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Friday
Sep212012

Fishing, Hunting Important for Nation's Economy

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) learned this week about the rise in hunting and fishing participation and its importance to this country.

"To put it in perspective, the 37 million sportsmen and women over the age of 16 in America is the same as the population of the state of California, and the $90 billion they spent in 2011 is the same as the global sales of Apple's iPad™ and iPhone™ in the same year," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

"Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country's outdoor heritage and they are critically important to our nation's economy - particularly the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities."

The CSC was briefed by a coalition of angling groups and the outdoor industry, with information obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation. To show the importance of fishing and hunting participation and expenditures, these groups compared them to mainstream industries.

Released in August, the data shows a 9 percent increase in hunters and an 11 percent increase in anglers, compared to the 2006 survey. (Since this information refers only to those 16 and older, actual participation is likely higher when adding in youth.)

Most importantly, hunters and anglers continued their strong spending habits. From equipment expenditures ($8.2 billion for hunters, $6.2 billion for anglers) to special equipment ($25 billion towards boats, RV's, ATV's and other such vehicles) to trip-related expenses totaling over $32 billion, sportsmen and women continue to direct their discretionary income toward their outdoor pursuits.

"The economic impact of hunting and fishing is profound in South Dakota and across the country," said Sen. John Thune (South Dakota), Republican Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "It's important that we have policies that promote hunting and fishing and support the outdoor industries."

"People don't think about hunting and fishing in terms of economic growth," added Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), Democratic Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "The statistics in the new economic impact report are great and will go a long way to telling the public just how important hunting and fishing are in this country."

Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women have played an essential and unmatched role in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats. Sportsmen and women are the nation's most ardent conservationists, putting money toward state fish and wildlife management.

When you combine license and stamp fees, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, the tax from small engine fuel and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 - that is over $95 every second.

This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.

"This is the 75th anniversary of our nation's system of conservation funding - a model that is envied throughout the world - that directs excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment toward state-based conservation,” said Michael Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs have resulted in robust fish and wildlife populations and quality habitat that is the legacy of the industry and sportsmen and women.”

 

Thursday
Sep202012

Why We Fish: The Proof Is in the Popper

With cool days already here and fall coming officially this weekend, I think back fondly to an October fishing trip to a farm pond when I was 15.

When I was 8, I caught my first fish (as well as a dog or two) on bacon. From there, I graduated to worms, my bait of choice for most of my childhood. I found the wigglers by turning over cow patties in a nearby pasture. Of course, the poop had to be aged to just the right texture to attract the critters. I turned over many that weren’t.

Although I fished exclusively with worms for years, I carried a couple of “lures” in my single-tray tackle box. One of them was a knockoff Bass Oreno and the other an inline spinner. They came with a fishing kit that I bought through an advertisement in the back of a comic book.

But I didn’t catch a bass on artificial bait until I discovered the plastic worm on a propeller rig. That was my first “confidence” bait.

It also inspired me to fish with other lures more often. Using money that I made from babysitting, cutting weeds, and cleaning boats, I bought a yellow Hula Popper, an orange jointed Inch Minnow, and a Shannon Twin Spin.

I never caught a fish on the Twin Spin --- and still haven’t --- while the Inch Minnow proved a great bait for catching bluegill and green sunfish in farm ponds.

But the Hula Popper. Wow! On that memorable October afternoon, I cast the popper nearly all the way across Turner’s pond. The water was flat calm.

Based on years of experience since and what I have learned from the pros, if I were to throw a topwater on water that still today, I probably would twitch it.

But I had nothing to guide me in the proper technique that fall day. And, since the bait was a “popper,” I popped it. In fact, I popped it as hard as I possibly could, sending ripples all across that pond.

As the pond returned to glasslike following my second pop, water under the lure  exploded, and I suddenly was tied fast to the biggest bass that I had ever hooked.

Of course, it wasn’t large enough to pull drag on my Johnson Century spincast reel. But at 3 pounds, it was a trophy in my eyes as I dragged it up on the bank. My heart nearly leaped out of my chest at the sight of that fish, and, after I had placed it on my rope stringer, I looked down to see my hands still shaking.

In the decades since, I’ve caught thousands of bass larger than the one that I caught at Turner’s pond that fall day, including more than a dozen that weighed 10 pounds or more.

But I’ve never caught one that excited me more than that 3-pounder did. In honor of that, I’ve kept that old yellow Arbogast Hula Popper as one of my most treasured keepsakes. And when fall comes for another year, I always think of that special day.

 

Thursday
Sep202012

Records Set in RF's 2012 Fish-A-Thon

As fund-raising totals still are being confirmed,  it seems certain that more teams fished in more places and raised more money for conservation than ever before in this year’s 24 Hour Fish-a-Thon, according to Teeg Stouffer, executive director of Recycled Fish.

Top winners included Team Playland from Pennsylvania, which became the all-time fundraising leader as it accumulated more than $4,000, and Team J&J Kalico Kings of California, which caught and released 126 quality fish from San Diego Bay.

To learn more and see photos of winners, go here. Also, you can watch a 3-minute video version here.

Tuesday
Sep182012

Candidates Shares Views About Recreational Fishing

Activist Angler sends a respectful “thanks” to Keep America Fishing for asking both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney how they would address fisheries conservation and angler access issues.

“We asked these questions to inform and empower anglers to be active advocates for the sportfishing community” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

 “Anglers represent a huge voting block that can significantly impact the 2012 presidential election. It is vital to the future of sportfishing that anglers are informed and use their vote as a voice.”

The questions addressed to both candidates are good ones. But, alas, both men (or their staffs) answered mostly in generalities and platitudes.

As you can read for yourself, neither man is an angler. But on the plus side for Romney, his vice president running mate, Paul Ryan, is an avid hunter and angler and a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

Also on the plus side for Romney, he favors smaller government and less federal intrusion into matters that can be handled by the states. The states have shown remarkable success in managing our fish and wildlife, but Obama’s National Ocean Policy (NOP), if/when fully implemented, could end all of that for fisheries.

Of course, Obama does not view his NOP, fully embraced by preservationists and environmental groups, as a threat to recreational fishing.

“My administration is working to responsibly manage our nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes to ensure that fishermen can access the local waters they care most about and that those waters support healthy, vibrant populations of fish,” he said.

But that “responsible management” includes a huge top-down management system in which federal bureaucrats tell us where we can and cannot fish.

“There has been a lot of talk surrounding the National Ocean Policy, so let me set the record straight: the new policy in no way restricts any ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes activity,” the President also said.

And, you know what? He’s right. The same can be said of California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). It has in no way restricted recreational fishing in that state’s coastal waters.

But you know what else? Those administering the MLPA have used it to shut down fisheries. And the same almost certainly will happen with the NOP if Obama wins a second term.

On the Republican side, Romney was asked about his intent to divert fishing and hunting license fees to other programs when he was governor of Massachusetts. Not a good thing.

His answer was a good one. Here is a part of it:

“I reconsidered the decision to divert license fees after I received input from local stakeholders, both anglers and others, who expressed to me why this decision should be reconsidered,” he said.

“Once I understood what this diversion of funds will do, I reversed course and found another way to leave my state with a $2 million rainy day fund when I left office.

“This is the same attitude I will bring to the presidency. I have a plan to get this economy back on track, but I also understand the importance of hearing our state and local agencies and fishermen themselves when these types of decisions are made."

Read the full interviews here.

Monday
Sep172012

Lake Erie Also at Risk for Asian Carp Invasion

Environment Report has produced a five-part series on Asian carp.

Part 3 deals with an alternative pathway for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes. Most concern focuses on the canal connection between the Mississippi River basin and Lake Michigan near Chicago.

But to the east, in Indiana, Lake Erie is vulnerable.

Read about the danger here.