Pro Bass Fishing Tournaments
Lead To Champlain Stewardship Opportunities
Area youth get involved while learning about fish preservation and lake conservation.
By Captain Mick Maynard
Lake Champlain is not only a Mecca for professional bass anglers, or an ace in the hole for the area’s economy, it’s also heavenly bliss for many local teenagers hooked on fishing. Like most outdoor sports enthusiasts lucky enough to grow up in this North Country region, some of the best memories from my youth revolve around the countless hours I spent fishing with mentors on Lake Champlain. Back in the “good old days” there was no mention of terms like invasive species, fisheries management, or professional bass tournaments. Today, with conservation issues in the forefront of concerns for Lake Champlain stakeholders, there is a new awareness among fishermen and that consciousness has thankfully spread to a younger generation.
Fifteen year-old Ryan Latinville and fourteen year-old Brett Carnright are not only accomplished fisherman, they’re also young stewards of Lake Champlain. These two boys, who are cousins and “best fishing buds”, are already advocates for the fishery and they are undoubtedly two of its future shining stars. Both Ryan and Brett realize that the lake they love and fish so often is a fragile ecosystem. This spring as they walked the banks of the Saranac River delta in Plattsburgh catching and releasing literally hundreds of bass, the young anglers dedicated some of their time to collecting a large box of discarded monofilament fishing line that was eventually handed over to the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited to be recycled.
Thirteen year-old Marshall Maynard and his twelve year- old friend, Kristian Sherman, are also fishing partners. These boys have experienced the rewarding feeling of protecting Lake Champlain and giving something back to the sport of fishing as well. These young anglers have volunteered for the past two years at Trout Unlimited’s annual Saranac River clean-up, an accomplishment that many adult chapter members can’t even take credit for. Marshall also spent a recent Friday morning with Trout Unlimited introducing a 4-H group of home-schooled children to fishing. He continues to participate in Trout Unlimited presentations and often helps with the recycling initiative.
Marshall Maynard and Kristian Sherman stand among a group of Trout Unlimited members during the Lake Champlain Chapter’s 2005 Saranac River clean-up effort.
In mid July of 2007 these boys teamed up once again on Lake Champlain volunteering for the City of Plattsburgh during the Bassmaster Elite Series Champion’s Choice event. As I watched these youngsters scurry back and forth carrying the specially designed fish bags from the weigh-in site to the release boats, their dedication to Lake Champlain and its fish was overwhelmingly comforting. It was great to see these aspiring young fishermen mingle with the professional anglers and proudly work with tournament organizers for a common cause, to carefully and safely release as many healthy bass as possible back into lake Champlain.
City of Plattsburgh volunteers Ryan Latinville, Brett Carnright, Marshall Maynard and Kristian Sherman are appreciatively embraced by Bassmaster Angler Timmy Horton on day two of the 2007 Champion’s Choice event held on Lake Champlain. Horton went on to win the tournament.
Indeed, it was the BASS organization who back in 1972 introduced the catch and release ethic to tournament fishing with a “Don’t Kill Your Catch” program that evolved into the modern day practice observed by conscientious bass fishermen across the country. It’s a common ethic that Trout Unlimited and most other conservation groups uphold in their philosophies. While acknowledging fundamental differences, both BASS and TU have other common denominators in their philosophies and concern for fisheries like Lake Champlain. Support of scientific studies on fish care and educating anglers about responsibilities like containing the spread of invasive species are similar endeavors. The City of Plattsburgh has an outstanding liaison in Rick Perry. Rick admits that there have been some concerns expressed about tournaments and derbies impacting the fishery. He remains open to suggestions on ways to better care for the fishery, just as the bass tournament organizers and local derby officials do.
As for Ryan, Brett, Marshall and Kristian, I know they practice catch and release. I also know they understand the impact that lamprey and invasive species have on the fish they enjoy catching. Their interest in fishing and accomplishments on Lake Champlain go beyond the norm. Three of the four hope to compete in bass fishing tournaments in the near future. Both Brett and Marshall have placed in the top ten of the junior coldwater division in the Lake Champlain International Fishing Derby and all four are excellent, responsible fishermen. Keep an eye out for Ryan to burst out of the starting gates next year as a co-angler when he reaches the eligible age of 16. Look out for all these youngsters to someday become leaders in stewardship efforts on Lake Champlain.
Fishing is a wholesome way for a teenager to spend idle summertime hours. There is no better place to grow up than on the shores of Lake Champlain. Just as Trout Unlimited teaches and inspires youth to become involved and care for our fishery, so too do the bass fishing tournaments. The professional events on Lake Champlain have been good for the community, but they have also been very good for the youth of our region.
Marshall Maynard and Ryan Latinville show off a dandy largemouth bass caught recently near Wilcox Dock in Plattsburgh.
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