- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Shame on me for being so forgetful.

Good ol' Dan Shannon, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) coordinator of something he and his fellow animal religionists call the "Fishing Hurts" campaign, last week sent me a reminder that Sept.28 was to be a "Fish Amnesty Day," and I completely neglected to pass it along to our readers. How could I be so callous?

You see, Dan says that fish "struggle mightily against death and become extremely stressed when caught." Then he goes on with the usual animal rights hokum and tells us that fish possess a "complex neurochemical system." What he means by that is that they don't actually enjoy being hooked and released or horrors! being put into a cooler to grace a dinner table later that evening.

Let's face it. True to my ancestry, I'm a total barbarian. (They were Germans, weren't they?)

So on the day poor Dan wanted me to send an SOS on behalf of all American fish to the nearly 2 million sport anglers in Maryland and Virginia, I was on the Potomac River, failing to observe the very amnesty Dan Shannon had proclaimed.

I'm a lout. That's what I am.

Incidentally, Dan can't come up with a reputable American fisheries scientist who will support his twaddle. In typical animal rights fashion, he reaches out to the most outspoken anti-hunting, anti-fishing land in the world, England, to come up with a fellow who is a professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University. This professor points out that fish, like birds and animals, feel pain. Immediately after quoting the English animal rightist, PETA allows that anybody can find Ph.Ds to voice opinions to the contrary. It mentions the dairy and meat industry's experts who will pronounce their products healthful, while PETA says they're stroke- and heart attack-inducing.

That's precisely the point the animal rights camp can't seem to understand. For every scientist it can persuade to follow its thinking, the pro-fishing camp can find 20 who'll say the well-paid leaders who run PETA and other wacky animal rights groups are wrong.

We're sorry, PETA. There'll be no fish, deer, duck, rabbit or wild turkey amnesty days in our household and millions of households like ours. The only exception when amnesty is observed will be those days when the woman whose name appears next to mine on income tax returns insists that some curtains need to be hanged or the grass needs mowing things like that. But on the day, Sept.28, you wanted us to leave the fish to their own devices, two well-fed striped bass found themselves in my boat's livewell. They wouldn't leave my topwater popper alone as they chased baitfish around a river point in Charles County. Thanks to their aggressive behavior, we insured ourselves a wonderfully tasty dinner that night. Oh, yeah.

Pigs on the Potomac banquet The Greater Washington Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is having its fourth annual Pigs on the Potomac Banquet on Oct.24, 6 to 9:30 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus facility on Rosensteel Avenue, Silver Spring. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $75, and that will include a CCA membership, open bar, a sumptuous dinner, a bucket raffle sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and silent and live auctions.

Among the fishing trips to be auctioned off will be a four-day deal on Seabrook Island, S.C., with Robert Glenn, the fellow who caught that beautiful tarpon featured in our column Sept.25. If you're the top bidder on this particular outing, you'll fish with Glenn from the South Carolina surf and from a boat in offshore and inshore waters.

Questions about the banquet? Call 888-758-6580.

The CCA, of course, is the most effective organization in the land in the ongoing fight to stop commercial fishing abuses and in protecting the rights of saltwater sport anglers wherever they may be.

Four-stroke engines from Johnson The Bombardier Company, owners of Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors, has a series of four-stroke outboard engines ready for the public. The four-strokes are sold in the familiar Johnson brand from 6 hp. up to 115 hp. Francis Guy of Guy Brothers Marine in Clements in St. Mary's County says, "These engines don't know the word quit. They run and run, from local rivers and lakes to the ocean. And if Bombardier makes it, you can be sure they'll have to meet the toughest quality control standards in the industry."

Thus far, most area boaters and fishermen have noticed mostly the four-strokes made by Honda. If the Johnson four-strokes are as quiet and reliable as the Honda, watch out. Early reports say they are.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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