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The Big Picture for 'Why We Fish'

Aspiration is a big part of what makes us human. For fishermen, that translates into the desire to catch a big one. Size, of course, is relevant. I can get as excited about a one-pound bluegill as I can a ten-pound bass or a 100-pound tarpon, but here’s the bottom line: that possibility of catching a big one is an important part of why I fish.

Awhile back, I went fishing for white sturgeon on the Columbia River, accompanied by my good friend Bruce Holt of G. Loomis, and golfing great Johnny Miller. Guide John Garrison put us on plenty of fish and I had the experience of a lifetime.

Seeing that first 10-foot sturgeon emerge from the depths at the end of my line had to be the highlight. Yes, the fight with a 500-pound fish was memorable, but visual confirmation of its incredible size made my knees buckle and inspired exclamations I rarely use. It was a sight I’ll never forget

Excerpt from "The Big Picture" in Why We Fish.


Join Fishin' With a Mission Campaign for Autism Awareness

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum. It also estimates that 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed.  Back in 2012, the estimate was 1 in 88.

Bass pros John Crews, Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam, Brandon McMillan, Randall Tharp, Randy Howell, Edwin Evers, Brandon Palaniuk, JT Kenny, Greg Hackney, Fred Roumbanis, Gerald Swindle, and many others support Eli Delany's campaign through his website, My Little Buddy's Boat, and sale of decals.

“I know I personally make new connections to people with autism at seemingly every turn I make," said Crews.

"Whatever the reason behind the estimated increases, we all need to know more about the disability and either living with it or around it. Like Eli, I’m able to use fishing as a platform to raise awareness and point to some good resources for more information. At the very least, I hope every angler will support Eli’s ‘Fishin’ with a Mission’ decal program."

Delany founded this great organization after discovering that his son, Luke, has autism and, that he seemed happier and more in touch with the world when he was on or around water.

More from Delany:

I wondered how he would enjoy going out on a boat and wanted to give him that experience. Our first boating outing was full of anxiety for me with lots of questions in mind. Would he try to jump out? Be upset? Behave? And most importantly, would he enjoy it?

A helpful friend accompanied us and we three had a remarkably fun and enjoyable experience together, going for a boat ride and doing some fishing. The day was nice and warm. We even caught some bass. Luke was hooked and so was I. He seemed right at home in the boat.

Luke always wears his life jacket, and seems aware of the edges of the boat and has never tried to jump out. He enjoys the sensation of the boat being on the water, especially the feeling of powering the boat up onto plane. More so he’s interested in the fishing aspect and with a little “hand over hand” help, likes the joy and amazement of catching a fish on a rod and reel. The look in a child’s eye when he catches a fish, I think is universal.


I Am a Steward

I  love to fish. I live to fish. And I want to ensure future generations have many opportunities to spend quality time on the water. That’s why I’m a steward.

Here’s how I live my life: ƒƒ

  • I recycle everything I possibly can recycle—newspaper, junk mail, plastic, glass, and cardboard.
  • I accumulate one small bag (Walmart size) of trash about every month or so. ƒƒ
  • I compost. Fruit and vegetable wastes go onto my land to enrich the soil. ƒ
  • I don’t use fertilizer or pesticides on my lawn. In fact, “lawn” might not be the proper word for my yard. A portion of it gets mowed every couple of weeks, but the rest remains natural. ƒƒ
  • Along my lakeshore, I maintain a buffer zone to prevent erosion. ƒƒ
  • When branches occasionally break off the big oak trees on my property, I place them on brush piles I have scattered around as refuges for birds and small animals. If they fall into the water, I leave them there as habitat for fish and turtles.ƒƒ
  • I conserve energy by turning off lights, closing doors, etc. ƒƒ
  • I fix dripping faucets promptly, and I don’t leave the water running as I brush my teeth.
  • I drive a car that gets 36 miles per gallon. ƒƒ
  • I pick up other people’s trash. ƒƒ
  • I report polluters. ƒƒ
  • I am a member of Recycled Fish, a conservation organization devoted to living a life of stewardship because we all live downstream.

From Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.


Activist Angler Featured by Rick Hart's TightLines

Check out Rick Hart's TightLines on Facebook for information about Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler, Guntersville, and Bay Springs, as well as weekly angler photos from across the country. "Good times, good friends, and great fishing."



Bass Eat Snook and Vice Versa

As waters warm, snook are moving up Florida's west coast and into rivers, which have long been productive bass fisheries. In fact, they're now common in several rivers north of Tampa, including the Withlacoochee, Homosassa, and Crystal.

What does that mean? About what you'd expect from two apex predators.

"During a study to evaluate habitat and diet overlap between largemouth bass and snook, our biologists found that the two species cohabitate well except when they try to eat each other," reported  the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), through its Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

In other words, snook eat bass and bass eat snook.  The problem is that snook grow considerably larger than their freshwater counterparts.

"Today, snook in the 20 to 35-pound range are caught on a regular basis in King's Bay (Crystal River)," said long-time tournament angler Matt Beck.

"There is a solid fishable population of snook in the bay that once was not there. They are a great game fish and lots of fun to catch, but I believe they seriously threaten the bass population," he added.

"A 3-pound bass doesn't stand a chance against a 40-inch snook."

Especially  if the protective grass that once was in the river now is gone, courtesy of a growing manatee population. Like snook, these aquatic browsers now stay in the bay year around, and they've gobbled up all the hydrilla.

Click on photo to see video of massive snook attacking bass.

Fortunately, bass haven't lost habitat to such an extent in most of the waters that snook and bass share south of Tampa, as well as Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the lower Atlantic coast. In those waters, biologists see no cause for concern.

"Both adult snook and adult bass were generalist and opportunistic feeders. Most prey were other fish, followed by crabs or shrimp, and they had high percentages of diet overlap and diet similarity, indicating they share food resources, although that does not necessarily indicate competition for food," said FWC snook biologist Alexis Trotter.

In regard to habitat, meanwhile, Trotter said that snook don't seem to have "strong habitat associations." They were found throughout areas sampled, while bass more often were found in "locations containing high coverage of habitat, complexity of structure, and high percentages of shade."

Not surprisingly, bass preferred fresher waters (less than 8 parts per trillion salinity), while snook were found throughout the rivers, in a wider range of salinities.

Studies of interactions between the two are ongoing, mostly as biologists sample for snook and find bass as well.  Research areas include rivers around Tampa Bay, as well as Charlotte Harbor and the spring-fed rivers north of Tampa, which snook have found to their liking in recent years. 


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