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Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Presidential candidates voice opinions on outdoors issues
RARELY DO WE HEAR the current presidential candidates talk about their outdoor pursuits and their positions on issues such as recreational fishing.
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan proudly shares that he is an avid deer hunter, but the two men running for the top spot certainly don’t talk up any outdoors skills or passions.
The team at Keep America Fishing wanted to know where they stood on issues important to recreational anglers and what their own personal experiences entailed. They posed eight questions to Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
President Obama responded, “Although I grew up fishing with my friends and grandfather in Hawaii, I am not an avid sportsman and do not claim to be. I do, however, understand the importance of our nation’s outdoor heritage and the key role that sportsmen play in the conservation of our natural resources.”
He added that he had a chance to fly-fish Montana’s East Gallatin River shortly after taking office. Despite not landing a fish, he indicated he enjoyed the challenge and looks forward to another trout expedition as well as a saltwater attempt at tarpon.
Romney explained that fishing was a prominent pastime in Michigan when he was growing up.
“I truly understand the valuable role recreational fishermen play both in our economy and our environment. As a boy, I fished with my dad, and in recent years, I went fishing in Alaska with my son, Matt,” he responded.
Other questions related to the leading threats to our nation’s fisheries and recreational fishing itself, their support for the controversial closures of large ocean areas to fishing, and how they would work to control invasive species such as Asian carp.
Each candidate was also asked to list the three most important things he can do for recreational fishing.
Obama answered assuring recreational anglers have a voice, encouraging conservation of national lands and waters, and using science and management to better assess the state of fish populations.
Romney repeated his consistent themes of getting the economy back on track so that Americans can enjoy the pastimes they love, making government smaller, simpler and smarter and considering people who share his vision for an America that protects national traditions and values for administration posts.
The comments noted above are brief excerpts of the candidates’ full responses. Check out their answers at keepamericafishing.org/youdecide.
Wounded Warrior Fishing Event Lake Anna fishing guide Ken Kirk has done a superb job of organizing annual fishing events centered on wounded warriors and disabled veterans in recent years.
Kirk, who served more than 20 years in the Marine Corps and now works at the Dominion North Anna power plant, coordinates a diverse group of volunteers and sponsors for the event. Many of the 75 guests were wounded or disabled veterans from as far away as North Carolina and Tennessee, and military hospitals in the Washington and Virginia Tidewater areas.
He now works with the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation, which began the “Take a Warrior Fishing” program in 2011. This is the fifth such tournament Kirk has coordinated and he appears to have a winning combination.
Dominion posted a nice video outlining the day’s activities on YouTube. Check it out at youtube.com/watch?v=vskONilwaPY&feature=youtu.be.
Kirk said he is already looking to next year’s tournament. His guide service website is k2guideservice .com.
BILLFISH ACT PASSES
It took four years, but the Billfish Conservation Act passed the U.S. Senate this week and has gone to the President for signature.
It prohibits the sale of all billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) in the United States, while still allowing for traditional fisheries within the state of Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area. Swordfish are not included in the prohibition.
Once signed into law, it should mean imported marlin, sailfish or spearfish typically caught by foreign commercial fishermen won’t be appearing on any menus in the United States.
According to an International Game Fish Association fact sheet, Food and Drug Administration customs clearance forms showed the United States importing about 30,000 billfish annually, with most coming from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines.
A ban on Atlantic-caught billfish already exists. The new act extends it to the Pacific. By taking away a sizable portion of the market for billfish, recreational fishing proponents hope it will result in fewer fish being killed and help populations rebound.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R–Va.) was one of nine congressmen who introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.
WISCONSIN BUCK CONTROVERSY
Followers of record books related to trophy deer likely heard of the years-long controversy over a buck killed in 2006 by Wisconsin hunter Johnny King.
A couple of longtime scorers for the Boone and Crockett Club expressed their belief that the deer was a straightforward 12-pointer and potentially a new world-record whitetail in the “Typical” category, which pays homage to symmetrical antlers. Others thought the deer had something akin to two antler tines that branched from one base off the main antler beam, in which case a deduction for an “abnormal point” is taken under scoring guidelines.
Over the weekend, the deer was “panel scored” by two two-man teams of senior official measurers who had not seen nor scored the rack previously. They determined the deer scores 217 non-typical points and 180 typical points, obviously agreeing that deer had an abnormal point.
The ruling placed the typical score well below the existing record typical score of 213, recorded on a deer taken by Saskatchewan farmer Milo Hansen in the mid-1990s.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at email@example.com.