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Tournament to Benefit West, Texas, Firefighters and EMS

Set for June 22 on  Lake Fork, a bass fishing tournament will benefit the volunteer fire department and EMS of West, Texas.

Fourteen people, 12 of them firefighters, were killed there in a fertilizer explosion on April 17. Another estimated 200 were injured in the blast that wiped out a residential section of this community about 20 miles north of Waco.

Here's a link for more information.


B.A.S.S. Nation Clubs to Compete for Aquatic Plants Management Award


GProjects by B.A.S.S. Nation members, such as this native water willow restoration in Georgia, will be eligible for a new award starting this year: the AERF-APMS/B.A.S.S. Conservation Aquatic Vegetation Management Award.. Photo by B.A.S.S.Gerald Adrian knows all about hydrilla, an invasive non-native aquatic plant that bass anglers often target as cover for fish. He can also explain why over-proliferation of hydrilla and other invasive aquatic species can spell doom for a top bass fishery.

Adrian, a representative for the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation (AERF) and Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS), aims to educate the public about the impact of invasive plants. He believes the best way to do so is to expand contacts through the grassroots of the bass angling world.

When Adrian approached B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Noreen Clough with his idea, that goal was the impetus for the new AERF-APMS/B.A.S.S. Conservation Aquatic Vegetation Management Award. The award, worth $2,000, will be presented annually to the B.A.S.S. Nation club that conducts the most outstanding project that addresses control of invasive aquatic plants while promoting the conservation or propagation of native vegetation, or both.

“I am very pleased that the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation and Aquatic Plant Management Society recognize the good work that B.A.S.S. Nation conservation volunteers are doing in restoring native aquatic vegetation and combating invasive plants in our public waters,” Clough said.

“Whether it is putting in native water willows or pulling out noxious weeds, building floating islands or participating in aquatic vegetation management meetings, our B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and their volunteers are committed to keeping our waterways healthy. That the foundation recognizes this through a generous awards program makes B.A.S.S. very proud that our efforts are rewarded. It’s a great partnership.”

AERF will fund the award, while APMS will provide a travel stipend for the winning club’s conservation director, or president, to travel to the APMS annual national meeting to give a presentation on the project. The 2014 National APMS meeting — the first at which the winning club will report — will be held in Savannah, Ga.

“This is a long-term commitment for us,” Adrian said. “It’s important for everyone to be aware of the benefits of controlling invasive plants. This gives us a grassroots connection with the anglers that are concerned about these plants and lets us provide an avenue of education for B.A.S.S. members. A lot of anglers think they should let hydrilla grow because it’s good for fishing.”

Adrian explains the negative impacts of hydrilla, which began its U.S. invasion in Florida in the 1960s. It displaces native plants, and it can create an unhealthy aquatic ecosystem.

“Hydrilla can occupy an entire lake,” Adrian said. “It can take a lake over and spread completely across a lake if it’s shallow. A canopy like that reduces oxygen in the water and makes it difficult to forage. Once it gets to a certain point, it impacts a fishery. Large fish can’t move around and get to their prey. What you end up with is a whole bunch of small bass in a lake.”

With a bigger picture of the effects of hydrilla and other non-native plants,  those critical grassroots anglers and weekend fishermen will understand “why we do what we do” in battling non-native plants throughout the country, Adrian says.

The projects, which will be judged by Clough, along with Dr. Mike Netherland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center and a representative from AERF-APMS, must be submitted to B.A.S.S. conservation by Oct. 31 of a given year, beginning in October 2013, to be eligible for the award, which will be presented during the following year’s Bassmaster Classic.

Criteria for the award include:
· Although the award will be given annually, the project must be a multi-year project with clearly defined and demonstrated short-term goals and long-term objectives.
· The project must include a monitoring plan to determine long-term success.
· The B.A.S.S. Nation club must demonstrate that members have worked cooperatively with the state fisheries and/or wildlife resource agency, the municipality and the project administrator (e.g., Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, etc.).
· Adding a youth component to a project will be a competitive enhancement.
· The project submission must include before and after photographs.
· The project must take place on waters with public access.

From B.A.S.S.


Beaver Encounter Fatal for Fisherman

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I thought that I could pick up a water snake without getting bitten because it had a fish in its mouth.


Before you can say “Jay Silverheels” the snake spit out the fish and bit my hand.

A boy of that age is obliged to exercise such poor judgment; it’s in his DNA. I also shot a wasp’s nest with a water gun and was rewarded with six stings to the elbow.

Eventually, most of us outgrow this desire to challenge and/or intrude on aspects of nature better left alone. We learn to co-exist, to avoid picking up snakes and shooting wasp nests.

Some do not.

A fisherman in Belarus was one such person. On his way to a lake with friends, he saw a beaver by the side of the road.

No, this is not a joke. I’m serious here.

Anyway . . . when he saw the beaver he decided that he wanted to have his picture taken with it. As he tried to grab it, the rodent bit him several times, with one of the bites severing an artery. The fisherman bled to death.

Read more here.

By the way, a big part of “stupid things people do with dangerous animals” is keeping them as pets.  Check out this report of Exotic Animal Incidents.

Here’s a sample:

"2012, PASO ROBLES, CA - A Javan macaque kept illegally as a pet in Paso Robles bit a woman caring for it causing severe injuries on her arm and finger. The macaque is believed to belong to the woman's boyfriend.

"The macaque was kept in a small dog crate inside the couple's trailer and was being fed Frosted Flakes. California Fish and Game is handling the investigation and the owner could be charged with unlawful possession of a restricted species. The macaque has been taken into quarantine for 60 days."

I'm guessing that he was tired of Frosted Flakes.


Freedom to Fish Act Passes Congress, Awaits President's Signature 

With bipartisan support, the Freedom to Fish Act has passed both houses of Congress and now awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.

Will he sign it? I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t. But with this administration, you never know what’s going to happen. It tends to like government regulations, lots of regulations. And it doesn't seem to care much for recreational fishing, as evidenced by the National Ocean Policy and the process used in creating it.

When/if the bill becomes law, it would remove access restrictions to recreational fishing along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The bill was drafted in response to a recent Army Corps of Engineers decision to restrict access downstream of 10 dams, citing safety concerns. Anglers didn’t like the proposal, saying they would lose some of their most productive waters. In addition, their respective legislative representatives criticized the Corps action, saying that it was overreaching.

“In this political climate it is refreshing to see a bill receive bipartisan support in the interest of recreational anglers and boaters alike,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association.

“While angling and boating access are important to the area’s economy, the proposed barriers along the Cumberland River were also unnecessary and counterproductive from a safety standpoint.

“Particularly concerning with these proposed closures was the lack of public input that went into the Army Corps’ decision,” noted Robertson. “If anglers had been provided an opportunity to weigh in on this proposal, Congressional action might not have been needed. It is critical that the public be allowed sufficient opportunities to provide input on any policy decision that might affect the public’s ability to access and enjoy public resources.”

The Freedom to Fish Act prohibits restrictive areas on the Cumberland River by the Army Corp for two years and also requires the Corps to remove any physical barriers that have been constructed since Aug. 1, 2012. Any future restrictions must be based on operational conditions that might create hazardous waters, and must follow an extensive opportunity for public input.

 More information on the Freedom to Fish Act and the Cumberland River issue can be found at Keep America Fishing.


RF's Stouffer Honored as Hero of Conservation by Field & Stream

One of the best guys in the business is being honored by Field & Stream. In its June issue, the magazine profiles Teeg Stouffer as one of its Heroes of Conservation.

Stouffer is founder and CEO of Recycled Fish, and, I’m proud to say, a good friend of mine. As the latter, I can tell you that no one cares more about stewardship of our fisheries than Teeg, and that is reflected in the prime message of Recycled Fish: “Our lifestyle runs downstream.”

Here’s more from Field & Stream:

 “Hunters and fishermen have never been afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work in the name of protecting America’s wildlife and wild places, and Teeg is a great example of that ethos hard at work," says Anthony Licata, Editorial Director of Field & Stream. "Conservation is and will always be an integral part of hunting and fishing, and men and women like Teeg are crucial to keeping our traditions alive for generations to come.”

Now in its eighth year, Field & Stream's Heroes of Conservation program is dedicated to honoring individuals involved in grassroots projects to preserve the land, water and wildlife vital to sportsman’s pursuits. Every month the magazine highlights three “Heroes of Conservation,” who each receive a $500 grant from program partner Toyota.  To be considered for the program, individuals must be involved in a hunting- and/or fishing-related conservation project that is well under way with outstanding results. Selections are based on a number of factors, including leadership, commitment and project growth.

  Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation program culminates each fall when the magazine names the “Conservation Hero of the Year” and awards him or her a new Toyota Tundra. Six finalists, selected from the Heroes profiled in the monthly editions of the magazine, are selected and flown to Washington D.C. for an awards gala where the Hero of the Year is named and each finalist receives a $5,000 conservation grant from Toyota.


Teeg Stouffer, Bellevue, Neb.

Ten years ago, Stouffer created the nonprofit Recycled Fish, which is devoted to the stewardship of all fish species and fishing waters nationwide. With the help of 120 volunteers around the country, the organization’s educational outreach has influenced 15,000-plus people to take its Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge. The group’s Recycled Fish on Ice Tour has distributed 10,000 heavy-duty cleanup bags at ice fishing tournaments over the past six years.

David McNeal, St. George, Kan.

For the past six years, McNeal has guided hunters, free of charge, on Kansas’s Fort Riley, where he served as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army. Through his role on the board of the Fort Riley Outdoorsmen Group (FROG), he recently ran an annual turkey hunt for 17 children of soldiers deployed overseas. “I know every inch of this post,” he says, “and I apply that knowledge to getting young people involved.”

Jeff Turner, Sedley, Va.

A largemouth bass fisherman, Turner created the first Waterkeeper Alliance chapter in Virginia 12 years ago to protect the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. Turner gives presentations about the rivers’ key species, organizes an annual trash cleanup, guides researchers surveying mussels and striped bass, and reports on his regular patrols of the waterways and their resources. “It’s like preventative medicine,” says Turner. Through his presentations, he was recently instrumental in helping the Nature Conservancy acquire 250 acres at Byrd Point for permanent protection.


“This is a great opportunity to recognize conservationists in your area,” says Licata. “From the guy down the street who has been quietly removing trash from a trout stream for 20 years to someone building duck habitat, we know there are countless people who are working to make our country’s wildlife and wild places better.  We’re honoring these outdoorsmen and -women for actively preserving our heritage and letting them know their efforts have not gone unnoticed.”