- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Yes, it’s getting late, but there’s still time to choose a heavenly fishing spot for your vacation. Field & Stream magazine this month picked the top fishing destinations in the land, and many of them are beauties. Sure, the picks are subjective, but who would disagree with the likes of New Mexico’s San Juan River, for example? The San Juan is home to scads of brown and rainbow trout, and the scenery is breathtaking.

Other picks include Wyoming’s portion of the Snake River and Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana. The Snake in the Grand Teton range area offers cutthroat trout and surroundings that will have you thinking you’re dreaming. I’ve been there, and it is spectacular. Fort Peck reservoir has walleyes and smallmouth bass galore, and it sits in wild country.

We can’t say for sure whether Colorado’s South Park and Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula are perfect vacation spots, but I’ve been to Michigan’s Lake St. Clair for muskies and smallmouth bass, and it was wonderful. The magazine also chose Missouri’s Truman Reservoir — great for crappies and largemouth bass — as one of its destinations, then added the super Lake of the Woods in Minnesota (and Ontario) where walleyes, smallmouth bass and muskies thrive.

And how about choosing the upper Chesapeake Bay, which mostly means the Susquehanna Flats and its frequently wonderful striper fishing but also the Susquehanna River up toward Port Deposit, as well as the Bohemia, Sassafras and Northeast rivers for their largemouth bass catches. No complaints in this department about the choice, although I wouldn’t have minded had the list included the tidal Potomac River, which turns up more bass than the upper Chesapeake and also looks pretty scenic if you stay in the Charles County portions.

Randomly, Maine’s Kennebec River (for its trout, salmon, smallmouth bass and shad) was chosen, as was Eastern Lake Ontario, where various trout and salmon species thrive, as well as fantastic numbers of smallmouth bass. Add Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York to the list. Champlain’s smallmouth bass alone are worth the trip.

Out west, Oregon’s Rogue River and Washington’s Lake Rufus Woods (for salmon and trout) made the grade, as did California’s Whiskeytown Lake, which offers scenery, salmon, trout and bass. Let’s not forget California’s bass-rich Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Lake Fork’s bass in Texas, as well as the lower Savannah River in Georgia, where redfish, speckled trout and flounder abound.

Redfish, speckled trout and tarpon are the lure to bring you to Venice, La., the gateway to the Mississippi Delta, and we’ll heartily agree with the choice of the catfish- and bass-rich Santee-Cooper lakes, Moultrie and Marion, in South Carolina. The two canal-connected reservoirs recently turned up a tournament-winning catch of nearly 100 pounds of bass — for one angler during a contest. Wow!

Let’s not copy Australia — Want to know what pro-gun Australians are talking about? It’s the colossal failure of the country’s attempt to control private gun ownership. My nephew — who lives in the AustraIian state of Victoria, doesn’t own a gun and hence has no axes to grind — agrees with a widely distributed fact sheet compiled by Australian hunters and target plinkers.

It has been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by the government, a program costing the country’s taxpayers more than $500million.

The first year’s results from down under are in: Nationwide, homicides are up 3.2 percent, assaults 8.6 percent and armed robberies 44 percent. In Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. (Of course, law-abiding citizens turned in their guns; criminals did not.)

Oddly, over the past 25 years Australia had shown a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, but over the past year — during the gun control program period — this shifted drastically upward. Remember, the criminal element now knows its human prey is unarmed.

Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased after such a monumental effort to rid Australia of guns. Meanwhile, don’t expect Peter Jennings to report this on the evening news. He comes from Canada, where similar attempts to begin a gun-free society also have been a huge failure.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected].

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