More than 30-years ago, I wrote about a young man who was fishing the B.A.S.S. tournaments that Ray Scott brought to Virginia in the 60s and 70s. He was a likable fellow, full of life, and a good-natured target of the jokes and pranks of older tournament fishermen, people like Tom Mann.
He did reasonably well in a tournament or two, but I didn't see him as having much of a future in bass fishing.
Boy, was I wrong! His name is Johnny Morris.
Morris was frustrated over the difficulty of finding quality fishing gear to purchase, so in 1972 he began selling tackle from a corner of his dad's Brown Derby liquor store in Springfield, Mo.
That was the beginning of Bass Pro Shops, which developed into a huge mail order business and 58 mega stores.
The company has announced a 21-store expansion during the next two-and-a-half years. None of the new facilities are being built in Virginia, which has Bass Pro Shops in Richmond and Hampton. The new Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries headquarters is going in near the Richmond store.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Bass Pro Shops determines the location of its new stores by the number of hunting and fishing licenses and boat registrations sold in the region, along with the briskness of orders from its catalog business. No little consideration is the size of the incentives the local government is willing to offer, which is massive since the stores are a huge source of sales tax and tourism.
As for Johnny Morris, Bloomberg just put him on the billionaire's index for the first time, estimating his net worth at $2.8 billion.
Sunday hunting advocate says why not go all in
When Matt O'Brien got his copy of the new 2013-14 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia law digest, he was surprised by the number of references made to Sunday hunting. There are opportunities to hunt/chase with hounds, to trap, to use hunting preserves on Sundays.
Yet the majority of hunters are banned from hunting on their own property on Sundays, he said.
O'Brien, of Virginia Beach, is a long-time advocate of removing all restrictions to Sunday hunting. He maintains a presence on Facebook as the administrator of "Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All."
In a recent correspondence with Virginia General Assembly members, he said the current hodgepodge of Sunday hunting regulations is confusing and the lack of general hunting on Sunday is cutting into hunting license sales.
"Virginia is one of the only states with a declining hunting population while the rest of the nation is seeing a resurgence," he said.
New members for the VMRC
Gov. Bob McDonnell has made two appointments to the Virginia Marine Resources Committee, one with a strong sport-fishing background; the other has a background in the seafood industry.
On the angling side is Dr. Ken Neill, a dentist from York County, who is a highly successful sport fisherman, a record holder whose weekly fishing report frequently is mentioned on this site.
The other appointee is A. J. Erskine of Kilmarnock, a scientist and former president of the Seafood Council. He has a long record of success in the oyster aquaculture industry.
VMRC is the state agency that regulations both recreational and saltwater fishing programs and regulations.
- The recent Smith Mountain Striper Club's member-guest fishing tournament was won by Chris May and crew, who posted a two-fish total length of 66.25 inches. A close second was the Macky May crew with 65 inches. The artificial-only class was won by Steve Nagel, with 46 inches, and the youth class by Stephen Bartnett, with 47.25 inches. The club's next tournament is set for Sept. 14.
- PETA is requesting the Fairfax County Park Authority to end its sponsorship of youth fishing tournaments. The Northern Virginia authority has sponsored two this season. PETA said it took video footage of a catch-and-release tournament documenting fish "bleeding and suffocating to death in full view of young children." PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said "tournaments teach kids that it's OK to bully and hurt other living beings just because they're helpless, smaller (and) weaker."
- There are a couple new leaders in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Billy Martin of Disputanta entered a 10-pound, 2-ounce flounder he caught along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Erin Nichols of Virginia Beach posted a leading 78-pound wahoo he hooked in the Norfolk Canyon.
- Hunters United for Sunday Hunting has filed a lawsuit in an effort to compel Pennsylvania to end its ban on Sunday hunting.
- Rocker Ted Nugent has joined Deer and Deer Hunter Magazine as a monthly contributor, beginning with the September issue. He also was elected to the board of the NRA, the No. 2 vote getter next to Oliver North.
- Charlie Reed, one of the early names of bass tournament fishing, has died at the age of 78 in Hochatown, Okla. following a bout with cancer. He won the 1986 Bassmaster Classic.
- When Wisconsin angler John Grover caught and released a 64-inch muskie, he knew it was big, but had no idea it likely would have been a world record according to its length and girth measurements, reported the Green Bay Press Gazette. The length of the fish was 12-inches more than the current record.
- A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against Barnett Outdoors, alleging negligence after a portion of her thumb was severed while shooting a Barnett Jackal crossbow. According to the Southeast Texas Record, she alleges the company is negligent in failing to provide a thumb guard.
Events, seasons, dates
- Sportsman's Warehouse Expo, Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., features factory representatives, the new Roanoke branch of the Quality Deer Management Association and Hunters for the Hungry. No charge.
- Meeting of the new Roanoke Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, 6:30 p.m., Aug. 6 at Sportsman's Warehouse in Roanoke, will feature a presentation on Deer Management Assistance Program by DGIF biologist Dan Lovelace.
- Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, Aug. 9-11, Richmond Raceway Complex, sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association, www.sportsmanshow.com
- Roanoke Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, Aug. 16, Valley View Holiday Inn, tickets from Billy Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim Basham, 540-521-8274 or at Sportsman's Warehouse in Roanoke.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, August 18, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Friends of NRA Banquet, Aug. 24, Salem Civic Center, doors open 5:30 p.m., 25 firearms up for grabs, tickets $45 for a single, $80 for a couple, $35 for youth, information and ticket available from Mike Kessler, 540-529-7304, and Al Milton, 540-797-7777.
- Hunters for the Hungry banquet, Sept. 14, Moose Lodge on Virginia 311 in Roanoke County, tickets $25 for a single; $40 for a couple, tickets and information from Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125, and John and Wanda Reed, 540-427-4788.
- Western Region Big Game Show, Sept. 14 and 15, Rockingham County Fairgrounds, Harrisonburg, this is the show that measures for the Virginia record book deer, bear and turkey killed during the past season. Awards ceremony 3 p.m. Sept. 15. Information from Jon Ritenour, 540-434-8028 or check www.VPSA,org. State Championship Sept. 28 & 29 (see below).
- Jakes event sponsored by Botetourt County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Sept. 21, registration at noon, activities 1 to 6 p.m., seven rotating stations set up to teach youngsters about turkey hunting, no charge, but for $10 you can become a member of the NWTF Jakes program, door prizes, information from Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 or Pauleyr@nationwide.com. Earlier this year, the Botetourt chapter won the NWTF's top award for its Jakes program.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, Sept. 22, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Eastern Regional Championship and State Championship Virginia Big Game Show, Sept. 28 & 29, Southampton County Fairground, Franklin, information from www.VPSA.org or Kenneth Pickin, 804-633-0275.
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