure moves in following low pressure. That makes for even tougher fishing.

But the angler who remembers that the wind is his friend will know where to fish during this difficult time.

(This article appeared originally in Junior Bassmaster.)