- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The story is told in various ways, but as the Associated Press reported it, a week ago an irate 86-year-old man who didn’t want anyone getting near his fishing lines fired several rounds from a small caliber rifle at two bass tournament anglers. One of the tournament fishermen was struck in the arm.

The shooter was arrested and jailed on a charge of aggravated assault. He later posted bond.

The AP said John Burke Yearwood of Madison, Ga., has been fishing the Oconee River for decades.

Greene County Sheriff Chris Houston said the two men who were competing in the tournament told him that when they approached Yearwood’s lines, Yearwood — who was fishing from the shores of a fishing camp — raised a rifle and fired two shots that sent a spray of water in front of the anglers’ boat. But a third shot hit tournament participant Craig Barnett under the left arm. That’s when the two men phoned 911.

Another story making the rounds is that the two had been running up and down the waterway in front of the octogenarian, being obnoxious and not slowing down the boat, which is what they should have done the moment they saw Yearwood’s fishing lines.

Sheriff Houston, meanwhile, appeared almost apologetic on behalf of Yearwood.

“He was just trying to warn [them] away from the fishing lines,” Houston said.

It is one more sad incident in a lengthy log of complaints against tournament fishermen. Not that I condone the violent reaction from Yearwood. No, there’s no room for gun play on land or water.

However, after my May 20 column about rude Potomac River boaters — many of whom are bass tournament participants — my e-mail basket soon filled up with reader complaints and tales about bass boaters who appear to believe God created the Potomac just for them. Tales of ugly behavior on the water seem to be the norm.

What a pity.

Yet another Virginia fish kill — It’s not only Virginia’s Shenandoah River that has been seeing dead or dying fish caused by an unidentified source. The state’s health and fisheries departments are working hard to find the culprit. Now add the upper James and the Cowpasture rivers to the worrisome list of troubled waters.

Bass, suckers, rock bass and sunfish with red and gray sores covering their bodies were collected in the past week from the James and the Cowpasture, and a special task force is trying to solve the mystery. Not all of the fish that were collected have died. Hopefully they can supply a clue as to the cause of the sores.

Virginia isn’t alone when it comes to unsolved fish kill mysteries. Natural resources scientists in Wisconsin and Michigan are trying to deal with viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a waterborne virus that is threatening great numbers of fish in lakes Michigan and Superior. The virus can spread from fish to fish and can survive in water for more than a week. Fish infected with the virus can shed it into water in their urine and reproductive fluids. Infected fish essentially bleed to death.

Family fishing day in Loudoun — Organizer Michael Hall says, “Come learn the great sport of fishing at our free Family Fishing Day & Casting Kids Contest at Franklin Park in Loudoun County, Va.” The fishing day will be June 10, starting at 9 a.m., with a morning children’s fishing derby kicking off the day’s events. The Casting Kids competition for children ages 7 to 14 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bring your own rods and reels, but if you don’t have the gear, loaner outfits will be available. The fishing instructions are open to children and adults. Prizes will be awarded to contest winners. Franklin Park is in Purcellville. If you need more information, call Michael Hall at 571/236-1918 or Franklin Park manager Mike Horner at 540/338-7603.

Kids fishing derby at Burke — A free Kid’s Fishing Derby open to all children 16 years old and younger will be held by the Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia on June 10. Club members will provide free bait and can loan out fishing gear to anyone who needs it. The club’s goal is to introduce children to the joys of fishing. For more information, call Arnold Aspelin at 301/567-3030.

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

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide