On March 7, 2020, B.A.S.S.® made an unprecedented move to name three individuals, Bill Frazier, Barb Elliott and Jake Davis, Conservation Directors of the Year. Recognized for their outstanding service and leadership to their state, region or the B.A.S.S Nation, Frazier, Elliott and Davis accepted the honors during the B.A.S.S. Conservation Summit Awards Banquet, sponsored by Yamaha Rightwaters, which took place in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Bassmaster Classic®.

“During uncertain times like these, the outdoors represents occasions for hope. The three recipients of the Conservation Director of the Year award are outstanding examples of conservation-minded outdoor enthusiasts,” said Martin Peters, Division Manager, Government Relations, Yamaha Marine U.S. Business Unit. “Yamaha Rightwaters applauds their efforts and achievements, which ensure we have opportunities to continue enjoying our nation’s fisheries as we work to preserve and grow the sport of bass fishing. We’re also proud to support B.A.S.S.’s Yamaha/AFTCO Live Release boats as the official engine sponsor of B.A.S.S. Conservation, an organization that continues to put conservation at the forefront of corporate initiatives.”

Bill Frazier, N.C. B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director, volunteers during the Classic each year by helping to catch the bags of bass after they have been weighed, then passing the basket of fish back to “fish runners” who carry the fish to state fishery agency hauling trucks. Frazier estimates he has handled over 12,000 pounds of bass during his time under the stage. He is also the mastermind behind the North Carolina Fishing Trail, which serves as a teaching habitat for successful fishing and ignites a passion for the sport within novice anglers. With additional support from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the trail is expanding to more lakes around the state. In addition to his Fishing Trail activities, Frazier continually works to educate N.C. anglers about conservation topics like aquatic plant management, illegal fish introductions and access issues. He also routinely volunteers to help with fish care at B.A.S.S. events in N.C.

Barb Elliott, N.Y. B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director, personally taught all 75 Bassmaster® Elite Series pro anglers how to properly “fizz” smallmouth bass (treat the fish for barotrauma) during three days of training at the Bassmaster St. Lawrence River tournament in Waddington, N.Y. Those training sessions resulted in a significant increase in the live release rate of bass during 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series events in comparison to 2018. Elliott developed a modification she calls a thin wire reamer, which prevents the fizzing needle from clogging when inserted into the fish. This modification greatly increases the ease and success of the procedure. Elliott makes and sells a “fizz kit” that contains the needles, reamers and full instructions as a fund-raising effort for the N.Y. B.A.S.S. Nation. Always the teacher, she conducts seminars about fish care and fizzing to high school, college, amateur and professional tournament organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Elliott also appears in several instructional videos on barotrauma treatment. She routinely volunteers to work on the B.A.S.S. Yamaha Rightwaters/AFTCO Live Release boats and the N.Y. B.A.S.S. Nation Live Release Boat at any tournament in the state. Elliott also encouraged the formation of the Ramp Monkeys, groups of junior bass club members and high school anglers that work on boats as they come out of the water at the end of tournaments, reinforcing the “clean, drain, dry” mantra to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Jake Davis, B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director, Tenn., was the Tenn. B.A.S.S. Nation youth director for the state’s south central region, assisting with high school bass tournaments. His efforts and military background helped develop the largest B.A.S.S. high school fishing program in the country. As the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director for Tenn., Davis applied for and received an AFTCO/B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Grant for a habitat enhancement project on Tims Ford Lake. That project, which involved the Tenn. Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other conservation agencies, grew and gained a great deal of notoriety in local, regional and national media. The project was so successful that TWRA decided to commit additional funding towards similar projects, leveraging B.A.S.S. Nation volunteers, high school fishing teams and other partners. Davis continues to serve as the south central youth coordinator, recruiting high school teams for lake cleanups and other conservation projects around Tenn. In recognition of his organization’s conservation efforts, Davis received the 2019 Yamaha Rightwaters Ripple Effect Beacon Award, presented by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful.

Yamaha Rightwaters™ is a national sustainability program that encompasses all of Yamaha Marine’s conservation and water quality efforts. Program initiatives include habitat restoration, support for scientific research, mitigation of invasive species, the reduction of marine debris and environmental stewardship education. Yamaha Rightwaters reinforces Yamaha’s long-standing history of natural resource conservation, support of sustainable recreational fishing and water resources and Angler Code of Ethics, which requires pro anglers to adhere to principles of stewardship for all marine resources. Yamaha Rightwaters is the official sponsor of B.A.S.S. Conservation.

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