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POSTED December 29 2008 7:09 PM BY Gene Mueller Print
Our friend Jim Shepherd, who runs the Fishing Wire web page, passed along interesting details about the state of Georgia and how much it values recreational anglers. Wouldst that Maryland felt as passionate about the subject as the Peach State.

Maryland's neighbor, Virginia, delivers freshwater fishing information that is kind of user-friendly and informative if you bother to go to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries web site and search for it. It's better than Maryland's, but both states appear to be in the pockets of the fish netters when it comes to saltwater fishing. The commercial sector is treated as a sacred cow while recreational fishermen appear to be little more than a nuisance to both states' regulatory bodies. It's a sad fact even though hundreds of thousands of sport anglers bring far more money to state tax coffers and private businesses than the small number of professional watermen ever could.

Shepherd says that recreational fishing is a big business in Georgia, to which we can only say that fun fishing is big business everywhere. "According to [Georgia] state officials, the annual estimated economic impact is somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.9 billion dollars," said the Fishing Wire. "That is serious money -- even to banks and car companies who seem to have government-issued ATM cards to the U.S. Mint."

But Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue says his state is still not properly capitalizing on fishing. In a friendly way he's determined to use his administration to help reach into the wallets of even more sport fishermen by way of supporting more high entry fee fishing contests.

Although I am against big-bucks bass fishing tournaments, there's no denying that when properly run a lot of money can be pocketed by local businesses and state offices.

With that in mind, Perdue announced that Atlanta will host the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, the championship of the huge professional FLW Tour that caters to bass tournament fishermen.

Georgia already has kicked off "Go Fish Georgia," a push to establish the state as a national fishing destination by improving the quality of fishing in Georgia waters, improving access to lakes and rivers for fishing and increasing participation through promotion and marketing of Georgia's exceptional fishing resources.

Plans call for a "Go Fish Georgia" visitors center and hatchery, also an 18-site bass fishing trail with mega-ramps to accommodate large fishing tournaments. The state and various cities pump nearly $10 million into mega-ramps to facilitate access to public fishing waters.

While I'm not in favor of mega cast-for-cash fishing contests, it would be nice if the states that don't mind taking recreational anglers' money for licenses, stamps, permits, special taxes, boat registrations and trailer tags -- not to mention private businesses, such as charter fishing captains, guides, hotels, restaurants and tackle shops -- would pay more attention to our needs.

Georgia has promised to improve fishing access to its waters, build new boat ramps and do other things, but in Maryland you'll be hard-pressed to find a simple state-erected sign that says "Fishing Access" with an arrow pointing you in the right direction. There are few if any permanent metal signs, such as the ones you'll see in North Carolina and even in Virginia, that plainly show the way to a public boat launching ramp and certain fishing waters and as far as I know there are no new public boat ramps being built to accommodate freshwater -- for that matter also saltwater -- anglers.

In Maryland, public fishing access often is treated as something to keep under wraps instead of the state being helpful and showing the way for its citizens. What a shame.
 

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Another of the great lies that were presented to Maryland anglers many moons ago it seems. You see the saltwater license was to be used for all of the reasons listed in the above post. May I add that these items were the reason that many publications and fishing organizations supported those lies. It was going to give the recs more power as the state would now have evidence as to how many recs were fishing and how much we meant to the economy of the Free State. We were going to get piers, boat ramps etc. We would carry enough political clout to win some concessions when it came to determining how the bay's bounties were to be divided up. Man it sounded good. And we bought into the plan. Well we did get a pier at Point Lookout, the Choptank Pier must have cost the state tons of our license dollars. The free ramps at Kent Narrows and Matepeake became pay ramps. Sandy Point, Point Lookout, Truxton Park and many other ramps were there before the license was brought into existance. And of course, what they did build that we paid for we have to pay to use. I think that maybe Georgia has seen the light like Joliet Jake.

Let me get this straight. I used to fish the bay anytime I wanted, keep all the rock I wanted, all the yellow perch I wanted, all the crabs I wanted, all the blues, trout, croaker, flounderetc. for free. I could launch my boat just about everywhere for free, I used Matepeake fishing pier and the Choptank River bridge for free. There were size limits on certain species though. Now I pay to fish for less fish, pay to use the piers and ramps
and get absolutely nowhere in DNR hearings. And they killed the bay to boot. I just made myself sick. And no I never kept more fish than I wanted to eat anyway I practiced catch and release lonfg before it became the vogue and created the holier than thou atttitude so many seem to carry on their lapels thse days.

I'm ready for the debate on this one.

Go for it Georgia.
 
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