Young angler hooks a sponsorship



January 26, 2003|By CANDUS THOMSON

If being a successful pro angler requires a knack for self-promotion and knowing which lure to use, 11-year-old Cheri Perkins is on her way to the top.

The Lansdowne Elementary School sixth-grader scored her first sponsorship last week after a letter-writing campaign to Doug Bowen, the head of Bass Pro Shops' retail stores.

"You know a lot of people think that little girls don't like fishing and only boys do. But I love it," she wrote. "Please help me get in tourtiments. I would do anything to be in big tourtiments. Who cares if I'm little. I have experience in fishing a lot."

She went on to suggest a modest business deal: "You could send me lures or something and I could tell you how it went."

Well, Bowen did just that, and Cheri wrote back with a thank you.

"When I grow up I want to be a pro angler," she confided. "When I watch fishing shows on TV I say to myself that's going to be me one day."

Cheri earned a Maryland citation last summer -- her first -- when she caught an 8 1/4 -pound, 25-inch catfish.

"I was so proud of myself. He was hard to reel in," she said in an exclusive phone interview. "I had to cuss at him to get him in. But it was just one cuss word."

She's also landed bluegills, perch, spot, red drum and bluefish on trips to the Harbor Hospital pier and the Patapsco River. Like a good pro, Cheri credits her dad, Don Perkins, with "teaching me everything I know."

Bowen passed her letters along to the Arundel Mills store, which decided not to pass up the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of Cheri Perkins Inc.

"She's just so into it, how could you say no?" said Joe Evans, a spokesman at the store.

So Cheri is now the first youth tournament angler, with a monogrammed shirt and new rod and reel. At some point, the weather will warm up and she'll be back out on the water.

"I want to go after rockfish and bass, definitely. I want to catch a bass," she said. "But I've still got lots of time."

Watch your back, Kevin Van Dam.

Cover me, deer

Two members of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus are sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for hunters to drive down the road with a deer carcass exposed.

Republican Kenneth Schisler and Democrat Bennett Bozman, both of the Eastern Shore, filed the legislation Friday.

Schisler, a hunter, believes it's a simple courtesy to non-hunters who don't want to look at a glassy-eyed beast with its tongue hanging out.

A good practice, but is it a good law?

What's next? A dress code for hunters?

Heads up

The new top guy at the Department of Natural Resources showed a nice touch on his first full day on the job.

Ron Franks stood outside the agency's Annapolis headquarters Wednesday for an hour in the biting cold and greeted his employees as they arrived at work.

The gesture surprised and pleased staffers, who said it did a lot to pick up flagging spirits.

It will be interesting to see how the new Queen Anne's County tag team of Franks and deputy Pete Jensen works together.

At first blush, it looks like a balanced ticket.

Franks, 60, owns a fly-fishing shop in Grasonville and has the support of recreational groups such as the Coastal Conservation Association. As a former delegate, he knows his way around the State House. As a member of the Ehrlich transition team, he has a good feel for what the boss wants. What he lacks is experience running a state agency.

Jensen can help him there. The 68-year-old Stevensville resident has worked for more than four decades at the state and federal level. He spent 15 years at Maryland DNR and was deputy fisheries director two years ago, when former Gov. Parris N. Glendening gave him the boot. His alleged crime? He was too chummy with the commercial fishermen.

Jensen is probably the man most responsible for shepherding Maryland through the moratorium that restored the rockfish population. In the process, he won respect up and down the Eastern Seaboard for his knowledge, patience and even-handedness.

Yet, some recreational anglers harbor suspicions about Jensen and his loyalties to the commercial guys.

During his forced retirement, he wrote a column for the Maryland Watermen's Gazette. He also was called as a defense witness in the trial last year involving watermen accused of illegally tagging their catch. Finally, his appointment was supported by Larry Simns, a member of the Ehrlich transition team and president of the Maryland Watermen's Association.

Jensen says that he was subpoenaed to testify at the Dorchester County trial about DNR enforcement practices. "I did not testify for any of the defendants," he insists.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit concerns his activities last legislative session on behalf of a group of Western Maryland sportsmen whose intent was to dismantle the agency he now helps lead. From November 2001 to last October, Jensen was the registered lobbyist for the Maryland Coalition for Responsible Wildlife Management.

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