Paying it forward

A movie and Bassmaster show inspired Oregon Federation Nation member Jim Day to initiate a Pay-It-Forward program to improve bass fishing in his home state.

The Bassmaster show featured a segment on how contestants in a Texas bass tournament purchased bass fingerlings and stocked the fish during the event. Day, a member of the Central Oregon Bass Club, decided to try the same idea in Oregon but he wanted to take the stocking concept one step further based on the 2000 film Pay It Forward. The premise behind the movie was if someone did you a favor, you had to "pay it forward" to three other people.

So, Day thought Oregon anglers could do good deeds through a supplemental stocking of bass into their favorite fishing holes, and other organizations or clubs could pick up proceeds left from the initial tournament and use that money to start the next stocking effort. The Pay-It-Forward concept would then continue for subsequent stockings as well.

As a member of the Warm Water Workgroup, Day became aware of the lack of stocking efforts for warmwater fish in his state. The Warm Water Workgroup is a volunteer organization that works with the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (ODWF) to enhance fishing for warmwater species in the state.

The first Pay-It-Forward bass tournament was held last Memorial Day at Prineville Reservoir with nine teams competing in the event. Day obtained funding for the fish stocking from his club, the Oregon B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and a state grant from the Oregon State Reclamation and Enhancement (R&E) Fund.

During the tournament, the competitors and ODFW officials stocked 400 largemouth bass fingerlings in the 8- to 10-inch range throughout the reservoir. "Those are larger than normally stocked, but our warmwater biologist figured that would be the best size for survival," said Day. The ODFW arranged transportation of the fish and the Central Oregon Bass Club members injected all of the fingerlings with a dye around their eyes so the ODFW could later identify the surviving fish of this experimental stocking.

The Central Oregon Bass Club members conducted the tournament and later stocked an additional 600 largemouth bass fingerlings in the reservoir by the end of October. Through the efforts of Terry Shrader, an ODWF warmwater biologist, the club was able to relocate another 400 to 600 largemouth bass in the 3- to 5-pound range from a fly-fishing-only trout lake (where they were illegally introduced) into Prineville Reservoir.

Proceeds from the first tournament will be the seed money for the next Pay-It-Forward tournament that Day hopes another club will conduct for its annual conservation project.

The Pay-It-Forward account has $1,450 that the next club can use for a restocking program on selective waters. "It depends on the water body," said Day. "Some of the more popular water bodies the ODFW won't let us stock."

Day believes with the Pay-It-Forward money and additional R&E grants, a club would have ample funds to complete a restocking project. Any club interested in continuing the Pay-It-Forward program can contact Day by e-mail at [email protected].