Fishing Business Brings Big Bucks To Mississippi
By Mickey Howley
The Mississippi Department of Transportation, as part of their duties, measures traffic volume on roads throughout the state. If you go to MDOT’s website there are maps that show how many vehicles pass a given point in an average 24 hour period. Our Main Street has on average 6200 vehicle per day on the south end and 5700 per day on the north end. I mentioned this figure to one wag and he asked me if I did not think it was the same 57 cars and pickups going round and round a hundred times a day. Maybe, seems like it sometimes. Out on the west side of the county going up and down Interstate 55, the vehicle count is 18,000 per day. That is where the new North Mississippi Fish Hatchery and Visitor Education Center is located, and they are having their Grand Opening at 2 p.m. on Wed., April 8.
To be exact, the fish hatchery and the visitor center are at exit 233 on I-55 right at the base of Lake Enid’s dam. From Water Valley, head out west on Hwy 32 and go north for five miles on I-55. You can clearly see the hatchery and center from the road. I was treated to a sneak preview of the visitor education center several weeks ago, one of the small perks of having such an omnipotent job as Main Street Director, and I can tell you the place is top notch. The displays, aquarium, meeting room, building and grounds have been done with an eye for quality. I think it will be a place Yalobushians can justifiably be proud of.
What this hatchery and center will do is produce several species of fish for public waters in Mississippi. These fish are for anglers in areas where biologists feel they are needed and the fish will go to restock waters where man-influenced factors have hurt the fish population. The hatchery is also there to promote angling and local fishing, a big tourism draw for our county.
There are all kinds of dramatic statistics about how much money is spent on fishing, like the $45 Billion dollars a year spent on fishing equipment nationwide. Over 1 million jobs are related to sport fishing alone. In Mississippi, we spend 300 million a year for fishing gear or roughly $550 per fisherman per year and 5,200 jobs are sport fishing dependent. Sport fishing nationwide is bigger than IBM or Bank of America in terms of total financial impact, and the only bail out needed in fishing is getting water out of the bilge.
For those of you non-fishers, the visitors center has a wealth of “gee-whiz” information. Did you know that the first English book written about sport fishing in 1496 was penned by a woman? Did you know the first major American fishing tackle company was founded by William Shakespeare? Not the same guy as the playwright. Did you know that one of the top biologists in fish behavior, Dr. Boyd Kynard, is from Bruce?
Boyd Kynard is one of the biologists at the S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Anadromous fish are creatures like salmon that live in salt water but breed in fresh water. American shad and sturgeon are anadromous, too. Dr. Kynard is one of the key figures in bringing these fish back from the edge of extinction. He has worked on three continents, working rivers from the Danube to the Susquehanna. He is the expert in how fish behave and think. He got his start as a kid in Mississippi, running the creeks and rivers looking for fish. It is that fire of intellectual curiosity that Dr. Kynard has, that places like the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery Visitor Center can spark in our kids.
If you have some time the afternoon of April 8th, make it to the opening. Water Vallians who have been working on this project like Jessie Gurner and Bob Tyler will be glad to see you. This fish hatchery and center will be a good thing for Water Valley and a great thing for Yalobusha County.
Our events survey from last week had most people looking forward to all three WVMSA events in the near future.
Visit Watervalleymain-street.com for our poll your favorite outdoor activities.