With all of the magazines I receive each month, I do my part to keep the postal service in business. It’s my responsibility to keep abreast of professional bass coverage in every way possible, but I also subscribe based on the belief that I need to do all I can to support groups like B.A.S.S. and FLW, as well as select independent periodicals that give an alternative take. A few of my dollars helps keep things rolling.
Now I’m not going to claim that I go cover-to-cover on everything that comes my way, but I look forward to certain columns and sections each month. So it came as a great surprise to me when, recently, one of my favorites seemed to be completely wiped out of print.
I’m referring to the conservation section in B.A.S.S. Times. Many of you likely receive the newspaper-like periodical; it’s been a staple for hardcore B.A.S.S.-heads for quite some time. It offers more in-depth tournament coverage, as well as a review of everything happening across the grassroots sector of B.A.S.S., now known as B.A.S.S. Nation.
Therein lies the irony. This grassroots infantry is responsible for the bulk of conservation projects supported by the organization and often spearheads initiatives that have a chance to impact fisheries all across the U.S. Yet, it appeared the periodical responsible for updates completely removed them from the page.
Appalled, I reached out to various sources within the group and was informed that page count demands for tournament coverage had increased, and a decision had been made to transfer much conservation news to the digital platform (bassmaster.com).
As usual, I was skeptical. Sure, I understood that tournament reports are popular and expanding, with the likes of high school and college fishing now being included. But we can’t afford to sacrifice the subject matter which keeps us all fishing in the first place.
Well, this week I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the most comprehensive piece on bass fishing conservation issues I’d seen in years. Where did I find it, you might ask? Right where I was told to look.
Robert Montgomery’s current piece details the recent B.A.S.S. Conservation Summit, held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic. The summit included B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors, fisheries managers and biologists in a round-table setting punctuated by presentations of science-based research studies involved in every aspect of bass and bass fishing conservation.
As we brief Montgomery’s report, we see mention of fish care in livewells, habitat challenges, invasive controls and the danger presented by species movement across historical borders.
It was nice to learn more about everything going on. And, to the credit of the B.A.S.S. media group, it was also nice to do so without page constraints. This is a long piece, as it should be, and having it on a digital platform allows Montgomery to go into detail far past what he could do in a periodical with limited page space that must also account for advertisers.
Getting back to the issues, I must comment on the subjects presented that face special concern. One, unquestionably, is public perception on fisheries management practices, and the “science vs. opinion” battle raging on across America. I feel especially close to this one, as I live in Florida, ground-zero for the habitat battle between the spray boats and the bass boats.
Now, we’ve covered this a bit in the past, so I won’t spend time on the details, but suffice to say, if government agencies want to keep in favor with their constituents – and there’s increasing proof of this being a priority – those agencies need to do a better job at convincing bass anglers that spraying aquatic habitat is necessary at the levels being done.
The other big topic is Asian carp. We’ve seen a bunch on this, also. And, while it appears local projects are in full swing to control the problem, where is the national response, I wonder? We keep learning of the impending doom should carp move – and they’re moving – yet we see no major barriers in place.
I have to say, it’s nice to have such problems. Now just wait a minute, and consider. While numerous topics pose an immediate threat to bass and bass fishing, they all appear to be correctable. Grass can be sprayed, or not. Livewells can be improved. Carp can be removed.
Sure, that final topic ¬– introduced invasives – is no picnic, for sure. But it can be corrected.
Contrast these dilemmas with those facing other passionate angler groups across the US. In the West, salmon streams are drying up. Gone. Through much of the Louisiana Delta, channelization and leveeing are reducing freshwater wetlands by millions of acres, destroying habitat for bass, redfish, ducks and more. Red tide cripples Florida each year, killing millions of fish and stopping the state's biggest economic driver in its tracks, despite science pleading its case that this is a man-made problem needing a man-made solution. And don’t even get me started on the Everglades.
So, yeah, I can live with hydrilla. In any case, it’s up to each of us to stay abreast of more than just tournament results and demand so from the organizations and periodicals that we support with our subscription dollars. For now, I’m happy with the direction, and hunger for more reports from the likes of Montgomery and Gene Gilliland.
I just hope they get the space.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)