Activist Angler note: Teaming with Fishiding, PotashCorp introduced a conservation component to its benefit tournament last year and plans to include it again this year. I hope that other tournament organizers will take note and follow the leader because these kinds of projects actually could improve fisheries.
A few have had competitors release fry during one of the competition days, but all that really does is provide an opportunity for promotion of the event. It does little or nothing to help the fishery. If bass have sufficient habitat, they will reproduce just fine on their own. If they don't, adding more fish to compete for already limited forage and cover is pointless.
The following article about the Potash tournament appears in the April issue of B.A.S.S. Times:
In regard to bass tournaments, Joey Bruyninckx had a better idea.
“I wanted to do something that benefits charity, kids, and the environment,” said the environmental specialist for PotashCorp, who added that he likes to fish and has ties to fishing. “From there, it just all came together.”
Thus was born the PotashCorp Fishback Tournament, set for June 6-7 at J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir (also known as Clark Hill) on the Georgia-South Carolina border.
But it’s possible that this year’s team event, unlike the inaugural last year, might be changed to one day instead of two.
“A lot of the fishermen are older and the two-day tournament was rough on them,” Bruyninckx said. “And it was exhausting for the volunteers. Changing it to one day should increase participation while lessening work.”
Still, last year’s two-day tournament, with a $12,000 payout for first place, was a “huge success,” said the employee of the world’s largest fertilizer company. With 135 teams competing, $6,000 was raised for the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance and $4,000 for the North Augusta Fishing Team, a youth organization. Volunteers from the latter performed much of the labor, including returning bass to the lake.
What made this event different from most others, meanwhile, was the conservation component. On Day One, each team placed habitat in the reservoir on its first or second stop.
“I was worried that there would be a lot of fussing and grumbling,” the environmental specialist said. “But afterward, a number of them told me how much they appreciated what we were doing. There were way more positive comments than negative.”
Had competitors been asked to load a brushpile with cinder blocks onto the deck of their bass boats, the reaction might not have been so positive. But instead PotashCorp provided them with self-contained habitats made from reclaimed vinyl siding by Fishiding (a supporter of Activist Angler). All anglers had to do was unfold and drop the “Safehouse,” which boasts a 7-foot diameter when opened.
Fishiding owner Dave Ewald said the units “sink to the bottom and land upright to resemble a bush. The wide limbs create maximum shade, often preferred by bass and forage fish. Nutrients then stick to the vinyl and start the food chain.”
Bruyninckx sought and received approval from Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) before implementing the habitat-improvement component of the tournament. Orginally, he had considered having each team release bass fry, but DNR biologists convinced him that adding habitat would be more beneficial.
The same is planned for this year’s event, which its creator hopes will have more sponsors. PotashCorp donated $25,000 last year and is expected to increase that to $30,000 this year.
Those interested in participating in the tournament should contact Jon Hair at the Tackle Shop in Martinez, Ga. Phone numbers are (706) 432-8225 and (706) 723-6292.
Companies interested in being a sponsor should contact Bruyninckx at (706) 469-1239.