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Entries in conservation (160)


Thank You, B.A.S.S.

Back in November 1985, the new editor of Bassmaster Magazine, Dave Precht, asked a high school English/journalism teacher to be Senior/Writer Conservation for B.A.S.S. Publications. Thirty years later, I'm proud to say that I remain the first and only conservation writer in the company's history. Most of my articles in the early days appeared in Bassmaster. Today, they're mostly in B.A.S.S. Times or at

B.A.S.S. is a wonderful organization, staffed with remarkable people, and I'm so blessed to be a part of that. As such, I know that anglers, fisheries, and the fishing industry all have benefitted from its existence, often in ways that outsiders can't imagine. I reveal what this company founded by Ray Scott has done for sport fishing in "The B.A.S.S. Factor," an essay in Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.

Here's an excerpt:

In 1970, B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott gained national attention by filing lawsuits against more than 200 polluters and creating Anglers for Clean Water (ACW), a non-profit conservation arm. One of ACW’s most important contributions for more than a decade was Living Waters, an annual environmental supplement dealing with fishery and water quality issues nationwide.

In 1972, Scott initiated catch-and-release at bass tournaments. Conservation-minded trout anglers had been releasing their fish for decades before that, but it was Scott and B.A.S.S. who generated mass acceptance.

“B.A.S.S. has inspired a lot of young fishermen,” Bill Dance said. “I see it all the time in the mail that I get.

“One little boy talked about catching his first big bass and how good it felt to release that fish. Years ago, that little boy never would have released that fish.”

 Earl Bentz of Triton Boats added that the practice of releasing tournament-caught fish has had a massive ripple effect in salt water. “I remember when they would weigh in blue marlin and throw them n the dump,” he said. “Now most of the tournaments are live-release tournaments, and it all began after B.A.S.S. started promoting catch-and-release.”


Fishing Leads Children to Love of Outdoors, Active Lifestyle

 More than  2.4 million people enjoyed their first angling experiences in 2014, while 46 million overall went fishing, according to the recently released 2015 Special Report on Fishing.

"Recreational fishing is an essential piece of America's outdoor tradition, often leading children to love of the outdoors and a healthy, active lifestyle, said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, which co-authored the report with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF).

"We hope this report will help the fishing industry--- and the entire outdoor industry--- engage young fishing participants and ultimately create the next generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts."

Reflective of how important it is to take kids fishing, the report revealed that more than 85 percent of adult anglers were introduced to the sport before age 12. Additionally, 4.3 million youth said that they would like to try fishing.

While running/jogging remains the most popular outdoor activity for adults, as measured by total participants and total number of annual outings, recreational fishing remains a strong second.

Other findings include the following:

  • More than 47 percent of first-time participants were female
  • Nearly 82 percent of fishing trips involved more than one person
  • 81 percent of fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of travel
  • Hispanic fishing participants average 25.8 days on the water per year,  six days more than the average for all fishing participants (19.4 days)
  • Spending time with family and friends continue to be the largest reason to participate in fishing

"Fishing remains a popular outdoor activity and with increasing numbers of newcomers, we look to growing overall participation in the future, securing critical support for state conservation efforts," said Frank Peterson, president and CEO of RBFF.


BASS, Other Groups Urge Restoration of Funding for Fisheries 

B.A.S.S., along with 30 other conservation organizations, has signed a letter urging Congress to restore funding for sportfishing projects suffering under the current federal budget impasse.

“The letter asks Congress to get off ‘high center’ and do its job, pass a budget and fund conservation programs,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland, “especially including the Sport Fish Restoration Act which is the most important bill up for reauthorization from the freshwater fisheries management standpoint.”

The letter to leaders and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, was sent Tuesday afternoon on behalf of 31 conservation organizations. It stated:
“The undersigned sportsmen, conservation, outdoor recreation business and resource professional organizations, collectively representing millions of American hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts would like to urge the Congress to start in earnest the process of a bipartisan and bicameral budget deal that lifts the sequester and can begin to reinvest in absolutely critical conservation funding priorities.
“As you know, the expiration of the Murray-Ryan budget deal in just a few short months raises the distinct possibility of a return to sequester-level funding for the domestic discretionary programs that are essential to so many segments of economic growth and job creation. When it comes to the outdoor recreation economy, Budget Control Act funding levels are simply inadequate, and in many cases push a backlog of costs onto future generations of Americans.
“As conservation has shrunk as a percentage of the federal budget by half from 1978 until today, the outdoor recreation economy has continued to grow; but that phenomenon is unlikely to endure. If investments in recreation, habitat restoration, access improvement, and facility maintenance continue to fall, we can likely expect the health of the American $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, which employs millions, and puts billions into federal, state, and local tax coffers to suffer.
“The impact of insufficient funding is clear: shuttered visitor’s centers, unmaintained trails, closed campgrounds, reduced staff, and degraded habitat. These reductions in service keep Americans from enjoying the outdoors to their fullest potential, and in so doing, unnecessarily constrain an entire segment of the American economy, perhaps most pointedly in the rural countryside most dependent on the annual spending of hunters and anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

"Furthermore, the Wildlife Restoration and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds (Trust Funds) are a user pays – public benefits system of fish and wildlife conservation derived from hunters, recreational shooters, anglers and boaters instead of federal income tax dollars. As mandatory programs, the Trust Funds are already being sequestered, and the sequestration rate is expected to increase to 8.5 percent in FY2016. These Trust Funds are the lifeblood of many state resource agency operating budgets, and any bipartisan budget deal should address the issue of sequestering these critical trust funds.

“Many of our organizations applauded the Murray-Ryan budget deal, and likewise we stand ready to support the next iteration of the bipartisan budget leadership necessary to keep American outdoor traditions alive for many future generations.”
Among other fishing and hunting organizations signing onto the letter were the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wild Turkey Federation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.


We're All in this Together for Fisheries Conservation

Bass fishing on the Sabine River. Photo by Robert Montgomery

When it comes to conservation, we're all in this together, and bass fishermen have decided it’s time to start acting that way.

That’s why B.A.S.S. is joining with other industry and angler groups to form a coalition to fight for and defend saltwater access and conservation.

Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation (BASC) was created because professional anglers noticed the need to get more involved in policy discussions and speak up for recreational fishing.

“My theory is that all water flows downstream, and it eventually reaches the ocean,” said Jared Miller, Elite Series pro. “The laws that are damaging recreational saltwater fishing could also eventually affect the freshwater part of the equation.

“It’s so important for us all to work together to protection our national fisheries and our rights to fish. Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation gives us the chance to do just that.”

BASC will center around a website by the same name. In addition to alerting anglers to issues involving access, conservation, economics, and safety, it will provide them with contact information for their members of Congress and even pre-written letters that they can sign and send. The site also will send “action alerts” from the pros so anglers will know when and how to speak out on an issue, and Dean Rojas likely will be one of those spokesmen.

“As recreational anglers, we need to make it our business to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern our fisheries,” said the Elite Series pro who has competed in 13 Bassmaster Classics. “All of us have a responsibility to push for sensible regulations that look out for recreational anglers, as well manage the commercial aspects of fishing.

But one of the biggest challenges for recreational fishermen is to come together as one voice, added Jeff Kriet, also an Elite Series competitor.“Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation gives all anglers the opportunity to represent their interests and protect their rights to fish.

“We need to protect it, we need to make our voices heard, and now is the time. If we don’t advocate now, we will begin to lose the sport we all love.”

Gene Gilliland, national conservation director for B.A.S.S., echoed that sentiment and added that marine fisheries management is at a critical crossroads right now, as Congress debates reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-S).

“Recreational interests have long taken a back seat to commercial fisheries so now is the time for anglers to speak up and make their voices heard,” he said.

“The Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation website makes it easy (for anglers) to keep up with the issues and take action when the call comes to contact your representatives in Congress.”

Consequently, one of the first battles for BASC will be to improve M-S. To do that, anglers must convince lawmakers of the importance of marine recreational fisheries, both in terms of popularity and economic benefits. Already the red snapper season has been reduced to just a few days a year, even though many believe that the stock is the healthiest that it has been in decades.

“The current structure of recreational offshore fishing is really limiting and one-sided,” said Bobby Lane, Elite Series pro. “What was once a great family sport has become an activity fewer and fewer anglers are choosing because they are not allowed to catch fish that are obviously abundant.”

If fresh and saltwater anglers don’t stand together, he added, “The outdated regulations that limit saltwater fishing will eventually bleed over into freshwater fishing.”

Fortunately, recreational fishing leaders already have put together a blueprint for improving M-S, entitled “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” Its recommendations include establishing a national policy for recreational fishing, allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit of the nation, and adopting a revised approach for saltwater recreational fisheries management.”

Under current regulations (for some species), said Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins, “It’s not even worth it to take a trip out to try and catch fish. If recreational anglers decide not to fish, it hurts boat sales, tackle sales, fuel sales . . . and the list goes on. It’s time for us to speak up and keep offshore recreational fishing alive.”

Along with B.A.S.S., American Sport Fishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, these already fishermen have signed on in support of BASC: Cliff Crochet, Kelly Jordon, Jeff Kriet, Mike Iaconelli, Bobby Lane, Jared Miller, Brandon Palaniuk, Dean Rojas, Marty Robinson, and Terry Scroggins.

(A variation of this article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Big Bass Bites Twice

Some bass just don’t mind being caught. That’s the way it seemed, at least for an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth that Robert Burnett caught recently while fishing a shiner on Florida’s Lake Rousseau. Fifteen minutes later, he caught her again.

Burnett knew it was the same fish because he had clipped a fin to send to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for genetic analysis as part of the TrophyCatch.

The angler from Inglis has 26 Lunker Club (8 to 9.9 pounds) and 1 Trophy Club entry (10 to 12.9 pounds) in the FWC program, which began in 2012.

Through incentives provided by the state and corporate sponsors, TrophyCatch encourages anglers to catch, document, and release bass of 8 pounds and heavier. While helping anglers discover which lakes are most productive for big fish and providing valuable information for fisheries management, the program also reduces “the need to prohibit harvest with regulations and has proved highly successful,” FWC said.

Burnett noted that he carefully follows FWC handling advice to clip the line if a fish swallows a hook too deeply to remove easily. On fish that he has left the hook in, he as observed specific markings, such as a scar behind the gill cover. Then, within 10 days, he has caught the same fish again and noticed there was no sign of the hook bothering the fish. This type of anecdotal information helps to substantiate and reconfirm the value of releasing trophy-size bass so anglers can enjoy catching them again.

“Perhaps Robert Burnett will be the one that catches it next time, or his wife – another TrophyCatch participant – or one of his two boys, or some other lucky angler,” FWC said.

Since Oct. 1, 2012, TrophyCatch has verified more than 2,350 bass heavier than 8 pounds that anglers caught, documented and released. Included in those, were 556 Trophy Club (10-12.9 pounds) and 19 Hall of Fame (heavier than 13 pounds) catches. Each of these entrants provides valuable data to the FWC through this citizen-science, conservation program. In addition, each verified catch earned a lucky angler at least $100 in Bass Pro Shops or similar gift cards, a Bass King shirt, other rewards, and a certificate for the accomplishment.

“Ultimately, the direct impact of catch-and-release depends on anglers carefully handling the bass and getting it back in the water where it came from as quickly as practical,” FWC added. “To provide the required documentation for TrophyCatch, however, a photo of the entire bass (head to tail) on a scale with the weight showing or official published tournament results is needed.”

People can sign up for free at to earn a chance to win a Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury Marine and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system and electronic charting by Avionics. While on the site, people can explore the photo gallery and search for catches by water body, county, angler or size class.