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Urban Programs Help Boost Angling Participation

Photo by Robert Montgomery

Following two decades of steady decline in fishing participation, the trend began turning around in 2006, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, a report produced very five years. In fact, participation increased nationally by 11 percent.

In Kentucky, that improvement is reflected by an 8 percent increase in fishing license sales during 2012, with at least some of the credit due to implementation of the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program in 2006 by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

Partnering with local governments, the state stocked rainbow trout and catfish in six lakes to provide city dwellers with safe, convenient access to fishing. Today, the program has grown to 39 lakes in 24 counties, with 142,000 trout and 111,000 catfish stocked in 2013.

“In addition to these lakes being stocked with catfish and trout, the sunfish and bass populations are regularly sampled to ensure natural reproduction is meeting the needs of anglers,” KDFWR said. “Stocking of hybrid sunfish and/or largemouth bass occurs if needed.”

Nearly half the states have adopted similar urban fishing programs, in an attempt to attract more urban and suburban participants, especially women, and, as in Kentucky, the strategy seems to be effective.

KDFWR’s Brian Clark pointed out that urban households are not as connected to the land and typically don’t have readily available angling opportunities, as do those who live in rural settings. “It’s just not as natural a pastime,” he said.

According to a 2013 report, Exploring Increases in Hunting and Fishing Participation, both new and returning anglers  are “slightly more often female, are markedly more often retired with new free time, are slightly more often identifying themselves as homemakers, slightly more suburban . . . and are more devoted to fishing in freshwater.”

The report also theorized that the prolonged slowdown in the economy has prompted more people to fish and hunt for food. Related to that, more people are looking for natural food sources. Additionally, military personnel returning home could have contributed to the increase in participation.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Why We Fish May Also Help You Catch the Big One

"The book is not only about why we fish, although the theme is woven skillfully through the chapters. As philosophical as it sounds, Why We Fish may also help you catch the big one and enjoy your own fishing trips more. It also gives thoughtful insight on how to be a better conservationist, one that will, like the author, desire to share fishing opportunities and memories with children and grandchildren."

Excerpt from Examiner review of Why We Fish. For more reviews, go to Amazon. My other book, Better Bass Fishing, also is available there.


South Florida Top 'Dream Destination' for Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

According to a survey conducted by, South Florida remains the top dream destination of would-be traveling anglers with 43 percent of those surveyed choosing it as the location they would most prefer to fish if they had the opportunity.

Here's more from parent company, Southwick Associates:

South Florida was followed by Costa Rica with just over 18 percent of respondents selecting the Central American country as the place they would go. Next on the list was Mexico with 12 percent, followed by the Bahamas with just over 12 percent and Panama with more than five percent.

Nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they had no preference, while 11 percent said they wouldn’t choose any of those places. Additional destinations written in by anglers included both salt- and fresh-water fishing locations such as Texas, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama and a handful of others.

 While all of the asked about destinations offer superb fishing—49 percent of responding anglers said that was one of the chief reasons they chose their respective dream fishing location—there are other factors that may have helped South Florida edge its competition. In addition to perceived great fishing, other top reasons for choosing the place respondents selected include less hassle to get there with 22 percent selecting that motivation, 21 percent cited feeling “more secure” at the location as a concern and 20 percent pointed to the cost of travel as a factor.

 “By virtue of being tropically located, but still a part of the United States, South Florida certainly offers a certain appeal to a lot of anglers not wishing to deal with the cost or additional concerns of international travel,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and “Efforts by all travel destinations to improve convenience, contain costs and hassles and provide a strong sense of security can boost their sportfishing tourism dollars.”

To help continually improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at, and/or Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.


Bill Introduced to Protect, Enhance Nation's Fisheries

Photo by Robert Montgomery

A bill to authorize a national partnership through a National Fish Habitat Action Plan has been introduced into the U.S. Senate, with the intent of protecting, restoring, and enhancing the nation’s fisheries.

“Choosing to protect our natural resources is good for our environment and our economy. Right now we need deliberate and targeted action to stem the loss of our precious aquatic habitats,” said Maryland’s Ben Cardin, one of the sponsors.

 “Our bill takes a comprehensive approach to stopping the single greatest cause of declining fish populations by stemming the decline of healthy aquatic ecosystems that are critical to all fish species. We need to encourage healthier habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife as well as safer recreational waters for Americans to swim, boat and fish.”

Idaho’s Mike Crapo, the other sponsor, added, “The legislation we’ve introduced stems from Senator Cardin’s and my shared goals of protecting, maintaining, and improving our fish habitats.

 “Instead of creating new regulations and mandates, our bill fosters partnerships between federal, regional, and local stakeholders to work together to promote healthy and sustainable fish populations for our communities.”

Go here to learn more.



In Keeping Our Waters Clean, Let's Be Realistic

Photo by Robert Montgomery

We all live downstream.

Thus, pollution poses an exponential threat to our waters and our fisheries. And in a perfect world, no one would pollute.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

As a consequence, we pollute, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes flagrantly. Along the Potomac River, signs once warned that just touching the water could be hazardous to human health. Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught fire. And Lake Erie was known as a “dead sea.” The list of waters degraded and almost destroyed by pollution is a long and shameful one.

We, however, also have learned to clean up after ourselves, prompted by the federal Clean Water Act of1972. Erie now is one of the nation’s most productive fisheries. The Potomac is nationally known for its bass fishing. And the Cuyahoga, a river once devoid of fish, now is home to 44 species. The list of waters enhanced and restored is a long and hopeful one, and we arguably do more to protect our aquatic resources than any other country in the world.

That doesn’t mean that we’ve done as much as we can or should do to minimize pollution. But neither are we living in a time when rivers are catching on fire and as much needs to be done or even can be done, for that matter.

But that doesn’t keep some from trying, especially those who believe that more big government is the solution to our imperfections. That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to expand the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ to include water on private property.

Additionally, under new proposals, jurisdiction would extend to streams regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, as well as to ditches, gullies, and just about any low spot where moisture collects on a seasonal basis.

And that’s why the move is being heartily endorsed by environmental groups, who argue that court rulings have weakened the CWA.

“It’s taking the way the Clean Water Act works back, so that it works the way water works in the real world,” said Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action.

But just how far do you allow the federal government to intrude on the rights of private property owners? Those rights are a cornerstone of who we are as a nation and why so many from all over the world want to live here.

“The EPA’s draft water rule is a massive power grab of private property across the U.S,” said U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith from Texas. “This could be the largest expansion of EPA regulatory authority ever.

“If the draft rule is approved, it would allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds, and streams.”

While I understand and even sympathize with the environmental side of this argument, I do not support such an expansion of power using regulations written by anonymous, unelected bureaucrats. Such decisions should be left up to Congress, which represents the people.

Additionally, many who want to impose ever more strict environmental regulations upon industries, agriculture, municipalities, and now private property owners do so with unrealistic expectations. In their never-ending quest for perfection, they want to reduce pollution limits to levels that can’t even be measured.

“These folks live in la-la land,” said Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation. “If you attack these things (regulations) as unrealistic, you are evil.

“What I’d really like to see is for them to sustain themselves on their own little happy ¼-acre subdivision lot. I’d be willing to bet every single one of them has a nice, cozy temperature-controlled house, pantry full of food, a sink with a spigot full of safe drinking water and a shower and toilet that take away all that nasty that they just can’t think about, much less live with, while they point fingers at everyone else.”

So . . . would I like to see an end to all pollution?  Absolutely. After all, we all live downstream.

But I believe that’s an unrealistic expectation, considering our prevalence and dominance as a species on this planet. Let’s keep trying to reduce our pollution footprint, but let’s do so with consent of the governed and with realistic standards, not those imposed by anonymous bureaucrats who live in “la-la land.”

(This opinion piece was published originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)