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Recreational Fishing: Its Power and Popularity

Photo by Robert Montgomery

There are approximately 60 million anglers in the U.S. of which 46 million are estimated to fish in a given year.

One of every four anglers fishes in saltwater.

Fishing tackle sales grew more than 16 percent in the past five years.

Since 2006, angler numbers grew 11 percent

More Americans fish than play golf (21 million) and tennis (13 million) combined.

If fishing were a company, the amount spent by anglers to support fishing-related retail sales would rank number 51 on the Fortune 500 list.

Fishing generated more revenue ($48 billion) than Lockheed Martin ($47 billion), Intel ($44 billion), Chrysler ($42 billion) or Google ($38 billion).

The economic activity generated by sportfishing is greater than the economy, measured in Gross State Product, of 17 states.

At more than 46 million anglers, more than twice the number of people fished in 2011 than attended every NFL game combined.

These statistics come from Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation. It is a report produced by Southwick Associates for the American Sportfishing Association.


A Lot Smells Fishy in This Blue Marlin Controversy

Even fishing is not immune from soap-opera drama, as evidenced by the disqualification of an 883-pound blue marlin that would have been worth $910,000 to its captors during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament out of North Carolina in June of 2010.

The case is now being argued before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Read the full story here.


Yeah . . . But Can You Catch a Python?

Photo by Pat Lynch of South Florida Water Management District

So . . . you can catch fish.

 But can you catch pythons? If you can or if you would like to find out if you can, check out Florida’s 2013 Python Challenge, in which prizes will be awarded to those who catch the longest and most Burmese pythons.

 Yet another exotic introduced by an irresponsible and under-regulated pet industry, the large, predatory python poses a threat not only to much of the wildlife in the Everglades, but to people and pets, as it expands its range in southern Florida.

The big question if you enter the challenge: What do you use for bait?


New York DEC Opens Door for Sale of Black-Market Bass

Hickling's Fish Farm photo of hatchery-raised bass.

In a move that is totally contradictory to its supposed mission, the New York Department of “Environmental Conservation” (DEC) is implementing a regulation that will damage not only its own bass fisheries but those in nearby states.

Largemouth bass now can be sold as food by fish markets to retail customers. Supposedly, these fish will be purchased only from licensed hatchery operators. Realistically, a store owner can --- and will --- buy black-market bass at the back door from a poacher or even an angler who legally harvested his limit and wants to make $50 to $60.

This will be possible because DEC does not require the fish to be tagged or marked in any way.

“This is unfortunately going to impact wild bass populations as the Asian markets in and around New York city realize how easy and more cost effective it will be to sustain their ‘hatchery-raised’ bass with black-market, wild-caught fish,” said Mike Cusano, former president of the New York B.A.S.S. Nation and chairman of the Onondaga County Fisheries Advisory Board.

“It’s very disheartening that more than 300,000 New York State bass anglers, who spend upwards of $250 to $500 million each year in New York State in pursuit of their favorite game fish, could have such little impact on influencing this regulation change.

“I guess that serial-numbered tagging to protect a $250 million-plus business is too unreasonable?”

One of the most preposterous arguments by the aquaculture industry in favor of the regulation is that hatchery-raised bass differ in color from wild bass. As any DEC fisheries biologist should know, bass vary in color based on water quality, weather, time of year, level of stress, and other factors.

“I may not be a lawyer, but I’m pretty certain the  New York State DEC is going to have issues writing tickets based on a perception of color differences of a bass, especially when the person who owns the fish produces paperwork and accounting that all checks out,” Cusano said.

Here is DEC’s press release about the regulation.

Here is an argument against the regulation by the Onondaga County Fisheries Advisory Board.

Here’s is a newspaper article about the change. Be sure to read the comments.


Bass Out of Water

Crestliner photo

(This is another of my articles written originally for young readers, but which contains information of benefit to all fishermen.)

If sharks had feet, they would wear out a lot of shoes.

Many species of sharks, along with tunas, must constantly move in order to breathe. That can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep.

Bass and most other fish are lucky. Like us, they can breathe while they are not moving. And like us, they breathe to put oxygen into their bodies so that they can live.

But bass, sharks, and all other fish are very different from us in how they get that oxygen. We breathe in air so that our lungs can obtain oxygen. By contrast, fish push water through their mouths and across their gills, which take in the oxygen that they need. Most fish just open and close their mouths to push the water, while tunas and some sharks must move to do so.

Having gills, makes a bass a real “fish out of water” when you pull it onto shore or into your boat. Unless you treat it with care and put it quickly into a livewell or back into a lake or river, it will die because it can not get the oxygen it needs from air.

Some species, such as catfish, can live longer out of water than others. But always it is a good idea to return a fish to water as soon as possible.

In that watery world, a bass breathes by opening its mouth and drawing in water. As it does that, it closes its gill covers tight over its gill openings.  Then it closes it mouth and drives the water over its gills and out with special throat muscles.

Gills are those bright red feathery organs that you see beneath the gill covers, or operculum, on the side of a fish’s head. As water is passed through, oxygen is absorbed through the gills and into the fish’s blood. From there, arteries take it throughout the body. As the oxygen is used up by the stomach, brain, liver, and other vital organs, the blood flows to the heart, where it is pumped back to the gills.

Some water is better for breathing than other water. That’s why you should keep your livewell --- and your aquarium at home--- aerated. That means using turbulence from a pump to put oxygen into the water.

You must do this because fish, like us, produce carbon dioxide as waste as they breathe. In a closed container without aeration, a fish soon would use up all of the oxygen and die of suffocation, just as it does when left out in the air for too long. Turbulence replaces the carbon dioxide with live-giving oxygen.

Pumping oxygen in becomes even more important as the water heats up. That’s because warmer water can’t hold as much oxygen as can cooler. Also, a bass needs more oxygen in hot weather because it is cold-blooded and higher temperatures make it more active.

Bass sometimes die in small, shallow ponds during summer, because the water is so warm that it can’t hold enough oxygen for the fish to survive.

In the north, they also might die of suffocation in the winter, when ponds and lakes freeze over. Ice keeps the water from absorbing oxygen from the air. Also, snow cover on the ice can be a killer, as it prevents sun from reaching underwater plants. Without sunlight, plants don’t “breathe” in the water’s carbon dioxide and breathe out the oxygen that fish require.