Take a Little Time
Why is it that people don't understand the reason for
ideas such as conservation or catch and release fishing?
Is it because they grew up in an era when people didn't
concern themselves with the ideas of conservation and
the frailty of resources? Whatever the reason, I find it
hard to believe that in today's world, someone would
chastise an angler for practicing catch and release or
wanting to conserve our resources.
It has not been that long ago when the number of fish an
angler could take was often 10 to 15 fish per day. But
because of disease, over fishing, and habitat loss fish
populations have dropped dramatically in most major
fisheries across the West. I find it hard to understand
people who think that conservationists are all a bunch
of radicals. Any angler who wishes to continue the
pursuit of these magnificent creatures must do his part
to protect them.
I have not always been a catch and release fisherman.
There was a time when I thought catch and release was
just a ridiculous practice of a few 'mightier than thou' anglers.
But the decline in fish populations in recent years has
given me cause to become a catch and releaser. As I
attempt to educate myself about fly-fishing, I can't help
but realize that we must all take action to save our sport.
I do think that taking a fish home now and then is fine, I
just feel we must all realize what effects our actions have
on the particular species of fish we pursue.
Catch and release plays an important role in preserving fish.
By returning a fish to your favorite river or lake, you are
allowing that fish to continue to grow and spawn.
Catch and release is not the only way to preserve our sport.
Another outstanding way is to become active in a local
organization that is dedicated to issues that affect your area.
Most areas have local sportsmen's groups. These local groups
are the key to preserving our sport and assuring that resources
are managed in a way that best suits the needs of your area.
You may have problems with public access or areas where the
stream banks are eroded, or perhaps the improper management
of a reservoir. Whatever the problem, local organization is the
best way to find solutions to these problems. By pooling the
resources of the sporting community, you can accomplish things
that would be impossible on the individual level.
Too many times I have heard other anglers complain about
things that are going wrong in their areas, but they do not
want to make the commitment that it takes to bring about change.
The biggest commitment needed is time. It takes time to get
organized and time to make things change. In today's world,
time is something that we never seem to have enough of. But
if we don't make the time to ensure that our fisheries and the fish
in them are properly managed, then before long neither will exist
for us to enjoy. Many sportsman groups volunteer their services
to fish and wildlife departments. Others take action by lobbying
state legislatures to protect our resources. There are conservation
groups that take steps to ensure the proper use and management
of a spectrum of resources from National Parks to local streams.
The idea that someone else will look after our resources is
out of date. As a species, we are constantly taking from our
surroundings. We must take action to end the continued
misuse and destruction of resources. If you think your area
hasn't lost resources, ask an old timer. You're likely to hear
how many more fish there where and how much easier access
In recent years, the massive growth of most urban areas has
destroyed or had an ill effect on the environment surrounding
them. We as sportsmen are more apt to be aware of these changes.
Places that were great fishing spots 10 years ago may not exist
today. Rivers you used to fish may be fenced off or have no
The nature of our sport causes us to be outdoors and more
aware of the effects we have on nature. By becoming involved
and voicing our concerns about such issues as access, resource
management, and conservation we can correct errors that have
been made, inform others of mistakes being made now and
take steps to stop those mistakes.
Whether you decide to join a sportsmen's group, practice catch
and release, or do nothing at all is solely up to you, but I hope
you will remember that our actions today will have an everlasting
effect on our sport tomorrow. Conservation and proper management
of resources are keys to ensuring that future generations have the
opportunity to enjoy our sport and all the beauty nature has to offer.
Complacency has no place when it comes to issues that
could adversely effect our sport and the creatures we pursue.
Until next time, tight lines!
~ Don McPherson
If you would like to comment on this or any
other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL