Some days it pays to stay out late. It certainly did recently for Richard Levesque of West Stanton, Vt. It was nearly 9:00pm last Wednesday evening when Levesque pulled a huge walleye through a hole drilled in the Lake Champlain ice.
The fish, which measured 32 inches in length and 20 inches in girth, weighed 14.55 lbs. It is now recognized as an official Vermont state record.
The monster fish eclipsed the previous record of 13.44 lbs taken in 1997 on the Clyde by Doug Niles of Newport Center, Vt.
Athletic academic anglers
There will be fewer athletes doing wind sprints, pushups or extra laps at the end of varsity practice sessions this spring at high schools across Alabama. If coaches have their way, these athletes wouldn't be playing on a baseball field, a basketball court or any other traditional sports venue.
Rather, student athletes will be hauling an assortment of flippin' sticks , Shimano level wind reels and a tackle box full of lures and soft baits to sports practice. And the grass of their playing field will be under the water of local lakes, ponds and rivers.
If enough schools support teams under the auspices of the Alabama High School Athletic Association; bass fishing may soon qualify for consideration as a full Varsity sport.
Similar to several other states, High School Athletic Associations, the Alabama High School Bass Fishing Club Tournament Series will kick off the new season on March 6 at Wheeler Lake in Decatur.
An estimated 20 high schools across the state are expected to field fishing teams for the inaugural event, which organizers hope will soon become one of the most popular sporting pursuits offered on the high school level.
Last year, 198 High Schools participated in the inaugural season of competitive bass angling in Illinois. An additional 27 schools have announced plans to host Bass Fishing Teams for the second season of competitive bass fishing in Illinois, bringing the total to 231 teams this year.
The Alabama tournaments will be contested as a club level sport this year. However, the Alabama High School Athletic Association will classify the events as a full varsity sport in 2011 if at least 10 percent of the state's high schools participate. As an official high school sport, the member schools will compete in a state championship.
"I've got one girl who is a cheerleader who plans to start fishing as soon as basketball season is over," explained Jeremy Jones, a school principal at Alabama's Decatur Heritage, "Several other kids have also talked about joining the team. It's a very exciting thing."
The bass athletes may even have an opportunity for college scholarships, as collegiate teams now participate in National Championship tournaments.
In Illinois, nearly 2,500 students participated on bass fishing teams during the 2008-09 academic year. Of that number, 55 percent did not participate in any other school activity.
Several school administrators have found that bass fishing teams have prompted many students, that have had never shown interest in competitive sports, to participate in a high school sports.
Student anglers are a component of a major national trend
According to a recent survey conducted for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) more anglers took to the water in 2009 than in any of the previous five years. Across the country, fishing license sales rose by 4.7 percent in the 12 states that participate in the fishing license sales index. Four of the 12 participating states, (Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas), are among the top ten states in terms of the impact anglers have on the nation's economy.
ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman explained "Should the 4.7 percent rise hold true nationwide, it would represent one of the largest percentage increases in fishing license sales in over 30 years."
Nussman credits the rise in fishing license sales to such programs as ASA's National Take Me Fishing campaign, the Anglers Pledge initiative and other fishing education outreach efforts such as the Physh Ed Project that seek to integrate angling education into elementary and high school, physical education programs.
Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to Lake Placid
Anglers seeking an adrenaline rush before the April 1st, season opener; should plan on visiting Lake Placid on March 13 as the Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.
The popular film series has been receiving fantastic reviews across the country with a mix of mix between salt and fresh water action filmed from Jackson Hole to Western Australia, Canada and Argentina.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the conservation efforts of the local, Tri-Lakes Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Tickets will be available at the door or in advance from Jones Outfitters, the local Orvis store in Lake Placid at 523-3468.
From trout to turkey
It was only about a dozen of so years ago that I received a report of the first wild turkey taken in the Town of North Elba.
At the time, turkeys were still considered a rather rare species in the High Peaks region. However, turkey is now rather common through the Tri-Lakes region and hunter success rates have improved dramatically in recent years.
With the burgeoning population of birds came a burgeoning group of avid, turkey hunters. They have even started a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) in the North Country.
The newly minted, Adirondack Chapter of the NWTF will be hosting their inaugural banquet on March 21, 2010, from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid.
The event will feature a live auction of hunting gear and a raffle featuring over a half dozen, new guns.
For further information or tickets email the chapter at NWTF-ADK@hotmail.com or call Bill Moore at 523-3742.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org