Tennessee boaters have the month of June to renew their boat registration before the first fee increase in 12 years goes into effect on July 1, pending approval by the Government Operations Committee of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Any boating vessel operated by a gas engine, electric motor or sail is required to be registered.

The increase is in line with the rise of the consumer price index since the last fee increase was made. The current fee for a 16-foot boat and under is $13 for one year, $24 for two, and $35 for three. The new fees will be $15, $28, and $41, respectively.

Vessels with a length over 16 feet to 26 feet will increase from $25 to $29 for a year. Those over 26 feet to 40 feet  increases from $38 to $44 and vessels more than 40 feet moves from $51 to $59 for a year.

Boat owners have the option to have their vessels registered for one, two, or three years. The registration term may not exceed three years and 30 days.

Boat owners will not see the increase until their current registration expires.

Those vessels that are powered only by paddle such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and rafts are not required to be registered.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reports there are about 264,000 vessels registered.

Registration can be made online at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com, or in person from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at any TWRA regional office.

 

FISHING RODEO ANOTHER SUCCESS

Despite the threat of heavy rain and potential storms Saturday across West Tennessee, a big crowd of young anglers with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles in tow showed up at McKenzie’s City Park Lake with fishing on their mind.

Young boys and girls weren’t about to let the weatherman deter them from a morning of fishing at the 19th annual Steve McCadams Casting for a Cure Kids Fishing Rodeo.

Filling the shoreline and pier were some 84 youngsters eager to do battle with feisty catfish silently swimming in the placid waters.

Skies were dark as rolling clouds passed over the area but the army of future fishermen didn’t let the gloomy-looking morning dampen their spirits.

After a stop at the registration table each angler received a fish stringer and a nice yellow fishing towel courtesy of the Nashville Predators.

Additional prizes such as hockey pucks and a handsome engraved Predators jersey were also donated to the rodeo.

From several surrounding counties they showed up to fish and that’s just what they did.

As soon as the whistle blew the show was on and one youngster, 11-year-old Bryson Whitaker of Paris, landed a hefty 3-pound channel catfish on his very first cast.

Apparently his bait, a big fat nightcrawler, was just what the doctor ordered and the hefty fish opted for a quick breakfast before any other fish could beat him to it.

Several kids across the lake saw quick action as the fish were sporting an appetite. Squeals of excitement here; screams of joy there. A cry or two as well when that big one slipped away and rolled back into the lake when either a line broke or the jumping fish just used all his wits to find his way back into the drink.

I was well pleased with the event and thankful the weather cooperated. I worried all week about the forecast and wondered what we could do if lightning and rain descended. Thankfully, the Good Lord held an umbrella over us.

It was another successful rodeo as several volunteers helped me pave the way for a fine fishing day for the kids as we battled cancer and fish at the same time. Thanks to donors who opened their hearts and pocketbooks again, we had several door prizes that put big smiles on little faces.

The rodeo began 19 years ago at Carroll Lake. Every year, the rodeo makes a donation to the American Cancer Society through Carroll County Relay for Life.

Handsome engraved plaques and nice bicycles were awarded to youngsters in four separate age brackets who either caught the most fish or biggest fish.

Taking the top spot in the 5 and under age bracket for the biggest fish was Jaxon Hochreiter of McKenzie for a dandy weighing 2.56 pounds.

Landing the most fish was Ryker Cherry of Atwood.

In the 6-8 age bracket, Kinley Adams of Atwood landed the big one, courtesy of a channel catfish that tipped the scales at a whopping 4.22 pounds. Turns out it was the biggest fish caught in this year’s rodeo.

Earning the most fish honors was Creek Coleman of Slidell, La., who was visiting with his granddad Dale and great-grandfather Ted of McKenzie.

In addition to winning the most fish honors he and his brother won a rod and reel combo for traveling the longest distance to fish in the rodeo this year. Another youngster from Illinois barely missed out.

From the 9-12 year age bracket came another big fish weighing 4.1 pounds caught by Aydan Ayers of Camden.

Casten Brock of Gleason had the most fish thanks to a stringer of 15 fish.

Kaylan Borneman of Gleason had the big fish in the 13-15 year age bracket with a nice catfish weighing 3.96 pounds. Most fish went to Dixie Bennett of Henry.

It was indeed a great day in the outdoors for these kids and their families. The cloud cover filtered out the sun and heat so that really helped. Thanks to McKenzie City Parks and Recreation Department for their assistance. Mike Beasley and his crew helped make the rodeo a success as did Mayor Jill Holland for the city’s hospitality.

The TWRA stocked the lake with catfish on Thursday prior to the rodeo and several donors such as Pepsi, Walmart and McDonald’s helped out as well. Without these folks we couldn’t have a rodeo.

With next year’s 20th anniversary fast approaching, plans are already underway to host a big event.

Carroll Lake will reopen in 2020 but we’re not sure if the rodeo would move back to its original home or stay at McKenzie City Park.

We’ll see how things go in the months ahead but holding the rodeo at McKenzie’s City Park Lake has worked well for us. We’ve had great cooperation from the city as to a pavilion, bathrooms, trash cans and courteous staff. The small lake keeps the fish concentrated in an area where the kids do well.

When the smoke clears and the rodeo is over, I’m sort of worn down but lifted up by hopes we introduced kids to the great sport of fishing while fostering time outdoors with friends and family for a good cause.

 

REFUGE HUNT BROCHURES

New hunt brochures for both Tennessee and Cross Creeks National Wildlife refuges are now available online and at refuge offices, kiosks and area sporting goods stores. 

TNWR provides hunting opportunities on all three of its units for white-tailed deer, raccoon, wild turkey, squirrel and resident Canada geese. Cross Creeks has hunts for all the above species except raccoon.

Hunt brochures have been distributed to sporting goods shops, refuge information kiosks, and are available to download online at the refuge websites for Tennessee at  www.fws.gov/refuge/Tennessee or Cross Creeks at www.fws.gov/refuge/Cross_Creeks.

Refuge hunt brochures may also be picked up at the Tennessee refuge headquarters at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville or Cross Creeks refuge headquarters at 643 Wildlife Road in Dover, or can be sent to you by mail by calling 642-2091 and leaving your name and address.

All hunters must apply for quota hunts online at the individual refuge websites. Tennessee and Cross Creeks quota hunts are two separate lottery draws.

A company named RecAccess is being used to conduct these lottery quota hunt draws for each refuge. Hunters must initially sign up for an account with RecAccess and be assigned a RecAccess Identification (or RAID) number before applying the first time.

The signup web addresses are the same as for the hunt brochures. Hunters will only have to do this once and can use their account numbers for successive years or at other refuges that use RecAccess.

Hunters can immediately sign up for this free account number by going to the refuge websites. The quota hunt application period continues through Aug. 1.

When applying for the individual refuge quota hunts, hunters will be charged a $5 application fee collected by RecAccess for administering the drawing. There are no refunds on application fees. The refuge quota hunt draw will continue to be a weighted draw that uses preference points.

Hunters can also apply as a party hunt for up to five hunters. One hunter will need to apply for each party. You will need the name and RAID number for each hunter in the party.  The applying hunter will be charged for all the hunt party’s application fees of $5 a hunter. Hunters will not be able to go back and add additional hunters to their party after applying. All quota and nonquota hunters, age 17 and older, must purchase a Refuge Annual Hunting Permit at a fee of $15.

This permit allows you to hunt on both Cross Creeks and Tennessee refuges. Once again hunters can purchase these permits through TWRA licensing agents, online at gooutdoorstennessee.com, or on the TWRA mobile app. To purchase a permit through a licensing agent, it might be helpful to know the permit code of 064 for a TNWR/Cross Creeks permit. Youth hunters age 16 and under do not need an annual hunting permit, however the adult supervising them during the hunt is required to have one. For more information on the refuge hunt program, contact the Paris refuge headquarters at 642-2091.

 

VIERS-SCOTT EARNS AWARD

Congratulations to Brittney Viers-Scott of Paris for being the 2019 Kentucky Lake Quail Forever chapter’s Conservationist of the Year. Originally from East Texas, she grew up north of Evansville, Ind., and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife science at Murray State University.

She has been in the conservation field for many years: working for TVA, Kentucky Quail Unlimited, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and in Tennessee as a biologist with Quail Forever, TWRA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

In the past six years, while covering 11 counties in West Tennessee, she has assisted nearly 1,000 landowners, provided guidance on more than 300 Farm Bill contracts and positively impacted more than 10,000 acres. Viers-Scott has diligently worked to preserve bobwhite quail and dwindling pollinator species through Farm Bill programs such as EQIP and CRP.

Quail Forever recognized her with its national Acre-Maker award in 2014. She also received the Firebird award in 2016 from the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. Viers-Scott donated her free time to our QF Chapter by developing native seed mixes for pollinator plantings at TNWR and Murray State Arboretum. 

Now, she has joined forces with the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative based at Austin Peay State University, in partnership with NRCS and Quail Forever, to bring back the rare and declining native grasslands that historically blanketed much of the southeastern United States.

 

SPORTSMEN’S CALENDAR

Today — Free Fishing Week ends.

Saturday — Bass Fishing League tournament, Paris Landing State Park.

Wednesday — Wildlife Management Area Quota Hunt application period begins.

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