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Lew's Launches Rod Series to Honor, Assist Veterans

Lew's  has officially launched its American Hero Speed Stick rod series “out of genuine respect for America's military veterans and with a sincere promise to never forget them.”

American Hero is more than just a product line though. It is a program that Lew's developed as a way to help organizations that support veterans in their return to life after military service, and especially those organizations that use fishing as part of the transitional process. American Hero has already provided fishing gear support to a few such groups, including FOCUS Marines Foundation, Reel American Heroes Foundation and Operation HOOAH.

Lew's CEO Lynn Reeves says his company's decision to give back to veterans is probably the easiest one his management team has ever made.

"We have an obligation to those who have served our country, and this is one small way that the folks at our company can say 'thank you,'" he explained. "I can promise you there is no marketing-driven agenda behind American Hero. Our intentions are truly based on wanting to help veterans get an opportunity to enjoy some of the same activities that we have been participating in while they've been on duty, such as fishing.

"As many of us who fish recreationally already know, there's nothing like being in the neutral setting of the great outdoors with family and friends, and having a rod and reel in hand, to refresh the mind and soul."

A portion of the profits from the sale of American Hero and other specially identified Lew's products go into a budget line item for the program. Company officials review rod and reel requests from organizations, mostly focusing on those groups that provide assistance to veterans with health concerns.

Steve Kokai, a veteran who also works in the fishing industry, originally owned and trademarked the American Hero brand.

"It was during an unrelated phone visit with Steve that I realized he and Lew's shared a similar vision as to what American Hero was all about," said Gary Remensnyder, Lew's president.

"It wasn't long after that he graciously made the brand available to our company. Steve is active in programs like the Reel American Heroes Foundation of Virginia that helps wounded warriors and veterans of all services, and we consider him a valued ally in our efforts to provide meaningful support to such organizations. We couldn't have a better name than American Hero for this initiative."


Those Who Want to Prohibit Fishing and Hunting Never Stop

Just a reminder that as we fishing and hunt and generally mind our own business, those who want to stop us are hard at work. Unless we actively oppose them, they will win, first the small skirmishes and, eventually, the big battles. We ignore them at our own peril.

Here’s what is going on.

“We are seeing a nationwide influence by those who oppose, and very successfully, the age-old role of hunting and fishing in wildlife management. A recent example occurred in Michigan where a national anti-hunting organization, well-funded, sent their people and bankrolls into the state to circulate petitions and generate support for overturning a long standing dove hunting season. The sportsmen there laid back and wildlife support groups were less than serious and aggressive in countering the out-of-state national group of anti-hunting offensive.

“The election resulted in a majority of the Michigan citizens voting to repeal the long standing dove hunting season. Considering Michigan is known as one of the nation’s predominant states with favorable habitat for wildlife and fish and a larger than average number of sportsmen, the election results were a surprise.

 “The effort to effectively end Maine’s traditional annual bear hunt is being led by a newly-formed organization called “Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting.” Its website is full of pictures of cuddly-looking bear cubs and emotional appeals.

“What is not so apparent, however, is the fact that the shadow-group is not made up of Mainers at all, but is simply a hollow website maintained by the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States.

“HSUS is an extremist group that misleads the public and profits greatly off of its prolific fundraising efforts. People may know it for its television ads that feature Sarah McLachlan singing and soliciting contributions to support its animal shelters. What is not mentioned is that only one percent of its $100 million racket actually goes to animal shelters.”

 “California AB 711 (Rendon) Hunting: nonlead ammunition – Would expand the current ban on lead ammunition for hunting in the range of the California Condor to prohibit the use of all lead ammunition for any hunting throughout the entire state.

Because the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has made a determination that rifle and pistol nonlead ammunition meets the tests for illegal armor piercing ammunition, AB 711 could result in stopping hunting with rifles and pistols as there would be no ammunition for these firearms that would be legal for hunting.”


Bass Aren't the Fastest, But They're Fast Enough


Illustration by Deb Meyer

Bass aren’t the fastest fish in the world. But no matter how quickly you retrieve that crankbait or topwater, you can’t get it away from them--- if they want it.

That’s because even the fastest reels are capable of retrieving baits at only 2 or 3 miles per hour. A bass, meanwhile, can swim in bursts of 12 to 18 miles per hour.

Most of the time, they don’t, not even when they’re feeding. That’s because bass are pot-bellied, ambush predators. Much of the time, they would rather chow down on a slow-moving worm or injured minnow.

The key to success when you’re out fishing is not to know how fast a bass can swim, but how fast it is willing to swim. Experiment with speed until you find the right one.

Knowing your reel’s “speed” is important for this. One reel can look almost exactly like another but be faster or slower.

“Speed” refers to the amount of line retrieved in one full turn of the handle. A fast reel (7.0:1 gear ratio) can take in 30 to 31 inches of line per turn, while a slower one (5.0:1) only 20 or 22.

If you’re fishing with a crankbait, you might think that you want a faster reel, but probably you don’t, says Jeremy Sweet of Shimano. That’s because fast reels are used mostly when fishing soft plastics, to take up slack line quickly before the hook set or to get the bait back to the boat in a hurry after it is out of the strike zone.

Although not always, slower reels usually are better for faster-moving crankbaits. For one thing, they allow time for the baits to go to their proper depths. For another, they allow for more erratic, lifelike action.

With some fish, especially many salt-water species, you do want a speedy retrieve. That’s because tuna, wahoo, dorado (dolphin), billfish, and others are roving hunters that chase down their prey.

No one knows for certain how fast the fastest fish can swim. But experts estimate that a leaping sailfish can hit 68 miles per hour, based on the fact that it can strip out 100 yards of line in 3 seconds.

Other speed demons include the swordfish (60 mph), marlin (50), and wahoo (47).

Not surprisingly, the flounder is one of the slowest in the ocean, poking along at 2.4 mph, about the same as an eel.

And in case you’re wondering: the flying fish can reach gliding speeds of 35 miles per hour.

(This article appeared originally in Casting Kids, a magazine for young anglers published by B.A.S.S.)


Gary Angler Makes Progress in Battle for Public Access

Sconiers created this image commentary to express his frustration with Gary city officials.

Silas Sconiers first contacted me more than a year ago about his fight to gain access for anglers in Gary, Indiana.  Incredibly, it’s the only city on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway without access--- even though it has 22 miles fronting Lake Michigan!

In addition to posting a couple of articles at Activist Angler (see below), I made a couple of phone calls on his behalf to federal agencies. But I have no idea if they were of help.

What I do know is that Sconiers has refused to give up, and it now appears that he is picking of momentum in his quest for access. In early September, the Gary resident and his allies met with officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Service. Additionally, the Post-Tribune interviewed Sconiers.

“It makes no sense that we don’t have access,” said Sconiers in explaining why he decided to file civil rights complains as a strategy to gain access. “Gary is comprised of 93 percent minorities. And we don’t have a place to fish. Something is wrong here. We just want the same opportunity as everyone else.

“They say the beaches are open to us. That’s a joke. The first time some sunbather gets a hook in his or her foot there will be hell to pay. A grown man can cast as far as he possibly can from the shore and still be in only a foot of water. And there’s no structure — just sand. When you fish off a pier, you’re fishing in 15 to 30 feet of water. That’s where the game fish are.”

Read the full story here.

Anglers in Gary, Indiana, Need Your Help to Regain Access to Lake Michigan

Gary, Indiana, Anglers Still Need Your Help to Gain Lake Michigan Access


Help Keep America Fishing

Surf anglers at Cape Hatteras. Photo from Outer Banks Preservation Association.

As a kid, I didn’t just love to fish.

I lived to fish.

Over the years --- and usually fishing --- I’ve met many who felt the same way about their childhood.

Reading comments on Facebook and in fishing forums, I can see that many adults never outgrow that feeling. That’s good.

In fact, the world would be a better place if more people felt that way.

I’m not talking about forsaking a family, giving up a job, and throwing away responsibility to go fishing 24/7. I’m talking about recognizing the value of fishing for relaxation, enjoyment of nature, and as a dangling carrot to get you from Monday to Friday. I’m talking about time spent with children and grandchildren that allows you to share knowledge and experience, as well as pass on the passion for a wholesome activity that has brought you so much happiness.

Sadly, many who do not fish are rising to power in all levels of government. They come from a background that says preservation --- look but don’t touch --- is better than conservation --- sustainable use of a resource through good stewardship. Some are adamantly anti-fishing, with close ties to extreme environmental groups. Others simply give no thought or value to recreational fishing and would consider its demise an acceptable loss for implementation of their agendas.

What can be we about this? Well, we could take them fishing. That really is the best solution. But we might have to abduct some of them to get them out of their cubicles, and that could get complicated and messy and charges might be filed.

The alternative is to organize and stand strong for recreational fishing. I know, I know: Fishing is your escape from things like organizing and standing strong. It takes you back to childhood, when living to fish was pure and uncomplicated.

I understand and respect that feeling. But I also know that neglecting to defend what you love against an overzealous enemy is the surest way to lose it.

The irony is that those of us who fish --- about 40 million annually --- far outnumber those who would take it away. But the latter are committed to a preservationist agenda, while we who fish are committed to fishing more than we are protecting our right to fish.

Or at least that’s the way that it has been.

“We’re the biggest recreational sporting group in the country, but we’ve hardly been organized enough to tie our shoes,” said Bob Eakes, owner of Red Drum Tackle in Buxton, N.C.

Eakes and his business were among the first casualties in this war against recreational fishing, where many of the early volleys are being fired at saltwater anglers. Under the guise of protecting birds and turtles, the National Park Service (NPS) elected to side with three environmental groups and shut down access to nearly half of the world-famous surf fishery at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The battle to reclaim that fishery is still going on, but there’s no doubt that the NPS is no friend to recreational fishermen.

“Twenty-one national parks are waiting to see how this plays out,” Eakes explained. “And we’re starting to see issues in freshwater as well.”

On inland fisheries thus far, recreational fishing is being attacked mostly by groups who want to ban lead fishing tackle and associations and municipalities who use concerns about the spread of invasive species to shut down access.

But more is on the way. By executive order, the new federal National Ocean Council can decide where you can and cannot fish on oceans, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes, and it has the authority to extend its reach inland to rivers and lakes.

That’s why your support for the Keep America Fishing  campaign is so vitally needed. “No one has been trumpeting the message that the public’s right to fish is at stake. But with Keep America Fishing (KAF), we now have a way to do that,” said Eakes.

Garnering more than 43,000 messages of opposition from anglers, KAF helped defeat an attempt to impose a national ban on lead fishing tackle in 2010.

Go there to learn about the issues, get involved, and make a donation. Also, buy KAF’s “FISH!” stickers from your favorite retailers.

“Keep America Fishing is helping keep anglers informed about what matters to us all,” said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

“Ninety-four percent of Americans approve of fishing, but some folks want to stop it,” said Gordon Robertson of the American Sportfishing Association.

“We have to fight to protect recreational fishing and Keep America Fishing gives anglers a way to help do that.”

(A variation of this article was published previously in B.A.S.S. Times.)