- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On Monday evening, the Republican Party members of the United States Senate surprisingly blocked passage of the Sportsmen's Bill of 2012 (S. 3525).
This extensive legislative package was actually a collection of various smaller bills that would do things like enhance access to federal lands for hunters, shooters and fishermen while supporting additional conservation efforts nationwide.
It had the endorsement of almost everyone in the outdoor community from Ducks Unlimited to the Dallas Safari Club. In fact, the bill was supported by both the White House and the National Rifle Association.
Think about that for a moment. I can't imagine this current White House and those good ol’ boys over at the NRA agreeing on much more than maybe “Support our troops” and “Don't throw grandma in front of a train.” I mean, it's almost historic that they'd agree on something to help fishermen, hunters and others in the outdoor crowd.
It was a good bill, and other than a few environmental groups yelling about it allowing lead ammunition in certain applications, just about everyone liked it.
A similar bill had already passed in the House of Representatives back in April by a bipartisan vote of 274-146.
Ah, but that same bipartisan spirit was just about completely absent in the United States Senate earlier this week. Other than Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), every single voting representative bowed down and cast their precious individual vote according to their party's wishes.
This was just politics as it's played so often and well in Washington D.C. These good folks weren't even voting on the merits of the Sportsmen's Act, they were voting on a budget technicality that stopped the bill just as dead as if they had shot it and then burned all the pages in a Washington D.C. bonfire honoring RGIII.
Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced the bill and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said on Monday night that it violated the Budget Control Act because it would cost the federal government $15 million dollars.
In the long run, whether it would actually cost the government anything is debatable. Some advocates of the bill say it would reduce the federal deficit by $5 million when the cost of federal duck stamps is increased by $10. Doing this will only pump more money into wetland conservation for both fisheries and wildlife benefits; but things like that don’t seem to matter to these elected politicians.
Monday night they were arguing about a whopping $15 million. To put that in perspective, consider that this is pretty much the exact same legislative body that has allowed our country to get into a crippling debt to the tune of some $16 trillion dollars. These politicians are used to spending billions of taxpayer dollars like you and I might fritter away a single dollar bill on a candy bar we don't need.
I'm guessing a paltry $15 million in their eyes would get about the same look as we'd give to an old, dull penny when we take the change out of our pockets at night.
Nonetheless, the Democrats tried to wave the budget point of order for S. 3525 on Monday evening and the vote to do so ended up being 50-44, though
60 votes were required.
Right now, as we speak, groups such as the American Sportfishing Association are trying to contact Senate leaders to bring the focus back to fish and wildlife conservation and the needs of the nation's 60 million sportsmen and women that would have benefited from this historic legislative package.
Do you think these Washington politicians are going to do the right thing or will they continue to play their trite, gotcha, he said/she said political games of the past?
Personally, I have very little faith in them taking any exit that leads to the high road.
Striped bass fishing continues out in the Chesapeake Bay and our lower Patuxent and Potomac rivers. I spoke with Darrell Noyes at the Rod ‘N’ Reel Dock in Chesapeake Beach earlier this week and Noyes told me their captains are averaging about three fish per boat per day and they're trying their luck all up and down the bay. Noyes said Bloody Point to the Gooses and Breezy Point to the power plant have been two of the more popular trolling routes. Fishermen can reasonably expect to boat a few of the really big fish in the 38- to 42-inch range while some others that come over the rails will be their far smaller cousins.
David Major from the Tackle Box in Lexington Park told me trollers dragging daisy chains and umbrellas were successful in deep water, with the lures getting down into the 40- to 50-foot range. Major also reported some of the better action was happening around Buoy 68 and 72 and more right there at the Potomac's mouth at Point Lookout.
You'd better hurry for, except the Potomac River, this Maryland recreational striped bass fall season ends on Dec. 15. In the Potomac, the final day will be Dec. 31.
Andy Andrzejewski with the Reel Bass Adventure guides (301-932-1503) says the largemouth bass action in the tidal Potomac has slowed considerably but the crappie bite is active and happening. Andrzejewski recommends you look for areas out of the direct current where the water drops from three feet down to nine feet or more. Marinas are a good place to start your search. The crappie will take a small swim tail grub rigged on a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig head worked slowly across the bottom. “A Berkley drop-shot minnow also connects,” added Andrzejewski. Fish the minnow about six inches above the sinker and coat everything you throw with liberal amounts of Smelly Jelly attractant. Bass are possible on Mann's Sting Ray grubs along quickly dropping banks.
Down at Lake Anna, High Point Marina is reporting water temps dropping quickly now into the lower 40s and 50s depending upon your exact location. Stripers are probably your best bet and they are beginning to move downlake again.