Sport allows us to cast our cares away

While reading news stories in The Augusta Chronicle about people in trouble in other countries and the worsening economic times , I came to realize just how lucky are most of us who like to go fishing.

We can go to Thurmond Lake whenever we need to get away from it all, make a few casts and generally put all those troubles out of our minds, even if it's for only a little while. Such opportunities do not exist in the Iraqs and Afghanistans, the Chinas and the Zimbabwes.

You don't really need a boat, thanks to the public facilities available around the lake, from the enclosed fishing dock at Raysville Marina to the fishing dock below Thurmond Dam on the South Carolina side, and even to being able to fish from the shoreline.

* Because of budget cuts, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has been forced to drop the recreational angler tag and release program that benefits red drum, aka spottail bass, according to a story in The Post & Courier in Charleston, S.C. It doesn't sound like much until you realize the state needs the information to keep track on how well the redfish population is doing.

The Lowcountry's finfish and shellfish may suffer because the department no longer has the money for other sampling and surveying, no money for maintenance of the Waddell Mariculture Center.

The economic value of the coastal sport fishing industry has been estimated at $600 million a year, not to mention the recreational value. Oyster bed restoration and artificial reef construction are two other programs affected by the cuts.

Here's a situation where the Palmetto State's private salt water sport fishing and conservation groups could be of assistance by providing money and manpower to carry on important programs until economic doldrums end.

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