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James Drake

Danicamania was the word invented to describe the atmosphere at this past weekend’s Daytona 500. It was appropriate, too, considering all the hysterical media attention Danica Patrick really did receive.

Do you think if the lady had short, nasty hair, a great big nose, wore thick glasses and was maybe a few dress sizes bigger, she’d be getting so much attention? Of course she would, for it’s her exceptional ability behind the wheel that’s just so darn important.

Uh huh. If you believe that, you’d better stay far away from any bridge salesmen.

The No. 14 car should instead be getting most of the notice from the outdoors crowd. In case you’re not a NASCAR follower, that’s the one driven by Tony Stewart with the big Bass Pro Shops logo on the hood.

On Friday, just before last weekend’s race, while Patrick was probably doing her nails and Go-Daddying all over the place, Stewart was a bit north of Daytona, out on the St. Johns River.

This NASCAR champion and proven racing legend was in the company of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder, along with Tom Champeau, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and local fishing guide Capt. Mike Tipton. The foursome spent a few hours on the St. Johns River in search of largemouth bass.

They only had a relatively short time together on the water, but obviously got down right away to business as the group caught and landed a total of 36 bass. Champeau got one particularly hard strike during their outing and managed to boat an 11-pound, 8-ounce trophy largemouth.

Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion who was using this time to simply relax a bit before the Daytona race, said of the big fish, “Seeing Tom catch that fish was awesome. I was so excited to be there for it.”

Champeau replied, “Catching a bass of a lifetime, with Johnny Morris and a racing legend like Tony Stewart, was the best reward I could ever ask for.”

Phoenix is up next on the NASCAR schedule and huge Lake Mead is not all that far away.

You can jump on that Danica bandwagon if you like. I’m rooting for the fisherman.


Until a few months ago, I only associated the word sequestration with a jury being kept to themselves and away from any outside influence.

Today, most of us instead think about the political games being played out in Washington D.C., and we really worry about what is going to happen to us individually if sequestration actually does comes about.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 7.6 percent of the nation’s wildlife and sport fish restoration programs along with boating safety trust funds are going to be sequestered. Translate sequestered in this context to withheld.

These are not regular taxpayer dollars, but instead it is the money derived from special excise taxes we sportsmen pay on the purchase of guns and ammunition, bows and arrows, fishing tackle and equipment and motorboat fuel.

These excise taxes are charged to the manufacturers, and they simply pass them right along to the consumers by factoring them into the cost of a product. The federal government collects all this excise tax money, and then gives it right back to the states. Wildlife agencies and natural resources departments spend it on their day-to-day operations to manage fisheries and wildlife.

Again, keep in mind this money didn’t come from John Q. Taxpayer but rather it’s from Kevin and Chris or Jamie and Joan when they buy a new shotgun or fishing rod.

In 2013, if sequestration really does happen, the loss to state agencies is estimated to be $74 million.I honestly don’t know how those Washington politicians can look at themselves in a mirror and not be totally dishonored by the reflection they see. Shame on the whole bunch of them.

Tiefest set for March 9

The Lefty Kreh Tiefest will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 9 at the Prospect Bay Country Club, 311A Prospect Bay Drive in Grasonville. Grasonville is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, just on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

Tiefest is now in its 11th year and renamed this year as Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest in honor of one of fly fishing’s international legends and long-time Maryland resident.

A good number of famous fly tiers will be on hand including Bob Popovics, Steve Silverio and Blane Crockett. In addition, local Chesapeake Bay guides, tackle shops, rod makers and other related fishing associates will be here to give talks and demonstrations.

Casting instruction will be available for children 16 and younger from 11 a.m. to noon. If your child is interested, register on the Coastal Conservation Association-Maryland website at to reserve a spot.

CCA-Md. is sponsoring this whole event and admission is free to all CCA members. If you don’t already belong to CCA, you can join at the event for the normal $25 yearly rate and get in for free. The cost is $10 to attend for non-members.

Captains invited to bid

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources will be accepting bids up until April 1 from active charter boat captains and fishing guides to take parties of six, 10 or 12 people out fishing for striped bass.

Stripers that are caught and deemed suitable will be tagged aboard and released by DNR fishery biologists as part of the Maryland Fishing Challenge/”Diamond Jim” Contest that runs here in our state every summer.

Fishing will happen May 23, June 27 and July 25, weather permitting.

Trolling, live-lining, jigging or chumming can all be the preferred fishing method and each trip should last eight hours.

DNR will provide the fishermen, you provide everything else from bait and tackle to fuel and even the gratuity for any mates.Boats will be assigned to fish in the upper, middle or lower Chesapeake Bay.

For more information or to obtain an official application to bid, call Noreen Eberly at 410-260-2404.