The Resilient Gulf

BP and Bonnier team up to test the Gulf’s game fishing

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The result: a very respectable blackfin, taken off one of many rigs we fished. Each rig or platform supports an remarkable and irreplaceable living coral reef system.Doug Olander

In October, 2011, Geir Robinson - the VP of claims for BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization - spoke before an American Sportfishing Association summit in New Orleans. Among those in the audience: Glenn Hughes, the Bonnier Marine Group publisher (and BMG colleagues Scott Salyers, John Brownlee and Doug Olander). Robinson is tasked with administering claims and disbursements from a $20 billion trust dedicated to the Gulf's economic recovery.

During a subsequent conversation with Hughes, Robinson said he had yet to actually fish the Gulf (hardly surprising with months of seven-day weeks), but noted that in fact he loved to fish - particularly with fly.

Given the great economic importance of recreational fishing/fisheries to Gulf-state economies, Hughes vowed to get Robinson, who lives in Houston, out for a day or two on the Gulf.

And so it came to pass that on the last day of January, Robinson joined Hughes on a day offshore out of Venice, Lousiana, with four others: Joe Wein, security chief for the Gulf Restoration Organization; Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation in Washington D.C.; David Cresson, head of the Coastal Conservation Association, Lousiana; and Sport Fishing's Doug Olander.

Despite a touch-and-go forecast, we made the run to the yellowfin grounds (east of the Mississippi River mouth, given that that direction promised cleaner water than a run to the west and the famed Midnight Lump would have) under a leaden sky and into accordian seas whipped up by gusty northeast winds.

The following day, the group spent a couple hours after the fog lifted sampling inshore fishing.

Despite so-so conditions, everyone caught fish - as, frankly from my years of experience in these waters, everyone nearly always does in the northern Gulf, now as ever.

From this experience, Robinson later summed up the general impressions of the group when he said, "I truly believe that the fishing we enjoyed is a testament to the resiliency of the Gulf waters." The action "showcases what a great fishery resource we have on our doorstep here in the Gulf of Mexico."