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We have a winner

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Until recently, the last D.C. area angler to earn national notice on a professional fishing circuit was Laurel's Roland Martin, who won the most big-bucks bass fishing tournaments (21) and was a nine-time bass angler of the year with the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

But Martin is now ready to collect Social Security benefits, so perhaps we need to make room for a new local fishing hero.

A little more than a week ago, 38-year-old Shayne Berlo of Vienna earned $100,000 when he came from behind to win the BFL All-American event on Arkansas' Lake Hamilton.

Berlo had a three-day total of 15 bass that weighed a meager 20 3/4 pounds. However, his catch bested everyone, and he was the $100,000 victor.

Berlo, who works as a business development director, said, "I'm still absolutely amazed that I won."

Berlo caught his bass on a Rebel Pop-R topwater lure and a Hunter Creek jig in root beer and pepper color, which he used to catch bass around boat docks, grass lines and bluff banks. He also used a wacky-rigged floating worm.

I don't know whether he's ready to become the new Roland Martin, but Berlo seems to have all the makings of a champion. His next big outing will be the Forrest Wood Cup on Aug. 14-17. He will fish against the world's top professional anglers for a $500,000 winner's purse.

Northern Virginia CCA meets - The Northern Virginia chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association meets Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Grace Presbyterian Church in Vienna. Longtime local fishing activist, writer and former guide Charlie Taylor will walk attendees through his personal fishing calendar, including the various bodies of water and methods he uses at different times of the year. The public is invited. For more information, e-mail kiko13@comcast.net.

Benefit trap shoot - The Arlington-Fairfax chapter of the Izaak Walton League and the Virginia Shooting Sports Association (VSSA) will play host to a trap shoot to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on June 14. The VSSA will provide much of the food, refreshments and gifts. You also will be treated to an exhibition by world-renowned shotgun shooter John Satterwhite. For more information, call Bob Brino at 703/368-4934.

Celebrate our rivers- The 65,000-member American Rivers organization wants everyone to know that 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The anniversary has prompted American Rivers to launch a "40 by 40 Challenge," a campaign to persuade Congress to bring an additional 40 rivers under the protection of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by the end of this year.

The group's River Action Day is June 18, when scenic river advocates from all over the country come to the District to lobby their elected officials to protect the nation's rivers further. On the same day, the American Rivers organization celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Did you know?- Studies show recreational boaters and anglers are major powers when it comes to the Virginia's economy. Virginia has more than 800,000 anglers, and fishing alone is responsible for more than $1.3 billion in economic impact in the state.

Then comes word from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that fishing outranks football, baseball and tennis as one of America's favorite outdoor pastimes. In one year, sport anglers spent about $19 billion on bait, boat rentals and other equipment, $18 billion on food and lodging during fishing trips and $5.5 billion on licenses, memberships and other resources.

*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.