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Entries in boating (20)


'Why We Fish' Insights From Female Fishing Legend

By Kathy Magers

(One of the most respected women anglers, Kathy Magers was a 2005 inductee into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame and a 2002 inductee into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. She was a Bass’n Gal National Champion and once guided former President George W. Bush on a six-hour fishing trip. This is her contribution to my book, Why We Fish, which also includes an essay by Bill Dance.)

Why do we fish? 

That’s a question I asked myself repeatedly over the years, especially when fishing in cold, rainy weather, with ice clogging eyelets on my rod. Or baking in the sun, or having driven thousands of miles to compete in a tournament in which I did poorly.  But for me, fishing has been to me what kryptonite was to Superman.

My first fishing trip was at age 4; the most recent was after I recently deposited my Social Security in the bank before leaving town. What happened in between represents six decades of fishing with each being a life lesson for adulthood.

The first decade taught me patience; second, self confidence; third, to share with family and friends; fourth, to challenge myself on a professional level; and fifth, to give back to the sport. Now, in my sixth angling decade, I’m learning to relax and fish for fun once again, dampening the fast-paced competitive tendency of my past. I competed on all the women’s national tours such as Bass’n Gal, Lady Bass, Women’s Bass Fishing Association and Women’s Bassmaster Tour. Fishing is a fantastic teaching tool and bonding agent.

We fish for fun

In my case, it was the lure of the cork going under.

“When it goes under, pull!” Grandpa would say. I’d watch intently for movement with never a blink of the eye, holding every breath until I must have turned blue. Then finally, a nibble created water rings around the cork and sent my heart fluttering like a scared hummingbird. Then, poof! My cork was under! 

If you fish, you know the rest of the routine: Shouts of “reel fast!” and “set the hook!” I missed many fish early on because it was hard to reel and giggle at the same time. As I aged, my catch rate improved. I never realized how our family bonded on those trips or that I was learning patience, a positive in life and worm fishing.

I don’t think children’s fishing rods and reels existed when I was little. Maybe that’s why Grandpa handed me a full-size saltwater rod equipped with an open-faced reel at age 6. Yes, 6. Some adults struggle to master open-faced reels. Mean old Grandpa (so I thought) told me to put my thumb on the reel line when my bait neared the water so it wouldn’t backlash. I didn’t listen. He was nice enough to untangle the first dozen backlashes but eventually I heard “The next time you don’t listen to me, you’re on your own.”

Guess I called his bluff and there I was red-faced and sobbing “I can’t do this!”  Eventually, when no one babied me, the tangles came out and I was praised for doing it myself.  I learned that day to listen or pay the consequences in life.  And that no mater how messed up something in life seems, it eventually straightens out --- if you just keep working on it.

Beauty to behold

While most of my little friends were fast asleep at 4 a.m. on a Saturday, I felt special when mom whispered “Wake up, sleepy head. We’re going fishing with Grandpa in the boat.”

I sprang from bed and into my clothes like a cheetah. Breakfast followed at a beachfront café, where, to this day, I remember the chin-high Formica table top, scooting sounds of metal chairs and the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the air.

We then rode a ferry from Galveston Island over to Port Bolivar. Dad would lift me up to look over the side at neon-glowing phosphorous breaking atop the ferry wake.  Porpoises raced alongside us --- a real thrill for me.  So there I was, with the salty gulf breeze blowing my pig tails, experiencing some of the most breath-taking nature scenes, all framed with swirling seagulls and pelicans everywhere. Shrimp boats in the distance, a cloudy peach sky swirled with gray clouds, punctuated with a hot red ball of sun --- all while my friends slept. I doubt the adults realized what deep impressions those trips etched in my young mind for life. Even today, I’m sure I’m not alone in considering nature and its beauty a major calling to fish.

Boating goes with fishing 

When I was good, Grandpa let me steer the boat back across the bay. I could barely see anything, so I stretched my neck giraffe style to see over the salty, frosted windshield. I vividly recall his teaching me to “quarter” the waves at an angle instead of hitting them head on, getting us wet. That lesson absolutely saved my life in rough waters year later when a Kentucky weather front blew in three hours early and caught tournament boaters off-guard. 

What a shame that Grandpa died before I became a touring a pro. More than once, as I planed out and headed up a river or across a lake, I felt the wind in my ears and remembered the times I drove grandpa’s boat. Those were special times that nurtured my love of boating. In later years, I even became registered a Texas Boating Safety Instructor and created my own annual women’s boating courses in Dallas. And as a touring pro, I boated for decades, representing boat and motor manufacturers and dealers at boat shows. All because I steered Grandpa’s boat for a few minutes at age 6. 


We fish to catch fish 

It was frightening but fun as a child to catch a “monster fish” with both eyes on one side of its head (a saltwater flounder.) Or the “croaker” that barked like a dog. (Dad said he must have been chasing a catfish.) I caught a redfish that wasn’t red at all, but gray, and a snapper that was red.  But I got hooked in Las Vegas at age 8.  I was an Air Force brat who landed a 5-pound bass at Lake Mead. It was the largest fish caught out of four adults and me. Memories of that day flooded my mind as I looked out the airplane window over Lake Mead on my way to an industry trade show in Vegas. 

In 1979, I discovered Bass’n Gal, the original women’s professional fishing tour and joined with Chuck’s full support.  Thus, we began another decade in which fishing played an important role in our lives. Pro fishing gave us an opportunity to spend quality time traveling to six events per year. I enjoyed the challenge of our yellow-brick-road that stretched from Texas to New York, Florida and nearly every state in between.  

Fishing opened a door for me and my family that allowed me to meet governors, guide George Bush (43rd president) and film with legendary baseball pitcher, Nolan Ryan. My pro career was the most rewarding result of taking the road less traveled in our sport.      

We fish for one-on-one time 

I spend a lot of time going to movies with my husband, shopping with our daughters, and watching our grandchildren play sports but never feel closer to them than when we share a day on the lake. Chuck and I used to drop the girls off at school on Monday, our only day off, then spend our day fishing. On the water, we shared uninterrupted time, a rare occasion in those days.  I loved the slow pace and eating a picnic lunch on the water. We miss those days and look forward to more of them in retirement.  

Mom occasionally accompanied me as my official practice partner on tour. No barking dogs, meals to cook, ringing phones, or doorbells to interrupt us. We would talk about life and she shared tips on everything from motherhood to being a good wife. We still laugh about the day a beautiful powder blue dragonfly landed on the edge of my rod box as I dug, head down through it, looking for a different reel.

Mom said “Oh, Kathy, look at that beautiful dragonfly.” 

I picked up the reel and asked, “Where?” as I slammed the rod box lid.  We both gasped, but when I opened the lid, away it flew, unharmed.  That day, I learned about luck.

With our grandsons, I learned something else. At ages 7 and 8, they couldn’t carry on a phone conversation. Every question from me was answered with “uh-huh,” “I don’t know,” or “kinda.”  Only when I asked if they wanted to go fishing did the pace change. And, once in the boat, conversation never ceased.

“Gramma, do fish drink water?”

“Why is water wet?”

“Can I cast your fishing rod?”

These conversationally-challenged kids were all mine for the day. I especially loved times when they asked “Can I steer the boat, Grandma?”  Memories of Grandpa and Galveston Bay flooded back.  And, when I said “Last cast!” my heart jack-hammered when they begged and pleaded for “Just one more cast, Grandma! P-l-e-a-s-e?” 

Fishing and boating were definitely the glue that bonded our family. One-on-one time with someone you care about is priceless.

We fish to grow the sport 

Bass’n Gal just happened to have been founded around the same time as the “women’s liberation movement.” Consequently, as we attempted to grow women’s role in fishing, we were labeled as bra-burning libbers, which we were not. We wanted support from the industry, yet some believed we were rocking the boat trying to force our way into a man’s sport. It wasn’t always easy. It was just so much more fun that sitting on the bank waving our husbands off to fish, and then sitting idly on the bank until they returned.

Of course, the men, mine included, always asked as we women came to weigh in if we had hit anything on the lake. Even when I said no, Chuck was crawling up under the hull to make sure.  As time passed, our guys became not only confident in our fishing and boating skills, but would dare anyone to make a negative comment about us.  And they boasted about our abilities to back up our boats.  

In following years, we realized that unlike our male counterparts, we needed better fitting clothing and equipment. Boys sizes didn’t do the job since they were straight as a board and we were curvy. Year after year, we were chided and seldom taken seriously.

We realized that the right way to get manufacturers to understand that we were a target market was to “create demand.”  We didn’t want pink clothes, just functional outerwear for cold weather. We wanted respect on the water, to be looked at as capable boaters and anglers rather than just “eye candy” sunning on the back boat deck.  We noticed there were never women in fishing or boating ads as boat drivers; always they were the passengers. Ads showed only boys fishing with dads or grandpas.

Where were the girls and how would our daughters ever grow up to know the sport was theirs, too?  Super sponsors like Mercury Marine, Ranger Boats, Motor Guide, Zebco-Quantum, and others led the way supporting us. Eventually, women showed up in national ads as boaters and anglers. Clothing companies began to hear us.

 I remember 10-X brand came out with women’s rain suits. We loved them! They had rooms for our curves and pants legs no longer drug the ground. Our presence in those days decades back most definitely contributed to the positive changes we see in fishing today. And young women who like to fish are no longer embarrassed to admit it. Society’s perspective of women who fish changed drastically and, today, we are recognized consumers and anglers.    

For all of these reasons and more, fishing is a timeless passion that I love with all my heart.


Sports Fishing Strengthened by Increases in Participation, Spending

Fishing participation is up nearly 20 percent during the past 10 years, according to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), citing the recently released 2016 National Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation national survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Conducted every five years in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the survey also shows that anglers increased their overall spending by 2 percent during the past five years.

“Dedicated efforts by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), state fish and wildlife agencies, the recreational fishing industry and independent programs have made increases in recreational fishing possible,” said Glenn Hughes, vice president of Industry Relations for the ASA.

“Thanks also goes to ASA’s Government Affairs team and our partners who helped ensure that legislation and policy decisions were in place to provide access, clean water and fisheries conservation, which anglers need for a successful day on the water.”

Overall, fishing participation increased 8.2 percent for individuals 16 to 65 years of age during the last five years. This is the highest level of participation since 1991. Revenue from equipment purchases to all trip expenditures  increased from $45 billion to $46.1 billion during the same time.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

“Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important."

Encouraged by the findings, RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson said, “We’re excited to see the fruits of our efforts to increase fishing and boating participation validated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s latest report –  a true benchmark of the industry.

“The results of this report show that RBFF has had a positive impact on participation since its inception, and we only plan to build upon these numbers.”

 ASA has developed tools and materials for the recreational fishing industry to further assist in the effort. The emphasis is on effectively reaching anglers through recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) practices. Several state agencies and industry partners are already implementing these R3 practices to help achieve 60 million anglers during the next five years.
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources


Ethanol-Related Repairs Increasing, According to Survey

A new survey by Boating Industry magazine says those in the boating industry that manufacture, sell, repair and store recreational vessels are seeing a growing number of problems caused by ethanol-related fuels. Said one Minnesota boat dealer in the survey, “Ethanol fuels are great for our service department but bad for our customers!”

The reader survey results, which appear in the magazine’s July 2017 issue, report that 92 percent of survey respondents said “they have seen damage…caused by ethanol…and more business for the service department.” The most recent results are up from 87 percent from a similar survey last year.

The July feature “Ethanol Still a Significant Challenge, Survey Says,” also reported that “more than 15 percent of readers said that based on what they are seeing in their business, more than half of the necessary repairs are being caused by ethanol-related issues.” Eighty-five percent of survey takers were “very concerned” about the use of E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol).

Signed into law in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires an increasing amount of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into the gasoline supply. When it was written, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually declined, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas.

To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 the EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace. However, only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats.

For the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the survey’s results add to urgency to fix the RFS. Said Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy, “For the people who know boats best, the readers of Boating Industry magazine who work on boats and keep them running so we can all enjoy a great day on the water, ethanol continues be concern. It will remain this way until we fix America’s broken ethanol policy.”

Go to for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition.


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.


Ethanol-Free Fuel Could Become Even Scarcer

As if finding ethanol-free (EO) gasoline for marine engines weren't difficult enough already, BoatUS is warning that it could become even scarcer this summer.

Gas stations aren't required by federal law to carry fuel with ethanol added. But the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program mandates that an increasing amount of biofuel, primarily corn ethanol, be blended into America's gasoline supply annually. In other words, stations might not be able to buy EO gasoline, despite consumer demand.

"Correcting the RFS before it wipes out the availability of EO for boating families and wreaks additional havoc on marine engines is the responsibility of our next president," said Margaret Bonds Podlich, BoatUS president.

"It is now time to fix this broken law. Thankfully, there are bipartisan ideas to fix the ethanol mandate in Congress, but the question remains whether our elected leaders will act and solve the problem."

As of right now, it appears that EO fuel supply will be reduced from more than 8 billion gallons in 2014 to just 200 million, possibly as early as mid-year. Already, more than 90 percent of fuel contains 10 percent ethanol, with 15 percent becoming more prevalent, even though federal law prohibits its use in marine engines, ATVs, motorcycles, lawnmowers, and cars made before 2001.

"When gasoline containing ethanol and boats mix, boat owners lose," Podlich added. "That's because of something called 'phase separation'--- think oil and vinegar--- that can turn fuel stored in a boat's gas tank into a corrosive, water-soaked ethanol mixture, unusable in any engine."

Half of those who responded to a recent BoatUS survey said they have had to replace or repair a boat engine or fuel system parts because of suspected ethanol-related damage. Average cost for repairs was $1,000.

Ethanol Damage Increasing

Additionally, Boating Industry says this:

Ethanol appears to be playing an even bigger role in service issues than it was just a year ago.

Eighty-seven percent of our respondents reported that their business has seen engine damage caused by ethanol. That was up from 73 percent in the same survey in April 2015.

While it may be helping drive service department business, frequent issues run the risk of driving more people out of boating.

As one New York boat dealer bluntly put it: “Ethanol makes us money … it sucks for the consumer.”

A Florida-based manufacturer echoed that:

“Ethanol is a boom for the service departments. Ethanol is a HUGE drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers. It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat, and their entire boating experience.”

And it is no small problem, either, representing a significant portion of repairs based on what our survey respondents are seeing. Fourteen percent said that ethanol-related problems are responsible for more than half of all engine repairs, while 60 percent said it represents at least 20 percent of the repair issues. Those numbers are basically unchanged from 2015.