$5,640 donation to pay for bass-tagging study on Potomac River

LA PLATA, Md. (July 5, 2005) - Anglers and fishing fans have teamed up with FLW Outdoors and its sponsors to help preserve and enhance the largemouth bass population on the Potomac River near La Plata, Md. Over $5,600 was donated for a bass-tagging project that will help to maximize stocking efficiency.

During the sixth stop of the 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, FLW Outdoors contributed $5,000 to local fisheries-enhancement needs through the FishAmerica Foundation, as it does at every tour destination. The June 22-25 Chevy Open on the Potomac River yielded another $640 for the cause through fans and competitors who purchased special wristbands.

New in 2005, FLW Outdoors, FAF and BP-Castrol are administering a conservation program through which wristbands, which signify support for the preservation and restoration of America's great fisheries, are sold for a minimum of $1 each. Proceeds are donated to a local fisheries-enhancement project.

The $5,640 donation to the Maryland Inland Fisheries Department will pay for a bass-tagging study in the freshwater portion of the Potomac River in Maryland. The goal of the project is to maximize stocking efficiency by determining survival rates as a function of size. The tagged bass will also be used to verify aging procedures, which will lead to better estimates of growth and mortality.

"We stocked somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 fish earlier this month," said Don Cosden, chief of regional operations for Maryland's Inland Fisheries Department.

The fish that were stocked were marked with the use of calcein. The calcein markings provide a quick, nonlethal method of differentiating between wild and hatchery fish.

"You can track smaller fish with calcein, which is an advantage," added Cosden. "We don't have to sacrifice fish with this method."

In years past, the department typically stocked bass that were approximately 2 or 3 inches in length. The bass that were recently stocked were less than half an inch.

"Are we going to be successful in stocking these fish at a smaller size?" Cosden asked rhetorically. "Are we going to get an adequate survival? If it is equal, then presumably it makes more sense to stock the smaller fish, mainly because we can stock more fish and because it's less expensive. We'll be tweaking our procedures in the future to be as efficient as possible."

The wristband portion of the donation was made possible through the corporate support of BP-Castrol. Castrol has been an FLW Outdoors sponsor since 2002 and continues to find ways to give back to the community.

The next opportunity to support the new conservation program will be at the Forrest L. Wood Championship July 13-16 in Hot Springs, Ark., on Lake Hamilton. All donations received at the tournament will benefit a local fishery.

FLW Outdoors is an organization devoted to giving something back to the communities that host its tournaments. As it has in the past, FLW Outdoors will continue to donate a minimum of $5,000 at each of its seven Wal-Mart FLW Tour events in 2005 as well as at a variety of its other tournaments.

In 2000, FLW Outdoors announced its partnership with the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association. Since then, FLW Outdoors has directly donated nearly $250,000 and helped to generate more than $1 million for local conservation projects.

"It's our job to ensure that we leave a fishery in better condition than when we arrive," said Charlie Evans, president and CEO of FLW Outdoors. "We do this by maintaining an extremely high live-release rate and by contributing funds for conservation efforts in the host cities where our tournaments are held. Our long-term relationship with the FishAmerica Foundation demonstrates our commitment to continually improving America's finest waters."

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America's largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.