BOB MAINDELLE: The stocking cooperative is gaining momentum | outdoor sports

Belton Anglers Stocking Hybrid (BASH), a cooperative of local anglers seeking to revive the declining hybrid striped bass fishery in Belton Lake, has made significant progress in the few weeks since its formation was officially announced and the launching fundraising efforts.

BASH is seeking to raise sufficient funds to offset any shortfalls the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife may experience in meeting its own hybrid striped bass stocking goals for Belton Lake.

TPWD’s stocking goal for 2022 is one million hybrid striped bass.

If, for example, TPWD were only able to produce or purchase 600,000, BASH would come alongside TPWD and purchase the remaining 400,000 fish to ensure full stocking.

When I first wrote about the cooperative in this column on January 9, BASH had already obtained permission from TPWD to engage in private storage. BASH had previously established a relationship with Keo Fish Farm in Keo, Arkansas to determine pricing, freight and other logistical aspects. BASH had already established a self-contained corporate checking account for depositing funds, and BASH had already set a fundraising goal for 2022.

Since then, BASH has held its first public meeting after being invited by men’s group Legacy Outfitters to speak at their monthly gathering on January 11. Thirty-eight participants attended this meeting.

BASH has also set a time, location and date for what it expects to be its largest public meeting before engaging in 2022 stockpiling activities, should stockpiling be required.

This meeting is open to the public and will be held at Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton. The venue is located at 300 Central Avenue and was chosen for its central location and adequate parking. The official presentation will begin at 7 p.m., with the doors opening a few minutes before.

No meals will be served at this event.

The meeting has several purposes. First, BASH will explain how its existence is intended to help revive the declining hybrid striped bass fishery on Belton Lake.

Next, BASH hopes to dispel myths that hybrid seeding negatively impacts largemouth bass and largemouth bass fishing.

BASH will feature John Tibbs, TPWD Inland Fisheries Management District Supervisor, who has kindly supported BASH’s efforts and will be on hand to answer questions from the audience.

Finally, BASH will strive to emphasize the importance of personal responsibility in maintaining a vibrant fishery by letting anglers know what they can do to both care for the fishery we already have and help BASH’s efforts to improve the future of the fishery.

All full-time professional fishing guides currently working at Belton Lake have also been invited to this public meeting.

BASH’s main fundraising mechanism in 2022 will be a raffle in which monetary donations from donors will give them the chance to win prizes that have been donated by local businesses and individuals.

Even before announcing the raffle or any of the prizes that were given away, BASH had already reached over 25% of its fundraising goal of $7,060 – enough to purchase 1.2 million hybrid fingerlings.

The raffle prizes given away when the public meeting takes place on February 8 will be revealed at that meeting, and the official open window for raffle donations will begin shortly thereafter, continuing through most of February with a draw scheduled to take place in early March.

This drawing is set to air via Facebook Live with one or both children of the late Josh Bingham drawing the winning tickets from the hopper.

BASH will be conducting live interviews this month on KTEM-AM 1400 and KRXT-FM 98.5.

Prior to the invitation to these radio interviews, BASH had only set up a way to donate via both a Square link and a Square QR code, neither of which can be communicated easily on the radio.

For this reason, the link and the QR code have been placed on a simpler communication medium, using the easily remembered site name BeltonBASH.org.

Anyone interested in learning more about BASH, attending the public meeting, donating raffle items, or purchasing raffle tickets can contact me, Bob Maindelle, in my capacity as lead organizer of BASH, a volunteer position unpaid.

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