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Why We Fish

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Why We Fish: Chasing Rainbows

We got up at 4:15 to be on the water at 5. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t seem to care that we were there.

Then the rain started. Not all over. Mostly to the west and a little bit overhead.

In the east, where the sun hadn’t yet moved above the horizon, the sky was mostly clear.

And then came the magic. With the sun beaming up from below the skyline, my friend Norm Klayman and I watched the formation of the most spectacular rainbow that either of us had ever seen.

Normally, I don’t bother taking photos of rainbows. Even with digital, I’ve learned that cameras just can’t do them justice.

But with this one, I had to try, even though it was far too large for me  to photograph in its entirety.

If someone had asked me to get up at 4:15 to go see a rainbow, I would have said, “No, thank you. I’ve seen plenty of them.”

Yet I’m always ready to get up at such hours to go fishing.  And if I hadn’t gone fishing on this morning, I would have missed a sight that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

(This is one the many experiences that inspired my book, Why We Fish. Bill Dance and others also contributed.)


New Gulf of Mexico Reef Built with Boilers From Alabama Power

An artificial reef is being built in the Gulf of Mexico with two, 100-ton boilers recently removed from Alabama Power facilities, plus a 195-foot barge that will be sunk along with them.

Alabama Power and the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation are partners in the project about 25 miles south of Dauphin Island. Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) helped develop the project.

"Alabama's Marine Resources Division has been a leader for decades with inshore and offshore artificial reef systems," said AWF Executive Director Tim. L. Gothard.

"The Alabama Wildlife Federation firmly believes that properly engineered artificial reefs provide ecological benefits and unique fishing opportunities for anglers--- a true win-win."

Go here for more information and photos.


Bass Fingerlings Get 'Early Release' for Arkansas River Stocking

About 100,000 bass fingerlings received early release from Arkansas' Cummins Correctional Facility in June, so anglers could stock them in the Arkansas River during the Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza.

As fishermen brought in their bass for hourly weigh-ins at five sites, they were given bags of small fish to take on their return trips for release.

“They’re spreading out and placing the fingerlings in the backwaters and areas they fish,” said Colton Dennis, coordinator of the Black Bass Program for Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). “It’s going to be more favorable habitat than if we backed up a truck at a ramp and released thousands into an area with less complex habitat, less vegetation and more current to fight.”

The river needs a boost because of decline in spawning and nursery habitat in its backwaters, he added.

The project that began in 2001 is a joint effort of AGFC and the Department of Corrections. During spring, agency biologists collect brood fish from weigh-ins at the Dumas pool of the river. They're then placed in ponds at Cummins, once used for raising catfish.

“Roughly 200 bass are stocked into the ponds,” said JJ Gladden, biologist at the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery. “Our goal is to get about 200,000 fingerlings out of that."

After 100,000 fingerlings are removed for stocking throughout the river, the remainder are released into Dumas.

During the past four years, angler volunteers have stocked 373,000 fingerlings.

“Five of the 15 years suffered no measurable production because the river rose into the ponds before we could get the fingerlings out,” Dennis said.



What's Life All About? Go Fishing and Find Out!

No other activity transports us so completely into the web of life as fishing and hunting. We might no longer fish or hunt to feed our families, but these pastimes takes us closer to what life is all about than anything else I can think of --- except for maybe getting lost in the wilderness or being pursued by a grizzly bear.

And in getting closer to what life is all about, we implicitly recognize our place in it and, as a consequence, are healthier and happier in our everyday existence.

What is life all about? Go fishing and find out.

Excerpt from Why We Fish.


New Campaign Launched to Increase Angler Participation

A new national campaign aims to increase the number of anglers in this country from 46 million in 60 million in 60 months (by 2021).

Dubbed "60-in-60," the project is being jointly sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Additionally, it is supported by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) as well as members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.

"Because of the current angler demographic between ages 52 and 70, we risk declining participation rates in the next decade," said CSF President Jeff Crane.

"In order to effectively recruit enough anglers to sustain the industry's economic impact in the country, as well as the significant contribution anglers and boaters make to conservation, we need a new approach to get people reconnected with one of the nation's most enduring pastimes - fishing."

The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, a program first established by Congress in 1950, generates revenue for state natural resource agencies through excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters on fishing tackle, marine electronics and motorboat fuels. Currently, the fund distributes $600 million annually to all 50 states for fisheries management, habitat improvement projects, boating access, and aquatic education.

"Boating and fishing are two of the most popular activities in America, and our industries have a significant economic impact throughout the country," said NMMA President Thom Dammrich.

"'60-in-60' is about recruitment, retention and reactivation. It's about partnerships between the industry, state governments, and anglers to focus on what we can do better to grow the sport and improve the fishing experience."

"This new initiative is focused on what the sportfishing community needs to do to be more customer-focused and develop the next generation of anglers," added ASA Vice President Scott Gudes.