Largemouth bass fishing event set for Earth Day

- USA TODAY Sports

A contest centered on one of America’s oldest pastimes with a hook to the Fourth Estate will be held on Earth Day across the USA.

The Reel Time USA Catch and Release Challenge will task anglers to land as many largemouth bass as possible in a four-hour period Saturday.

All catches must be photograph­ed next to a newspaper published on the day of the contest.

Digital images will then be submitted. Winners will receive prizes in 16 divisions, ranging from children to seniors.

The organizer of the contest, Leonard Strobel, president of Reel Time USA, touted it as a “family fun event.”

“My dad got me into fishing, and I’m so grateful,” said Strobel, 48, of Jupiter, Fla.

“I’m hopeful that this effort will encourage lots of families to get on the water and go fishing on Earth Day.”

Reel Time USA is a for-profit corporatio­n.

The contest is free to enter; Strobel says he is self-financing the 2017 event, with the goal of growing it in future years. Strobel initiated the contest in 2016 and had participan­ts from nine states. He says he has entries from 29 states so far this year.

Prospectiv­e participan­ts should check local and state regulation­s before registerin­g. Rules in some states prohibit targeting bass on the date of the contest.

On most Wisconsin waters, for example, bass season is closed until May 6. It is illegal to intentiona­lly catch bass until then, even if the fish are released.

Fishing remains a popular recreation­al activity in the USA. Thirty-three million people 16 or older participat­e in the activity and spend $48 billion annually on equipment, licenses, trips and other fishing-related items or events, according to the American Sportfishi­ng Associatio­n.

Black bass (which includes largemouth) are the most sought after fish in the nation with 12.7 million freshwater bass anglers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visit Reeltimeus­ to learn more.

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