To be a conservationist is to be an optimist. You have to believe you can make a difference, that your efforts will have an impact and that others will join you to achieve your goals, as impossible as they may sometimes seem.
The Save a Million Bass project is born of that optimism. It has been formed because striped bass stocks are once again in crisis and that better catch and release practices can play a vital role in helping restore the abundance of stripers.
We have seen the devastation of striper stocks in the 70s and experienced their miraculous restoration in the 80s and 90s, only to witness their decline once again.
It is that earlier success that fuels our optimism. We did it once, we can do it again. But this time needs to be different. We know now that catch and release mortality is an important part of the stocks’ decline and so a big part of the answer needs to come from individual fishermen. By educating fishermen about better techniques to keep released fish alive, we hope to play a meaningful role in helping restore stripers.
Education is just one part. Regulation, enforcement and science will also show the way back. In that regard, we are indebted to Tony Friedrich, Willy Goldsmith and John McMurray from the American Saltwater Guides Association who have been inspirational to us in forming this project and offered us critical guidance along the way. Legendary guide Paul Dixon has counseled us and spared no effort to help get us off the ground. We are proud to call such a dedicated conservationist our friend.
The confidence and enthusiasm for this project from Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, has motivated us from Day One. Bringing Bill Lucey on board from Save the Sound helped kick us into another gear.
We have received invaluable advice from John Lipscomb and George Jackman from Riverkeeper, who love the river and the fish like they were family. And the optimism of Jen Benson from Riverkeeper motivates us every time we speak with her.
Kurt Gottschall from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has been a leader in helping ensure our catch and release recommendations are backed by the latest science.
We are just beginning this effort and urge you to join us in helping educate fellow fishermen. We can’t be sure we’ll save a million bass, but we’re sure we’re going to save a whole lot and that each fish is a step toward our shared goal of restoring the abundance of stripers. Join us in our effort and in our optimism.