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Former fisheries director dies

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Charles Clinton Charlie Bowers Jr., one of the men most responsible for the introduction of rockfish to Kentucky, died Monday.

He was 89.

Between 1957 and 1962, Bowers, then director of the fisheries division of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, led numerous teams of fishermen to Santee-Copper, S.C., to catch the rockfish, commonly called striped bass.

Because South Carolina at the time prohibited the netting of fish, the men had to catch the rockfish with rods and reels. During their first trip, they caught 12 fish that were brought back to the state and released into Lake Cumberland.

Over the five-year period, more than 2,800 rockfish were caught by rod and reel fishing in South Carolina and placed in Cumberland, Herrington and Kentucky lakes.

Hatchery production of rockfish began in Kentucky in 1965. The program started with fish Bowers and others brought to the state during their gathering trips.

The species was not immediately popular with anglers but soon came to be, leading Bowers to be honored and respected for his foresight.

Bowers moved to Kentucky in 1949, when he began his career with the department as a fisheries biologist. He was promoted to director of fisheries in 1970 and retired in 1981.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Martha Jane Duncan Bowers. Arrangements are pending at Clark Legacy Center.