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Monday
Oct142013

Go to Amistad and Help Make a Difference

 

Empty parking lots are a familiar scene in Del Rio, where a government shutdown prevents anglers from fishing Lake Amistad.

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.”

Tackle shop at The Angler's Lodge is just one of many businesses in Dell Rio suffering because of the government shutdown. Photos by Carl Wegenroth

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.”

Monday
Oct142013

More Invasives Join Nutria in Destroying Louisiana Wetlands, Marshes

The nutria is one of Louisiana's most destructive invaders.

In Louisiana, the nutria, a rodent from South America, long has been the poster-child for the exotic species that are destroying that state’s wetlands and coastal marshes and threatening its native fish and wildlife.

But it is certainly not the only threat. Others include Asian carp, giant apple snail, tiger prawn, water hyacinth, and giant salvinia.

Learn more about the exotic species invasion of Louisiana in The Advocate newspaper. 

Friday
Oct112013

Florida Guides Rally to Demand Re-Opening of Fishing Waters

Agitated by the Washington budget impasse that has closed the waters of Everglades National Park, fishing guides in the Florida Keys spearheaded a rally Wednesday telling Federal officials to give them back their fishing grounds.

Participants aboard more than 100 boats, kayaks and paddleboards gathered near the park's eastern Florida Bay boundary, less than a mile off the Keys.

Although Keys state and offshore waters remain open to anglers, fall is a prime season for visitors to fish in the park's shallow waters for prized gamefish such as mangrove snapper, snook, tarpon, redfish and trout.

The park's land and water areas have been closed since Oct. 1. Fishing guides who depend on the resource for income have lost money and are frustrated with Washington leadership's bickering and inability to pass a budget to reopen all Federal resources. They add that, while they find no fault with officials based at the park, they are insisting that Department of Interior officials do something to provide reasonable access, especially if a budget solution is not reached.

"The park being closed means we can't go fishing, that means we can't make any money, and that means the days of fishing we are losing, we don't get back," said Randy Towe, a 35-year Florida Keys fishing guide who organized the protest. "Although we have offshore fishing, which is still good and that's all fine, but a lot of people come to specifically fish in the backcountry for its beauty for the different species of fish."

Towe said that more than 500 people participated in the rally to send a message to Washington.

"These are all people of the Keys, these are guides, these are bartenders, these are mates, they're captains, they're store owners, they're hotel owners, residents, so it's everybody getting together to stand up for what's going on because this really needs to get resolved before it gets any worse," he said.

From Florida Keys Newsroom.

 

Support Anglers for Access

If you are bass fisherman, you've invited to Anglers for Access Oct. 18 and 19 at Lake Amistad. Organizers Tim Cook and Grant Goldbeck would like to see 500 to 1,000 boats there for peaceful rally to support the Del Rio businesses whose livelihoods are threatened by the government shutdown.

"We want to make it a political media event, not a confrontation," said Carl Wengenroth, who estimates that he is losing $9,000 a weekend at The Angler's Lodge hotel and tackle shop, as well as $3,000  in just a single weekend morning at the cafe.

Check back here for more information, as well go to the Anglers for Access Facebook page.

Go here to read my article at Bassmaster.com about impact of the shutdown on fishing nationwide.

Thursday
Oct102013

ASA Calls Shutdown of Lands and Waters 'Ludicrous'

A statement from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is below. Right now, I’m compiling information from around the country about how anglers specifically and the public in general are being hurt by the government shutdown.

Check back here later to learn more.

By the way, the ASA stays away from blaming the Obama Administration directly for much of this. I’m not.

A government shutdown is one thing. But maliciously inflicting pain on the American people in a petulant snit is another. For much of what is happening now, the shutdown is just an excuse by this dictatorial administration because it believes that its opponents will be blamed for the harm that it is inflicting.

The feds are spending far more in money and manpower to keep people away from many areas than they normally do in terms of monitoring and maintenance for those areas. In fact, many of these places usually aren’t even staffed.

And, yes, I am going to go there. National Park Service rangers and other federal para-military staffers are acting like Gestapo. During the Nazi regime, lots of “good” Germans went along to get along.

That’s what is happening here, as federal employees do what they’re told instead of what’s right.

From ASA:

Millions of anglers are now locked out of federal lands and waters and thousands of small businesses are suffering because Congress and the Administration can’t agree on the nation’s finances.

According to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), federal agencies across the nation are warning anglers that they are not permitted to use public waters managed by the federal government during the federal shutdown. A statement from one federal land management agency says, “…facilities and lands are now closed to the public and public use activities have been suspended nationwide.”

“This is ludicrous,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “We understand that public facilities that require staffing, such as buildings and federally-operated marinas and hatcheries, are not open and that federal employees are not permitted to operate these facilities. But let’s face it, most of the federal areas used by anglers are undeveloped and the recreational user typically visits them many times without seeing a federal employee of any type.”

Robertson further said, “We know that many of the complaints being voiced to the Department of Interior are from angry anglers who have planned trips, spent money on plane tickets, guides, lodging and new equipment who now can’t make their trip.”

As the stalemate between the Administration and Congress continues, the damage to the recreation industry mounts. Federally-controlled waters have a sportfishing community support system that is comprised of lodging facilities, restaurants, guide services and bait and tackle shops, just to name a few of the services used by anglers. Sportfishing in the United States on federal lands supports more than 100,000 jobs, providing $984 million in federal taxes to the federal government and contributing $13.8 billion to the nation’s economy each year. 

“The public knows where staff is needed to manage facilities and developed areas and where they are not,” continued Robertson.

“More baffling are statements from federal agencies saying that law enforcement staff will be on hand to enforce the closure of these waters during this federal shutdown. For example, law enforcement staff in areas like Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park will be on hand to stop the public from entering park waters during the federal shutdown. Attempting to ban the public from areas of the ocean due to budgetary restrictions – while paying law enforcement officers to enforce the ban – defies logic and can only be viewed as intentionally burdensome. Where will the closures stop? Will the federal government close down the oceans' entire exclusive economic zone too?”

Aside from the edict from the federal government that all federally owned waters are closed to anglers and all outdoor enthusiasts, the impacts to conservation are considerable. Every day that passes represents approximately $2 million that doesn’t get spent on fisheries conservation and federal fish hatcheries that don’t meet their schedules for fish production. Not to mention the inability of thousands of federal conservation employees to do their job and an even greater number of volunteer fishery conservation efforts that fall by the wayside. The cost to fishery conservation is incalculable.

“Many segments of the economy are being damaged by the failure to come to agreement over the nation’s finances and the recreation community is not exempt,” concluded Robertson. “The American Sportfishing Association encourages anglers to go to Keep America Fishing and send a letter to their Members of Congress saying it is time to stop the shutdown and get the nation back on its financial track so resource conservation can move forward and the public can once again enjoy its public trust lands.”

Wednesday
Oct092013