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Fishing Is Time Travel

I fish almost exclusively with artificial baits for bass and other game fish.

But once a year, I dig some worms, clean the dust off my catfish gear, pack some hotdogs and marshmallows, and spend the night tightlining for catfish on a lake or river. In recent years, mostly I go down to the little lake behind my house.  No chance of catching flatheads there, but, in my mature years, watching moonlight dance on the still water more than makes up for that. It doesn’t hurt either that the channel catfish usually are cooperative.

I never thought much about why I was doing this until this latest trip. I was alone for a change and watching the yellow flames of my campfire burn into blue when, suddenly, I was transported.

Mostly, we fish to be in the “now,” to fully engage in an always pleasant and sometimes exciting pastime that takes us away from the 9 to 5 world.

Once in awhile, though, fishing takes us to “then.” Something --- the weather, a bait, the day’s success, an idle comment --- flips a synaptic switch and suddenly we are reliving a pleasant day of fishing from our past.

(Excerpt from my new book, Why We Fish. Also, I'll be doing some real traveling to fish with friends during the next two weeks. As a result, posts will be more infrequent, but I should have some productive "field research" to share with followers of Activist Angler. First up will be Lake Okeechobee. Stay tuned! And, meanwhile, please check out Why We Fish. It's a great gift for friends and family members who fish.)


A Fisherman's Thanksgiving Prayer

Photo by Robert Montgomery

For the following I am thankful:

  • The fondness of bass for topwater lures.
  • The rainbows that I’ve seen because I got up early to go fishing.
  • Bluegill too big for me to hold with one hand.
  • The big bonefish that found my offering, even though my cast was way off target.
  • Thousands of dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
  • The good people that I’ve met and the friendships that I’ve made because of fishing.
  • River fishing on summer nights for catfish, while listening to the baseball game.
  • Bats chasing insects all around the boat under a full moon.
  • Seeing the joy that a child derives from his first fish.
  • The power of fishing to bring us together, no matter how polarized we are politically.  

(Excerpt from my new book, Why We Fish.)


EPA Proposes Cut in Ethanol Use by Refiners

It appears that we finally might have won a battle against ethanol, the alternative fuel that has ruined thousands of outboard engines, is less efficient than fossil-fuel gasoline, and has forced up food prices nationally.

Money News reports, “Earlier this month, the Obama administration also signaled that renewable fuels were losing political favor as the Environmental Protection Agency proposed cutting the amount of corn-based ethanol (that) oil refiners must blend into U.S. fuel supplies.”

Forcing use of ethanol in gasoline was a boon for corn farmers and those who built plants to process the fuel, but the strategy was a typical big-government screwup in every other way. For example, pure fossil-fuel gasoline yields 500 percent more energy than what is required to produce it. By contrast, ethanol provides but 30 percent, according to one study.

That inefficiency is reflected in that fact that one gallon of ethanol requires 1,700 gallons of water and results in 10 gallons of sewage-like effluent.

Even former Vice President Al Gore, the Big Daddy of the environmental movement, has admitted that his support for ethanol was a mistake. During a green energy conference in Athens, Greece, Gore said that energy conversion ratios for ethanol “are at best very small.”

He added, “One of the reasons I made that mistake (supporting ethanol and ethanol subsidies) is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”


Carp Threat Moves East

This Asian carp was caught at Kentucky Lake, Photo by Steve McCadams.

Asian silver carp DNA has been found as far up the Ohio River as Wheeling, West Va., and Pittsburgh, Pa. That’s bad news for East Coast river fisheries.

The silver is most noted for leaping from the water when frightened, injuring passing anglers and other boaters. But the most damage is being done to our waterways, as silver and bighead carp crowd out and outcompete native species for food and habitat.

"Unfortunately, the test results provide some evidence that this invasive species could be in the upper Ohio River in Pennsylvania," John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania and Boat Commission.

 "This is an early warning sign, since we don't know for certain the origin of the genetic material. We don't know if the eDNA came from live or dead fish or if it was transported from other sources, like bilge water or storm sewers, or even waterfowl visiting the basin."

For years, most of the focus was on the fear that Asian carp would devastate fisheries in the Great Lakes when/if they gain entrance. But now they also are threatening the inland waters of Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota, as well as the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers and their reservoirs, including Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

Read more here.


Boat Builders Support Center for Coastal Conservation

Four new boat builders have joined as corporate sponsors for Center for Coastal Conservation. They include Grady White Boats, Maverick Boats, Regulator Boats and Sea Hunt Boats.

“We are incredibly grateful and pleased to have the support of these boat builder partners,” said Center for Coastal Conservation President Jeff Angers. “All four share our vision for the future of recreational fishing and boating, and their presence within our organization will serve to strengthen our abilities to advance federal public policy that benefits the entire fishing and boating community.”

In addition to participating as a corporate sponsor, Maverick Boats President and CEO Scott Deal was elected to membership on the Center’s board of directors.

“Yamaha Marine Group really got the ball rolling in January when they announced their platinum sponsorship of the Center,” said Deal. “Thanks to those pioneering efforts, the Center for Coastal Conservation is uniquely positioned to make real progress with the Congress in stewarding marine fishery resources. We are proud to step up our support for this organization as we work together to preserve and improve recreational fishing and boating.”

The Center for Coastal Conservation is a coalition of  advocates for marine recreational fishing and boating. The Center is dedicated to promoting sound conservation and wise use of ocean resources and supports federal legislators through its political action committee, Center PAC. The organization is non-partisan and focuses on having an impact in the national political arena, principally Congress and federal regulatory agencies, to promote a quality recreational fishery and improve angling and boating access.

America’s 11 million marine recreational fishermen generate over $70 billion in economic output supporting over 450,000 jobs. The Center’s membership includes individuals and the major players in marine conservation and recreational boating and fishing. Non-profit members include American Sportfishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association and National Marine Manufacturers Association. Corporate partners include AFTCO, Brunswick, Costa, Grady White Boats, Maverick Boats, Pure Fishing, Regulator Boats, Sea Hunt Boats, Shimano and Yamaha.