Fishermen travel east for tournaments - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fishermen travel east for tournaments

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  People from all over flock to the Gulf coast every year to take part in fishing tournaments, but the oil spill has some fisherman wondering what to do.

Eric Venable makes his living as a sub contractor, but when you walk into his office it's obvious he has another passion. "You can look around and see I like to fish," said Venable.

For more than 20 years, Venable and his friends have competed in fishing tournaments along the gulf coast. His teams have won several titles and more than $700,000 in prize money.

"In the 2002 in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic we caught the biggest fish we ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico 1,054.6 pounds of Blue Marlin," said Venable.

But the oil spill has thrown Venable and other fishermen for a loop. "All the guys in Destin, I mean that's how they make their livelihood... they don't know what to do. They are just walking around, they say nobody knows what to do everybody asks what are you going to do? I don't know."

Not only has the spill postponed or canceled fishing tournaments along the gulf coast, but Venable says it will severely damage boats.

"Everything runs off water in a boat. It all pumps the systems and you got to have it. and if there are strainers, and they are going to clog up, it can't be in it. You got to go..."

So Venable and some of his friends are moving east. "They are going to close off all the passes where you can't get out so we are bringing the boat out of Grand Isle, Louisiana and bringing it around to the east coast

To east cost waters they have not yet conquered.  "My wife said how are you going to know how to fish over there. I said 'that's easy just look at the radar; you read the seas.'"

Where Venable hopes, the oil will stay away.

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