March 10, 2003

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NY proposes Derby EPIRB bill

Regulation applies only to tournaments

   Bills in the New York State Assembly (A0361) and Senate (S635) have been introduced to require vessels operating 1 mile or more offshore in the Great Lakes or Atlantic Ocean and participating in fishing tournaments to be equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). This piece of equipment costs about $1,500 and as a radio beacon, must be registered with the US Coast Guard. 


   Any person or organization conducting a fishing tournament  in which  participants are likely to operate their boats more than one mile offshore in the Atlantic or Great Lakes have to register such tournament with the NYSDEC at least thirty days prior to the holding of such tournament.


   The purpose of this bill is to enhance the ability to conduct search and rescue efforts in the event of a boating emergency occurring during an offshore fishing tournament.


   Legislators justifying the bills argue on June 15, 2002 four anglers participating in a shark-fishing tournament disappeared off the south coast of Long Island. The fishermen were able to send out a mayday call (without their location) using a VHF radio, which was detected by

Coast Guard in New Jersey, but nine hours later, when the men were reported missing and the search began, there was no way to locate the accident site with communication severed as the radio sunk with the boat.


   The size of Lake Ontario allows efficient use of cell phones and VHF radio. Most vessels don't venture out of radio range (25 miles). In fact most vessels when sportfishing are rarely out beyond 20 miles from shore. They are usually much closer. Boats fishing a derby will require an expensive EPIRB onboard. A non-derby boat fishing the same area will not need an EPIRB. This is a discriminatory practice.


   We urge you to contact your elected officials.  Write your letters and send it to all of your State Senate & Assembly leaders and also to all Leaders noted on the Bills themselves.  You can locate the NY Senate & Assembly leaders at:
Senate -

Assembly -


   Why would the regulation apply only to vessels participating in tournaments? How much economic damage will be done to New York bass, walleye, trout/salmon tournaments and derbies that promote the New York State tourism and fisheries?

Mini Getaway Weekends - April 1st deadline to register to win yours

   The April 1st deadline is fast approaching for anglers to register and win a MINI-WEEKEND GETAWAY!  The Lake Ontario Sport Fishing Promotion Council is  giving away mini-getaway vacations that include a charter, overnight

accommodations and dinner for 4!  But you have to be registered by April 1st to be eligible.  You can register online at, or mail in your registration to LOSPC/LOC Derby HQ, PO Box 49, Waterloo, NY 13165, or call 888-REEL-2-IN or register at any of the 50+ registration sites.  Hurry, April 1st is fast approaching!

Ill names new DNR Director

Chairs Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus

   Gov. Rod Blagojevich on March 6 named a new director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, longtime Downstate lawmaker Rep. Joel Brunsvold (D-Milan).  Brunsvold has spent 20 years in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he is chairman of the Sportsmen's Caucus and a frequent advocate for hunting and fishing.


   Brunsvold, 61, a Democratic legislator from the Quad Cities

and former chair of the Illinois House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, is recognized as an authority on conservation and land use issues. He also served on the House Environment and Energy Committee. Throughout his tenure as a legislator, Brunsvold has worked closely with the department that he is poised to lead, often sponsoring its agenda in the General Assembly. He is a member of House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) leadership team.  Brunsvold will be paid $113,200.

USFWS seeks temporary employees

For Lamprey control field work

   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sea Lamprey Control Program is once again seeking applicants for temporary field positions in Ludington, Michigan.  This is a great opportunity for graduating students or recent grads to obtain valuable fisheries field experience.  The positions involve assessment and control of sea lamprey populations in Great Lakes streams and require extensive travel and weekend work during the employment period.


   The field season runs from mid-April to early October so preference is for students that are graduating this spring or

recent graduates who will be available for the entire field



   The positions are on the web at Vacancy announcement number: FWS3-03-DW074  where complete instructions on how to apply can be found.   Applications must be received at the Ludington office on or before the closing date of March 21, 2003 to receive consideration.  Starting pay for the positions range from about $9.72 to $10.91 depending on qualifications.


More info? Call Dennis Lavis, USFWS, Ludington Biological Station,  231-843-7302   [email protected]

Lake Michigan ruffe DNA analyzed

They came from Great Lakes, not overseas location

   Recent DNA samples of Lake Michigan ruffe analyzed at Cleveland State University show these ruffe originated from within the Great Lakes and not from an overseas location, as has been suggested by some industry carriers.


   The USFWS Ruffe Control committee sent tissue samples of the Lake Michigan ruffe to Dr. Carol Stepien for genetic analysis, in hopes in determining origin.  Dr. Stepien informed us that DNA analysis of the Lake Michigan ruffe tissues definitely indicates that these ruffe originated from within the Great Lakes and not from an overseas location. 


   Furthermore, there are some DNA differences between Lake Superior ruffe and Lake Huron ruffe.  Stepien feels

there is a good chance that she may be able to determine

whether the Lake Huron ruffe originated from Lake Superior or Lake Huron. She is currently working on that determination.


   Dr. Stepien is a Ph.D and Director of the Great Lakes Environmental Genetics Lab at Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH.  She has performed all of the genetics work on North American ruffe thus far, including the identification of our strain of ruffe (Baltic Sea).  Stepien is currently working on another ruffe genetics paper and will include this latest ruffe data.


   The Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council is a long time member of the Ruffe Committee, represented by Dan Thomas.

Reserved turkey hunt deadline approaching –March 15 deadline

Young hunters encouraged to apply for reserved hunts

   Indiana DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs is urging young hunters to apply for reserved turkey hunts this spring. Reserved turkey hunts are available at 16 Indiana DNR properties, a national wildlife refuge and a military area for the upcoming spring turkey season, which runs April 23 through May 11.


   "A night at the movies costs more than the annual $7 youth hunting license, and the memories of the hunt will last far longer than the memories of the latest blockbuster," said Backs.


   Backs estimates that at least one in four turkey hunters will bag a bird during the 19-day wild turkey hunting

season. He projects that 48,800 hunters will pursue gobblers this spring and that harvest will be around 12,200 birds.  "Last year's brood production was about average, many turkey populations are still growing and expanding into new range, and hunter interest is still growing, especially in areas where new hunting range was recently opened," said Backs.


   The deadline for reserved hunt applications is March 15. Hunters may apply for reserved turkey hunts by completing the application card in Indiana's 2003-03 Hunting and Trapping Guide or Indiana Turkey Season flier, available at DNR properties, wherever hunting licenses are sold, or by calling (317) 232-4080.  Hunters must have a valid turkey, lifetime or youth hunting license to apply.  Applicants will be selected by random drawing and will be notified of results by mail.


Shawnee National Forest – March 25 comment deadline 

   The Shawnee National Forest has conducted a series of public workshops to develop comprehensive alternatives to the changes proposed to the Forest Land and Resource Management Plan during the current revision.


   The draft alternatives that resulted from these workshops are posted on the Forest website: under the subject heading, “Forest Planning.” The information presented at the workshops is posted at the same location as “Planning

Workshops Powerpoint Presentations,” “Land Ownership Adjustment,” and “Wild and Scenic River Identification and Designation."


   If you have any additional proposal for the alternatives, please submit by one of three methods: 1) by mail to Shawnee National Forest, Attn: Alternatives, 50 Hwy 145 South, Harrisburg, IL 62946; 2) through the “Comment” link on the “Forest Planning” page; or 3) by e-mail to [email protected] . Include your name and telephone number. Deadline for proposals is March 25, 2003.

Geese control seminar – March 13, Bartlett, IL

Call it Canada Geese 101
   Landowners looking for a quick course in the basics of the seemingly ubiquitous bird are invited to attend a free seminar scheduled for March 13 in the new Tri-County State Park Visitors Center in Bartlett, IL

   Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Urban Waterfowl Project, the three-hour program is geared to anyone who wants to discourage flocks of the native species from taking up residence on lawns, golf courses, corporate campuses or elsewhere.

   "This is really a how-to seminar for people who are experiencing geese problems," said Roy Domazlicky, Urban Waterfowl Project manager.  "We'll cover the history of Canada geese in Illinois, the birds' biology, the laws surrounding them and different methods people can use to control them," Domazlicky said. "There also will be ample time for people to ask questions about their specific situation."

The session begins at 9 a.m. in the Visitors Center, 2050 W. Stearns Rd. To register call Domazlicky at 847-608-3100, ext. 2031, or e-mail [email protected] .

2003 Fishing Prospects for Lake Ontario, Oswego County

Trophy Trout and Salmon Will Highlight 2003 Fishing Season for Oswego County

By Ernie Lantiegne

   The success of new tributary regulations could mean improved lake fishing for big brown trout in Lake Ontario waters of Oswego County in 2003. Combine that with the third strongest year-class of 20- to 30-lb. three--year-old Chinook salmon since 1998, and anglers will have a hot time in eastern Lake Ontario this year.


   Lake Ontario, year after year, provides some of the finest. most accessible freshwater sport fishing in North America. The 14th largest freshwater lake in the world,  this huge water is renown for its fantastic fishing for trophy trout, salmon, walleyes and smallmouth bass. Public fishing access is excellent. Along New York's 200-plus miles of shoreline, anglers enjoy a wealth of top quality fishing services like marinas. charter boats, restaurants, tackle shops, and more.


   Since the late 1960s. millions of anglers from all over the globe have fished Lake Ontario. In 2002 alone according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) lakewide creel census. an estimated 230,000 anglers fished hours on 80.000 boat trips on Lake Ontario from May to September. They harvested an estimated 53,000 trout and salmon. 43,000 smallmouth bass and 1,000 walleyes.


Great Fishing = Baitfish + Stocking + Predator Control + Regulations

   Abundant forage, annual stocking of healthy, good-sized trout and salmon, effective lamprey and cormorant control, and rigid but reasonable enforcement of appropriate angling regulations - these are the keys to Lake Ontario's great fishery. With lots of alewives and smelt, and minimal predation from lamprey eels and cormorants, healthy stocked trout and salmon survive and grow well, producing the world-class fishing we've all come to expect in this great lake.


   According to New Yon State DEC experts, based on a record 1998 year-class, plus another strong year-class of alewives in 1999, our alewife population is at moderate levels. Winter weather conditions have a major influence on the abundance of this important forage, because overwinter survival of alewives is temperature dependant. With a cold start to the winter of 2002-2003, only time will tell how the alewife population fares this winter in Lake Ontario.


   The DEC continues to assess the impact of cormorants on the Lake Ontario fishery. To limit chick production. the DEC oiled eggs last year on Little Galloo Island in northeastern Lake Ontario. 2003 will be die third year of DEC's radio and satellite telemetry studies designed to document cormorant impacts on the fishery.  With the publication of the Cormorant Management Plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and public hearings completed, anglers are hoping that cormorant control will be expanded in 2003.


   Stocking of trout and salmon by New York State in Lake Ontario is not only continuing, but DEC is making every effort to improve survival of stocked salmonids. In 2003, volunteer groups will continue to pen-rear Chinook salmon and steelhead at Oswego, and a new Skamania steelhead pen-rearing project will begin at the Little Salmon River.


   Pen-rearing improves the size and condition of stocked fish and increases survival by avoiding predators like cormorants. Pen-reared steelhead and salmon are towed to deep water before stocking. Yearling brown trout are scattered offshore by barges carrying hatchery trucks.  Numerous pen-rearing projects are being conducted lakewide from Oswego to the Niagara River to enhance the fishery.


   New fishing regulations, effective Oct 1,2002, have made great strides in reinforcing angling ethics, conserving adult stocks of brown trout and steelhead, and promoting the sport of fishing. In tributaries like the Oswego River, improved carryover of adult browns, rainbows and steelhead will increase the number of older, larger fish in the population, enhancing the trophy quality of both the lake and river fisheries.


2003 Lake Ontario NYSDEC Stocking policy

Chinook salmon - 1, 600, 000

(Oswego Co.) 447.000

Coho Salmon - 245. 000

Atlantic Salmon – 100,000

Rainbows - 75,000

Steelhead- 537,870

Brown Trout- 425,000

Lake Trout- 500. 000

NYS total- 3,482,870

Canada Total - 1,595,000

2003 Lake Ontario NYSDEC Stocking Policy

Chinook Salmon - Consistent Recruitment Spells Steady Fishing


   In early summer of 2002, Lake Ontario anglers, especially in the west half of the lake, were scratching their heads. With salmon fishing slow. they were asking. "Where. oh. where did the Chinook salmon go?" No one really knows, but by mid-August. a huge concentration of adult chinooks staged off the Oswego County shoreline in Mexico Bay, and later thousands of spawning chinooks ran both the Oswego and Salmon rivers in Oswego County, producing fantastic fishing. On Labor Day weekend, 2002, a fleet of 600 to 700 boats cashed in on this wild action in Mexico Bay.


   In 2003, Oswego County anglers expect average numbers of 2- and 3-year-old kings, which means excellent salmon fishing once again. In the fall of 2001. DEC collected 2,393 yearling chinook jacks (early maturing one--year-old males) at the Salmon River Hatchery. This past fall, in 2002, 1,200 chinook jacks were collected, about 200 less than average. DEC uses the number of Chinook jacks collected as an indicator of year-class strength. The 2,393 Chinook jacks collected in 200 I prompted DEC biologist Dan Bishop to say he thinks Lake Ontario's 2003 chinook fishery should be "excellent!"


   Almost a half million of the total 1.6 million Chinooks stocked in Lake Ontario are planted in two Oswego County rivers. the Salmon and the Oswego. Adult Chinooks imprint on these stocked waters and return there to spawn.


   Wild, naturally prod aced Chinooks are also increasing. Fishery biologist Dan Bishop reports that DEC has

collected wild Chinook smolts in beach seines near the mouth of the Salmon River, possibly a result of improved flow management. These wild smolts from the Salmon River and possibly other tributaries, combined with continued stockings by New York and Canada, will add even more to our already great salmon fishing.


Cohos – Oswego County Corners Fall Cohos

   Aggressive, hard-fighting fish up to 20 lbs, mint silver cohos are a favorite of anglers. Good cobo fishing become routine along Oswego County's Lake Ontario coastline in August and September. 2003 should be no exception,. when these wild gamefish stage in the southeast comer of the lake in August and September before running rivers to spawn. With stable coho stocking the past few years. near record numbers of coho jacks collected at the Salmon River Hatchery in the fall of 2002, and increasing numbers of wild spawned cohos contributing to the population" look for good late summer and fall coho action again in 2003, from Oswego to the Salmon River.


Brown Trout - New Regulations, Cormorant Control, Barge Stocking all Pluses

   Good brown trout fishing in Lake Ontario depends heavily on stocking success. Experience has clearly shown that fish-eating cormorants can reduce the survival of stocked browns. To counter this, DEC is continuing its effort to control cormorants and reduce cormorant predation on freshly planted browns by distributing yearling browns offshore from hatchery trucks transported by barge.


   Another factor involved in the quality of the brown trout fishery is the proportion of older, trophy-sized fish in the population, the so-called "footballs" that have attracted thousands of anglers for years to Oswego County. The number of trophy browns available depends on survival of adult brown trout beyond the age of two years old. Because of new regulations reducing foul hooking of spawning brown trout in tributaries, and a growing catch and release ethic, a greater proportion of big browns over 10 lbs. showed up in the lake catch in 2002 than in recent years. The numbers of these big browns was also impressive in tributaries like the Oswego River into January 2003.


   Expect to see even more lunker Lake Ontario "footballs" this coming season. If DEC implements additional lamprey control measures in 2003, look for increased survival of stocked brown trout, a major step forward in improving the fishery even more.


Steelhead/Rainbows - New Skamania Pen Project on the Little Salmon River

   Some of the best Lake Ontario news of 2003 is the tremendous success of the steelhead pen rearing project on the Oswego River and the new pen project to begin on the Little Salmon River this year. Studies since 1998 showed the ratio of returns of Oswego River pen-reared vs. river-stocked steelhead were 6 to 1. Pen-reared steelhead, fed six times each day, increase almost 70% in weight after only about three weeks in the pens. Because the pens are towed out to deep water before the steelhead are released, cormorant predation is reduced.


   Only winter-run, Chambers Creek strain steelhead have been pen-reared to date, but beginning in 2003, 5,000 Skamania steelhead will be pen-reared in the Little Salmon River. Oswego County anglers are excited about the special potential of these summer-nm fish to create a new spring fishery near one of Oswego County's principle public boat launch sites at Mexico Point. 


   Lake and river fishing for Lake Ontario steelhead fluctuate dramatically for a variety of reasons - including weather and water conditions, baitfish levels, cormorant predation, and other factors. The bottom line, though. is that DEC's annual stocking of a half million steelhead consistently produces a healthy population, with many steelhead reaching 10 to 15 lbs., and occasional monsters reaching 20 lbs. and larger.  Few waters in the world can make such a claim.


Lake Trout - Deep Water Denizens

   One of the favorite lake trout fishing areas in eastern Lake Ontario is the deep water off the Oswego County coastline, from Oswego Harbor east to the vicinity of Nine Mile Point. Year after year, this area thrills anglers with hundreds of big lake trout. If you're looking for a lunker laker over 20 lbs., you'll have a good chance to find one here, close to bottom in the crystal depths of 150 - 200 ft of water. When these deep water members of the char family stack up here like they have in the past, you can expect fast action in 2003!


Walleyes - Trophy Fishing Continues

   According to the NYSDEC lakewide creel census, the harvest of Lake Ontario walleyes doubled from 2001 to 2002. Most of these fish are world class lunkers from 7 to 10 lbs., with a few even larger. Many of Lake Ontario's trophy walleyes are taken each season in one of the top walleye honey holes in the entire lake - Oswego Harbor. The fishery for these big walleyes in and around Oswego Harbor peaks in May and June, and later, walleyes are taken throughout the eastern basin of Lake Ontario. Juvenile walleyes, suspected to result from DEC stockings, have also shown up in at least one other location.


Smallmouth Bass - Lake Ontario a 'Sleeper' for Smallmouths

   According to the 1996 New York State angler survey, which polled approximately 9,500 license buyers, more anglers fished for smallmouth bass in Lake Ontario, than for coho and Chinook salmon.  This trend is continuing as smallmouth bass fishing along the southerly shore of Lake Ontario gets better and better. In 2002, according to the DEC's lakewide creel census, anglers harvested over 40,000 smallies and released many more.


   Big smallies from 3 to 3½ lbs. were common.. A growing catch and release ethic is helping promote this fantastic fishery.  Smallmouth fishing in Lake Ontario is on a roll! Look for more of the same in 2003!


(Capt. Ernie Lantiegne operates a charter fishing business on Lake Ontario, has 28 years of experience in the business on a variety of waters in New York, and writes for outdoor publications like Great Lakes Angler, Northwoods Sporting Journal, and Lake Ontario Outdoors. He also worked as a fishery biologist/manager for the NYSDEC for 22 years. You can contact Ernie at 315-963-8403 or [email protected]


Early ‘catch and release’ trout season opened March 1

MADISON – All anglers need for a gangbusters early catch and release trout season is a little cooperation from Mother Nature. The season opened March 1 on inland waters.


   "I heard a lot of positive things at the end of last year about fishing, the conditions of streams, and the availability of fish," says Larry Claggett, Department of Natural Resources coldwater fisheries specialist. "I’m anticipating a good start, but a lot of that is weather dependent. The fish should be there. Whether you can get at them, is another question.  "Spring-fed streams across Wisconsin are open and running, but the bigger waters and more northerly waters are often frozen early in the season. When they open up will depend on what kind of spring we have."


   Fish surveys in recent years show that Wisconsin has 254 more trout streams and has gained 800 more miles of high quality trout waters, bringing the total to 10,371 miles, since Wisconsin’s Trout Book was previously released in 1980. The gains reflect largely changes in farming practices and land use that have contributed to improved water quality, DNR efforts to restore in-stream habitat, and the agency’s wild trout stocking program that is establishing trout populations in streams with improved water quality.


   The 2003 early catch and release season runs until midnight April 27 on most inland waters. Anglers must release any trout they catch immediately, and can use only artificial lures with barbless hooks while fishing for any fish species on a trout stream. Anglers can buy hooks without barbs or can file down or pinch the barb on their existing flies or lures to meet the rules, Claggett says.

Some streams in northeastern Wisconsin aren’t open for fishing because of concerns that these sensitive streams could be damaged. Other exceptions include Lake Michigan tributaries, major Green Bay tributaries, all other tributary streams, rivers and ditches to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake – all of which have an open season all year.


   Lake Superior tributaries are not open for the early season except the White River and its tributaries from the White River Dam upstream to Pikes River Road Bridge and the Iron River and its tributaries upsteam from the sea lamprey barrier at the former site of the Orienta Dam.


   Here’s a sample of fishing tips and forecasts for the 2003 early catch and release trout season from some DNR fisheries biologists:


Western Wisconsin

Pierce, Dunn and St. Croix county lakes and streams

   "Comprehensive coldwater surveys show wild trout populations in the area continue to improve. Stocked brown trout streams in Pierce County have also shown major improvements. Barring no catastrophic flood events, early season and regular season trout enthusiasts should find some of the best trout populations in recorded history. If the winter continues with little snow and cold weather access to trout streams in western Wisconsin should be excellent. We have 7 inches or less snow here so anglers will not have to fight deep or drifting snow -- that is, "if " conditions continue. Most streams remain ice-free and fish populations are in great shape. – Marty Engel, senior fisheries biologist, Baldwin

La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford and Monroe counties

   Trout fishing continues to improve in many of the coulee streams due to a combination of improving land use practices, aggressive habitat restoration efforts, numerous stream surveys and the wild trout program. By 2000, stream surveys found another 264 miles of trout water, bringing the total for the four counties to 809.5 miles of classified water. We anticipate adding an additional 50-75 miles by the 2003 regular season as a result of surveys conducted in the last two years.


   The real bright spots have been the increasing numbers of wild brook trout streams in the area – those receiving wild brook trout either from another stream or from our statewide hatchery system’s wild trout stocking program. Growth rates on these fish have been phenomenal, with fish stocked at 5 inches reaching 9 to 12 inches in one year.


   In 2002, several brook trout over 18 inches were taken from area streams. There are several brown trout waters in the area that 40 years ago were considered "nontrout" but are now producing browns in excess of 25 inches. Three browns greater than 27 inches, along with many more greater than 18 inches, were caught in area streams in 2002. – Dave Vetrano, fisheries supervisor, La Crosse


Northern Wisconsin

   DNR fisheries crews used electrofishing equipment to survey fish populations along segments of streams on many of the Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Florence, Lincoln, and Langlade county streams. Generally speaking, the trout fisheries in all of the area streams appear to be doing well. Population estimates on several of the streams indicated a stable number of fish compared to past years, with a few streams showing improved numbers. More than a dozen habitat projects occurred in the basin that will improve trout fishing. - Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor, Woodruff


Northwestern Wisconsin

   "On some of the larger waters of the north, like the Namekagon, the early season can present some unique dry fly opportunities. In some years, some of these big streams can have spectacular early hatches of very large stoneflies, usually sometime in the window of March 20-April 10. There seems to be some correlation with "early" springs. Be sure to carry big stone nymph patterns as well as some large floaters in the sofa pillow type design. This is not a common event but if you luck onto it -and the fish are responding (that's not an automatic, either) it can be life changing! Hint: this is not classic dead drift dry fly fishing -- more like bass bugging. When big browns come to big stones they are very persistent and very aggressive." – Frank Pratt, senior fisheries biologist, Hayward


Southeastern Wisconsin

   "March and early April is a great time to see little brook trout that have just emerged from their overwinter stay in the streambed gravel at our Paradise Springs catch-and-release trout spring pond near Eagle in Waukesha County. If you watch closely among the nearshore vegetation, you can see them hiding there. Look for their distended bellies caused by the yolk-sac before its absorbed. Most of these fry can be seen near the headwater springhouse. – Randy Schumacher, fisheries supervisor, inland waters, Waukesha

For more info: Larry Claggett (608) 267-9658 or local fisheries biologists

Don't be afraid to Put America First!

Samuel Thompson wrote:
   I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.
   Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
   "But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. And we are in the Bible Belt. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1.
    So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna?  If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.  If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.  If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.
    When in Rome...  "But what about the atheists?" is another argument. What about them?  Nobody is asking them to be baptized.  We're not going to pass the collection plate.


   Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer.

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.
   Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us just to pray without ceasing.
   Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us.  And if that last sentence offends you, well...just sue me. The silent majority has been silent too long... it's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard know that the vast majority don't care what they want... it is time the majority rules!


   It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray... you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right, but by golly you are no longer going to take our rights away…we are fighting back…and we WILL WIN!
   After all, the God you have the right to denounce is on our side!  God bless us one and all, especially those who denounce Him... God bless America, despite all her faults..  still the greatest nation of all....God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God...
   May 2003 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. Keep looking up. In God We Trust.

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