Wal-Mart FLW Tour, FishAmerica pledge funds for Murray improvements - Major League Fishing

Wal-Mart FLW Tour, FishAmerica pledge funds for Murray improvements

March 9, 2000 • MLF • Archives

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – When the Wal-Mart FLW Tour visits Lexington, S.C., March 15, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will receive a $5,000 pledge to improve fish concentration areas on Lake Murray.

The donation is part of a partnership between the FLW Tour, the world’s foremost professional bass fishing series, and FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association, that will provide $35,000 to benefit fisheries on the 2000 FLW Tour schedule.

“As an industry leader, we are proud to take this extra step toward the preservation of our nation’s fisheries,” says Charlie Hoover, chief executive officer of Operation Bass Inc., the organization responsible for running the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. “These irreplaceable natural resources provide habitat for largemouth bass and a host of other wildlife species. They also benefit local communities and millions of outdoor enthusiasts nationwide.”

The FLW Tour and FishAmerica will assist the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by funding the placement of approximately 40 discarded Christmas trees at 14 fish concentration areas around the lake. Funds will also be used for cinder blocks and cable to anchor the trees and new U.S. Coast Guard-approved marker buoys to guide local and visiting anglers to the sites.

“This project gives the Lake Murray angler something tangible that they can see and feel,” says Tom Marshall, managing director of FishAmerica. “Along with heavy aquatic vegetation cover, these structures are an angler’s best chance for a trophy-sized bass.”

The concentration areas, some of which cover 700 square feet, provide habitat for microorganisms that are the primary food of small forage fish. These fish in turn attract game fish such as largemouth bass, black crappie, catfish and other species. The areas also serve as a refuge for young game fish that might otherwise fall prey to larger adults.

“We’ve received a lot of positive comments about the sites,” says Gene Hayes, district fisheries biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “The nice thing is that everyone can fish the sites. They are designed to be easily visible areas where people who may not be familiar with the lake can go to catch fish. Many of the sites are also accessible from the shore, so you don’t even need a boat.”

Approximately half of the lake’s 27 fish concentration sites are refurbished annually between Jan. 1 and March 1, before the spring fishing season. The program began in the mid-1970s in cooperation with South Carolina Gas and Electric. It wasn’t until the early 1980s, however, that the program started using discarded Christmas trees as a means of recycling.

More than 1.3 million angler hours are spent on Lake Murray each year according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Other fisheries receiving help from the FLW Tour and FishAmerica are Lake Okeechobee in Florida, the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, Beaver Lake in Arkansas, the Mississippi River in Tennessee, Pickwick Lake in Alabama and the Red River in Louisiana.

In the past 17 years, FishAmerica has received donations from fishing tournaments, tackle manufacturers, boat and engine companies, and individuals that enabled it to fund nearly 600 fishery enhancement projects in 50 states and Canada. FishAmerica grant recipients have donated more than 1 million volunteer hours to improve fisheries.

For more information about the FishAmerica Foundation, visit the American Sportfishing Association’s Web site at www.asafishing.org.