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WILTZ: Some straight talk about the Keystone XL pipeline

It appears to me that being a Republican or Democrat today is far more complex than it was back in 1965 when Betsy and I were married. We were registered Democrats back then, but we were never anti-gun or pro-abortion. Can today’s Democrat support voter I.D. cards and tighter control at our borders? Can today’s Republican support same sex marriages? Can I call myself an environmentalist and support the Keystone XL pipeline at the same time? I know I can!

I call myself an environmentalist because I’m very concerned about what is happening to our environment. China and India are dumping huge amounts of pollutants into the air while we work at the other extreme by shutting down our eastern coal burners with little regard for what will take their place.

I once surf-casted for tarpon along a sandy Costa Rican beach that was littered with hypodermic needles. Medical garbage had been dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. The thought still haunts me.

I lie in bed at night and wonder what we can do to alleviate the problems that surround us right here in South Dakota. In the short time I’ve lived in southeastern South Dakota, massive deltas of sand and silt have formed at the mouths of the White and Niobrara Rivers. Below the mouth of the White, our Lake Francis Case will one day look like a Ducks Unlimited project. Some of you will live to see it. Yes, I’m an environmentalist.

However, as much as I would like to see our wildlife populations flourish on pristine lakes, rivers, mountains and prairies, concessions must be made. I say “must” because of our growing population. When I graduated from high school in 1960, our U.S. population was 180 million. Today it is 317 million. These people must eat. They also consume energy.

I see the Keystone XL pipeline as a no-brainer. A 36-inch diameter underground pipe will run through 329 miles of Canada and 850 miles of the United States ending at Steele City, Neb. From Steele City the crude will again travel by pipeline to various refineries. It will impact South Dakota as it runs diagonally across our state from the northwest corner of Harding County to the Nebraska border south and slightly east of Pierre. Where I hunt Harding County antelope, that pipe will run under my feet.

What are the pros and cons of the Keystone XL pipeline? I’ll begin with the most arguable statement I’ll make today. I firmly believe that our presence in the Middle East has more to do with our appetite for oil than any other single factor. We have paid dearly as folks reading this column have lost sons in the Middle East. Whether I’m right or wrong about the Middle East, the Keystone XL pipeline will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That oil money sent to foreign shores could circulate in America. How big is that? The Keystone project will also create jobs, giving our economy a huge boost.

The cons of the Keystone project? There are two. The first relates to the effect a break might have on our underground water. The second has to do with effects on our wildlife. Monitored carefully, both will be negligible.

Polls show that the Keystone pipeline has the support of the majority of Americans. How can our president be opposed to the Keystone project? Why is it that South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson is one of the few senators blocking this project?These are harsh words, but I’ll say them anyway. Tim Johnson does not live in Vermillion or in D.C. He lives in President Obama’s hip pocket. Tim, think for yourself!

Fishing with slip bobbers

Let’s talk some fishing. Though I catch a fair number of walleyes during the spring and summer, I rarely go fishing solely for walleyes. I enjoy mixed bag angling that yields smallmouth bass, white bass, walleyes, and the occasional catfish or northern pike. While trolling lures or bottom-bouncers rigged with spinners, crawlers, or minnows is effective, I’d rather toss tube jigs or minnow-tipped jigs while tending a slip-bobber rig. I think we all have our favorite modes of operation, and that’s mine.

Case in point — the evening of May 19 — I fished from a small dock in Lake Francis Case’s North Point area. I was “in” the water by six. I put a minnow on a slip bobber rod and began tossing a jig and minnow with my other rig. I hadn’t been fishing five minutes when my bobber disappeared. I dropped the jig and minnow rig and picked up the slip bobber rig and set the hook. I eventually landed a 12-pound pike that wouldn’t fit in my landing net. After releasing the pike, I picked up the jig and minnow rod. A nice walleye had since picked the jig from the bottom. It was lilac time on Francis Case.

The slip bobber rig also accounted for two smallmouth bass. The jig and minnow took 10 walleyes, seven of which were over 16 inches. Slip-bobber fishing is one of the most effective techniques I’ve ever used. I know when we go after big walleyes on Devils Lake, N.D., this coming summer, slip-bobbers and leeches will be the name of the game.

A number of years ago I posed the following question: Where do we get the most for our money? By buying two $40 reels or one $80 reel? One of the sales people in Cabela’s fishing department told me it was an excellent question. He didn’t know the answer. I don’t know that I do.

I can tell you this. I make tens of thousands of casts during the course of a season. It doesn’t take long to wear out a cheap reel. hey literally seize up. I have three Cabela’s Prodigy model reels. They are pricier than my others, but I have yet to wear one out. I did have one unexpectedly seize up, not gradually wear out, and Cabela’s replaced it without question.

I have two relatively inexpensive reels that just keep on going. Both have the name Pinnacle on them. Both were purchased at Cabela’s.

There’s a bait-casting reel that’s in a league of its own. Two years ago Coach Dan Moran put me onto Dave Williamson, a Minnesota musky fishing guide. Williamson had put Dan and his wife onto big muskies, and he did the same for my partner Jerry and me. That’s quite a feat for a half-day outing. Dave supplied the equipment that included Shimano Calcutta bait-casting reels. I’m not a great bait caster, but I was with a Calcutta reel. They run $200 to $500 plus, and they’re worth every penny.

See you next week.