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Friday, January 12, 2018

Army Corps announces Francis E. Walter Dam water release schedule

The U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ Philadelphia District released the Flow Management Plan for the Francis E.Walter Dam in White Haven, PA.  
The Francis E. Walter Dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1961 and has prevented more than $212 million in flood damages. It also supports recreation in the Lehigh Valley with planned fishing and whitewater rafting water releases.
The Francis E. Walter Dam
 
The multi-year plan is based upon past program performance as well as input received through stakeholders. In 2018, water will again be allocated to ensure whitewater releases from July to late August and fisheries releases from July to early September. Seasonal precipitation and water accumulation will be used for releases later in the season (late August through mid-October).
In 2018, planned dates (22) for fishing releases (target 400 cubic feet per second)* are:
  •  March:   3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31   
  •  April:     1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29
  •  May:      5, 6, 13, 20
  •  October:  as provided by end of year release around the weekend of 6-7 October
* Release will be set to match inflow with a target release up to 400 cfs.  Inflow will not be augmented by use of storage to satisfy the 400 cfs target.

In 2018, planned dates (24) for whitewater releases are listed below. All other dates during the recreation season, until the weekend of October 6-7 have a planned fisheries augmentation release of at least 50 cubic feet per second if sufficient water is available.

  • May:             12, 19, 26, 27
  • June:             9, 10, 23, 24
  • July:              7, 8, 21, 22, 28, 29
  • August:         4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25*, 26*
  • September:    1*, 2*
  • October: as provided by end of year releases around the weekend of 6-7 October
*Releases will depend on seasonal precipitation and water accumulation.

**The 6-7 October weekend release is intended to provide a means of releasing any excess water that may have accumulated during the recreation season.  This is the last added increment for the 2018 recreation plan.  Fisheries releases through the season will be accommodated before the final weekend (6-7 October) release will be considered.
 
In 2018, the Army Corps will hold a total of 22 fishing releases and 24 whitewater release dates (four of which are dependent on additional precipitation along with fisheries enhancement releases on all other days during the recreation season). All dates are dependent on hydrologic conditions and the absence of the need for flood control operations. View plan details, including 2019 and 2020 fishing release and whitewater release dates, here. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pennsylvania's Wildlife Conservation Officers Are Now Officially Game Wardens

For the first time in its 122-year history, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will call its law-enforcement officers “state game wardens.”

Effective on January 1, 2018 Pennsylvania will have game wardens. Not that they didn't before, they just called them something different.

“The job titles previously used to describe our field officers – game protector and wildlife conservation officer – didn’t fully identify their unique and diverse responsibilities,” explained Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “The goal here is to more clearly identify our officers and their purpose. We believe ‘state game warden’ will help communicate this.

“In addition, this title already is well understood by the public,” Burhans said. “The word ‘warden’ is America’s oldest title for the men and women who serve wildlife in this capacity.”

Since the recodification of the state’s Game and Wildlife Code in 1987, field officers were titled wildlife conservation officers. Prior to that, they were called district game protectors. But neither title resonated with the public. Many never associated them with Game Commission officers
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Game wardens are known by many different titles depending upon the state wildlife agency for which they work. The titles reflect the varying sets of broad duties they fulfill. Most wardens share a basic duty to enforce the laws that regulate hunting, protect wildlife and the environment. However, their duties extend into education, research and a host of conservation programs.

For example, Pennsylvania game wardens coordinate and supervise Hunter-Trapper Education programs. They also represent the agency at conservation and sportsmen’s club meetings, respond to nuisance wildlife complaints, and deal with injured wildlife and suspected rabid-animal calls. Warden work also includes wildlife surveys, wildlife trap-and-transfer, field research and providing programs to civic groups and public schools.

“It was the variety of work, which has accompanied the position since game protectors were defined by law in 1895, that inspired the former titles our officers have had,” Burhans said.
While wildlife law-enforcement is a core responsibility, fulfillment of an officer’s full range of duties requires significant training and responsibility.

Burhans noted that the public often wonders what our game wardens do outside of the hunting season.

“There is no “off” season for our officers,” he said. “The breadth of responsibilities is what sets game wardens apart from other traditional law-enforcement professionals. Being a game warden requires a very unique person willing and able develop a diversity of skills in support of the agency.”
Burhans said renaming full-time agency officers ‘game wardens’ immediately will help the public know what these officers do.

It’s important to point out, though, that game wardens are sworn peace officers with statewide law-enforcement authority. They are highly trained and equipped as well as any police officer. They are expected to know and follow standards for protecting civil rights, gathering evidence that will hold up in court and prosecute violations of many different laws.

“As one of the most familiar faces of our agency, it is critical that that game wardens are recognized for who they are and what they do,” emphasized Burhans. “Anything less is unacceptable.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

Underwater Insects Aid Pennsylvania's DEP in Water Quality Checks

 Macroinvertebrates tell DEP researchers about water pollution and stream health

To the non fly angler they might be considered creepy, but they’re an excellent indicator of water quality– they’re the aquatic insects and animals that live in Pennsylvania’s rivers, lakes, and streams. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is for the first time visualizing benthic macroinvertebrate sampling results from across the state. The data is now publicly available in a GIS viewer with downloadable data sets for the first time as well.

Benthic macroinvertebrates are the insects and animals that spend most, if not all, of their lives underwater. They can be mayflies or midges, crayfish or clams, or one of many other underwater species, and are one of the most important parts of the food chain that fish, birds, and other animals depend on.

“Because they spend almost their entire lives in the water, benthic macroinvertebrates are especially attuned to water quality,” said Dustin Shull, Water Program Specialist for DEP. “They are an excellent way to gauge how healthy a particular section of stream or river is, and help DEP meet our obligations for monitoring water quality. This kind of biological assessment helps DEP see and assess long-term, cumulative effects of stressing factors on an ecosystem.”

Not all streams and rivers are created equal, and DEP has developed unique macroinvertebrate collection methods for freestone streams, limestone streams, and low-gradient streams. DEP uses these differing methods to get a complete picture of how many, what type, and how healthy the invertebrates are in any given habitat.

“DEP and partners have collected thousands of samples, and collect hundreds more every year to continue to deepen our knowledge base on the health of Pennsylvania’s waters,” said Shull.

See examples of the different streams types, the methods used to sample them, and results of the sampling by visiting Looking Below the Surface, DEP’s interactive story map on benthic macroinvertebrates.

“This type of research is vital to decision-making that goes on at DEP,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We use the data collected and analyzed by program staff when we’re looking at how to clean up watersheds and improve water quality in backyards and communities across Pennsylvania. And we want to make sure that Pennsylvania residents can see the data we’re collecting, so they can know more about what is happening in their own area.”

To learn more about benthic macroinvertebrates, sampling, and water quality, please visit http://www.depgis.state.pa.us/macroinvertebrate/index.html

To retrieve sampling data, please visit http://www.depgis.state.pa.us/macroviewer/index.html

Monday, November 27, 2017

New Jersey Becomes the 47th State to Join The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife will have a new tool to use in its ongoing efforts to enforce wildlife laws as the state joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.

The compact, first developed in western states in the mid-1980s, recognizes the importance of deterrence through the suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and privileges in all member states resulting from violations concerning the pursuit, possession or taking of a wide range of wildlife, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, shellfish, and crustaceans. New Jersey’s membership will begin on December 1.

“This cooperative and proactive interstate strategy will greatly enhance our Division of Fish and Wildlife’s ability to protect and manage our wildlife resources,” said Commissioner Martin. “Any person who has their license privileges suspended in one member state may now also have them suspended in all other member states. In addition, the compact prevents convicted poachers who are under revocation in one state from hunting, fishing, or trapping in other states.”

For the purposes of the compact, the term “license” means any license, permit, or other public document which conveys to the person to whom it was issued the privilege of pursuing, possessing, or taking any wildlife regulated by statute, law, regulation, ordinance, or administrative rule of a participating state.

In New Jersey this definition includes but is not limited to: all-around sportsman, firearm hunting, trapping, bow and arrow, freshwater fishing, recreational crab pot, non-commercial crab dredge and shellfish licenses, various hunting and trapping permits, pheasant & quail and New Jersey waterfowl stamps, striped bass bonus tags, and saltwater registry certificates.

License and privilege suspensions resulting from wildlife violations committed on or after December 1, 2017 in New Jersey may result in the reciprocal suspension of license privileges in member states.  If a person plans to hunt, fish, or trap in another state, and has a license privilege suspension in New Jersey, it is their responsibility to contact the other state to verify if they may legally hunt, fish, or trap there.

New Jersey residents who fail to comply with the terms of a citation or summons issued for a wildlife violation in another member state may face a $50 fine and the suspension of all privileges to take or possess wildlife in New Jersey until the citation has been satisfied. Failing to appear in court or to otherwise answer a ticket or summons issued for such violations will also result in license, permit, and privilege suspension.

“Our agency has been charged with managing New Jersey’s wildlife resources for 125 years and we take this responsibility very seriously,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “Joining the compact protects New Jersey’s wildlife resources and that of member states by deterring violators from continuing their illegal activities and sends a clear message to all that such behavior will not be tolerated.”
 
The concept of a wildlife violator compact was first advanced in the early 1980s by member states in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In 1985 draft compacts were developed independently in Colorado and Nevada. Subsequently, these drafts were merged and the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was created.

More information on the Compact, including which states are members and which violations with prescribed suspensions will be recognized in New Jersey and shared with member states is available on the Division of Fish and Wildlife website at: www.njfishandwildlife.com/violators_compact.htm

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New York DEC Announce $50,000 to Study Livingston Manor Flooding

Flood Study Could Help Advance Resiliency Projects

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the State will provide up to $50,000 for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study in the Sullivan County hamlet of Livingston Manor. Funds will be used to undertake the Livingston Manor Flood Control Feasibility Study. The funding was secured with assistance from Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

"As climate change fuels more intense and frequent storms that threaten communities and infrastructure across the state, DEC experts are on the frontlines everyday assisting local governments in planning for and advancing important flood resiliency projects," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The Livingston Manor Flood Control Feasibility Study will not only protect this community, it will also improve the natural resources in the Catskills, which are critical to the economic vitality of the region."

"The people who live in Livingston Manor have worked so hard to rebuild and repair flood damage time and time again," Assemblywoman Gunther said. "This study will help find a solution that works for everyone."

"It is with great satisfaction and anticipation that we have been waiting for such needed support from our state agencies. I can't say enough about our Assembly Women Aileen Gunther, who has witnessed first-hand, the devastation of flooding to our communities. Time and time again. We have been working with the ACOE and the DEC for some time now to develop a plan to reduce flooding in our area. Our small town atmosphere is a driving force for many new businesses, and the assistance from our state agency will help bring about positive change, and continued growth for those who look for a more healthy lifestyle and quality of life," said Rob Eggleton, Supervisor, town of Rockland.

A joint effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DEC, the town of Rockland, the Livingston Manor Flood Control Feasibility Study was originally initiated in 2009. In 2016, the study was re-envisioned to focus solely on flood control, which required additional funding. In October 2017, DEC committed to providing up to $50,000 to finalize the study.

DEC is currently working with the U.S. Army Corps to finalize a contract for the project. The study is anticipated to be completed in 2018. Following completion of the study, the U.S. Army Corps will begin the design and construction phase of the project with federal, State and local funding.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

NYC DEP Statement on the Long-term Agreement for Delaware River Flow Management Program


The New York City Department of Environmental Protection released the following statement from Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush.

“New York City is pleased that the Decree Parties today committed to a long-term agreement that balances the myriad interests connected to the Delaware River. The 10-year program protects public health for millions of Americans by sustaining their supplies of high-quality drinking water. The agreement also expands efforts to enhance flood attenuation and support the outdoor recreation economy of the upper Delaware River through the protection of its natural ecology and wild trout fishery.

“Importantly, the new agreement was built upon untold hours of scientific work and data analyses that aimed to advance the interests of all stakeholders without detriment to any of them.

“That work does not end here. The new agreement requires the Decree Parties to pursue a number of scientific studies related to salinity intrusion in the lower Delaware River, the calculation of water available to be released downstream of New York City’s reservoirs, and other topics related to the natural resources of the basin.

“New York City will approach the work ahead with the same spirit of collaboration that yielded the new flow-management program today.”

More information about the Flexible Flow Management Program will be available on the website of the Office of the Delaware River Master.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Record Number of Americans Support Menhaden Protection

150,000 Public Comments in Support of Menhaden Protection Announced; Most Public Comments Ever Delivered to ASMFC!
 
(New York, NY Nov. 10, 2017) A record number of Americans are urging the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) to support protection of Atlantic Menhaden in their upcoming decision. Over 150,000 Americans sent public comments in favor of strong Menhaden protections during the recently completed public comment period. The ASMFC will meet November 14th to decide on Amendment 3—a proposal to provide stronger protections for Atlantic Menhaden that takes into consideration the important role the “most important fish in the sea” plays as both a source of food for other species and filterer of water.

“From striped bass anglers and fishing captains to whale watchers and bird enthusiasts, the varying interests across the east coast that support managing menhaden to account for their importance to ocean ecosystems shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Anyone who pays close attention to life in the water has seen first-hand just how important this fish is, and wants to see the species conservatively managed,” said Zach Cockrum, Northeast Regional Representative for the National Wildlife Federation.

The Commission’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board will meet November 13‐14, 2017 to consider approval of Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden and set specifications for the 2018 fishing season.

Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia Tyrannus) play a central role in the ecological and economic vitality of the Atlantic coastal ecosystem as an essential food for whales as well as important commercial and game fishes (striped bass, bluefin tuna, bluefish, weakfish, tarpon, sharks), and a host of other marine wildlife. Menhaden play a key role in the regulation of regional water quality by filtering phytoplankton; its food source and a major cause of algae blooms and brown tides.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

101.6 Million Americans Participated in Hunting, Fishing & Wildlife Activities

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Survey Preliminary Findings Show Importance of Increasing Access to Public Lands

T he U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shows that 101.6 million Americans—40 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older—participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, such as hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching.

The survey illustrates gains in wildlife watching—particularly around the home—and fishing, with moderate declines in the number of hunters nationally. The findings reflect a continued interest in engaging in the outdoors. These activities are drivers behind an economic powerhouse, where participants spent $156 billion—the most in the last 25 years, adjusted for inflation.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important.”

On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and fishing tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the Department.

In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers and wildlife watchers.

In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments that call for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish and hike and experience the joy and beauty of these special places.

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching—observing, feeding and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities surged 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose sharply—28 percent—between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion. Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011, from 68.6 million in 2011 to 81.1 million participants in 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers: 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2016, from 22.5 million to 23 million participants.

More Americans also went fishing. The report indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016. The greatest increases in participation—10 percent—were seen in the Great Lakes area. Total expenditures by anglers nationwide rose 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants but still remained strong at 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

Regarding the decrease in participation in hunting, Zinke said: “Hunters and anglers are at the backbone of American conservation, so the more sportsmen and women we have, the better off our wildlife will be. Some of our wildlife refuges have great mentored hunting programs. I'd like to see these programs replicated and expanded across the country and reach into areas where kids don't traditionally get the opportunity to hunt, fish and? ?connect with wildlife. Some of my best family time growing up and raising my own kids was hunting an elk, enjoying a pheasant, or reeling in a rainbow. These are the memories and traditions I want to share with future generations.”

“No one does more for our wildlife and or wild places than hunters. Any decline in hunting numbers, real or perceived, is of great concern since hunting provides the lion’s share of funding for nationwide conservation work thanks to excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment that garner more than $1.6 annually,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The RMEF remains committed to growing and ensuring the future of our hunting heritage as well as elk, other wildlife and their habitat.”

This year’s survey also gathered two new categories of data: archery and target shooting. Findings show there are more than 32 million target shooters using firearms and 12.4 million people engaged in archery, not including hunting.

“Hunters and anglers form the foundation of wildlife conservation in the United States, consistently generating more funding for habitat and wildlife management than any other source,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “Industry, federal and state fish and wildlife agency initiatives that focus on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation are crucial to sustaining these conservation dollars and ensuring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity, access and awareness to pursue these time-honored American traditions.”

“I praise Secretary Zinke for his support of hunting and land access. The hunting and shooting sports community is grateful for an administration that recognizes the economic, recreational and traditional values of hunting and target shooting," said John Frampton, President and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. "Although the numbers of hunters have declined, we are optimistic they will rebound as a result of Secretary Zinke's leadership, state wildlife agencies, non-government organizations and industries working together. Hunting in this country is not only part of our national heritage, it is an important to our country’s economy, as indicated by the expenditures in the survey.”

As a partnership effort with states and national conservation organizations, the survey has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, state and private organizations use this detailed information to manage wildlife, market products, and look for trends. Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the survey is based on a 22,416-household sample surveyed through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.

For more information about the survey and to view the preliminary report, please visit https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/National_Survey.htm

Friday, October 06, 2017

New Invaders Found in Pocket Field Guide


The Clean Drain Dry Initiative (CD2), in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Professional Anglers Association and the Great Lakes Commission, printed over 10,000 copies for distribution throughout the Great Lake states. Since 2013, 57,000 copies have been printed and distributed through Wildlife Forever’s national partnership network.

White Bear Lake, MN - Wildlife Forever is proud to release the second edition of Invaders of the Great Lakes. The highly popular field guide booklet has been a powerful tool to help identify invasive species and prevent their spread. This edition features new species such as Starry Stonewort and European Buckthorn, both highly destructive to fish and wildlife habitat.


“New species continue to invade and threaten our nation’s resources. We felt it was critical to highlight these new invaders to help educate and inform recreational users of the need for Clean Drain Dry prevention,” said Pat Conzemius, Conservation Director for Wildlife Forever.

Targeting anglers, boaters and hunters to prevent invasive species remains the most cost-effective means for slowing the spread. Resources such as the Invader book and CD2’s comprehensive media and marketing approach, are fundamental to implementing on-the-ground behavior change. Unfortunately, funding cuts to educational programs like the CD2 threatens to erase nearly a decade of educational efforts and progress made through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Concerned sportsment and women are encouraged to contact their natural resource agency and managers to voice support of invasive species conservation education.

The Clean Drain Dry Initiative™ is the national campaign to educate outdoor recreational users on how to prevent the spread of invasive species. Coordinated messaging drives best management practices content, marketing communications and tools on how to prevent. To learn about services available and how you can participate, contact Pat Conzemius, PConzemius@WildlifeForever.org or visit www.CleanDrainDry.org.

Wildlife Forever (WF): Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America's wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife.  For 30 years, WF members have helped to conduct thousands of fish, game and habitat conservation projects across the country. Recent audit results reveal a 94% to mission rating.  To join and learn more about the award-winning programs, including work to engage America’s youth, visit www.WildlifeForever.org.

Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Boats?


Both boaters and those who rely on boating to make a living lament that there doesn’t seem to be as many younger boaters these days. The statistics back that up. According to the recently published BoatUS Magazine feature “Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Boats?” (October 2017), approximately 41 percent fewer 20- to 39-year-olds owned boats in 2015 than in 2005. And while millennials may boat about as much as their parents did, the data confirms they are far less likely to own a boat.

Why? Author and millennial Fiona McGlynn, who is a professional management consultant, may have some answers.

Lower incomes, student debt, lack of technical knowledge or mechanical experience, and a culture shift that eschews conventional ownership in favor of renting take their toll on millennial (born between 1982 and 2000) boat ownership. “Young people are not giving up on boating, just going about it in a different way: chartering, borrowing, and riding along,” says McGlynn, a live-aboard who recently finished her first South Pacific crossing along with her husband, Robin.

While owning a boat can be pricey, McGlynn reports, “I’ve met a number of young boaters finding creative ways to get out on the water without breaking the bank, such as millennials who are participating in cooperatives, who share a boat among friends, or who live aboard a boat instead of renting pricey apartments in major American waterfront cities. Several boaters interviewed for the story mentioned the increasing popularity of wake boats, in part because they carry more people and they’re fun.”

McGlynn ultimately writes that, in general, millennials prefer the sharing economy. She asks, why would you buy a ski house, when all you have to do is Airbnb it? She suggests it’s the same with boats. “20- to 39-year-olds love boating for the same reasons their parents did. They see it as an opportunity to socialize, create family memories, and adventures, and unplug from work. Boating has the potential for a watershed moment among millennials.”

The BoatUS Magazine feature also includes creative tips on how young people with no boating, sailing, or fishing experience can get on the water.
For the full story, go to BoatUS.com/millennials