Support Georgia HB-36
When I was in High School I remember a buddy’s father saying to me, just as we were leaving to go to someone’s party, “Son, the choices you make, your actions, and the results of those decisions will be your record, you and you alone write your own record.” For the life of me I can’t tell you where that party was or what happened that night, but those words have crossed my mind nearly every day since. When I think about what really matters to me and what will weigh the most as I get older, it’s without a doubt, or second thought, the lives I have affected and the people I have spent time with. Simply put, Family, Friends, and those we love and care most deeply about. There is perhaps no other activity in my life that has brought me closer to people and to God than fishing. In that pursuit I have bonded with people I might never have crossed paths with, people whose greatness I might never have seen or been affected by, and moments framed with sounds, smells, and sensations that far greater men than I have struggled and labored to express and communicate. The “Outside” is my church and the place where I feel succesful as a person and a positive force to mankind. My little part, so small, but enormously significant.
I am a Georgia boy, born and bred. Crazy about bulldogs, pine trees, and peanuts, and for the last year and a half I’ve been graciously adopted by Charleston, South Carolina and the Lowcountry. I have found a new home here, not a replacement, but a broadening of horizons and home. I am inspired daily by the people here and proud of their respect for their environment. Among many other things outside, fishing is a very serious pursuit here. Some with conventional rods and bait, some with feathers and fly rods, but with a common bond of love and respect for the elements that make this place special, and perhaps no other element is as loud or culturally ubiquitous in the lowcountry as the Redfish. An extraordinary creature worthy of 5 am wake up calls, maxed out credit cards, and even 16 foot boats that cost nearly as much as a house. Their awe-inspiring beauty coupled with tendencies towards belly crawling in pluff mud and displays of brute violence rather than graceful acrobatics make them somewhat of an oddity among tier 1 gamefish. Their characteristics while stunningly beautiful on paper, are somehow coarse, unrefined, and seductive when witnessed in person. They seem to symbolize the spirit of Southern people and places. There is absolutely nothing pretentious about a Redfish. While they may turn their nose up to your fly or jig, they’ll moments later (and usually 100 yards away) charge a school of mullet or shrimp with the reckless abandon of a frat boy on gameday. They most often remind me of the girl next door that would shoot doves and get a truck stuck in the mud with her older brothers. The kind of girl you always want to find in a crowd of new people. The way we all stare out car windows at the miles of passing marsh and look ever so intently hoping to see a Tail or a Push of water. Respect. In South Carolina, you’ll find some of the best food anywhere in the world , and you may even find a filet or two of red drum, but you will also find, more than law, a consciousness of the integral part played by all the inshore species in the greatness of the Lowcountry experience. If you want to keep a Red or two, fine, but you’ll harvest with the respect and the effort of a Sportsman. Rod and Reel. Without that effort you simply don’t deserve it. Respect.
It was brought to my attention that on Tuesday, January 15th, Georgia Representative Ben Watson (R) officially filed legislation (HB-36) to grant Redfish gamefish status in Georgia, a Bill that would commit and demand the same due respect to this special species as that given by all our Southern brethren from Texas, through Florida and up through the Lowcountry. To this day I am troubled and ashamed to say that commercial fishing in North Carolina and Georgia allows the indiscriminate harvest and slaughter of Redfish by nearly any means including gill nets, a practice that also inadvertently destroys many species such as sea turtles and negatively affects nearly all species that inhabit the inshore estuaries of the east coast. No Respect.
I am further ashamed to say that the path of success for this long over due law is being blocked by the disgraceful greed of several folks led by the Russo Seafood Company of Savannah, Georgia. These people have no business in our waters with that attitude and they should hear our voices. Make no mistake, their practices are akin to a neighbor who pillages your gardens and resources without making any attempt to plant a seed for future generations. They have no respect for you or the State of Georgia.
I know that anyone who takes the time to read this and has visited the Lowcountry Journal will feel the earnestness of this plea. We can’t all drop what were doing and drive up to Atlanta but we can take a minute or two and share this post or send an email to Rep. Ben Watson , firstname.lastname@example.org , and tell Ben how much you support this Bill. Visit georgiaredfish.org and lend your voice. Do it for your next fishing trip with your buddies, family, or for the kids in Georgia that might discover these pursuits rather than something else. Georgia needs your help Lowcountry. Make sure their kids have the same memories we all have and have shared so many times through the years.
LC Journal – Doug Roland