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Angler Contributions to Conservation Recognized in Colorado Campaign

Congratulations to the Colorado Wildlife Council (CWC) for getting it right.

Wish that I could say the same about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The CWC has produced a simple, but brilliant educational campaign, explaining that anglers and hunters benefit everyone who enjoys nature.

“Colorado sportsmen contribute more than 80 cents on every dollar spent on wildlife management. So if you love protecting Colorado and its natural beauty, hug a hunter,” it says at the home page of Hug a Hunter (, which features a hiker embracing a hunter.

On another page, a biker squeezes a fisherman, above the message: “The revenues from hunting and fishing licenses are the primary way our state funds the protection and management of wildlife. So if you love Colorado, hug an angler.”

Additionally, the CWC explains that sportsmen have helped provide 21,000 jobs in the state, with fishing and hunting generating $1.8 billion in income annually.

CWC could have added that anglers and hunters in Colorado --- and nationwide --- additionally contribute to fisheries and wildlife management through the excise taxes that they pay on firearms, ammunition, fishing gear, and motorboat fuel. That money returns to the states at a 3-to-1 match through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) programs administered by the FWS.

Since the Wildlife Restoration program began in 1937, the states have received more than $12 billion for access sites, boater and hunter safety education, and restoration and management of fisheries and wildlife.

But CWC still conveys the important message: anglers and hunters fund programs that benefit everyone, as well as fuel an important economic engine. For example, fishing and hunting are second only to the skiing industry in Colorado in terms of revenue.

Meanwhile, FWS has missed the mark with its website  and campaign celebrating the 75th anniversary of these programs, also known as Pittman Robertson (hunting) and Wallop-Breaux (fishing).

Yes, it does credit sportsmen for their enormous contributions. “Take pride,” it says. “It’s your nature.”

That’s a clever line. And it’s assessment under that play on words is spot on: “You’ve contributed to a remarkable conservation effort.”

But, alas, FWS doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of warmwater fishermen --- especially bass anglers --- to the success of Sport Fish Restoration (SFR). Common sense dictates that, if it did, it would certainly want that constituency to know about related fisheries projects financed with their contributions.

Yet in its “success stories” it offers woefully little evidence that bass and other warmwater fisheries have benefited.

According to its own statistics, 30 million people ages 16 and older fish. Twenty-five million of them fish freshwater outside the Great Lakes, with 10 million targeting bass, 7.5 million panfish, and 7 million catfish.

But FWS’s four highlighted examples of how WSFR money has been used include a coldwater hatchery, aquatic education, elk restoration, and moose research. Likewise, a search within the eight regions shows little in the way of warmwater fishing.

Tom Champeau, Florida’s freshwater fisheries chief, kindly suggests that his and other states might not be providing the necessary information about warmwater projects for FWS to publicize

No question exists, though, that SFR is vitally important, he adds. “It helped us build the Bass Conservation Center. It helps us with boat ramps, with hatcheries, and with research.

“That $12 million that we receive each year goes a long way, and we would be severely impacted without it. And all states are benefiting in similar ways.”

Champeau adds that those who do not fish profit from the program. “Folks launch a boat from an access site (built with WFR money) for wildlife viewing. People have picnics.”

As does the Hug a Hunter campaign, the fisheries chief also points out that local economies benefit from WSFR money funneled into fisheries and wildlife management. “If you are at a hotel and see a lake down the road, you might not realize it but the anglers who fish there stay at that same hotel too,” he says.

And Noreen Clough, B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director, summarizes this way:

“If we are managing for deer and bass, we are managing natural resources, and that contributes to clean water, clean air, and healthy lifestyles.

“Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration is not just a user pays, user benefits program. It is a user pays, public benefits program.”

Still, it would be nice if FWS acknowledged the contributions of bass and other warmwater anglers with “success stories” that reflect their importance to WSFR.

(Published originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)



Shark-Smart Marinas Are a Better Idea Than Shark-Free

The anti-fishing movement has its tentacles in all kinds of places that you wouldn’t suspect, including sportfishing.

It’s a “soft” assault that is unrelenting and insidious in its implementation, as it uses huge financial resources and sympathetic niche issues to sway public opinion in its direction. Science means little; emotional appeal means everything.

The Shark-Free Marina movement provides a perfect example. Sharks are in trouble, but not because of recreational fishermen.

Here is what Captain Len Belcaro of the Big Game Fishing Journal has to say at The Bass Barn:

I would like to thank everyone that responded to our Shark-Smart Marina thread with advice on this movement. The Big Game Fishing Journal has decided to move forward with this effort. Any help spreading the word any of you can offer will be deeply appreciated.

 Let's put a stop to this Shark-Free Marina nonsense by providing accurate information to the public that the nation's recreational shark kill is not 100s of thousands of sharks that Pew, an anti-fishing enviro group, and the Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights group, are leading people to believe.


The national Shark-Free Marina movement is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, Pew Environmental Group, and supported by Guy Harvey, and Doug Olander of Sport Fishing Magazine. The effort is to have marinas register as being “shark free” and not allowing any shark to be brought back to their marina docks. One hundred fifty-seven marinas nationwide already have signed on.

The Big Game Fishing Journal believes this is a backdoor tactic by the environmental community, supported by a few misguided and misinformed individuals to shut down another game fish to recreational fishing. We also believe that Guy Harvey’s intentions are honorable, but his statement that recreational fishermen kill hundreds of thousands of sharks annually is completely untrue.

Recreational shark fishermen are the most conservation-minded anglers in the nation. They constantly practice tag and release methods and bring in only mature, edible species of sharks for the dinner table.

Mlllions of sharks are wastefully slaughtered each year for shark fin soup.The problem sharks are current experiencing today is not the fault of the American shark fishermen. We believe if the environmental community was sincere in helping the plight of the shark, it would turn its shark-saving efforts and its money toward foreign countries and their commercial fleets. They are the true cause of the problem.

We also believe that fishery management and the decision to shut down a game fish fishery should be left to competent fishery managers, not anti-fishing environmental groups, or owners or dock masters of the nation’s marinas.

To nip this anti-fishing movement in the bud, the Big Game Fishing Journal will sponsor a Shark-Smart Marina effort. This movement will let the public know that the marinas registered sign on to the ideology that only edible sharks should be landed and all others released.

They also believe that common sense and good conservation tactics should always be used when fishing for sharks.

This Shark-Smart Marina effort is an ideology held by marinas that sign on. The movement is not being created to have marinas “dictate” and demand compliance. It is being created to let the public know that we as shark fishermen are not the ignorant, mindless killers of sharks as the environmental community would have them believe.

We believe in killing only what we intend to eat, always practicing sound shark conservation procedures and always respecting the game fish by limiting what we kill, using a dehooker and practicing proper release methods.

For those companies that support the ideology of the Shark-Smart Marina effort, please contact us here at the Journal at 800 827 4468  or via email at, supply us your company logo, and we will list your organization on our soon-to-be-constructed Shark Smart Marina Facebook page, our website, and on a page in the Big Game Fishing Journal, letting everyone know you support the Shark Smart Marina ethic.

If you own or manage a marina, call us at  800 827 4468 and we will provide you a sign for your dock that reads:

We Are Pro-Fishing 


Gamma Is Back and Sponsoring Autism Awareness

In case you missed it, Gamma fishing line once again is on the market. Check out this review of Gamma Edge fluorocarbon, written by my friend Terry Brown at Wired2Fish.

Also, Gamma is a sponsor of Fishin’ With a Mission, an autism awareness campaign supported by Activist Angler. Go to that website to learn how to save 10 percent on Gamma line, with an additional 10 percent of your purchase. going to autism awareness. 


The Power of Patience

Photo of Activist Angler by Dave Burkhardt.

(Following is another excerpt from my book, Better Bass Fishing. If you keep following this website long enough --- a couple of years, at least --- you will be able to read the entire book for free. Or you can buy it here or at Amazon or other booksellers to read at your own pace --- and help me pay the bills.)

With soft plastics, action often isn’t as nearly as important as it is with other types of baits. Rather the fish need time to approach and examine.

On several occasions, I’ve spent a minute or two picking out a backlash and then found a bass on the end of my line. Others have told me of similar experiences. This tells me that, too often, we fish too quickly with soft plastics.

Secret: In fact, lure designer and tournament angler Troy Gibson recommends letting a soft plastic sit for 120 seconds after you cast it.

“I will find the fish by power fishing with spinnerbaits and crankbaits,” he says. “And sometimes this is all I need to fill the livewell.

“But when I come across an area that looks as if it will produce 3- to 5-pound fish, then I will slow down with a fluke or worm and be very patient. I will present my lure to a tree, bush, or creek channel and let the bait sit still for at least 120 seconds.

“The bass is just like an old cat that can not leave well enough alone and will pick up, move, eat, or play with the fluke or sinking worm. It can’t help itself, for that is its nature. Understanding that, along with patience, will make you a much better fisherman.

“By doing this, I am more likely to cull the first five fish with larger fish. To me, the smaller fish that I caught by power fishing are the locator fish for areas that are holding the larger fish.” 


New Campaign Provides 'A Voice for Water'

Check out Water’s Worth It, a new campaign from the Water Environment Federation “that aims to raise awareness about the value and importance of water, water-related issues, and the water profession.”

Click on “For the Public” for fact sheets about the importance of water and how we better can conserve it.

Here’s a sampling:

  • If everyone in the United States used just one less gallon of water per shower every day, we could save 85 billion gallons per year.
  • The average shower is 8 minutes. Try reducing to 5-minute showers, 5 days a week. Use a timer to set a limit and stick to it!
  • Turn off the tap! You can save as much as 3,000 gallons of water per year water if you just turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing your hands.
  • Nip the drip! Fixing leaky plumbing can save up to 10 gallons of water per day!