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Louisiana's Vitter Calls Out NOAA for Failure in Managing Fisheries

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is pushing back against NOAA’s failure to implement its own allocation policies and to provide leadership and direction to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He says that he will “hold” the nominee to lead that agency until it agrees to address its responsibilities.

Even though the recreational fishery for red snapper is worth far more to the economy than the commercial, sports anglers are allocated just 49 percent of the catch, based on data from the 1980s. Back then, bycatch of juvenile red snapper by shrimp trawlers caused the recreational catch to decline by 87 percent.

“It shouldn’t have to come to this,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association.  “After all, NOAA is an agency charged with managing our public marine resources in a manner to achieve the greatest benefits to the nation and there is no way to manage any fishery to achieve that goal when the managing agency insists on adhering to an allocation that was set using catch history from the 1980s.  

“We really appreciate Senator Vitter stepping in to make NOAA Fisheries do its job.”

“Given all the turbulence surrounding Gulf red snapper over the past several years, it is past time to look at the fundamental underpinnings of how we manage this fishery,” added Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.  “Ignoring the problem is irresponsible.”

The Secretary of Commerce is legally obligated, along with the Fishery Management Councils, to establish procedures to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of fish harvest for Gulf red snapper – and every other federally managed fishery.  The Obama Administration three years ago committed to review guidelines for implementing fair and equitable allocations.  While some preliminary work has been done to develop options for moving forward with allocation reviews, so far, neither NOAA nor any Council has produced such guidelines. 

“Federal managers simply must address allocation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.  “Our system of federal fisheries management is broken to a point where a United States Senator is compelled to force a federal agency to do a fundamental part of its job.  We support Sen. Vitter’s continued efforts to make government act responsibly.”

Read more here.


Why We Fish 'Reminds Me Why I Can't Wait to Get Back Out Fishing'

Photos by Robert Montgomery

“I love to fish. But frankly, I sometimes tire of reading much of the typical fishing literature, most of which addresses the questions of how to fish and where to fish. It was so refreshing to read a book that not only addresses the oft-neglected question of why we fish, but does so from so many perspectives.

“I have read several such thought-provoking and reflective books about hunting (which I also love), but this is one of the few books that reminds me why I can't wait to get back out fishing and why I've been motivated to introduce others to this love. I appreciate the essay format of the brief chapters, each one can be consumed in a few minutes, but they leave the reader with much to ponder long after . . .”

The above is from one of four more five-star reviews of Why We Fish that have been posted at Amazon during the past week. Others are below. Many thanks to those who took the time and effort to share their opinions of my book.

“I really enjoyed reading Why We Fish. The author and other contributors really did a great job conveying the "why factor" that so many of us have a hard time bringing forth about whatever it is we have passions for. In this case it was fishing. But whether one fishes or not, they'll take pleasure reading the compilations.”

“A truly enjoyable read! Why We Fish by Robert Montgomery artfully explains the common thread and bond all anglers share. The book reminds us to value each moment of our lives, and that time spent fishing is time well spent. Thank you Mr. Montgomery for sharing the wonderful journey of your fishing adventures as well as bringing a sweet smile in remembrance of our own.”

“As a lifelong angler, I connected easily with the words of both Robert and his esteemed panel of contributors. It is a quick, and most enjoyable, read for those of us that live to have a line in the water. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has the same fishing affliction.”


22 Five-Star Reviews at Amazon for Why We Fish


The latest Amazon review is from Judy Tipton at New Pro Products. Thanks, Judy!

By the way, New Pro Products is the creator of a great new product that helps keep fish healthy in livewells. It's called the V-T2, and it's inexpensive and easy to install. Check it out at a previous Activist Angler post.


Oh, No! More Great Reels From Shimano

Why, oh, why must Shimano torture me by producing new and better baitcasting reels on a regular basis? My old Curados and Chronarchs are working just fine, thank you very much.

In fact, they’re more than fine. They just keep on performing as well as they did when I purchased them years ago. In fact, I told that to someone who does marketing for Shimano after he told me about the new reels.

“I hear that comment often about Shimano tackle,” he said.

And, yet, here they are: the Antares and the Metanium:


The Antares series are the 'flagship' baitcasting reels in Shimano's global tackle lineup; the Metanium series offers anglers extremely lightweight reels  in three different gear ratios for the optimum speed for specific techniques,” said my marketing friend.

The Antares four-reel series includes the 100 and left-hand 101 models with a 5.6:1 gear ratio, retrieving in 26-inches of line per crank. “This is the ideal ratio to fish lures that keep constant tension on the line such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits,” said Robby Gant with Shimano’s product development team.

To fish jigs and worms, soft plastic and Carolina rigs, “anglers will want to turn to the Antares 100HG and 101H reels with a quick 7.4:1 gear ratio. They will crank in nearly 34-inches of line per crank,” Gant noted.

Added features to the Antares baitcasting reels include a “G Free Spool II,” a large diameter, ultra-light Magnesium spool, and a cone shape level wind guide to reduce line friction.

“Both these features combine to maximize casting distance and performance,” Gant said. “Plus we reduce overall weight even more with our ‘Super MG’ frame – the reason we stress highly that the Antares reels be used the freshwater only.”

All four Antares reels have 10 S A-RB (anti-rust) ball bearings in strategic locations, a one-way roller bearing for no handle back play, and weigh in at 7.93-ounces. They’ll handle from 200 yards of 6-pound test mono to 120 yards of 10-pound test.

As the “flagship” reel, the Antares retails for $599.99.


Meanwhile, the new Metanium series includes six reels – the 100/101 (left-hand retrieve) with a 6.2:1 gear ratio to reel in 26-inches of line per crank; the 100HG and 101HG reels in 31-inches of line per crank with a 7.4:1 gear ratio; and the 100XG and 101XG with a super fast 8.5:1 gear ratio – ideal for coming tight quick when flipping or punching by retrieving almost 36-inches of line per crank.

Along with being extremely lightweight reels (6 ounces total weight for the MET-100, 101, 100HG and 101H – 6.2 ounces on the 100XG and 101XG), anglers are also introduced to Shimano Micro Module gear system.

“This new gear set makes use of smaller teeth – and more of them – to provide more contact points between the drive gear and pinion gear,” said Robby Gant with Shimano’s product development team. “And while anglers worldwide know our reels are smooth, the Micro Module gear system does take this smoothness to another level.”

To keep it all lightweight, “we construct the frame with our ‘Super MG’ magnesium material, and also use it on the handle side plate,” Gant noted, “while with the other side plate we keep things both light and add durability by using our proprietary CI4+ material.”

Gant added that even with the magnesium material used in the frame, the Metanium reels can be used for light tackle saltwater situations – with the appropriate freshwater wash off after every use.

All six Metanium reels have 9 S A-RB (anti-rust) ball bearings in strategic locations, and a one-way roller bearing for no handle back play. They’ll handle from 200 yards of 6-pound test mono to 120 yards of 10-pound test.

The Metanium retails for $419.99


Recreational Fishing for Gulf Red Snapper at Risk

For years now, I’ve been warning about Catch Shares, a scheme by the Obama Administration to privatize public saltwater fisheries by dividing them into “shares.” When/if such a strategy is applied to a recreational or mixed (recreational and commercial) it would cap participation, denying recreational anglers access to public waters.

Related to this threat, is a push by environmental groups and the commercial sector to reduce the share of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico reserved for recreational fishing. As I reported at Activist Angler in May, Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster) believes that anglers should get less and commercials more.

Right now, commercials get 51 percent and recreation 49, even though sports fishing is far more valuable economically than is commercial fishing.

Here’s the latest, as reported by the Outdoor Hub:

In a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee on June 27, EDF’s Pam Baker specifically asked members of Congress to consider catch shares as a new way of managing our coastal anglers. “For example, states can try methods such as harvest tags, similar to those used to allot hunting privileges for limited game populations like deer and elk,” Baker said, explaining how “tags could be allocated throughout the year to accommodate tourist seasons, tournaments, and other priorities.”

Very similar to the lead balloon introduced by a conservation group at the Gulf Council back in 2009, Baker and EDF suggest that “Angler management organizations, which receive a given amount of fish to distribute at the local level and allow anglers to manage themselves in cooperation with regulators, also have promise.”

RFA (Recreational Fishing Alliance) and its members were quick in leading the charge in the Gulf region in 2012 to rally opposition to a plan which would have separated the recreational sector into sharply divided pieces. The Council ultimately held off on voting on the plan, but regrettably that means that the idea is still in place.

“It’s hard to believe but we have some members of our fishing community who’ve already compromised away some fairly critical positions, first giving in to cap and trade fisheries policies as being appropriate for the commercial sector, and now yielding to the concept of trading shares amongst the charter and head boat community,” RFA's Jim Donofrio said. “EDF is running towards the goal-line with this new plan to privatize all fisheries, and unless anglers fight back now I really believe it could be the end of recreational fishing as we know it.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will be meeting Oct. 28-Nov. 1 in New Orleans, and the Share the Gulf coalition said it plans to alert members of the restaurant and seafood communities, elected officials, and consumers of these plans and their dire economic consequences. It is expected that all of the EDF ‘catch share’ supporting members will be in attendance for these meetings.

Representing RFA in an effort to fight for the rights of recreational anglers will be Capt. Tom Adams and Capt. Buddy Bradham. Join Capt. Buddy this Saturday starting at 4 p.m. at the Fat Cat Tavern in Tri-Cities Plaza, 16080 US Hwy 19 North in Clearwater, Fla., for an open discussion on fisheries management.

“I listened to the testimony at the Pensacola, Florida, Gulf Council meeting and got very confused,” Capt. Bradham said. “A group of New Orleans chefs were there testifying about how the commercial fishermen needed more quota because they could not keep enough fish at their restaurants to supply the American consumer, yet the commercial fishermen were testifying that they wanted the Gulf Council to move forward with the inter-sector trading plan to allow commercial fishermen to lease quota to charter boats and recreational fishermen.”

 “I am still scratching my head,” Capt. Bradham added. “Do the commercial fishermen want to fish for the chefs and American consumer or do they just want to sit back and lease their quota to the recreational sector? They can’t have it both ways.”