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Tell Maine That You Oppose Ban on Plastic Baits

Even if you don’t live in Maine, voice your opposition to that state’s proposed bill to ban use of all soft plastic baits. (The bill actually refers to the baits as "rubber worms.")

Here’s what Keep America Fishing says:

“This legislation is now going to a working session of the Maine Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“In order to show just how many anglers across the country are concerned by this bill, we ask that you sign our petition in a show of solidarity. This petition will be presented to the Committee so that they can see that banning soft baits not only affects their own residents and anglers but also anglers nationwide.

“By signing the petition, you are telling the Committee that you ‘do not approve of unfounded bans on soft baits. Arbitrarily banning widely used tackle such as this would have a tremendous impact on everyone from individual anglers to tackle manufacturers to state wildlife management agencies that protect our resources. Further study must be conducted and decisions must be based on sound science.’”

Go here to sign the petition.


Dance, Houston, Martin Form Legendary Partnership

Bill Dance

More than 40 years ago, Jimmy Houston thought that he had “arrived” when he was given a handful of Mister Twister worms as a reward for his in-the-money finish at a tournament on Sam Rayburn Lake.

Little did he know that his journey had just begun.

Bill Dance and Roland Martin began just as inauspiciously. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, all three entered bass tournaments not because of dreams of stardom but because they loved to fish and they loved to compete.

As they fished, however, each realized that ultimate success in this fledging sport would come not from competing but from marketing themselves and their growing expertise in how to catch North America’s No. 1 gamefish. Following decades of personal appearances, seminars, endorsements, commercials, and producing their own televisions shows, it’s safe to say that no one has done it better than these three legends of the outdoors.

As Babe Ruth was to baseball, Walter Payton was to football, Dale Earnhardt was to NASCAR, so are Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, and Roland Martin to sport fishing.

And as beneficial as each is for any product that he endorses because of his reputation, imagine the marketing potential of all three combined.

We’re about to see that potential fulfilled with Th3 Legends.

“The  brand is just another way of us working together with recognized credibility and, you know, when all is said and done, credibility is a really valuable possession,” said Dance.

“A man’s name is his most important possession. No amount of money can replace it. Without it, you might as well hang it up; you’re a backlash!

“Jimmy, Roland, and I have over 100 years of established credibility. That says a lot, and I hope the public will recognize that when they consider anything carrying our new Th3 Legends brand.”

This new marketing strategy was proposed to the three during the ICAST show in July. A long-time associate of Martin, Walt Reynolds, and Tom Donlan made the pitch.

“We had been working on the idea for three years,” said Reynolds, senior vice-president of sales and marketing. “The Legends didn’t know about it until we brought them together at ICAST.”

But they were quickly won over and the company officially formed in August. Similar ventures have been introduced over the years, including one in professional football, but none with the star power of Th3 Legends.

“All three of us saw Th3 legends as the opportunity of a lifetime,” Dance said. “The bottom line is that the power of three will surely be a lot stronger than the power of one.”

Businesses, both inside and outside of fishing, quickly saw the potential as well. “We thought that we’d need a year to get this going, but the response has been overwhelming,” said Reynolds, who added that Th3 Legends will focus mostly on nonendemic products.

“We’re going to stay away from things like rods, reels, and lures to avoid sponsor conflicts,” he added.

Already eight licensees have been confirmed, according to Donlan, executive vice-president and co-owner, who predicts a strong launch of products during the latter part of this year.

“You mention all three and it’s really magnified to the power of six,” he said.

Jimmy Houston

“These guys are not just the fishing legends of this country, but of the world. Folks in Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and other countries are interested in this. This is going to be a global brand.

“These are the finest gentlemen that I know, and they have a combined 100 plus years on television and in this market. The possibilities are endless in all categories.”

Well, almost all. Th3 Legends will not endorse tobacco and alcohol products. “We’ve had offers, but this is a legacy that we want to build on,” Reynolds said. “These guys are mentors and they want to set standards.

“We took a vote and agreed that these products are fine for adults, but not for kids.”

Houston added, “Th3 Legends represents more than just a brand, more than just fishing, and certainly more than just three good old boys who have made a living fishing on television for more than 110 years.

“They have become the face of outdoor television throughout most folks’ lifetimes. They represent integrity in a fun-filled industry, but in a world where honesty and integrity are rare.”

In contrast to alcohol and tobacco, automotive “is going to be huge for us,” Reynolds said. “We already have seven contracts on the table.”

He attributes that to the fishing-country music-NASCAR demographic, which consists of about 150 million people. “Maybe not everyone is a fan of Bill or Jimmy or Roland,” he said. “But millions of people do like each one of them and when you combine those three communities with that demographic, their reach will be huge.”

Plenty of food items also will carry the Th3 Legends brand.

“Cornbread, hush puppies, peanut oil, and fish fry mix are some of our initial products,” Reynolds said. “We’re doing the design for the packaging and the items should be in retailers by mid 2013.”

 General outdoor products, including coolers and chairs also will be branded, as well as toys and a few fishing accessories, including pliers, fish grippers, and line scissors. Altogether, 15 categories of products are in development, according to Donlan.

An exclusive line of apparel likely will be one of the biggest sellers.

“We want more revolutionary in function and fashion, but not over the top,” he added.

“We don’t want to do ‘me too’ items. We want products with more features and better quality, and we want to bring the price down.”

Whatever the item, all three must approve of it before it can be branded. “This will preserve and protect the Legends from conflict,” Reynolds said. “They control their own destiny.”

But Th3 Legends will be about more than selling branded products, he emphasized. For one thing, Dance, Houston, and Martin will use the brand to help raise funds for charities.

Additionally, they will introduce new industries to the untapped potential of sport fishing and, in the process, improve financial opportunities for other anglers.

“We’re going to educate these companies about how they can bring in new revenue by working with fishermen. We want to convince them that this is a market that they can reach, although they might not have thought about it before,” Reynolds said.

“And we want to educate these younger guys about how to make a living in the outdoors. That’s one of the main ways that we want to give back.”

Th3 Legends is “bigger than making money,” Donlan added. “We’re going to use the power of our success to help others. We’re going to make legends for the future.”

 Roland Martin

What Makes a Legend?

Who’s a legend in the world of sport fishing and why?

“There are lots of awesome fishermen out there, but they haven’t qualified as legends,” said Walt Reynolds, a founder of Th3 Legends. “Kevin VanDam is close to legendary in terms of his accomplishments.

“But Roland Martin is a member of five halls of fame. And I could go on and on like that about all three of these guys. Over the past 40 to 45 years, these guys have set the standard for what’s legendary.”

Perhaps what makes Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, and Martin  most notable is their longevity on television, combining more than a century of experience. And all three star in weekly programs carried by the NBC Sports.

Dance began his television career in 1968 on an ABC affiliate in Memphis. “Bill has a special knack for connecting with his viewers,” said Tony Mack, Dance’s producer for 36 years. “It’s hard to explain, but whatever he does, it works. People love it.

“Bill’s never met a stranger, whether it’s at some rural little boat dock or at a big outdoor show in Las Vegas,” he added. “And it’s genuine; he likes people, and people like him. That’s the key to his success.”

Likewise, Houston and Martin have used broadcasting to share their love of angling for decades with millions of dedicated fans. In addition, they have continued to fish competitively, each accumulating more than $1 million in winnings.

The author of five books, Houston competed in 15 Bassmaster Classics and won B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year in 1976 and gain in 1986. For 20 years, his “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” ranked consistently as the No. 1 outdoor program on ESPN. Making more than 120 personal appearances a year, he is considered one of the hardest working pros in bass fishing.

Meanwhile, Martin has won an impressive 19 professional tournaments and accumulated 20 second-place finishes. He attended the Bassmaster Classic 25 times and was B.A.S.S. Angler of the year nine times.

“Roland was one of the earliest to grasp deep-water structure fishing,” remembered Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S. “Before depth finders, he mastered the triangulation technique to locate structure and later became an early advocate of sonar technology.

“He was one of the first ‘scientific’ anglers on the B.A.S.S. trail.”

When Martin won the B.A.S.S. Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004, he said, “How can this be? It’s such a perfect life.”

Dance and Houston would tell you much the same thing. As legends of the sport, they’re living the dream.

(This article appeared originally in Fishing Tackle Retailer.)


Ban on Plastic Baits Proposed in Maine; Voice Your Opposition Now

To quote Red Forman from “That ‘70s Show”: “Holy Crap!”

Legislation is being proposed in Maine to ban the use of soft plastic baits. And to show you just how uninformed the perpetrators of this idiocy are, they refer to the baits as “rubber.” Never mind that no scientific research indicates that fisheries are harmed by use of the baits.

Keep America Fishing says this:

“On January 17, state Representative Paul Davis introduced H.P. 37/L.D.42, legislation that would prohibit the use of all 'rubber' lures.

“The legislation seeks to ban ‘rubber’ baits but does not define the term.

"Even so, the intent of the legislation is clear – to ban the soft baits that Maine anglers use every day.

“Technically, there are no ‘rubber’ baits on the market as soft baits are made from various substances, none of which are rubber. The bill would even ban biodegradable soft baits currently available. The legislation does nothing to encourage further understanding of this perceived problem or to improve angler education on the use of soft baits.

Please, go directly to Keep America Fishing to send a letter to the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife opposing this bill.”

Coverage of this issue also is at


Why We Fish, the Book

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”  --- Henry David Thoreau

 I’m putting together a book about why we fish. It’s entitled, appropriately enough, Why We Fish. Most of the book will consist of essays written by me.

But I’m also including a few others who have something interesting and insightful to say about why we fish. Bill Dance is one of my contributors.

Would you like to be?

If you have a personal story or experience that speaks to one (or more) of the many reasons that keep us going back to the water, please tell me about it.

Plug “Why We Fish” into "search" on this page (upper right) to get a rough idea of what I’m talking about. I’ve written several short pieces for this website on the subject. Most of these posts are shorter than those essays that will be in the book, but they still will give you an idea of the subject. A few of the essays, though, will be just a few hundred words.

If you’d like to share a story with me, click “contact me.” Send me an e-mail telling me a little bit about what you have in mind, and I’ll respond with my e-mail address so that you can send your story to me directly.

If you submit something, though, I can’t guarantee that I will use it. And I reserve the right to edit for clarity, punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. (I’m a former English teacher, by the way.)

But if you do have something to say on this subject, I hope that you’ll contact me.

I also hope that you will buy the book! 


Amendment Could Weaken Protection for Missouri Streams, Fisheries

The rusty crayfish is but one of several species that threaten Missouri streams.

It appears that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Conservation Commission might be on the verge of weakening the regulation that it implemented in March 2012 to protect Missouri streams from invasive crayfish. If it does so, native ecosystems, especially smallmouth bass streams, likely will pay the price for this concession to the Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) and the aquaculture industry.

Those two special interests pushed hard against the original regulation. Last year, they also collected signatures statewide against the move to prohibit the import, sale, and purchase of live crayfish for use as fishing bait, as well as for pond stocking and as pets for food.

And don’t forget that we have fish farmers (in other states) to thank for the Asian carp invasion now devastating fisheries throughout much of the country. They persuaded decision makers that the economic interests of aquaculture were more important than protecting ecosystems and native species from invasive species.

Why does Missouri need this regulation? Read these previous posts at Activist Angler:Missouri Needs Angler Support to Protect Fisheries from Invasive Crayfish and Invasive Crayfish Threaten Fisheries.

The amendment would allow the virile, or Northern, crayfish to be purchased for re-sale and sold for use as live bait. It still could not be imported from another state.

But research by MDC biologists indicates that the virile crayfish poses a significant threat. Here’s what they discovered in investigating crayfish invasions in Missouri:

“In February of 2012, U.S. National Park Service (NPS) biologists contacted MDC to report they had discovered an invasion of virile crayfish in the upper Current River watershed.  They had discovered the species at 13 locations along the Current River watershed, totaling about 42 stream miles.  Invasions were later confirmed by MDC staff, working with NPS staff. 

“Current River is in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, is one of the most recreationally important (canoeing, fishing, etc.) rivers in Missouri, and NPS staff were concerned about effects of this invasion on the river’s ecology and fishery.  Nobody has yet studied this invasion to determine effects.  However, NPS biologists noted several sites where virile crayfish outnumbered native crayfish and numbers of native spothanded crayfish (Orconectes punctimanus) were notably lower than expected (relative to observations from around the watershed).”

With research beginning only in 1999, biologists say that they aren’t yet certain how much of this species distribution in Missouri is native and how much is invasive. But they say that the virile crayfish is a “very hardy and adaptive species” that can be highly invasive.  

Additionally, Charlie Rabeni, retired leader of the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, says this:

“I have studied streams and crayfish in particular in Missouri Ozark streams for over 30 years. I am in total agreement with other experts who see any change to the prohibition of selling any species of crayfish to be potentially very harmful to stream biodiversity and to smallmouth bass and rock bass.”

If you want to help protect Missouri streams and smallmouth fisheries, voice your opposition to the amendment and support for the original regulation in a letter to the Missouri Conservation Commission (c/o Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102.)

Here’s what is coming up in the process to amend the regulation, according to MDC:

“The annual code review where the Regulations Committee will be discussing the proposed amendment to the crayfish regulation will be on Wednesday February 13, 2013 at the Missouri Department of Conservation Headquarters building in Jefferson City starting at 10 a.m. in the auditorium.

“Once this amendment to the regulation is proposed, it will go to the Department’s Regulations Committee for review. With the approval of the Regulations Committee and Director, the proposed regulation changes would then be presented to the Conservation Commission for approval. If approved by the Commission, the regulation changes would then be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office and posted for public comment.” Pending comments, the new regulation would then take effect March 1, 2014.”