November 19th, 2001
The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .
Not a Four-Letter Word
By Johnny Irvin, (Hillfisher)
I spent my childhood life around a generation of ranchers,
farmers and outdoors men who have taught me to respect the
land and animals we share our lives with. Things like;
keep only what you can eat, leave only footprints and
have a lot of fun doing it.
I bring this up because recently I had an experience that
has altered my whole attitude towards teaching new people
in the art of fly fishing. By this I mean that when I have
taught people to flyfish, it was just that, fly fishing.
I never thought to include any conversations on conservation.
Believe me, I do now and this is why...
There was an individual who wanted to go fishing with me
and having known him for several years from work and
swapping many fishing stories, I gladly took him along
for a day of fishing. Now he is not a fly fisher, but
was content to sit on the bank with his bait rig and
catch one large perch after another. We both caught
and released many good size perch that day.
Monday a couple of other people at work were boasting
about catching over a 100 large perch before they
stopped biting! As it turns out he went back with
a couple of buddies and they cleaned out the holes
I shared with him. The fish didn't stop biting,
there weren't any left.
It will be another few years before this area recovers.
So as you can see, conservation is now an entire topic
whenever I am teaching anyone.
Understanding conservation isn't just catch and release,
but when and where as well. Some creeks have wonderful
holes with great fish to catch but their ecosystems are
fragile during certain times of the year.
During the summer some of the smaller rivers here in the
south will dwindle to a small stream with the fish
congregating in pools. During this time the fishing
can be non-stop action. It also means that a fisherman
can de-populate a large section of the water very quickly,
even if catch and release is practiced. The reason is
some creeks will actually stop flowing during the hottest
part of the summer and although the now separated pools
have a nice population of fish, the high water temperatures
and depletion of oxygen can cause a fish to die after you
have caught and released it. At this point they are just
trying to survive until the next rains. It's best to avoid
these areas until they are flowing again.
There are rivers that flow extremely well all year long.
They have strong flowing springs and maintain a fairly
constant temperature. A great example is the San Marcos
River. It has springs so strong that no matter the season
of the year, the river maintains a constant 74 degrees.
These rivers have good populations of large panfish and
bass. These rivers can be fished throughout the year
with little stress on the fish. Keeping a modest catch
for dinner does not pose a problem. However one has to
remember these fish have an area in which they do not
range out of and you can still deplete that section
of the river by keeping everything caught. If keeping
your catch is a preference, then catch a couple in one
area and move on to other areas for a few more. This
keeps from putting too much stress on the population
of one area.
So the next time you are out on our rivers and streams,
take a look at the conditions and determine if they
are favorable for you . . . and the fish.
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