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A Good Use for Asian Carp

Here’s a good use for Asian carp: Cut bait for giant catfish.

That’s what Rob Stanley of Olathe was using when he took a Kansas state record blue catfish from the Missouri River on Aug. 11. It weighed 102.8 pounds, besting the previous mark by more than 8 pounds.

(By the way, Stanley also caught the carp in the river, which is the way to do it. Asian carp should never be moved from one water body to another, not even if they are to be sliced and diced for bait.)

Stanley battled the fish for 40 minutes and had to pull anchor to prevent it from breaking 80-pound line. When he finally muscled it to the boat, he and partner Brad Kirkpatrick realized that the catfish wouldn’t fit in their over-sized net. Their only alternative was to wrestle it in, where it bottomed out a 100-pound digital scale.

Read more here.


Fisheries Conservation Wins in Fish-A-Thon

Participants in Recycled Fish’s 24 Hour Fish-A-Thon provided an impressive victory for fisheries conservation this year.

Forty-two teams from 27 states raised more than $20,000, while catching, photographing, and releasing more than 2,000 fish. Additionally, participants collected dozens of bags of trash from in and around the waters that they fished.

Team Playland of western Pennsylvania and Team Extreme Philly Fishing led the way in fund-raising, as they engaged in a friendly cross-state competition.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Teeg Stouffer, Executive Director of Recycled Fish (RF).

“These teams sandbagged donations until the final hours of the months-long fundraising effort. Both Team Playland and Team Philly Extreme had already raised thousands, but both began submitting hundreds of dollars in the final day and both made large donations in the final hour of fund-raising, pushing us to our highest  total in the history of the event.”

Team Playland edged Team Extreme Philly in that category, while Team J&J Kalico Kings won the angling competition, catching and releasing 126 assorted saltwater fish in San Diego Bay.

Team Extreme Philly took second place there as well. Members caught more than 500 in the Schuylkill River. White perch made up the bulk of the catch, but a mix of sunfish, catfish, juvenile striped bass and others made for a lively 24 hours of fishing  in urban Philadelphia.

“While many prizes were awarded, the real victory is for healthy fisheries,” said Stouffer.

“Already this year 24 Hour Fish-A-Thon funds have gone to help fund the installation of a fish barrier at Big Creek Lake in Iowa from Team Fishfeeder’s efforts. In Minnesota, Team Flippin’ & Pitchin’ used some of its funds to assist in the White Bear Lake Cleanup last weekend.

“Dozens of other local projects to help solve specific issues across North America will receive funding from the efforts of 24 Hour Fish-A-Thon anglers and the people who generously donated to their teams.”

Sponsor Berkley, meanwhile was “thrilled” with results, according to Roxanne Coleman, Senior Field Marketing Manager at Pure Fishing.

“The folks at Recycled Fish are making a difference. These guys work hard to encourage the rest of us to stop ignoring the environment. If you spend time in the outdoors you need to support this program.”

To learn more about the teams, the fish they caught, the funds they raised, and the prizes that they won, go here.



Feds Set to Steal Fisheries Funding

As if we needed another reminder that our federal government is broken, the Office of Management and Budget came up with this:

Cut $34 million from the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) and Boating Trust Fund to help reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Now, I’m one who believes that virtually every program, including those related to conservation and natural resources, should be on the table to help us get the massive federal debt under control.

But the problem with this recommendation is that the SFR fund is not financed by taxpayers, as are all those other federal expenditures. Anglers pay for this one themselves with excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel.

To deny any of that money to the states for fisheries management, as it was intended, is theft.

“The angling and boating community was shocked to learn that for the first time in its 62-year history, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund – the backbone of fisheries conservation in the United States - is recommended for a cut under sequestration totaling $34 million,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).

 Established in 1950 with the support of industry, anglers, and state conservation agencies, SFR “is an outstanding example of what good government should be and is the backbone of the user-pay model of funding conservation in this nation. It is essential that it remain untouched,” Robertson added.

The Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 placed a federal excise tax on all recreational fishing equipment, which manufacturers pay and is then incorporated into the cost of the equipment that anglers purchase. In 1984 the Act was amended to include that part of the federal gasoline fuel tax attributable to motor boat use. The total annual value of the Trust Fund is approximately $650 million. The monies from the fund are apportioned to state conservation agencies for sport fish restoration, boating safety, angler and boater access and other fishing and boating programs.

“When anglers and boaters pay the equipment tax or the fuel tax they are doing so with the understanding that this money is going to a trust fund dedicated - by law - to the resources they enjoy,” said Robertson.

“Withholding funds from this essential program at a time when state fishery programs are already struggling to ensure the best quality service to anglers and resource management will only cause fishery resources to suffer even more and cause job losses associated with the loss of recreation fishing boating programs.

“The sportfishing and boating industries, as well as anglers and boaters themselves, fail to understand how cutting a user-pay trust fund helps the economy.”

Recreational fishing adds $125 billion each year to the nation’s economy and supports more than one million jobs. Since its inception, SFR has pumped $7 billion into habitat restoration, access and boating safety programs.

SFR’s hunting counterpart, the Wildlife Restoration Act of 1936, is slated for a $31 million freeze. That program is funded by hunters and men and women who engage in the shooting sports and archery, who pay a similar tax to support wildlife restoration.

“This level of cuts to conservation programs that pay their own way is unprecedented and all anglers, hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts must speak up to prevent these cuts,” Robertson concluded.

Along with these two cornerstone conservation acts, many other critical conservation funds are also listed for significant cuts. Congress, with the cooperation of the Administration, must address the sequestration schedule and this will not occur until after the elections and possibly not until early 2013 and with a new Congress.

Visit Keep America Fishing regularly to keep current about when Congress may act on the SFR recommendation and other fisheries programs and when you should speak up.

And keep this in mind: Many in Washington consider fisheries and conservation “easy marks” for budget cuts. Some don’t recognize their importance. Others believe that anglers simply are not a constituency to be feared or even respected, for that matter.

The only way that the latter will change is for us to show them otherwise.


Clean Water Future Encourages Investment to Protect, Enhance Fisheries

Mill Brook culvert maintenance

One of the best ways to keep our waters clean and healthy is to encourage people to invest --- either with time or money --- in their protection and enhancement.

Clean Water Future provides a good example of this with a pilot project for watershed protection on the Upper Connecticut River Valley between Vermont and New Hampshire. It connects people who are not on the land with people who are, and provides an alternative funding mechanism directed at individuals rather than foundations and government agencies.

“Similar to KickStarter, the website asks the public to invest in watershed protection projects,” spokesperson Linda Setchell tells Activist Angler.

“A couple of the projects we have listed currently improve fish habitat: 

“Mill Brook Fish Ladder Restoration Project is rebuilding a fish ladder that was destroyed during last year's Hurricane Irene, which ravaged Vermont's rivers. When in operation the ladder resulted in a 500 percent increase in wild trout spawning rates upstream of the ladder.

“Wood Is Good is a small project that will be dropping trees into a prime trout stream habitat in the backwoods of Vermont to help improve spawning grounds.”

Good ideas here, not just for those who live near the Upper Connecticut, but for activists nationwide.



Discarded Plastic Baits Still a Problem --- Let's Solve It

Carl Wengenroth of The Anglers Lodge on Lake Amistad recently picked up these baits along the shore at the world-class bass fishery on the Rio Grande River.

"This is just from a 25-yard stretch," says Wengenroth, who was working a weigh-in at nearby Black Brush ramp.

"Took only about 5 minutes to get these."

This photo serves as a painful reminder that we still have much work to do in keeping discarded plastic baits out of our waters. We must lead by example, properly disposing of used baits. We must encourage others to do the same. And we must pick up after those oblivious to the damage they do with their sloblike behavior.

By the way, plastic baits typically lose their color and swell after extended time in the water. The latter can be especially harmful for fish that swallow them.