Illinois bass fishermen had best pay attention Bowfishing Association of Illinois president Ed Devries sees no reason why bowfishing for bass should not be OK. I will try to get a stance from the IDNR today.
In a stunning comment to a STRAY CASTS (I had to read it again this morning to make sure I read it right) short yesterday, Devries had this in his extended remarks:
If I can harvest a bass by hook and line and legally keep my limit these fish will be removed from the waters. Why cant one take these fish with a bow using the same limit? It still results in a limit of fish harvested from the water either way. If I didnt bowfish and legally took my limit it would be OK, but I cant take the same legal limit using a bow. Same result, just different gear. So, why?
That comment is exactly why I think I think GASS founder Bill Meyer’s push to limit bowfishing to non-native species is right on. I say that as somebody who has enjoyed bowfishing, and thinks it is a good sport for drawing in kids.
Just be aware if you oppose bowfishing for any species, you are liable to be labeled PETA related or anti-hunting. As witness this blast e-mail Devries sent this morning:
Hey Everyone; Usually my emails to everyone have been about upcoming fun activities and shoots the Bowfishing Assoc of Illinois has, but unfortunately this time our email is of a more serious nature, the moves by a gar angling organization to have bowfishing for all native species banned. The Bowfishing Association of Illinois was formed back in 2004 when then vice president of the carp anglers group made some very negative comments regarding bowfishing in the Chicago Tribune, then in In-Fisherman. After these comments strong moves were made by the Carp Anglers Group to ban bowfishing in several lakes across the country in order to protect carp they wish to release after catching. Officials of this group even boasted on their forums of releasing carp bought in bait stores into public lakes so they would have more carp to fish. They were investigated by the authorities for these comments as it was an illegal activity. After these comments, bowfshermen decided it was time to organize so their voice could be heard. We have done much good promoting this great sport in Illinois and have spent countless hours at shows and dedicating our personal time teaching many how to bowfish. And we have done well. We have also strived to promote ethical bowfishing. Unfortunately, another group, the Gar Anglers Sportsmans Society (GASS) is now urging Illinois DNR to stop bowfishing for all native species by having them declare ALL native species a sport fish and have them protected from bowfishing. There is no need for protecting gar as their numbers are as strong now as ever and fisheries biologists have told me many times that bowfishing has no impact on gar or other native fish populations. Plus the DNR keeps track of fish populations and would surely impose limits on fish harvested by any means if their numbers were seen to decrease. All this amounts to is a so called outdoor sporting group trying to stop another group from legally harvesting a species they think should ONLY be caught by hook and line. And that my friends is anti hunting. The same type of anti hunting PETA wants to impose on all outdoorsmen. In these days of attacks on the hunting/fishing sports, outdoor groups need to support one another, not attack for selfish reasons. There are over 3000 people who get our emails and newsletters. We have met most of you at outdoor shows or outdoor bowfishing ranges where we tried to introduce many to bowfishing. Our club has always been free and we will continue to support all outdoor activities. We would ask that everyone here to PLEASE write to; Steve Pallo IDNR, Division of Fisheries One Natural Resources Way Springfield, Illinois 62702 And tell him that you support bowfishing, and oppose any moves by the Gar Anglers Sportsmans Society to have bowfishing for native species banned. Make no mistake about it everyone, these are anti hunting/fishing actions taken by a selfish group who simply dont like the fact we can legally harvest gar by bow and arrow. We cant give the hard core anti groups any help, and those who do or support those who do should be ashamed and have no business in the general hunting/fishing community in my opinion. The BAI will be reporting all actions supporting anti bowfishing to the US Sportsmans Alliance and to the Illinois Federation of Outdoor Resourses and ask their help fighting these anti bowfishing agendas. I will paste the letter GASS is sending to the DNR also. Please everyone, take a few minutes and write to Steve Pallo and help bowfishing, help the general outdoor sports. Thank You; Ed DeVries Pres. Bowfishing Assoc. of Illinois Letter From GASS To DNR; Steve Pallo IDNR, Division of Fisheries One Natural Resources Way Springfield, Illinois 62702 Dear Mr. Pallo, The objective of the IDNR Division of Fisheries is clear. The mission of the Illinois Division of Fisheries is to demonstrate leadership through education and scientifically-based management for the protection, restoration and enhancement of fisheries and other aquatic resources, and promotion of responsible utilization in Lake Michigan, Reservoirs, Impoundments, and Streams. And yet, one of the practices of the Division undermines this mission. Throughout the official Fishing Regulations a distinction is made between port fish (such as bass, walleye, and crappie) and other species (including gar, bowfin, and suckers). There is absolutely no scientifically-based reason for such a distinction. There is no reason why gar should be allowed to be taken by bowfishing and not largemouth bass. Similarly, there is no reason why redhorse suckers are allowed to be snagged with no limit and not walleye. There is a clearer, more scientifically-based division between fish species. In one group should be the native species including but not limited to bass, walleye, crappie, gar, bowfin, and suckers. The other group should be the non-native or invasive species including gobies, ruffe, and common, bighead, and silver carp. The native species should be regulated as sport fish are now and the non-native species should be allowed to be taken by bowfishing, snagging, or commercial methods. We would like to encourage the Division of Fisheries to make this change to better demonstrate leadership through education and scientifically-based management for the protection, restoration and enhancement of fisheries and other aquatic resources, and promotion of responsible utilization in Lake Michigan, Reservoirs, Impoundments, and Streams. Regards, Bill Meyer Gar AnglersSporting Society http://www.garfishing.com Chuck Meyer Bowfin Anglers Group http://www.bowfinanglers.com