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A Talk on the Wild Side.

From Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan

Principal Director Greg Sheehan holding his catch of the day at the Chesapeake Bay. Credit: USFWSPrincipal Director Greg Sheehan holding his catch of the day at the Chesapeake Bay. Credit: USFWS

As a kid, nothing made me happier than the chance to get out on a trout stream in the West with my dad. The experience of dropping a fly in the water and feeling the strike was thrilling, as was the chance to spend a day in solitude with him. Decades later, I can remember those trips like it was yesterday.

I’d like to think that when I headed out on the Chesapeake Bay today to fish, my dad was with me. This day, September 23, is National Hunting and Fishing Day, a chance for families all across the nation to get outside and make these memories together. Or to relive those experiences all over again.

Along with my friends Glenn Hughes and Scott Gude of the American Sportsfishing Association, we went out looking for the Cheseapeake’s legendary striped bass. The Bay is the largest striped bass nursery area on the Atlantic coast. Seventy to 90 percent of the Atlantic striped bass population uses the Bay to spawn.

Deputy Director Greg Sheehanon on the dock at Chesapeake Bay.Most of my fishing has been done with my feet on dry land (or at least the bottom of a river), so I was excited to do some bay fishing from a boat. A light breeze coming off the water and a beautiful sunny day greeted us. The fishing, as you’ll see from the photos, was fantastic. The stripers took the bait almost as soon as they hit the water. It took a lot longer than that is to wrestle them into the boat though! 

Striped bass are making a comeback in the Chesapeake Bay after a steep decline in the 1970s and 80s, thanks to the efforts of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a public private partnership that has been working for decades to improve water quality and restore native species, from the blue crab and rockfish to waterfowl.

Hunters and anglers have been a part of this effort from the beginning, as they’ve worked across the nation to protect and restore fish, wildlife and their habitat. Each year, hunters and anglers generate billions of dollars for conservation, supporting conservation efforts in every state and territory. Whether you hunt or fish, opportunities to enjoy wildlife are open to you at national wildlife refuges, parks and other public lands. 

If you took advantage of these opportunities over the weekend to get out hunting or fishing, congratulations! If not, I encourage you to explore opportunities to do so in the weeks to come. Go to takemefishing.org to find out where to boat and fish. You can also explore opportunities on public lands at recreation.gov.

This fall, make it a priority to get out hunting and fishing. You'll create lifetime memories with family and friends, and experience nature like never before.  

FWS Hunting Page - www.fws.gov/hunting
FWS Fishing Page - www.fws.gov/fishing

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