Taking a step beyond honoring the greats in the sport of bass fishing, the Board of Directors of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame announces the Hall has awarded four conservation grants this year to contribute to the mission of celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing. The awardees were selected through a highly competitive process, and they represent a diverse group of deserving projects.
"All our Board members are thrilled with the ability to contribute directly to these on-the-ground efforts," said Bass Fishing Hall of Fame President John Mazurkiewicz. "These grants will help to restore subpar fisheries or to enhance healthy ones, and it's extra special that two of the projects include efforts from high school bass fishing teams. This fulfills our preservation mandate, and by enhancing opportunities to fish we hope we can help bring new anglers into the sport."
The four grantees are as follows:
- Clarks Hill Youth Fishing Team (GA) -- The Georgia Clarks Hill Reservoir habitat project is a continuation of an existing project. High school anglers will build habitat structures and subsequently record data on the success anglers have at fishing around the structures.
- Virginia Bass Chapter Federation (VA) -- The Virginia Invasive Species Education Project involves the production and distribution of educational materials and the formation of a coalition of fishing organizations. Later, there will be creel surveys aimed at collecting data on the extent of Alabama bass illegal introductions in Virginia waters.
- Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation (IL) -- The Illinois habitat enhancement project will involve the construction of habitat on a lake to be determined, with the project commencing in 2020, although deployment may not be practical until spring 2021 depending on weather and COVID restrictions.
- Indiana Bass Federation (IN) -- The Patoka Lake habitat project is part of a continuing Indiana DNR initiative. As with the Illinois project, some work may be completed in 2020 with additional effort in 2021 as weather and COVID issues allow.
The total of all the grants will be $15,000, which also includes a grant to Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium to support its ongoing conservation education programs to ensure kids stay connected to nature and learn about fishing, hunting and the great outdoors.
"These are all worthy projects which will have a direct impact on local fisheries," said Board member Gene Gilliland, who is also the B.A.S.S. Conservation Director. "We wanted to reward deserving projects where sweat equity was already seen in abundance." Gilliland and Board member Carey Shedd with AFTCO spearheaded the BFHOF conservation grant selection process.
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame has become much more than honoring the legends and innovators in the sport of bass fishing. Noted pro bass angler Guy Eaker, a 2011 Bass Fishing HOF inductee and current Board member, said "while my induction into the Hall continues to be a great moment in my life, to see our volunteer Board stepping up to enhance our role in the bass fishing world is such a worthy initiative. For someone who has made his livelihood off the sport, it's an honor to be involved with giving something back through our conservation grants."
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame has shifted to an online auction this year due to the postponement of its annual induction dinner. The auction, taking place from September 22 through 25 (visit www.BassFishingHOF.com for details) assists the Board in hosting the dinner and other recognition events each year, along with funding its conservation grants and other worthy endeavors benefiting the sport of bass fishing. Generous donors from all walks of the fishing and outdoors industries have already donated numerous products and experiences, many of them one-of-a-kind items that cannot be purchased elsewhere at any price.