Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Fishing is Better with Kids

By Steve Chaconas

Kids are the future. Pretty much sums up every peek into the future. Without kids, there’s no future. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is sold on this concept and is putting money on it.

Bass tournaments attract large numbers of the general fishing population and are the most organized fishing group in the sea. Getting the biggest bang for their conservation buck, fisheries biologist Dr. Joe Love is delivering a message and the goods to promote fishing conservation and youth involvement. The MD DNR incentive program, The Director’s Black Bass Conservation Award (DNR is looking for a new name) provides a black bass conservation award. It’s not a cash award, rather the Department is putting up $1000 in equipment purchases to support conservation during bass tournaments, divided between two groups every year as long as the budget allows. In addition to allocating the award, Dr. Love is spreading the word to show this is available. He reiterates this is supply based…no check…no prizes…it’s an award to provide supplies to enhance or improve the survival of bass during tournaments.

But the DNR’s offer comes with a catch. To hook kids on fishing, tournament directors who apply for this award need to include youth fishing, kids under 16 years of age, as part of their tournament. And Dr. Love says, as with all DNR permitted tournaments, participants must take “bass class” and answer questions based on videos. Graduates receive an email certificate.

Love says tournament directors need to meet the following criteria. Tournament director or co-director applicant is a resident of Maryland; tournament participants have a Maryland fishing license, at most 49 boats; and at least 50% of angler participants who are between 16 and 25 years old, ages inclusive. Tournament Directors can apply on-line (dnr.maryand.gov/fisheries) or contact Dr. Love.

Upon applying for a tournament permit for the Ike Foundation, Jocelyn Rhea realized her event qualified for and eventually received the award. Their tournament was on the Upper Chesapeake Bay and not at a popular tournament launch area. It was lacking in many of the necessary equipment to conduct a conservation-minded weigh in. Prior events released fish off a pier, however when the tide was low, this put tournament fish in a perilous position with a steep drop off the dock and very shallow turbid water.  Dr. Love suggested a chute to safely release fish further from the dock. DNR staff set up the chute, pump tank, sink and brought mesh weigh in bags. Dr. Love says the equipment will follow the Ike Foundation events so it will promote conservation wherever they go, “A win for bass fishing and not just here.” Supporting tournament directors who educate youth to become more knowledgeable in black bass conservation and watercraft safety, will preserve the sport for years to come.

Earlier awards have gone to tournament organization Fishers of Men on a MD lake. Youth fishing with adults. Their event was a Catch, Photograph and Release (CPR), no possession. Hand scales for this tournament were provided by the MD DNR and Fishers of Men is using them at other events. This award promoted youth fishing and CPR, the latest tournament conservation effort.

The IKE Foundation, a dream to reality of professional bass fisherman Michael “IKE” and Becky Iaconelli, has been getting kids involved in fishing and providing scholarships for 8 years. The Foundation seeks out kids who would otherwise have no opportunity to experience the outdoors. Starting with shipping lightly used fishing gear, the Ike Foundation now supplies new Abu Garcia “Ike” Dude rods, Flambeau tackle boxes, and Rapala fishing lures. Kids learn about the environment and how to keep it clean. As the Ike Foundation has grown, volunteers school to provide assistance, meals, and fishing gear for the event.  Many local fishermen along with some national pros to come to help. They know what we’re doing and enjoy it. Corporate sponsors are lining up, including Bass Cat boats, Yamaha outboards, Power Pole, Lowrance electronics, to create a memorable event. As the event grows, the community gets more involved.

Co-Founder Becky Iaconelli says the kids have fun with anything that pulls back on that line…accomplishing something. “Parents are with their kids to reinforce the lessons learned and appreciate the fishing knowledge and tools…info like tying a knot and the basics…parents are excited…especially single moms! Now I can do this with my child.” Kids are involved with various activities with plenty of photos. Walmart now carries the special IKE foundation Flambeau tackleboxes with proceeds going to the 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization.

Becky is planning to bring the Ike Foundation back to the Upper Bay in 2023 and MD DNR welcomes them.

Potomac River Bassing in October

Grass beds are breaking up very quickly, leaving fish to group up in less area. At higher tides, cover water looking for the scattered remnants. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits, shallow cranks, and lipless cranks are great to locate, engage and snap free to trigger strikes. Fish are also holding on hard cover. An excellent time to pitch jigs and soft plastics to docks.

Use black and blue jigs on 16 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. Swimming jigs anywhere is a good technique. Snap and drop in grass beds. Pitch to pilings and under docks in the shade.

Topwaters are every effective. Poppers, walker and especially buzzbaits. Try these to 30 pound test Gamma Torque braid. Vary speeds until the cadence is found. Basically, faster in clearer and in warmer water. Stained water makes it tough, but slowing down with bigger, darker, and noisier baits at lower water can work well.

Half ounce lipless cranks in bait fish patterns can cover water and are easily snapped out of grass. They also deflect off wood and rock to trigger strikes. Tie to10-12 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. They work really well in current.

Finesse drop shots and shaky heads when conditions are tougher.

About the Author: Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Check out YouTube page, NationalBassGuide.

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