House of Representatives Passes Great American Outdoors Act and Other Fishing Industry News

Great American Outdoors Act; Hobie B.O.S. Competition; ‘Wonders of Wildlife’ Named No. 1 Aquarium; Abu Garcia Mourns Passing of Len Bortström; Bass Fishing HoF Cancels 2020 Banquet; and B.A.S.S. Moves High School and Junior Tournaments.

House of Representatives Passes Great American Outdoors Act and Other Fishing Industry News

House of Representatives Passes Great American Outdoors Act

By a vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark legislative package to fund access to and maintenance of the nation’s public lands.

With GAOA having previously passed the Senate on June 17, passage by the House now sends the bill to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

“Public lands are critical for providing recreational fishing opportunities throughout the nation,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “The Great American Outdoors Act will provide long overdue funding to benefit current and future public lands at the local, state and federal levels. Enactment of this historic legislation will benefit recreational fishing, and outdoor recreation in general, for decades to come.”

Led in the House by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), GAOA would permanently fund the highly successful Land and Water Conservation Fund which, for the past five decades, has helped provide access to recreational areas, trails and waterways throughout the nation. It also would establish a new program to improve the deteriorating infrastructure of our national parks and forests. This bill was led in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

“Hunting and fishing are incredibly important to Missouri’s heritage and way of life,” said Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder of Bass Pro Shops. “In order to pass these traditions down to our children and grandchildren, we need sound conservation policies like those in the Great American Outdoors Act. We at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and Tracker Boats thank Missouri’s members of Congress for their support of this incredibly important legislation, which will help conserve and maintain the nation’s public lands for the benefit of current and future generations.”

“Public lands in Virginia are incredibly important for providing recreational fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said John Crews, owner and president of Missile Baits. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided fishing access that I and many other Virginians have enjoyed throughout the commonwealth, so I know firsthand the importance of this program.”

“While passage of GAOA is a historic moment that warrants celebration, this Congress’s conservation agenda is not complete,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice president of Government Affairs. “In particular, we call upon the House to quickly take up and pass America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, which has already passed the Senate and supports a wide range of critical fish and wildlife conservation policies.

“The increased visitation to public lands throughout the country during the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces how deeply Americans value the outdoors,” said Leonard. “We appreciate that during these challenging times, Congress is devoting attention to the incredibly important outdoor recreation sector and working to enhance these opportunities well into the future.”

 

Hobie B.O.S. Competition Draws 84 Kayak Anglers to Upper Mississippi

For most of the elite field of 84 kayak anglers fishing the Hobie B.O.S. (Bass Open Series) event in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the prospect of fast action was never in doubt. With a well-deserved reputation for producing solid catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass, a strong bite and tight finish was clearly anticipated.

Rus Snyders, 38, of Nashville conquered the mighty Mississippi, the bass and the field with a two-day total of largemouths that tallied 174.50 inches. Alex Steffen, 28, of Monticello, Iowa, finished second with 171.25 inches, and Zach Humphries, of Rothschild, Wisconsin, took the third spot with 168.25 inches of bass.

Snyders won $5,000. Second-place finisher Alex Steffen, who also had the big bass for the tourney at 19.75 inches, totaled $3,036, and third-place finisher Zach Humphries collected $1,500. More than $15,000 was paid to the top nine competitors.


'Wonders of Wildlife’ Once Again Named No. 1 Aquarium in the United States

Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium has been voted America’s Best Aquarium through a national public poll conducted by USA TODAY ranking the top 20 prominent institutions across North America.

The latest nationwide recognition marks the second time the conservation-based museum and aquarium has been nominated for and voted as the winner of the award.

Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, endeavored to create a world-class not-for-profit conservation attraction located in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri, next to Bass Pro Shops’ flagship headquarters store. Unprecedented in scale and scope, Wonders of Wildlife has been acclaimed as the most important natural history museum to open in America in more than a century.

Featuring an immersive design and more than 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, the not-for-profit Wonders of Wildlife is unlike any other aquarium on earth.

The Aquarium was nominated for the contest by a panel of nationally respected travel experts as part of USA TODAY’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards.

 

Abu Garcia Mourns Passing of Len Bortström

Len Borgström, grandson of Abu Garcia founder Carl August Borgström, famed fishing reel pioneer and former company president, died July 15. He was 88.

Borgström joined ABU Fishing Tackle (as it was originally known) as an international marketer in 1954. He served the company as vice president beginning in 1960 until he became president in 1970. In 1978, Borgström oversaw the merger between ABU Fishing Tackle and its U.S.-based importer, The Garcia Corporation, when the company became formally known as Abu Garcia.

In 2021, Abu Garcia will celebrate its 100th anniversary, celebrating Borgström’s leadership and vision while honoring his legacy in the fishing industry, which includes the launch of the revolutionary Abu Ambassadeur 5000 and a host of other sport-defining innovations.

 

Bass Fishing HoF Cancels 2020 Induction Banquet

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame has canceled its 2020 Induction Banquet due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The banquet was scheduled for Sept. 24 in the White River Conference Center adjacent to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield where the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame exhibits are housed.

Scheduled to be inducted were former Bassmaster Classic champions Jay Yelas and the late Bryan Kerchal, the late lure designer James Heddon, fishing educator Ron Lindner and veteran outdoor journalist Steve Bowman.

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame exhibit showcases more than 75 individuals who helped shape the sport of bass fishing and have been enshrined in the Hall. It is open under COVID-19 restrictions.


B.A.S.S. Moves August High School and Junior Tournaments

The Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series at Lake St. Clair presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors and the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series, both originally scheduled for Aug. 8, will instead be held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell Aug. 30.

Guidelines in Michigan issued July 9 limit the size of any outdoor gathering, including fishing tournaments, to 100 people or less. Based on current registration numbers, B.A.S.S. officials expected 195 anglers and boat captains to participate.

“It is disappointing anytime you have to move a tournament, especially from a fantastic and scenic smallmouth fishery like Lake St. Clair,” said High School Series Senior Manager Hank Weldon. “B.A.S.S. has emphasized for months, though, that we will heed each state’s mandates on crowd sizes and public spaces to ensure both competition and fan activities can resume safely.

“We are thankful to our friends at Visit Anderson to be able to move the event to Lake Hartwell so that the majority of teams who registered for our high school and junior tournaments can compete.”

The current rules do not impact the upcoming Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair Aug. 20-23. Professional sports are allowed in Michigan provided protocols are in place which adhere to guidance from the CDC and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The field of young anglers who launch onto Lake Hartwell — a 56,000-acre impoundment on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers along the South Carolina/Georgia border — will be fishing one of the sport’s most storied bodies of water. Hartwell has hosted three previous Bassmaster Classics and six major B.A.S.S. events as well as a host of B.A.S.S. Nation, college and high school tournaments. Plus, the lake has consistently been ranked as one of the country’s Top 100 Best Bass Lakes in Bassmaster Magazine’s annual rankings, making the coveted list four times since 2015. Lake Hartwell was ranked one of the Southeast’s Best Bass Lakes in the recently released all-decade list.

“We are extremely excited to host the high school and junior series at Lake Hartwell and Green Pond Landing,” said Neil Paul, executive director of Visit Anderson. “Anderson County has done a tremendous job during this most difficult time to ensure the safety of our community, and we will extend that same effort and passion into welcoming B.A.S.S., the anglers and their families.

"We have been blessed with a tremendous fishery, great facilities and a very supportive fishing community and we look forward to hosting the high school anglers and their families for this event.”

Any team registered for the event on Lake St. Clair will be refunded their entry fees and given priority registration for the Hartwell events. Registration is open for the Bassmaster Junior Series and Bassmaster High School Series at Lake Hartwell, and will remain open until Aug. 14.

Learn more at Bassmaster.com/High-School or Bassmaster.com/Junior.



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