The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.
Steve said, “David Robakiewicz has incorporated another component into the sport of fishing which will leave a greater opportunity of enjoyment to future generations – conservation. Having an understanding of the essential qualities of life for the fish Dave has applied this knowledge to making this sport both more humane and rewarding!
HottyToddy.com — Dave, first tell us how you ended up in Oxford.
Dave Robakiewicz — I grew up in Connecticut, the town of Mariden which is 30 miles south of Hartford. My career brought me here in 1984 (actually to Batesville) and I’ve been here ever since.
HottyToddy.com — How did you become interested in fishing?
Dave Robakiewicz — I like the competitiveness of the sport and outsmarting the fish and fellow fishermen.
HottyToddy.com—Your background is in corporate America. Is that correct?
Dave Robakiewicz — That’s correct. I was part of the relocation team that brought the Thermos company to Batesville opening the plant in 1983. We employed 1500 people previously which is down to only 45 today. The company was sold to the Japanese.
HottyToddy.com — Tell us about your fishing interests and background.
Dave Robakiewicz — I primarily fished in saltwater while in Connecticut, basically for Stripers, Bluefish Mackerel and Flounder. In the spring we went after Trout. My favorite fish to catch are Crappie as they don’t taste fishy and are not as boney. This is a state-regulated fish.
HottyToddy.com — What’s the biggest fish you ever caught?
Dave Robakiewicz — A seven foot shark (about 80 pounds) in Long Island Sound off of New Haven.
HottyToddy.com — Your involvement in Bass tournaments has gained you a greater appreciation for the entire sport of fishing. Your thoughts?
Dave Robakiewicz — These are catch/release events which enable the population to remain thriving. In order for the fish to survive once in your boat you must have the right equipment which will keep the fish alive up to ten hours.
HottyToddy.com — Describe the equipment.
Dave Robakiewicz — The equipment consists of live wells and aerators. Forty to fifty gallons of fresh water are utilized pumping water continuously into the well. You can keep several alive including up to 10 pounds. The water is recirculating constantly.
HottyToddy.com — Is there a limit?
Dave Robakiewicz — Normally five fish as this minimizes the stress of the fish.
HottyToddy.com — You described the term “Fizzing” which is a term foreign to me?
Dave Robakiewicz — Often fish are caught at levels greater than 20 feet. The air bladder within the fish fills and releases air as it is pulled up out of the water. If you bring the fish up to quickly it is unable to stay upright in the live well. This could ultimately result in the death of the fish. Fizzing is a technique to employ that releases the air.
HottyToddy.com — How does it actually work?
Dave Robakiewicz — The air in the chamber of the fish is released by inserting a large needle in the air bladder. The trauma of the fish is greatly reduced as it is not as energetic in the live well. The rate of speed coupled with the pressure of the water in catching the fish create this situation.
HottyToddy.com — Where do fishermen obtain these needles?
Dave Robakiewicz — A number of places including Bass Pro Shop.
HottyToddy.co — -Can you describe a recent example of when this technique was employed?
Dave Robakiewicz — One night, very late, a fisherman stayed in the water as he rejuvenated a Large Mouth Bass. He inserted the needle into the fish when the fish was actually sideways in the water with the man. The location was Coles Point which is on Sardis Lake. I witnessed this in late July. It was fascinating to watch!
HottyToddy.com — Do most fishermen know how to do this and do they have the necessary tools?
Dave Robakiewicz — About 5 percent of fishermen incorporate this method. They are committed to preserving the species and are true sportsmen. Conservation practices utilizing live wells correctly are about 95 percent, however, of all fishermen.
HottyToddy.com — How often are you able to enjoy the sport?
Dave Robakiewicz — About 2-3 times a week between February and September. I prefer Enid, Sardis, Pickwick and Bay Springs as my primary destinations.
HottyToddy.com — Knowing very little about fish, I forgot to ask you where the “Fizzing” injection occurs?
Dave Robakiewicz — The exact location to insert the needle is the second scale below the dorsal fin to be effective.
“Robo” as Dave was nicknamed by his high school football coach has taken fishing to another level of compassion by employing education and technology to this great outdoor sport.Robo and I recently attended a morning bible study meeting at which a comment was made — “Education is the answer to everything.” The fish definitely second that emotion!
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at email@example.com call him at 985-852-7745.