- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The “Many decry popular bass tournaments” column, which ran Aug. 5, hit home with reader Wayne C., who lives in Charles County, where most of the big out-of-town tidal Potomac River events are launched.

“Your [story] really hit a chord with me and many of the guys I fish with [who] have observed a major decline in fishing that lasts for as long as a month after each of the big tournaments,” Wayne C. wrote. “When the FLW boys left town [recently], my friend Bill and I went out of Smallwood State Park the next day, and we saw no less than 50 dead bass laying everywhere in the grass directly in front of the launch ramps. Some of these bass were in the three- to four-pound range, and it really made me sick to witness the slaughter of our precious resources. No one could tell me or convince me that the death of these fish was [not directly] caused from stress and poor handling by the FLW [people] that invaded our waters.”

Wayne C. added that he hoped someone would keep up the pressure on the current crop of sorry politicians in Annapolis and “those idiots who are in charge of Charles County” who actually support these events, in some cases actually spending taxpayers’ money.

Incidentally, I keep hearing that the roughly 200 professional and amateur bass fishermen who flock to Charles County several times during the hottest days of the summer (which certainly can’t be beneficial to the eventually released bass) benefit Charles County economically, significantly helping the erstwhile tobacco-growing region. Maybe the bean counters are right. I saw four professional tournament participants in the La Plata Safeway during last weekend’s B.A.S.S. event, buying chicken wings at the deli counter. That and the fact they stayed in a local campground probably raised the local economy by quite a bit.

Not!

About Western license fees — A number of e-mails were received after the Aug. 8 column concerning the high cost of Western nonresident hunting licenses. Readers were divided on the subject. One Nevada writer, David Stine, didn’t care whether Easterners and Southerners had to pay through the nose to hunt on federal lands.

“I see nothing wrong with charging nonresidents higher tag and license fees for hunting in our state,” he wrote. “What Easterners simply don’t understand is that ‘public lands’ don’t have anything to do with game management. The management of fish and game is the domain of states, not the federal government, and if the western states choose to charge out-of-state hunters higher [fees], that is entirely within their rights as states.”

Meanwhile, Easterner and Midwestern hunters agreed that license costs in states like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico were outrageous.

Illinois resident Vic Frank wrote, “If they are playing this rip-off game on federal lands, it’s time to start yanking federal project funding.”

PETA steamed about fish-fry — The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance says PETA president Ingrid Newkirk is upset about an Alaskan group whose slogan against the death sentence is, “Fry Fish, Not People.” PETA, according to the Sportsmen’s Alliance, sent a letter to the anti-death penalty organization urging it to accept the motto, “Fry Onions, Not People.” The letter added that “Serving the corpses of animals at an anti-death penalty event is like serving cigarettes at an anti-cancer fund-raiser.”

I don’t know about that, but tonight I will have a steak cut from the corpse of a deer I shot last winter. I’m looking forward to eating it — with fried onions.

Wildlife Center has open houses — The Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally recognized teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, invites the public to five open houses: Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 14. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Call 540/942.9453 or e-mail wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. Among the wildlife in residence you will see a bald eagle, golden eagle, several species of owls, hawks, snakes and opossums. The facility is located in Waynesboro.

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