Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

December 27th, 1999

Not Looking Back

Every where I look is something about the past hundred years, or the millennium. The man of the year, the man of the century, the most important happening of the century - on and on.

Not to say that history isn't important, it is. What's the famous saying, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it?" Maybe someone is keeping track of the mistakes we've made in the fly fishing world. At least I hope so, maybe we won't make some of the criminal mistakes with our fisheries, watersheds, pollution and all of those things that impact the state of our fisheries today. Maybe someone is keeping track too of the things that worked. Re-forestation, reclaimation of streams and mining sites, replanting of streamside vegetation, green belts, clean water acts, Vibrate boxes, egg tubes, net bans, commercial fishing buy-outs - and many more. Maybe we can avoid the recent history that we would like to shove under the rug. Just thinking before we act may be enough to keep most of us out of real trouble.

In a "me-first" society however, it's not easy to get the attention of those who are the practioners of the "me-first" unless you can prove some monetary gain for them directly. That used to be called greed. Instead of monetary gain from the fisheries, we have huge costs spread across the whole country to rectify all the mistakes. So somebody better keep track of all this stuff, we need a reminder every so often.

On the good side, I see more families on the streams and waters than I did a few years ago. My email has many questions about dads and sons just getting into fly fishing. Not a lot of dads and daughters on the streams, but some! That's more than there was when I started out. I didn't know any other girl, and later any other woman who fly fished. They were some of course, but the number was so small as to not even be noticed. I would hope there are mothers with daughters or sons being taught the art of fly fishing by mom too. I haven't personally seen any, which is rather sad. Fly fishing really is an 'equal opportunity' sport, but there have been so many years of first elitest and then yuppie attitudes that it just doesn't seem to really be an equal sport at all.

There seems to be more moderatly priced fly fishing gear available, a couple of new companies working especially toward that end. I'm delighted to see it. Maybe we will get more people involved who will get hooked big time and become stewarts for their particular fisheries. That really is encouraging.

For those who already are 'hooked' and see their fisheries and environment as something personal, not something remote, a tip of the FAOL hat. How do you know the difference?

Only by being there. ~ LadyFisher

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