Posted by TroyJ on March 06, 2005 at 23:46:59:
In Reply to: gill nets on ESPN posted by sammy on March 05, 2005 at 16:36:12:
I was one of the ones interviewed on the ESPN show last week. Loud Mouth Bass and other shows are unlikley to drop the issue, especially with regard to the way Dustin Wilks was treated by the law. It wasn't only the manner in which he was arrested, but Dustin explained to me what one of the "officers" told him while he was being hauled to the jail house for pulling that net out of the water. It's hard to imagine one of our enforcement "professionals" being that out of line.
On the same token, a warden made a comment last year to me and my clients on the water, stating that he didn't understand the whole catch and release thing, and that the only good bass was a bass in his skillet. I made a note of it in my report. The same thing was said by the warden to some friends in a bait shop a few days ago. According to the folks at the bait shop, the warden said that we all needed to leave those netters alone, and that the only good bass was a bass in his skillet.
Of course there is nothing wrong with eating fish, any fish, but what type of attitude are we seeing from our professional "conservation" officers? Maybe they better figure out where there money comes from, thousands of licenses were sold last year to both in state and out of state catch and release anglers.
Bass anglers, tournament anglers, crappie anglers and now even catfish anglers come here from all over, the numbers are increasing. Many of them bring families, and spend time in the shops, at the golf courses and, at the tourist attractions. Every hotel, motel, cabin rental, convenience store, marina, bait shop and all other businesses connected in any way with tourism better wake up. I'll bet they know where their money comes from. Who spends the money and pays the taxes, recreational anglers or commercial anglers? The answer to that is a no brainer.
I've been a full time professional in the outdoors for a long time. I know what we have here and I see the potential every day. I love what we have and I believe we should share it with visitors.
It does kill me sometimes however to see how we treat what we have here. Using gillnets as a means of getting catfish while killing game fish in the process is not doing tourism any favors. Your bass, your stripe, your sauger your crappie and even your trophy cats are being wasted in those nets. A lot of that meat is being hauled out, some dead and some alive. It don't make sense.
Most of the time, the threat of a boycott don't have much in the way of teeth, but that is not the case with this issue. Thousands of anglers are really mad, and a boycott would cost this state millions in short order. I don't want to see that happen.
I know for a fact that the state and our local tourism is taking this issue very seriously. Several of us met with Barnett Lawley, Corky Pugh and two state senators a couple of days ago. Several of us discussed the issue with Stan Cook last summer. We know they all have a vested interest in getting the issues worked out, and I know they do care about getting some things changed to help the situation. They are looking at all sides, which is exactly what they should do.
It's one of those issues where we have to put aside personal differences, and stick together as anglers and conservationists. If we want to provide consistent quality from our fishery resource to a growing number of users, both local and abroad, then old attitudes and old policies are going to have to change.
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