Bass Club Digest Article
The following article appears in the 1998 annual edition of Bass Club Digest.
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Bass Restoration Battle Plan
When they saw their home water's largemouth population declining due to droughts and lake drawdowns, the Shasta Cascade Bass Anglers decided to do something about it.
In 1972, the Shasta Cascade Bass Anglers started out like many bass clubs. Eight anglers came together to improve their angling skills and share a little friendly competition. Twenty-five years later, draw tournaments remain a core activity in the club, pairing boaters with different non-boaters so everyone constantly learns and improves. But in addition to becoming better anglers, Shasta Cascade members found something even more rewarding along the way:
"As the club grew," explains club secretary Scott Vaughn, "our interest in promoting bass fishing and bass habitat restoration increased. So in 1974, the club initiated its first habitat project."
Working with local officials and the help of loggers, over 200 trees were felled along the shoreline of Lake Shasta to create largemouth habitat. Trees were secured by cables and supplemented with Manzanita brush. The club spent $3,000 out of its treasury and enlisted the aid of over 60 people to complete the project. The club has never been the same since!
For many, that might mean they never wanted to be involved in such an undertaking again. But not Shasta Cascade. It began a long history of enhancement projects, establishing it as a club not only aware of the importance of giving back to the resource and community, but having the know-how to successfully bring such projects to reality. In return, its members are rewarded with the pride and gratification of making a real difference improving their local fisheries.
Giving Somthing Back
Their secret? Partnership, as their current Florida strain largemouth project aptly illustrates. "We saw the need to enhance Lake Shasta's largemouth population that has been declining due to droughts and lake drawdowns," Scott explains. "We contacted the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) with our idea of stocking Florida-strain largemouth and received their approval. We worked through the Black Bass Action Committee to secure funding. We found and contracted a local private hatchery to raise our bass fingerlings. We located a supply source for certified Florida-strain bass and got them to the hatchery. We worked with DFG to certify the Florida fish were disease free. When DFG wanted to tag some of the fish for study purposes, it didn't have the money to support the $5-per-tag reward program. We went back to BBAC to fund a grant to pay for the tagging program. When it came time to release the bass, we again worked with the BBAC to use their live release boat." As a result, over 100 adult Florida-strain largemouth were tagged and released into Lake Shasta this past summer, along with more than 250 others in the 9- to 12-inch range. This fall, 2,000 more Florida-strain fingerlings were released as part of the club's four-year plan to purchase, raise and release 500 adult and 2,000 fingerlings each year.
Cooperation like that doesn't happen overnight. It comes from the club earning respect by demonstrating its dedication to benefitting the resource. And it comes from approaching one another with a "partnership attitude:" developing an understanding of each other's needs and limitations.
"We work hard at developing good partnerships and working relationships with local federal land managers and state agencies," admits Scott. "In times of need, they know they can come to us, and we can go to them. We all support each other."
The club's affiliation with the BBAC in 1994 is further proof of their dedication. It not only opened more doors for partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, but put the club in the middle of one of the most important projects in the state, the Lake Shasta Enhancement Program. As part of this program the club is responsible for scheduling and providing an operator for the live release boat stationed at Lake Shasta. Members provided the legwork in establishing a willow nursery at Shasta College to supply willows for shoreline planting projects. They also help in grass-seeding projects at various lakeshore locations during droughts and drawdowns, which provide wildlife food sources, soil erosion protection and nutrients for the lake when it refills.
Establishing a reputation as a "go to" club when help is needed has its bonuses; when the Calaveras Cement Company's mining adversely affected habitat in a particular cove, they came to the club for ideas on a habitat project they could fund to make up for it. When the U.S. Forest Service wanted to get some visiting government officials out fishing, who do you think they contacted? Club members took eight national and regional office dignitaries out to enjoy a day of Shasta bass. The relationships built from that venture will prove invaluable for future project support.
The Shasta Cascade folks have it down to a science when it comes to conservation and habitat projects. But their "partnership attitude" doesn't stop there. When a member's son became active in Special Olympics, other members began helping with events. In 1984 the Shasta County chapter of Special Olympics became the official club charity project. Because Special Olympics events happen year-round, there is always a request for help at each club meeting.
Members drive vans of athletes to events throughout northern California, coach teams, score and announce events, collect tickets, manage equipment, chaperone....you name it. Their participation has become such an integral part of the Special Olympics functions, the coordinator schedules events around the club's tournaments as much as possible. The club even holds a Fall Classic fund-raising tournament on Lake Shasta each November to benefit the Special Olympics chapter. It draws 85 teams on average and generates about a $1,500 donation. Lots of time and energy? You bet. But take a poll and most every member agrees the Special Olympics is even more rewarding than the habitat projects!
Yes, that "partnership attitude" is the secret to their success. They've proven it works equally well with a government bureaucracy, private business or charity in need.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information on the Shasta Cascade Bass Anglers and its projects, contact President Mike Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by permission of Bass Club Digest.
This article appears in the 1998 edition of Bass Club Digest, pages 76-77.