BAY HARBOR, Mich. — Yamaha Marine began a three-day, three-pronged media event Wednesday night at the Inn at Bay Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan that not only aims to promote its latest engine, but also to support the nation's fisheries.
The engine company is pushing its freshwater outboards — the V MAX SHO series — in the Midwest market while also launching a fishing access advocacy program that unites the freshwater and saltwater worlds for a stronger national voice in Washington.
The program is called Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation, and it will use a website — bassforsalt.com — to try to spark a countrywide effort to protect recreational fishing access and to fight for its protection by lobbying lawmakers.
"It's really important for us to get this right," Yamaha manager for government relations Martin Peters told an audience of 50 journalists, boat company representatives and Yamaha staff members Wednesday night. "Fishing advocacy can't be just a coastal issue. It has to be a national grass-roots effort in any area where fishing access is threatened."
Anglers can visit the website and endorse one of several pre-written advocacy letters that can be sent via Yamaha to their local lawmaker. A big part of the effort is to promote the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
"If we don't get this entire country mobilized, the chances of getting this through are slim," Peters says.
Yamaha product information manager David Meeler also was a featured speaker Wednesday night, along with Peters and communications coordinator Heidi Weber.
Yamaha is using the event to announce the introduction of a 25-inch-shaft to its 250- and 150-hp freshwater V MAX SHO high-performance outboards. And Yamaha said its Helm Master boat control system (with joystick steering) is now available for twin application of its F200 outboard.
"We really see huge potential for our engines in the Midwest," Meeler told me. "The call for our engines on large pontoon boats has been very strong, even surprising us.”
Marine journalists will test the engines on nine boats — three pontoons, three bass boats and three multipurpose aluminum fishing boats. Participating boat companies are Alumacraft, Skeeter, Bennington, Starcraft, Ranger, Manitou, Xpress and Premier.
The boats range from 12 to 27 feet. Four are powered with the 25-inch versions of the 150- and 250-hp outboards.
Yamaha pro bass anglers Robert Blosser and Joe Okada talked about the species of Lake Michigan, focusing on walleye. They described the rods, reels, techniques and boats that anglers will use to land fish. They even provided three walleye recipes.