This Week's View

by Deanna Birkholm

January 22nd, 2001

Standing Tall

New beginnings are wonderful. There is always a sense of optimism and hope.

Each time we go fishing it's a new beginning. A chance to correct what we did wrong the last time, try a different fly, work on our presentation, fish a new place, extend our horizons. The success of our outing is in our own hands and capabilities to persevere. If we have success we smile, and walk a little taller. Our fishing success, in other words, is our responsibility. What we do is who we are. The fish need to co-operate, and fishing in fishless water is an exercise in futility. To avoid that we do our homework and try to fish where fish reside. We do a number of other things to help increase our odds. Some of us even have a lucky hat or fly to protect us against those things which keep luck from smiling on our endeavors. But the final responsibility for our fishing success is the same as it is in all of our daily lives.

Those who work hard, pay attention, and as my grandmother used to intone, "keep your nose clean," succeed. Grandmothers advice probably even has more relevance today with rampant drug use, but in her day it simply meant not doing anything against the law - or giving your neighbors anything to gossip about, have pride, never do anything to bring shame on your family. Times sure have changed.

America has become a country where what you can get away with is the way people gain fame and notoriety. "What will the neighbors think?" is not commonly spoken. In many areas people don't even know the names of their neighbors. Nor are they concerned if no one shows up at the home for days.

I watched our new President's inauguration Saturday, and when he had finished his speech, I realized I had straightened my shoulders and stood a bit taller. A new beginning.

In part he called for a return to responsibility by individual people. I interpreted that to mean let's stop the finger pointing and the 'it's not my fault' attitudes so prevalent over the past few years. If we're lucky someone will turn off the spin machines too.

We fly fishers tend to be loners. Some of us aren't terribly social, the big party scene isn't really comfortable, we would prefer to have a nice dinner with a couple of friends or share a pot of coffee around a campfire. We aren't very politically active nor are we great 'joiners.'

We also tend to analyze things rather than just accept the given 'facts.' That in my view is a laudable attribute.

I'd like you to give some analytical thought to this: How can we as fly fishers improve fly fishing? What is there we as individuals can do to help our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans? Are there local regulations which need to be changed? If you had your druthers what would you do? Seriously.

I'm not looking for an instant answer on this. I'd like you to chew on it. All of my adult life I've heard the phrase "Your vote counts." Regardless of how you would have liked this past election to have turned out, the truth is your vote does count. So does your opinion and voice.

We've had a spirited discussion on the Bulletin Board recently regarding the appointment of the President's choice for Secretary of Interior. It was spirited and civil. The tone was mostly one of respect for others opinions without useless name calling. But I wondered how many of those who put their comments there also contacted their Senator or Representative and let them know their feelings?

Part of my job here is to be an encourager. By providing good information each week we encourage our readers to learn, share, improve their skills and knowledge. To improve themselves. That improvement pays off as fishing success. It also becomes part of how we think and act. Success breeds success. Not just in fishing - in our everyday lives.

With knowledge comes responsibility.

It's a new day in America. And it's payback time. I know what fly fishing has given me; hope, serenity, an incredible respect for the natural world, a thirst to learn and know more about fish and where they live, and most of all joy. Fly fishing has affected most every part of my life, and shaped who I am. I am grateful for that, and I accept the responsibility and consequences for my personal actions.

Payback time? Isn't it time you look at what you can do for fly fishing? As a community, the readers of this website are a very large group of people, well over a million strong. We can't all get together in a hall somewhere and decide on a plan to improve habitat, revise legislation and get it done. But we can as concerned and informed individuals, perform small acts, beyond writing a check to Trout Unlimited or your local fishing group.

Give it some thought. What can you do? ~ The LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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