Hook, Line & Thinker

Anglers Encouraged To Donate To Purchase Bass

by Steve Chaconas

Anglers are passing the bucket for bucketmouths.  

   When Virginia anglers conceptualized stocking bass in the James River, it was met with skepticism. Anglers raised money to purchase bass to supplement poor spawns and a few years of challenging habitat.  Contrary to what biologists had thought, it was a massive success.

  Since 1980, Maryland DNR has released over 5 million young largemouth bass into Maryland’s tidal waters. However, anglers felt these three-inch bass weren’t surviving, reducing effectiveness of the numbers. 

  Two anglers remained focused on improving fish populations. Maryland Bass Nation Conservation Director Scott Sewell and President of Maryland Bass Nation Roger Trageser, also Chairman of the Black Bass Advisory Committee, have been pushing for stocking of larger bass. Cost is a major hindrance.  

  Since 2000 Sewell has solicited donations and volunteers. This year 610 bass were purchased and released in Maryland waters in the backs of coves and smaller creeks with good cover and especially SAVs. 

  In the early years, Sewell opted for smaller fish to stock, based on cost. As donations came in, larger fish are being stocked. This year 1-1.5 pound bass have been purchased, costing about $22 each. In addition to individual angler donations, Sewell raised considerable funds from local businesses, marinas, tackle shops and restaurants. Fishing clubs, outdoor organizations, a grant from AFTCO, and strong financial backing from the Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County (MTABC) are fueling the stocking program. Volunteers transport fish to specific locations. But local fundraising can only go so far. 

  Sewell and Trageser, with support from Maryland Tidal Bass Program Manager Dr. Joe Love, took a plan they introduced several years ago to the General Assembly. In discussions with BBAC members and MD DNR staff, they inched their way to the desk of Governor Wes Moore for his signature authorizing the MD DNR to receive donations specifically dedicated to largemouth and smallmouth conservation.  The general public can directly donate money to largemouth and smallmouth bass management for purchasing bass for remediation stocking, structures for enhancing aquatic habitat, and supplies awarded to directors of black bass tournaments. The Department will work with the BBAC to consider habitat enhancement projects.
  One such project is converting concrete raceways, no longer used, into areas to grow bass. One of the first expenditures will be for a bead filter, around $5,000, that would provide filtration of water in the raceways by making nitrogenous wastes non-toxic. This enhanced hatchery will allow MD DNR to raise 3,000 more largemouth bass (6-12 inches) each year for the purpose of stocking reservoirs and rivers.  

   When purchasing a license, anglers can make a donation at for the Black Bass Conservation Fund. A website will promote and accept donations. DNR and tournament directors social media and email lists will promote the opportunity to donate to the Black Bass Conservation Fund. MD DNR bass videos will also promote the fund. Virginia anglers will likely be reached through this broad net. 

   To make a gift through go to (​compass.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrcompassportal​). Donations are not tax-deductible.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & freelance writer. Potomac River reports: www,nationalbass.com. YouTube video channel NationalBassGuide.

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