March 27, 2013
Somebody is going to have to inform Pontchartrain Basin speckled trout that the World Series begins Wednesday. The trout haven’t got that message, at least not as for Saturday’s Louisiana Saltwater Series’ final 2012 Trout event.
The early report was that The Causeway produced flounder, gafftopsail and hardhead catfish, drum and channel mullet on soft-plastic artificials, but no trout.
A few folks fishing the Trestle picked up a handful of trout (one about five pounds, on live pogeys and artificials, but it only took a catch totaling in the seven-pound neighborhood to win an event that had produced single fish weighing that much in past tournaments.
For two, maybe three generations, the Causeway and the northshore-southshore spans are productive during the fall, especially when the World Series rolls around. But the trout numbers aren’t there — not yet anyway — and lots of veteran fishermen are scratching their heads trying to figure out why.
More from the feds
About a month ago, the Federal Office of Management and Budget announced its recommendations for budget cuts after the Obama Administration and Congress failed to come up with a plan that would comply with 2011’s Budget Control Act that required a $1.2 trillion (yes, a T) deficit reduction.
Among OMB’s ideas is to make partial payments to states from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. The thought of taking monies from a fund financed by fishermen and boaters — we pay taxes on literally thousands of items — is outrageous.
It’s not the federal government’s money. It’s ours, and we allow the feds to distribute money to the states based on the numbers of registered fishermen and boaters in each state.
The outrage is nationwide. Here’s the reaction from American Sportfishing Association vice president Gordon Robertson: “The angling and boating community was shocked to learn that for the first time in its 62-year history, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund — the backbone of fisheries conservation in the United States — is recommended for a cut under sequestration totaling $34 million.”
The Sport Fish Restoration Fund was set up in 1950 and was the result of sportsmen, the fishing and boating industry and state fish and game agencies working to establish a way to enhance fishing and fishing access in each state across the country. The SFRA allows for taxes placed at the manufacturer, paid into the fund, then passed to the consumer. In the middle 1980s, a portion of the federal gasoline tax was added to account for gas used to power boats. According to Robertson, the fund collects about $650 million annually.
“When anglers and boaters pay the equipment tax or the fuel tax they are doing so with the understanding that this money is going to a trust fund dedicated to the resources they enjoy,” Robertson said.
Let’s hope this isn’t another shot at balancing a budget on the backs of sportsmen.