If you haven’t forgotten to put in the drain plug before you launch, chances are that you know someone who has.
Consequences can range from aggravating--- fishing is delayed--- to catastrophic--- the boat sinks.
But did you know that pulling that plug when you exit the water also is important? That’s because of the threat posed to our fisheries by exotic mussels and other invasive aquatic species, which can hitchhike in water left in the boat. Once established in a new water body, they crowd out native species, smother fish habitat, and block intakes, endangering public water supplies.
As zebra and quagga mussels have spread into Minnesota, across Texas, and over the Rocky Mountains, the danger has become even more acute, and resource managers are taking action. For example, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recently approved a rule requiring anyone leaving or approaching public waters in 17 north Texas counties to drain their boats and is proposing that 28 additional north and central counties be added to the mandate.
In some places, forgetting to take out that plug is going to hit anglers and other boat owners in the pocketbook, as they are fined for violating the law. That’s how seriously resource managers are taking this threat.
But for a few bucks you can be pro-active to protect yourself, your boat, and the resource, courtesy of the Safe Launch Drain Plug Reminder System developed by Steve Colsher and Ray Haber.
It’s ingenious, but simple and easy to install. You just place a metal flex hook into the drain hole. The hook is attached to a lanyard with a split ring carabineer that easily attaches to one of the transom/trailer tie-down straps. When you disconnect the tie-downs, you can’t help but be reminded to remove the hook and insert the plug.
Conversely, when leaving the water, you will see the Safe Launch lanyard, which will remind you to remove the plug and insert the hook, which does not impede water drainage.
Colsher told Activist Angler that he originally came up with the idea as a way to remind himself to put in the plug on his own boat. “But as time went on, and we were looking into things, we began to see this as a safety product that could save people $500 or $600 if they forget to plug out the plug.”
It also can help prevent the spread of invasive species, which is why the Lake Havasu Marine Association is partnering with Safe Launch. It promotes Safe Launch as part of its “clean, drain and dry” program for boats, while the company donates a percentage of sales to the association.
“This is a model that I think will work well with other associations,” Colsher said. “It’s a win-win for both.”
Lulled into carelessness by the lack of action, I thoughtlessly tossed my worm right into the teeth of the wind. The bait flew out about 10 yards and was stopped abruptly by the breeze. Loose coils of line spilled out of my reel in a large, cascading backlash.
“Oh, man!” I said. “This is going to take awhile.”
I sat down and began picking and pulling. Fortunately, it was not as bad as I had feared. About two minutes later, I was spooling the once-tangled monofilament back onto my reel.
As I tightened the line, I felt weight on the end.
(Excerpt from the essay "Speed Trap . . . Slow Down" in my new book, Why We Fish.)
Texas A&M will build a Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) at its Harte Research Institute (HRI) in Corpus Christi.
“The Island University is excited to have the first center of its kind in the nation dedicated to advancing sportfish management, science, and conservation,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, president and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “The new Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation will position the University as a national and international leader in addressing issues related to sportfish.”
Recreational saltwater fishing in Texas generates more than $981 million dollars in retail sales each year with more than 750,000 saltwater anglers supporting an annual economic impact of $1.7 billion dollars.
“We will contribute the expertise and the leadership needed to help ensure that the state’s multi-billion dollar recreational fisheries continue to thrive for future generations,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, executive director of the HRI. “The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation will provide a robust base of scientific knowledge to assure that the best decisions are made in managing fisheries and marine environments.”
Dr. Greg Stunz, director of the CSSC and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health at the HRI, added that both inshore and offshore, many challenges confront maintaining healthy sportfish populations. These threats include a changing environment that is seeing diminished freshwater inflows to estuaries; habitat loss due to coastal development; and increasing pressure from commercial fisheries.
“The Center will address the most critical issues and problems affecting sport fisheries today,” said Stunz. “Our team is ready to take on the challenges facing the recreational fishing industry along the Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico.”
In November 2012, the Coastal Conservation Association-Texas (CCA-Texas) pledged $500,000 to support the CSSC. CCA Texas is a leader in restoring the fisheries for spotted sea trout and red drum, advocating for freshwater inflows to Texas estuaries, habitat restoration, and education.
CSSC will provide hands-on research opportunities for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi graduate and undergraduate students. It also will be a hub for marine research for the Texas A&M University System and scientists interested in marine fisheries investigations.
As an angler, of course you know about the Fish Protection League. Right?
No? Well perhaps you know it by its previous name: The Campaign for the Abolition of Angling.
In all seriousness, it is not surprising that you don’t know of this organization. It is based in Great Britain.
But just as seriously, you should know about this organization and its alliance with another European group, The Blackfish. You should also know that it has ties (kept intentionally murky) to the Animal Liberation Front, an underground movement noted for using terrorist tactics.
You should know because the anti-angling attitudes these groups reflect already are present in this country, with their tactics inevitably to follow. And if you aren’t educated about and prepared to confront this enemy, you --- we all --- will lose. It’s as simple as that.
Thus far, mostly we have remained unharmed not because we beat back the enemy, but because our country is so large and diverse and because we are separated from this insanity by an ocean. But with improved technology and mass transportation, each day the earth grows figuratively smaller and the threat closer.
That’s not to say the battles haven’t already begun in this country. On Oct. 2, I documented one recent skirmish in Those Who Want to Prohibit Fishing and Hunting Never Stop.
The most sobering revelation from the research is that negative attitudes about catch-and-release fishing are frighteningly high in this country, even though overall approval of fishing remains overwhelming. In Europe, that attitude has enabled the antis to sell the argument that catch-and-release is cruel and fishing should be allowed only when the objective is to keep the catch for food. As a consequence, catch-and-release fishing is prohibited in Switzerland and frowned upon in Germany.
Of course, the antis won’t be content with that. Their ultimate objective is to eliminate fishing--- and hunting--- entirely. Stopping catch-and-release is simply a first step.
A big selling point for these groups is that fish feel pain, and they use all kinds of “studies” to bolster their argument. In truth, fish don’t feel pain because their brains are too primitive, as I explained in One More Time, Fish Do Not Feel Pain. But too often the media provide these anti-fishing groups with print space and broadcast time to make their case, without bothering to provide equal time for those of us who support recreational fishing.
Sadly, the slob behavior of a few --- leaving tangling fishing line behind, for example --- also is an effective weapon in their argument against recreational fishing.
In addition, they intentionally lump recreational angling in with commercial fishing in their marine campaigns. That’s because some stocks have been overfished by commercials. By linking the two groups, they can further vilify sports anglers, who have nothing to do with commercial overharvest.
What awaits us?
Let’s look at what’s already happened in Europe, courtesy of The Blackfish:
“Fishmongers and tackle shops were frequently vandalised as were delivery vehicles belonging to companies involved in the sale of fish as pets or meat. In 1987, delivery vans belonging to a company selling shark meat in Bournemouth were destroyed, and 12 goldfish were rescued from a fair ground in Rochdale. In 1998 a tackle shop in East London closed due to continuing pressure from the ALF.
* * * *
“Over the years, activists devised and promoted new ways of directly protecting fish from anglers. These methods generally involved frightening fish away from the anglers – for example by donning wetsuits and swimming in the water or by making loud noises – but simply engaging anglers in inane conversation to distract them from their task was also considered a worthy tactic.
* * * *
“In 2000 a national demonstration was held at the European Fishing Championships on the River Trent in Nottingham. Activists hung banners from bridges in full view of the competition, picketed local tackle shops, and one activist took to the water, swimming up and down and successfully disrupting the anglers for some time before being dragged from the water by police in a patrol boat and being arrested.
* * *
“Over the years, the CAA made more and more contact with anti-angling groups in other countries, seeing the beginning of a global movement to protect the welfare of fish. In 1992 Pisces reported that, for the second year running, 100 activists blockaded the Flanders Fishing and Hunting Exhibition in Belgium. The crowd was dispersed by violence from riot police, but, undeterred, the Belgian activists wrote to the CAA pledging to further their use of non-violent direct action against all types of bloodsports. Over the next few years, reports of anti-angling action in Australia, the USA and several European countries were reported in Pisces.
* * * *
“From its beginning, the campaign recognised the importance of educating young people about the suffering of fish. In 1993 the first issue of ‘Splash,’ the youth magazine, was produced, and by 1996 the main issue of the Pisces newsletter contained regular Youth Pages. Educational resources were produced, and members volunteered to give talks in schools.
“In 2000, the CAA teamed up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to do a mass mail out of educational resources to every secondary school in the UK. Over the years, the campaign attempted to create compassionate change in youth organisations, such as the Scouts and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which, sadly, to this day still encourage young people to take up angling.”