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Entries in Shimano (25)


Fishermen Arrested for Animal Cruelty? It Could Happen Like This . . . 

CLEWISTON, Fla. --- John Jones and Tom Smith were arrested on Lake Okeechobee Friday. Their boat was impounded and their children placed in foster care.

Jack McCoy, a court-appointed attorney for fish found in the livewell, said that he intends to prosecute both to the full extent of the law, under the new federal Animal Protection Act. "Fish have rights, legal rights, and we intend to make an example of these two for the cruel and inhumane way that they were behaving," McCoy said.

"Their fishing tackle, which is now illegal to possess, will be burned.  We hope that our actions will send a message nationwide that fishing not only is cruel, but those who participate will suffer the consequences of their barbaric actions."

*                   *                     *                   *                    *                  *

Think that can't happen here? Think again.

As anglers, we share this planet with a growing number of people who are divorced from nature and, as a consequence, reality. In addition, they are relentless in pursuit of what they believe is a kinder, gentler, and more enlightened world.

Our side, meanwhile, is populated by millions who just want to be left alone to fish; to idle into a flat cove at dawn, certain that a trophy lies waiting to explode on a topwater; to introduce their children to a peaceful and contemplative pastime that has been passed down from generation to generation; to feel the adrenaline surge as they step up to the weigh-in stand with a heavy bag.

They have no interest in the "issues" that sadly have become so much a part of recreational angling. In fact, a substantial number of subscribers to B.A.S.S. Times likely won't even bother to read this column. Instead, they'll focus on the techniques articles and tournament news, ignoring this topic in much the same way the grasshopper in an Aesop's fable continued to play instead of storing food as winter approached, and, as a result, found itself dying of hunger.

A bill that could lead to a scenario described above already has been introduced in the Canada Parliament. It follows in the wake of similar seemingly surreal, but all too real, legislation in European countries, where sport fishing as we know it no longer exists. And should such a bill ever become law in Canada, its proponents quickly would focus their collective efforts on the United States.

Keep Canada Fishing says this about the Modernizing Animal Protections Act: "Provisions in Bill C-246 clearly make it possible for someone who catches a fish to face criminal prosecution for cruelty to animals.  Even the act of baiting a hook with a worm would be considered an act of cruelty according to the bill."  

Ostensibly, the bill addresses the deplorable practice of catching and killing sharks for their fins to be sold in Asian food markets. It would prevent the import of fins and prevent finning in Canadian waters.

But a long-time observer of the animal rights movement in Canada and the United States says that's camouflage.

"Bills like this are brought forward under the pretense of protecting puppies and cats, or, in this case, preventing shark finning. These are things any reasonable people would oppose," says Phil Morlock, government affairs chair of the Canada Sportfishing Industry and director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

"But the devil is in the details. If this was only about shark finning, it would say that. But it goes far beyond that."

For example, it would mandate that anyone who kills an animal "brutally" or "viciously" is guilty of an offense, "regardless of whether the animal dies immediately." But it doesn't define those terms.

"For years, animal rights people have tried to portray fishing, hunting and trapping as brutal and vicious," says Morlock, who adds that, if an angler or hunter is charged under this bill, "you never know what a court will decide. Someone could face jail time for taking a fish home or shooting a duck."

Additionally, C-246 would move animals from the "certain property" classification to the Criminal Code dealing with offenses against persons. And there lies the ultimate agenda of the radical animal rights movement.

While they purport to advocate for animal welfare, they really are about giving legal rights to animals,  an action that would threaten not only recreational angling and hunting, but commercial fishing, agriculture, and medical research. In other words, they want court-appointed attorneys for bass to prosecute those millions and millions of us who now fish for them.

Whether we live in Canada or the United States, it's time for anglers to accept this new reality, that many people out there don't want us to fish, and they are not going to stop trying to make their dream our nightmarish reality. Occasionally, we must be willing to put our rods down to use the political process to oppose them. Otherwise, they will be taken from us.

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Volunteers Once Again Improving Habitat at Lake Havasu

As volunteers lead a resurgence in the Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program, anglers are being surveyed to help determine the success of the 20-year effort.

“We’re trying to find out what people are catching, how many fish they are catching,” said David Bohl, president of the Lake Havasu City chapter of Anglers United, who suspects that smallmouth bass are becoming the dominant species.

 “We want to see if they are satisfied. Hopefully, they’re catching a lot of fish.”

Extending into next fall, the project is financed with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with a goal of 5,000 responses. Surveys are available at a half dozen access locations around the 20,000-acre impoundment on the Colorado River.

The original $27 million program to add a variety of habitat and increase access began in 1993 for the reservoir that was built during the 1930s for water storage, and since has become one of the most popular fisheries in the arid Southwest. Effort lagged a bit at the end of that 10-year program, but volunteers since have revived it.

Between 100 and 200 brush bundles are dropped monthly during summer, with much of the work being done by members of the Lake Havasu Marine Association (LHMA). Along with Anglers United, other partners include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Game and Fish, and California Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s one of the best places where every arm of government, volunteers, and nonprofits are working together to get something done,” said BLM’s Jason West, who coordinates the program.

As an example of the cooperative effort, area landscapers provide tree branches and other brush, which are bundled with rope, weighed with sand bags and sunk in coves, where they are believed to provide habitat for about seven years, as they slowly decompose.

At least anecdotally, the fishery has benefitted from the long-term effort, with both size and quantity improving, according to BLM biologist Doug Adams. Program advocates hope the survey will provide more definitive evidence.


Shimano Grants Offered to Help Improve Your Fishery

Members of the Lake Oconee Bassmasters were among volunteers who potted, transported and planted 2,000 water willows in West Point Lake as habitat for bass.

Back in the Dark Ages, the Texas-rigged plastic worm was the go-to bait for competitive and recreational anglers alike. And most “habitat projects” by bass clubs consisted of dropping bundles of Christmas trees, which attracted fish but did little to improve the fishery.

Departure from the former is evident. Check out the baits that tournament anglers use to win. Look in any serious fisherman’s tacklebox.  Texas-rigged worms still are popular, but they’re not the go-to bait anymore.

And just as anglers adapted their tactics to keep catching bass, they recognized that habitat work needs to be more about enhancing fisheries than temporary fixes that congregate fish to make them easier to find. But projects that actually improve a lake long-term are more involved and consequently more expensive. To make them happen, conservation-minded fishermen need financial assistance.

Enter the Shimano/B.A.S.S. Youth Conservation Initiative, started early in 2014 and accepting grant applications through Jan. 15 for 2015. Both state chapters and B.A.S.S. Nation clubs can apply for assistance with conservation projects that will involve Junior clubs or high school and college fishing teams. One project in each of the six B.A.S.S. Nation divisions is eligible for assistance ranging from $500 to several thousand dollars.

Projects chosen for 2014 in New Mexico, Georgia, and Connecticut typify how habitat work has matured over the years, as they teach youth the importance of stewardship, help ensure the sustainability of habitat and ecosystem functions long-term, and enlist support by management agencies and other organizations.

“The New Mexico project really typifies what we hope to achieve with this program,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director.

“They’re thinking along the lines of improving an entire reservoir, not just putting in fish attractors. They’re using both plants and artificial habitat. They’re working with BOR (Bureau of Reclamation), Game and Fish, state parks, and other organizations.”

And this ambitious effort to make Elephant Butte a better fishery now has $40,000 in funding, thanks to Conservation Director Earl Conway, who also secured assistance from Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen, and the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Program.

“They hit some snags with permitting, which delayed things,” Gilliland explained. “But they’re buying materials, they’re doing a pilot study, and refining what they want to do next spring, so they will be ready.”

That work tentatively will include establishing shoreline vegetation, floating wetlands, suspended spawning beds, and submerged habitat, both permanent and portable. Additionally, Conway has enlisted nothing short of a small army of adult and youth volunteers to assist with the effort.

In Georgia, meanwhile, the B.A.S.S. Nation is using Shimano funds to help restore West Point Lake to its former glory.

“I hear people talking about how great the fishing was back in the 80s,” said Jake Mims, a member of the Chapel Hill High School fishing team. “Maybe this is the first step to making it great again.”

Thus far, volunteers from four B.A.S.S. Nation clubs, six high schools, and the University of West Georgia have planted 2,000 water willows. The Lake Oconee Bassmasters grew the willows from cuttings taken from plants that the club helped establish in Lake Oconee six years ago.

State Conservation Director Tony Beck said the habitat is needed to help largemouths survive predation from an expanding population of smaller, but more aggressive spotted bass.

Ideally, the plants will spread on their own, once they are established.

“We’re hoping that nature takes over to make the project much larger,” Gilliland explained. “It increases the return on investment.”

Up in Connecticut, the goal is not only to improve fisheries in community lakes, but, in doing so, get more people involved by increasing their chances for success.

Echo Lake was chosen as the first of several enhancement projects because of the town’s interest and because the Mohawk Valley Basscasters had worked previously with the Watertown Fishing Club. Volunteers assembled spiderblock structures and then placed them in eight areas accessible by shoreline anglers.

Additionally, the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation produced a video guide and installation plan for other clubs to follow.

Besides spawning long-term benefits, these Shimano-funded projects “give adult club members the opportunity to be mentors in more than just fishing,” Gilliland said. “And they get kids involved in conservation in a meaningful way to develop an appreciation for the resource.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)




Sued by a Fish? 

The good news is that Tommy the chimp is not judged to be a person and thus not entitled to legal rights afforded people, according to a recent New York appeals court ruling.

"Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their action," Presiding Justice Karen Peters wrote in the seven-page decision.

"In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights — such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus — that have been afforded to human beings."

But that’s not about to stop the zealots who want to stop all uses of animals for any reason and want to bestow upon them the same rights that you and I have. Trust me.

Up in Canada, they’re pushing for --- and I’m not making up this --- an “Animal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” It asserts that “animals have the right to have their interests represented in court” and “are persons under the law.”

And it says that they should have these rights: 

  • The right to be free from pain, injury, or disease.
  • The right to be free from abuse and neglect.
  • The right to be free from fear and emotional and psychological distress.

Think about that for a moment.

If you have no experience with nature and/or are totally ignorant of the way the world works in terms of sustaining human life through agriculture and development of drugs and medical procedures, you might think “Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that kind? Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us to live in harmony with Bambi?”

Okay . . . are you the one who’s going to tell hawks that they can’t eat squirrels and lions that they can’t eat gazelles? (Check out this great video about a "vegan fox.")

Are you willing to forgo ever again going into wilderness because it might stress out the wildlife there? Do you want to be sued for eating a hamburger or swatting a mosquito? How would you like to be dragged into court by an attorney representing a fish?

That’s the kind of world that these delusional people want to create.

“We fought and defeated federal legislation during a 10-year battle that was introduced in 1990 by the Liberal government that tried to entrench these principles in the federal criminal code,” says my friend Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano Canada Ltd. / Shimano American Corp.

“Old is new again.”

In other words, those who believe this way won’t stop trying to impose their ideology on the rest of us. And as more people become more urbanized and removed from the realities of how nature works, it’s only going to get worse.



Environmentalists Want Anglers to Pay for Management of No-Fishing Areas

First, environmental groups and their allies in California state government ignored science, chose to follow a United Nations model, and closed off vast areas for sport fishing through establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Now they want to steal money from anglers and boaters to manage those areas.

“Of course, the enviro groups are all over this (Marine Protected Areas Partnership Plan draft) in glowing terms about how great it is, how progressive the permanent closures are, etc.,” said Phil Morlock, Director of Environmental Affairs for Shimano.

In responding to a state request for public input, Morlock concluded with this:

“What cannot be argued is the fact that permanent MPA access closures to vast areas of prime fishing habitat have deprived anglers of access to public waters and to a public resource – fish.

“MPAs as established in coastal California are clearly not fishery management tools.

“We concur with others in the recreational angling community who maintain that anglers should not be expected or required to contribute any license, trust fund or vessel fee revenue to fund MPA management, law enforcement or any associated program in consideration of the negative impact MPA’s have caused by reducing recreational fishing opportunities.

“Those who supported these unnecessary MPA closures should be required to continue to also support their ongoing fiscal requirements.”

And here’s something that should be of concern to anglers everywhere:

The same anti-fishing zealots who closed off California waters are pushing for similar programs elsewhere, including the Great Lakes. The California MPA plan was adopted as one-size-fits all, ostensibly to “protect” habitat, even though no documented threat exists.

“It was essentially a ‘solution’ to a manufactured crisis that bypassed hard science, independent peer review, and inappropriately conjoined recreational fishing with commercial fishing impacts under the buzzword ‘overfishing,’ in the attempt to justify these closures,” Morlock said.

“From all appearances, the United Nations can’t manage a two-car parking lot effectively. Rather than encouraging them to elevate their policy to adopt the unparalleled success of the American Model of science-based fishery management and sustainable use doctrine, we continue to apply the lowest common denominator in a rush to reverse over a century of proven success.”