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Saturday
Jun222013

The Ones That Got Away --- from Bill Dance, Kevin Short, and Others

Bill Dance photo courtesy of Bill Dance

One of the essays in my new book Why We Fish is entitled “The Big Story.”

It explores our desire to “catch a big one” as a motivation for why we go fishing. And it includes the stories of several anglers, including Bill Dance and bass pro Kevin Short, who lost big ones that they’ll never forget.

Here’s an excerpt from Bill’s story:

But the next time the bass ran under the boat, the line went slack, and Dance retrieved his fishless popper.

He was devastated.

“I wanted to catch him so bad,” he remembers. “I went back there for weeks and months. I went back early and late. I went back at night.

“I fished up and down that bluff, knowing that smallmouth bass have home-range tendencies. I went for a year, I know.”

And he spoke often of the one that got away.

Finally, wife Diane said, “I know what that fish means to you. It will be imprinted on your mind for the rest of your life. I know how you feel and I am so sorry.

“But will you please stop talking about that fish?

Decades later, though, he still talks.

You can learn more about Bill’s battle with that big smallmouth and what happened afterward in Why We Fish.

Here are two links for purchase:

NorLights Press, the publisher

Amazon (both hard copy and Kindle)

Friday
Jun212013

Anglers Fight to Save Fishing Areas in Australia

Australian anglers are fighting to save “iconic fishing areas” from “Greens and other anti-angling groups.”

Read the story here.

And anglers in the United States should pay attention. Although much of their business is conducted in the shadows, those who want to stop us from fishing are hard at work over here. Among others, their tools are the National Ocean Council and campaigns for Marine Protected Areas, as well as attempts to ban lead fishing tackle and restrict access on the pretence of preventing the spread of invasive species.

Friday
Jun212013

FWC Explains Electrofishing in New Video

Electrofishing booms. Photo from FWC.

Check out this great new video from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, explaining how electrofishing is done and its benefits. It also provides good information on how to handle various species of freshwater fish, including bass and catfish.

Friday
Jun212013

Threat to Fisheries From Asian Carp, Zebra Mussels Continues to Grow

Zebra mussels can hitchhike from one fishery to another on outboard engines.

More bad news regarding aquatic invasive species. So what else is new?

First, the U.S. Geological Survey says in a June 18 report that four tributary rivers of the Great Lakes have conditions conducive for successful spawning by Asian carp. They include the Milwaukee and St. Joseph Rivers on Lake Michigan and the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers on Lake Erie.

Of course, the Asian carp must enter the Great Lakes first --- if they haven’t already.

Regarding that situation, a little good news does exist: The governor of Illinois says that he is in favor of severing the manmade connection between the Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” Pat Quinn said. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution.”

Until now, Illinois has sided with Chicago, Indiana, the Obama administration, and commercial navigation interests in opposing separation. Most of the other Great Lakes states want separation to protect the system’s billion-dollar fishery from Asian carp.

Additionally, separation would prevent migration of other invasive species in the future into and out of the Great Lakes.

The second piece of bad news is that a live zebra mussel has been found in Texas’ Lewisville Lake, less than a year after an established population was confirmed in Lake Ray Roberts, just a few miles to the north. Likely the mussel was brought in on a boat hull or trailer, but it could have drifted down the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

Mussel colonies can clog water intakes, costing metropolitan areas like Dallas/Fort Worth millions of dollars in maintenance costs over time to protect water supply reservoirs.

No matter where they are fishing, anglers should conscientiously inspect their boats and trailers when leaving a lake or impoundment to be certain that they are not about to transport these shellfish and other invasives.  If voluntary compliance isn’t enough to stop the spread, access restrictions inevitably will follow.

Thursday
Jun202013

Inactive Anglers Are Embarrassment in Fight for Bristol Bay and on Other Issues

Sadly, environmentalists and fishermen, who are conservationists, don’t have much in common these days. That’s because of much of the environmental agenda is inherently anti-fishing. 

Much of that stems from enviros refusal to differentiate between recreational fishing and commercial fishing.

As a matter of fact, anglers were among the first “environmentalists” because of their concern for clean water and healthy fisheries. Today, they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually for resource management through license fees and excise taxes on fishing tackle. And, unlike commercials, they keep only a tiny fraction of what they catch.

But stopping Pebble Mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one thing that enviros and anglers--- both recreational and commercial-- agree on. Its creation would lead to the devastation of one of the world’s few remaining unspoiled salmon fisheries.

More than 925 angling and hunting groups, as well as related businesses, now are on record as supporting EPA’s assessment of the danger and asking that agency to take the necessary steps to deny permitting for the mine.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post newspaper reports the following:

“Almost all the comments urging the EPA to block the mine have been generated by major environmental groups . . .

“The Natural Resources Defense Council produced 83,095 comments, more than any other group in favor of EPA action, while the Pew Charitable Trusts came in second with 41,158 comments.”

Now here is where you come in. You have until June 30 to voice your opposition to the mine. Go here to do so, and, in the process, enter a contest to win a fishing trip to Bristol Bay.

Thus far, the enviros have done most of the heavy lifting in producing comments. As of May 18, only about 6,000 sportsmen had participated.

In a nation where 60 million people describe themselves as anglers, that’s beyond pathetic.

“Sadly, fishermen have lagged, but not by any lack of effort,” said Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska. “Keep America Fishing sent out two notices to their massive list. Many other groups and businesses sent action alerts and posted to their Facebook groups, whose collective number of followers is in the millions.”

So, what all of this tells me is that sometimes enviros and anglers can agree on an issue, and that’s a good thing. Maybe one will lead to more.

But it also suggests that we’re going to lose when we oppose them on any issue that requires grassroots support. Almost certainly we outnumber them, but too many anglers are content to just go fishing and leave standing up for our sport to someone else.

Mark my words: Eventually, that’s going to bite us in the butt big time.