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The Politics of Fish

The Politics of Fish

By American Sportfishing Association
A bi-weekly podcast brought to you by the American Sportfishing Association covering the people, organizations, and issues that impact the recreational fishing industry.
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Latest Numbers and Trends on Fishing Participation with Dave Chanda

The Politics of Fish

Unpacking Atlantic Menhaden Challenges with Chris Moore
Chris Moore, Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), talks with host Mike Leonard about Atlantic Menhaden. As Moore says, "Menhaden is one I always tell people you can write a book on very easily." Leonard and Moore cover a lot of ground in this episode. Moore provides insight into the science, commercial harvest history, and management challenges concerning Atlantic Menhaden.  To learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation visit For more info on Atlantic Menhaden visit and For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
August 11, 2022
Latest Numbers and Trends on Fishing Participation with Dave Chanda
The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is a national non-profit that works, in partnership with industry and government, to increase participation in recreational boating and fishing. RBFF President/CEO, Dave Chanda, spoke with host, Mike Leonard, about the latest numbers and trends on fishing participation. One of the exciting areas of growth highlighted in RBFF's annual report was a record increase in participation among women. Chanda touched on this and other exciting areas of growth. He also addressed some of the challenges identified in the report. To learn more about RBFF's work, visit To read their annual report, visit For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
July 28, 2022
Proposed Legislation Undermining Wildlife Conservation with Kaden McArthur
Kaden McArthur, Government Relations Manager at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), speaks with host Mike Leonard about a recent bill that would undermine the Wildlife Restoration Program, which exists thanks to the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition.  Rep. Andrew Clyde (GA-09) and 53 cosponsors introduced the RETURN our Constitutional Rights Act, which would eliminate the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. Hunters and the firearms industry lobbied for the creation of this excise tax, authorized in 1937, making the proposed elimination puzzling. While the proposed legislation offers a replacement for the tax, the replacement would be a cut to recent levels of funding.  All this is to say, don't mess with a good thing - a highly popular user-funded conservation model that hunters and anglers are passionate about. Luckily, McArthur and Leonard don't think this bill will gain much traction.  This bill does not make any changes to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, however, the precedent it sets underscores the importance of organizations, like ASA and BHA, having a presence on Capitol Hill to represent the interests of hunters and anglers.  For more about BHA visit their website and listen to their podcast here.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
July 14, 2022
Red Snapper Management with ASA's Martha Guyas
ASA's Southeast Fisheries Policy Director, Martha Guyas, talks with host Mike Leonard about red snapper management in the Gulf and South Atlantic. Guyas explains the why there is frustration and mistrust between anglers and managers, particularly the federal government. At the same time, Guyas offers a glimmer of hope highlighting the record abundance and potential for better recreational access and management in the future.   To learn more about red snapper and the access challenges anglers face, visit Keep America Fishing.  For more ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit ASA's website. 
July 01, 2022
Sportfishing Spotlight: An Insider’s Guide to the Critical Policy and Legislative Issues Affecting our Industry
This special edition of the podcast is a recording of the webinar, "Sportfishing Spotlight: An Insider’s Guide to the Critical Policy and Legislative Issues Affecting our Industry," which aired on June 16, 2022. You can also watch a recording of the webinar on ASA's YouTube channel.  Hosted by ASA’s VP of Government Affairs Mike Leonard, the webinar features the entire ASA Government Affairs team as they discuss the top national and regional issues affecting the sportfishing industry. In addition, the webinar includes an exclusive preview of the midterm elections by ASA lobbyist and political expert George Cooper of Forbes-Tate Partners. The webinar concludes with an interactive question-and-answer session. For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
June 17, 2022
Putting An End to Pebble Mine in Alaska's Iconic Bristol Bay with Sam Snyder
Sam Snyder of the Wild Salmon Center talks with host Mike Leonard about the economic, cultural, and environmental importance of Alaska's Bristol Bay fishery. It is the last great sockeye salmon fishery of its kind, in addition to being home to rainbow trout, bears, and more of Alaska's incredible wildlife.  Pebble Mine is a proposed copper and gold mine that would be built at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. It is estimated that about 96% of the material mined would be considered waste. With so much waste, the threat of damaging acid mine drainage and further degradation of this habitat is predicted. Conserving the habitat is critical because it is spawning ground for salmon. Likewise, damage to the watershed could damage the economy, as Bristol Bay is a major worldwide fishing destination.  The EPA is expected to set restrictions on Bristol Bay that would make it impossible for Pebble Mine or any other large-scale mining operation to operate. This is exciting news that would protect Bristol Bay once and for all.  Take action to conserve Bristol Bay's iconic fishery by visiting the Wild Salmon Center and Keep America Fishing. By adding your name to these support letters, you will encourage the EPA to act urgently. 
May 27, 2022
Recovering America's Wildlife Act with Kurt Thiede
Kurt Thiede, Government Affairs Director at the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), talks with host Mike Leonard about a once-in-a-generation wildlife bill, Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA), and the ongoing implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Thiede worked with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for 18 years. Before starting with AFWA, Thiede served as the Regional Administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. His experience working at the state and federal level makes Thiede especially attuned to the needs of North America's fish and wildlife agencies. Among AFWA's top policy priorities is RAWA, which would dedicate $1.3 billion to state wildlife agencies to implement science-based recovery plans. An additional $97.5 million would go to Tribal agencies. These conservation and restoration efforts will help ensure fish and wildlife species do not become endangered, saving tax dollars along the way by avoiding expensive "emergency-room" actions. In the process, cleaner waters and healthier fish habitat will be generated, ultimately benefitting fishing opportunities. For more information about RAWA visit and For more information about AFWA visit And for ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit
May 19, 2022
Giving Back to the Sport with Jesse Simpkins
Jesse Simpkins is Vice President of Marketing at St. Croix Rods and the chair of ASA's Board of Directors. Simpkins' love for fishing began in childhood. Both of his grandfathers fished and shared their love of the sport with him. Before he entered the sportfishing industry, Simpkins was asked during a job interview what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Without skipping a beat, Simpkins said he wanted to be paid to talk about fishing and hunting. Fast forward a few years and Simpkins achieved that goal by working at Plano. After many years and a great career with Plano, Simpkins left for an opportunity at St. Croix Rods.  Simpkins doesn't have a lot of time for people who just sit and talk about sportfishing policy. He wants to see engagement. Practicing what he preaches, Simpkins has dedicated his time and energy to advancing sportfishing and sportfishing policy with ASA. In conversation with host, Mike Leonard, Simpkins discusses the importance of engagement and bringing the sportfishing community together through ASA.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
May 06, 2022
Bringing Together the Outdoor Recreation Industry with Jessica Turner of ORR
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is a coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations. By bringing together various outdoor recreation stakeholders from recreational fishing to the RV and education communities and beyond, ORR promotes the growth of the whole outdoor recreation economy and outdoor recreation activities.   Jessica (Wahl) Turner is ORR's President. After graduating from Georgetown University, Turner started her outdoor recreation career at the Department of Interior where she managed external relations for the Secretary, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside and Let’s Move! in Indian Country initiatives. Before leading ORR, Turner directed the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) outdoor recreation portfolio in Washington D.C. Under Turner's leadership, ORR has successfully brought together the outdoor recreation industry and advocated for the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and achieved millions of dollars in funding for public lands, waters and rural gateway communities. In conversation with host, Mike Leonard, Turner discusses her career, the importance of bringing together the outdoor recreation industry, and ORR's diversity, equity and inclusion initiative, Together Outdoors.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
April 29, 2022
Gulf Menhaden Management with Chris Macaluso
Chris Macaluso is the Center for Marine Fisheries Director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). He works with partner organizations to advance habitat restoration efforts across the Gulf of Mexico and improve federal fisheries management law and policy.  Menhaden are an integral part of the food web for sportfish and the largest volume fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Management of the fishery, however, has been lax. Macaluso talks with host, Mike Leonard, about why conservation-based management is needed and provides an update on state legislation in Louisiana.   If you are interested in Gulf menhaden advocacy, you can contact Macaluso at You can view images of menhaden fishing in the Gulf here.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
April 07, 2022
Meet Larry Phillips, ASA's New Pacific Fisheries Policy Director
Based in Olympia, Washington, ASA's new Pacific Fisheries Policy Director, Larry Phillips, brings 20 years of experience at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and a love of recreational fishing to the job. While at WDFW, Phillips served as Region 6 Director, managing ocean fisheries policy issues, working to improve public access to fisheries and helping implement state laws and federal regulations relating to fisheries. In his free time, Phillips fishes and crabs on the lower Columbia River with his family.  Read ASA's press release about Phillips' hire here.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
March 28, 2022
30x30's Impact on the Sportfishing Community with Chris Horton
Chris Horton is the Senior Director of Fisheries Policy at the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF), an organization dedicated to protecting and advancing hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. In response to the Biden Administration's “America the Beautiful” initiative to conserve 30 percent of national lands and waters by 2030, CSF created the Hunt Fish 30x30 Coalition. The coalition raises awareness about the critical role hunting and fishing play in conservation and advocates for solutions that allow hunting and angling to continue this legacy.  Horton and host Mike Leonard talk about the different ways conservation is being defined to create federal and state 30x30 policies, supporting and undermining the importance of recreational fishing in the process.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
March 11, 2022
Guy Harvey's Marine Conservation and Education Work
Guy Harvey is well known for his depictions of marine life, especially marlin and other sportfish species. Guy's interest in the marine environment, however, extends beyond art to science and conservation. He holds a Ph.D. in fisheries biology and actively supports marine scientific research through the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Guy Harvey Oceanographic Institute at Nova Southeastern University. Similarly, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds scientific research and educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment.  In conversation with host Mike Leonard, Guy discusses his childhood in Jamaica, his foundation's new education initiative and his views on marine conservation.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
February 24, 2022
Rep. Rob Wittman Discusses Politics and Sportfishing
On Tuesday, February 15, the American Sportfishing Association hosted a webinar with U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA). Representative Wittman is one of Congress’ biggest anglers and has been a champion of recreational fishing and conservation throughout his tenure. He also serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.  In this audio release of the webinar, Rep. Wittman provides us with an inside view into what Congress is doing to advance conservation and sportfishing. Rep. Wittman discusses some current events in U.S. politics, such as manufacturing, supply chain issues and the national implications of the recent Virginia gubernatorial race. You can also view this conversation on YouTube.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
February 15, 2022
ASA's Mike Waine Talks Striped Bass
The American Sportfishing Association's Atlantic Fisheries Policy Director, Mike Waine, talks everything striped bass with host, Mike Leonard. From the life history of striped bass to what's contributing to their decline and the actions fisheries managers are taking to help the species, Waine explains it all.  View the graphics mentioned in this episode, here.  For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
February 11, 2022
Dave Bulthuis of Pure Fishing: Loving Work and Getting Involved in Sportfishing Politics
This week's guest is Dave Bulthuis, President of North America for Pure Fishing, the world's largest fishing and tackle company. In the episode, Dave and host, Mike Leonard, discuss a variety of topics, including how Dave got his start in the sportfishing industry and red snapper regulations. For ways to get involved in sportfishing policy visit and
January 28, 2022
Inaugural Episode: ASA's Strategic Plan and Supporting the Sportfishing Community
In this inaugural episode of The Politics of Fish, host and Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), Mike Leonard sits down with ASA President, Glenn Hughes to talk about the association's strategic plan. Hughes describes how the plan is essential for growing and supporting ASA's work and the recreational fishing industry. Hughes also provides useful suggestions for how folks can get more involved with ASA and the recreational fishing world, such as: Going to ICAST or the Sportfishing Summit  Subscribing to ASA emails  Following ASA's work at  Thanks for tuning in to our first episode! Please leave us a review or reach out to us with suggestion for future episodes. We look forward to building this podcast with you. 
January 14, 2022