If you can get to Del Rio Oct. 18 or 19, you can be part of what makes this country great--- people stepping up to help friends, and even strangers, in time of need.
And the more who go, the more likely it will be that national media cover this historic event in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bass anglers rally to help a local economy dependent on fishing.
The government shutdown has forced closure of access to Lake Amistad, which is managed by the National Park Service. It’s one of the country’s best bass fisheries, and a magnet for tournaments, as well as anglers looking to catching bragging-size bass.
But with no fishing allowed, the hotels and restaurants are empty, and the citizens of Del Rio are suffering.
That tragedy has prompted Tim Cook and Grant Goldbeck, along with other activists, to plan an Anglers for Access rally Oct. 19.
“Lake Amistad and the community are very dear to me,” said Goldbeck. “The first time the Elite Series went there was at the start of my career on the (B.A.S.S.) Tour. I have been a lot of places since and still have not found a community that makes me feel as welcome every time I go there to fish.
“I have met so many people there that I now call friends and simply find it hard to swallow watching their economy suffer and how it affects each and every one of them.
“This is happening all over the country to hard-working Americans and even soldiers who have fought for our country and their families have suffered. To know this and not do something about doesn't work for me anymore.”
Goldbeck, Cook, and Carl Wengenroth of The Angler’s Lodge on Amistad emphasized that the event will be peaceful, and troublemakers are not welcome.
“We want to make it a political media event, and not a confrontation,” Wengenroth said. “We want 500 to 1,000 boats lined up along the highway to be filmed and we want city officers and local businessmen to be interviewed by the media about the harm this is doing.”
Cook, conservation director for the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation, added, “We want to put heads in beds for two nights to help local businesses and we want to raise exposure about how this shutdown is hurting people. We’re asking people to come down and spend the weekend, just as if they were coming to fish a two-day tournament.”
Cook also said that “our problem is with Congress and the President. The park superintendent has been very supportive of the angling community. He’s just doing what he is told to do.”
In addition to a 9 a.m. rally at the Plaza Del Sol Mall and then the drive to the Diablo East access at 11, some anglers with their boats also will participate in the annual Amistad Friendship Parade on Saturday, which commemorates the U.S./Mexico partnership for creation of Lake Amistad on the Rio Grande River.
Goldbeck has no idea how many will show up for the rally and drive, but he said that response so far has been “awesome.” The Facebook page, where updates are posted, already has more than 1,000 “likes.”
The pro angler noted that he received 380 e-mails in one day from people who said that they were going to attend. He also pointed out that Del Rio has plenty of hotels/motels to accommodate supporters, with a list posted on Facebook.
The eagerness with which people have responded, he added, is leading him to believe that maybe the Anglers for Access brand also can be used for other charitable causes. “We don’t know where this will go,” he said. “But we want people to know that they can make a difference.”