If you’re a fan of Don Wirth’s humor, as I am, you’ll get a kick out of his article, “Bass fishing’s baddest (as in worst) ideas.”
Most of his examples are tongue-in-cheek, as you’ll see, but the five really bad ideas I’m about to address will have you biting your tongue and chewing your cheek:
A parting shot — As President Obama’s political appointees were clearing out their desks to make room for their counterparts in the new administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ash unilaterally banned the use of lead fishing tackle and ammunition on 300 million acres of land and water managed by the agency.
Anglers naturally were outraged, especially since similar proposals had been dismissed by the EPA as unwarranted. The bombshell was a betrayal of trust with state resource leaders who have sought to work in partnership with the FWS on such matters.
B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland called on the new administration to rescind or at least put the order on hold. If you like fishing with jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, swimbaits and Texas rigs, you’ll agree Ash’s parting shot was a bad idea.
Plastics ban — I wouldn’t have been surprised if Ash had also banned soft plastic lures on his way out the door. That bad idea first surfaced a few years ago in the Maine legislature, which wisely killed the bill after the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommended it not be passed.
It’s refreshing for politicians to pay attention to fisheries managers who truly understand the resource.
Instead, Maine fisheries are striving to educate anglers on how to dispose of used worms and grubs properly. It even recommends using O-rings when wacky rigging stickworms, a practice that will minimize the loss of those fragile but effective plastic baits. Good idea.
Running out of gas — A buddy of mine once loaned his pickup to a friend of his. The friend topped off the truck’s fuel tank ... with gasoline ... in a diesel-powered truck. Very bad idea. It may not be as costly if you accidentally pump Ethanol 15 into your bass boat’s gas tank, but you don’t want to risk it. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is urging the EPA to take steps to eliminate “misfueling” outboards with E-15.
The culprit here is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that mandates an increasing percentage of gas be made of renewable fuels. We have reached the point where there are only two ways to hit the target: dramatically increase ethanol content and reduce supplies of ethanol-free gas. Both are happening simultaneously, and boaters are going to suffer.
Join NMMA and others in calling for Congress to reset RFS at a reasonable level.
Short and snappy — This bad idea applies to our saltwater brethren (and some of us bass anglers who like to go offshore once in a while), who are being denied equal access to red snapper, one of the most popular gamefish along most of the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines.
Last year, snapper fishermen were given one weekend in a nine-day season for federal waters. At the same time, commercial fishermen were permitted to harvest more than half of the annual quota of red snapper. The Center for Sportfishing Policy and Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation — two angler advocacy groups B.A.S.S. supports — are calling for President Trump to appoint leaders who will manage the fishery in a fairer manner.
If you agree, go to sportfishingpolicy.com and bassforsalt.com to see how you can help.
Bass attacks — After beating back a state-level effort to declare black bass an invasive species in the California Delta last summer, anglers who love the Delta fishery were blindsided by a provision in the new Water Infrastructure Improvement act that could lead to an all-out effort to eradicate black bass and striped bass in that fishery.
“They’re not just talking about eliminating creel and bag limits like they’ve done on the Columbia River,” said Gilliland. “They’re talking of going way beyond that now. There’s talk of spraying aquatic vegetation and destroying habitat that’s used not only by bass, but also by many other types of wildlife as well. It would be an awful scenario.”
In other words, a horrible, really bad idea.
“They’re not just talking about eliminating creel and bag limits like they’ve done on the Columbia River. They’re talking of going way beyond that now.”