It’s already been a better 2017
2016 was a noteworthy year for the setting of state fishing records.
Three records were broken: Cobia, white perch (tidal division) and that unwelcome predator that’s staked out quite a permanent niche in Southern Maryland, the northern snakehead.
But, as it turns out, 2017 is an even better year, with five records already smashed and three more months remaining before the year’s end.
In April, a new white perch (non-tidal) record was set, musky in May, white catfish locally here in June, sheepshead (Chesapeake Bay) in August, and another record for sheepshead (Atlantic Ocean) has been confirmed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Sykesville teen Robert Martin set a new state fishing record last month with an 18-pound sheepshead he caught off the coast of Ocean City.
After hearing rumors that sheepshead were biting (presumably from the Reel Report, no doubt), he and his father did the only right thing and took a few days off to go fishing in Ocean City.
That first day fishing together, they caught 11 sheepshead between them. On the second day out, the 17-year-old angler felt an unusually robust tug on the end of his line and reeled in the record-breaking sheepshead around 9 in the morning, which is before most of us have even taken our first official coffee break at work. His catch was weighed in and certified by the Ocean City Fishing Center on Sept. 22.
The moral of this story is simple: When the fish are biting, call in sick.
Third time’s a charm
Movie actors have the Oscars, Broadway has the Tonys. For wildlife artists, they have the Duck Stamp.
It’s the ultimate honor to have your artwork grace the front of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, which has been in existence since 1934 and brings in nearly $40 million each year to conserve and protect habitat critical for ducks and other migrator y birds.
This year’s winner is no stranger to the contest, which was held Sept. 15 and 16 in Wisconsin.
Before a packed audience and a panel of five judges, Bob Hautman’s painting of a pair of mallards flying above a cattail marsh reigned supreme over the other 214 submissions in this year’s contest.
This is Hautman’s third time winning the Federal Duck Stamp Contest and his two brothers, Jim and Joe, have each won the contest five times. You may recall in 2015 the brothers cemented their “Duck Dynasty” when the trio took all three top spots with
Joe in first, Bob in second, and Jim in third.
It’s been 16 years since Bob Hautman has taken first prize. When he was called up on stage to accept his win, he said, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release, “It’s been a while.”
This stamp will go on sale next year.
A new chapter
A merger between the two biggest names in outdoors retailing was announced nearly one year ago and last week that merger finally became a reality as privately-owned Bass Pro Shops purchased Nebraska-based Cabela’s for $5 billion.
Those companies — both worth staggering amounts of money — came from equally humble beginnings.
Johnny Morris, who started Bass Pro Shops in 1972 and still owns the company today, sold bait and tackle out of the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Mo. His products were so popular
that catalog sales soon developed, followed by a wholesale business, and then the retail megastores Bass Pro Shops is so well known for, like the one located nearby in Hanover in Anne Arundel County.
The Bass Pro Shops brand is so iconic these days, I couldn’t begin to imagine what it was like back in 1970 — not that long ago, really — before the catalog existed. And, more importantly, how did people do their Christmas shopping?
Cabela’s, likewise, started out as family-owned company that sold fishing lures by mail.
Dick Cabela and his wife Mary filled orders from their kitchen table in Chappell, Neb., when the company got its start in 1961. As the list of customers grew and the company started its catalog
business, Dick’s brother Jim quit his job and joined the team, a decision I’m sure he never regretted. Cabela’s became a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2004.
Customers are wondering what the merger means for the future of both brands, their stores and all the little details that make or break a shopping experience.
Don’t expect any big changes right away. Stores will remain open. The merchandise is staying the same for now. And, so far, it seems like the customer hasn’t been forgotten in this deal.
A website has been set up at www.basspro.com/ together that answers frequently asked questions to help the customer navigate changes
brought about by this merger.
One big change that’s sure to make customers breathe sighs of relief is that products can be conveniently returned to either store. Lifetime warranties are still guaranteed, and customers can make those lifetime warranty claims at either location for refunds or exchanges for a comparable item.
Another unexpected boon is gift cards will be accepted at either store.
If you’ve got a Cabela’s gift card burning a hole in your pocket, you can take it to the customer ser vice counter at Bass Pro Shops and
exchange it for an equal amount. You can even call either company’s online customer ser vice center (Bass Pro Shops: 1-800-211-6440; Cabela’s: 1-800-237-4444) to make the exchange by phone.
Customers at both stores will retain their current reward program points and can continue to earn points. Right now, Cabela’s Club Reward points can only be redeemed at Cabela’s locations and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards points at Bass Pro Shops locations. That might change in the future.
Cabela’s, a company that’s always had more of a foothold in firearms sales than Bass Pro Shops, will continue to trade and buy used firearms. And both companies plan to keep their respective roundup programs for conservation intact.
The last question on the FAQ page made me chuckle.
If there’s one benefit to the merger of these two companies I’m looking for ward to, it’s less catalogs in my mailbox each week to recycle. But it doesn’t sound like my recycle bin is going to get any respite anytime soon.
As the website said, “There are no plans to stop mailing catalogs.”