By Dick Wilson
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat a month! And really a big one for yours truly. First, ole Tricky Dick had another birthday, and that ain’t bad as it sure beats the alternative! My good friend, retired General Rich Moss, and I celebrated our birthdays together again with family and friends at the “Boss Moss” home on the front beach, for the 8th annual year. And it was party time! Then, I experienced another major milestone as “the love of my life”, my awesome wife, Jacky, and I celebrated our 60th Wedding Anniversary with the help of many members of our family and tons of friends. Yep! I am really one lucky dude to live so long and have such a wonderful family and beautiful friends.
Well, having said that (with great appreciation to all), let’s talk fish’s. Yep! Things have certainly improved. We did have a few rainy days, and the wind did blow. However, we had some great days when the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Of course it did, and will continue to be, very hot and humid. But I can handle that much better than cold and rainy. I did have the good fortune to get on the water several times last month with my regular fishing buddies; Mike Peterson, Harvey Nixon, and my oldest son, Steve Wilson. As you know, we here on the coast, did have several very successful fishing tournaments already, with some beautiful fish being caught.
Yes, our gulf coast community is becoming more and more the place to be when the “BITE” is on. And we just happened to have a great group of charter boat captains who can put you on the fish. Of course, I feel it is only right to mention that the unfair and ridiculously short red snapper season, and two-fish limit placed on the Mississippi recreational fishermen is absolutely unacceptable! Many of you may not know or realize that the charter boat captains, as well as general “for hire” charters, are included in the recreational category. If the powers that be continue their so-called “required decreased seasonal limits”, it is possible that they could put the charter boats out of business. And we all know that they have brought business to our gulf coast community for years. Can you imagine trying to have a successful charter business when several of the prize game fish have limited seasons, and/or out of season at the same period of time? You’ve got to be kidding me! Even our own BMR held a special seminar and open discussion meeting regarding the continuing restrictions being placed upon the recreation fishermen each season. They are not our enemy! They do have to abide by the will of a few hard-headed “know-it-alls” who appear to be satisfied only if the recreational fishermen do not exist. You know who I am talking about!! When you look at what the other gulf states’ seasons and limits are, it certainly makes me wonder: “what is the real story here”? I am an 84-year- old recreation fisherman, and have been fishing since was 3 years old. As a part of my adult life, for the past sixty plus years, I have held a license in over 40 of our 50, states and in over 7 different countries as a civilian and/or while serving as a fighter pilot in the USAF.
Granted, a lot of things have happened here in the last 40 years, much of it for the better, regarding management of our marine resources. Many of you well remember years ago, when there were no limits or restrictions on the redfish catch. “Save the buffalo” was the theme along the coast for a couple of years until something was done. Now, redfish appear to be plentiful both offshore and inshore. But we still need certain limits and restrictions. Other popular game fish and salt water species now have new limits; however, none as unwarranted as the current red snapper. Realizing that I am not a marine biologist, nor a scientific statistic analyst, I feel that some creditability should be given to the thousands of lifetime recreational fishermen, who time and time again, give fishing reports which are ignored, and told that the scientific research reports do not match. OK, let’s go ahead and have boardings, more folks at the launches and docks to check the catch, or even a type of mandatory written “catch report” to be turned in after each trip. Anything is better than guesses and making up figures that do not match the actual total annual poundage. Realizing that we don’t have the answers, either way, it puts the recreational fisherman at a disadvantage to be able to win any type of disagreement with the powers that be.
Well, I guess I have beat that dog long enough. But I, as well as thousands of recreational fishermen, challenge you, the rule makers, to work out a more realistic method. How about using some “hands on” information, rather than speculation (much like what is done with today’s fuel prices). And while I’m on the subject of regulations and enforcement, I’m confident that most frequent anglers realize that regardless of what has happened internally within the DMR, we should be proud of the outstanding job the men and women of this organization have done throughout the years. In general, from the laboratories and our local marine scientists, to the marine patrol units, we should feel grateful to have such a group of outstanding men and women working in this organization. I, along with many other local fishermen, thank you for your loyal and dedicated service to your state and to the fisheries of the Mississippi Sound.
By the time this story (Editorial?) goes to press in July, I hope that I have had the opportunity to have gone fishing several more times, sweat a gallon of perspiration, drank a few beers, and for sure, caught my share of fish while enjoying the privilege of doing so. God Bless America and don’t forget….TAKE A KID FISHING!