This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 9th, 2001


The Bulletin Board Topic heading says "Torked."

The writer asked what other FAOL readers do in a situation when one encounters obvious violation of regulations on the water.

This is a tough one - we aren't all big, strong with the presence of John Wayne (and where is he when we need him?) And frankly, the general attitude in this country is, "I'm not responsible," "It's not my fault," or "F*#* You!"

I'm not pointing the finger at you of course. I still believe in my heart of hearts that fly fishermen are the finest people who ever existed. Present company (you) included. Rarely do you find fly anglers violating. We have learned to love and respect the outdoors in general, and our fisheries in particular.

There was an element in fly fishing, most of whom seem to be gone now, who had to have the best, the most, and counted fish caught and/or released to obscenity. I think we have passed that hurdle, and those who stayed, learned and adapted to the more traditional mores of fly fishing. They became hooked themselves.

Fly fishing is not just 'something to do.' It's gratefully, an endless journey. One which proves the mettle of the angler. It is perhaps the most complex form of outdoor sport. (Although I'm told golf may come in a close second.) Golf certainly does have the same personal commitment and involvement.

The fact that we get so very involved in the whole thing, the fish, the places they live, the watersheds, forests, meadows, lakes, oceans.....all the wonderful places fish are found, makes it more difficult to handle the dirty rotten violators. We each feel WE have been PERSONALLY violated. In our soul we have been - which is why we get so angry.

One of the suggestions made by a reader was to try to explain, nicely, "the error of their ways." Sometimes people really don't know - as inexcusable as that is in itself. JC and I came across a middle-aged couple on one of our local salmon beaches with a nice, dead, silver salmon. We explained nicely the season was closed. I suggested the lady stick it in her cooler and keep it out of sight. They had come over from the other side of the bay and it WAS open on their side. Yes, I know that was illegal too, but better in my mind than wasting it. We've also encountered people fishing with multiple hooks, illegal here. Snagging, totally illegal, over limits . . .just about all the bad stuff you can name.

I do confront them. One of our friends, after I had read a violator the riot act, said something to the effect I shouldn't have said anything. I asked him what was the violator going to do - hit me? I'm not a wimp, and trust me, someone hitting me better make it a dandy, because they won't get up if I do. Calling the police on a cell phone (or pretending to) is an excellent idea. Taking a photo, or getting the license plate will help authorities track them down. Unfortunately in some places the violator must be seen in the act by the authorities. In other places, your turning someone in is enough, especially if you are willing to appear in court.

Appear in court? Oh?

If we are going to be responsible, we also have to take that all the way. Don't you dare say, "It's not my problem." It is.

We have lost a sense of decency, and just plain civility (which my grandmother would call manners) in the last few years. Some of the younger generation use language which is unacceptable to me. For that matter so do some adults who should know better. If no one says anything they get away with it. I say something, like "Excuse me, would you mind not using THAT word in my presence - it really offends me." There are a variety of things I say, but they are all along that line - and you know what? It works.

The very same principal works for the violators too. Maybe no one has ever called them on breaking the law. Maybe no one has flat said, "You are violating, and I'm reporting you."

Yes, I do understand there may be situations where that may not be a safe option, and I'm not for a minute suggesting you put your life on the line. But - you can do something!

Unfortunately, with stewardship comes responsibility. One of those is guardianship. There's no way out; it's a complete package.

From all of us at FAOL, thank you! It is with YOUR help that process can be made. We are making a difference; each and every one of us. ~ LadyFisher

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