While many need help understanding the true importance of giving back, the Sulphur High School Bass Fishing Team seized the opportunity to return the favor to the waters that have long produced memories of exciting days setting hooks and marveling at large fish released back to their aquatic playgrounds.
Sean Kinney represents District 5 of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Inland Fisheries and serves as a coordinator. He also works with a small team to manage the artificial reef program. In response to aging reservoirs losing habitat across Louisiana, the program seeks to restore opportunities for habitat growth. The foremost proponent of the program, however, relies heavily on donations.
“We started building reefs from plastic feed pallets, but they tend to fall apart, so we looked at PVC,” Kinney said. “Atmos Gas has been donating the smaller PVC like what is used in gas service, and Entergy has been donating the larger pipe which they use in service feeds.”
The one donation falling short was the construction and staging labor, but after talking to his friend, Justin Lanclos, Kinney was about to experience a strong dose of paying it forward. Lanclos mentors youth as the Sulphur High School Bass Fishing Team Coach. When discovering this new generation of Louisiana outdoor enthusiasts faced the chance to lend a helping hand, he immediately offered the team’s assistance. Besides learning tournament etiquette and fishing tactics, environmental responsibility is a significant pillar of the team’s outdoor curriculum.
“We wanted to give back,” Lanclos said. “Wildlife and Fisheries ensures we have access to fish state waters; if we didn’t, we couldn’t fish tournaments.”
Kinney indicated that the PVC piping combines with QUIKRETE to form spider block reefs. After being constructed, they are deployed in freshwater. The locations directly influence the Sulphur High team as their tournaments occur around the state.
“We have over 100 reefs staged in freshwater, including Toledo, Caddo, Turkey Creek, Vernon, Sibley, and the Red River, among others,” Kinney said.
Lanclos pointed to an essential role the artificial reefs play. They serve as a stopping place for migrating fish to hold and hide while predatory fish like the team’s primary target, bass, feed. These reef locations benefit all anglers as their coordinates are available online.
Lanclos’ team played a significant role in reef deployment. They helped construct over 70 reefs in just four hours. The group worked together to benefit habitats they had been capitalizing on during practice days and tournaments alike.
“It was an excellent experience having the kids help,” Kinney said. “What would have taken my team a week took them just a half day.”
Environmental stewardship plays an important role when passing the conservation torch from generation to generation. It is the current generation’s responsibility to foster that love and respect for what Mother Nature has to offer. With the Sulphur High School Bass Fishing Team responding to the call, the Sportsman’s Paradise benefits from manufactured assistance and teamwork. It further proves the future of fishing and the outdoors rests in more than capable hands.
If you work with a group that would like to help, contact your local LDWF office.