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Casting change for reel growth

March 4, 2022

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Rep. Brian White addresses members of the South Carolina House of Representatives. (Photo Courtesy of Rep. Brian White)

By: Matthew Goins 

Lake Secession in Abbeville County, South Carolina is the source of love of the outdoors for state Rep. Brian White, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) president. It’s a passion that runs deep throughout the Palmetto State and is the driving point for his work as a conservation-focused and outdoors-driven lawmaker.

“Growing up in the country with 80 acres of land and a lake, where I would go hunting and fishing with my dad, was just the way of life,” said White.

Though Lake Secession is his home lake, where he enjoys catching bream and crappie, South Carolina’s waterways and fisheries take White across the state.

He enjoys catching trout in the rivers of the South Carolina mountains, stripers in Lake Russell, and drums and trout in Edisto.

“Where else can you go from the mountains to the coast in three-and-a-half hours? South Carolina is a great sporting state, with laws in place to promote it and protect it,” White said.

As a founding member and former chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the president of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, and a key leader in the launch of the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance, White has pushed for industry-led legislation in the SC House and across the country.

“The industry in our state has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” said White.

The addition of the right to hunt and fish to the state constitution was a notable accomplishment for White.

“I want to ensure South Carolinians have the right to hunt, fish, and properly protect game and fish, to ensure families are fed and can enjoy the outdoors.”

Not only are protecting and promoting the industry a key objective for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance, educating the next generation is as well.

“We are one generation away from being extinct, and we must continue to recruit and educate the next generation to be good stewards and ethical hunters and anglers,” said White.

South Carolina is home to an array of hunting, fishing, and boating manufacturers and suppliers, making the state a unique player in the industry nationwide.

White applauds the collaborative efforts between boating manufacturers and community colleges.

“You have to start in the high schools,” said White. “It is more than just a simple boat or lure. With the science and technology associated with it, the industry offers various new, highly advanced manufacturing opportunities.”

White deems out-of-state activist groups as the biggest threat to the industry.

On the credenza in Rep. White’s office sits a bust of Teddy Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman who sparked an array of the modern-day conservation efforts, which White believes have been “hijacked.”

“He [Roosevelt] started conservation. It’s not the groups who have popped over the years that don’t want you on the land or the water,” said White. “To me, those are obstructionists and protectionists, not conservationists.”

White believes hunters, anglers, and boaters are the greatest conservationists because they understand the environment and fund many efforts to protect it.

“We fund and are the best stewards of the environment because we pay for it,” said White.

The money for the Dingell-Johnson Fund used for waterways and fisheries and the Pittman-Robertson Fund for land and herd management is from outdoor equipment and accessory sales.

“Last year, South Carolina had $16 million come back from the funds and the federal government, which allowed the state to manage and provide land and access to boat ramps and fisheries,” said White.

In addition to money from the federal and state funds, South Carolina has quite the opportunity to showcase the industry and its fiscal impact with the upcoming Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell.

“To have the Super Bowl of fishing played in your backyard is pretty cool,” said White. “The economic impact of it is huge for everybody.”

The Classic is estimated to have a $20-30 plus million-dollar impact, which is more than the opening rounds of March Madness.

For the Anderson County representative raised on a lake in Abbeville County, things are coming full circle as he continues to advocate for one of South Carolina’s favorite pastimes and top industries while also spending time with his daughters on the water.

“You have got to get them hooked on it because that is how you keep the generations from having gaps,” said White.

He encourages boaters, anglers, and all South Carolinians to “get outside and take somebody with you” because the Palmetto State is “the best-kept secret.”

  

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