Welcome to the Beginners Journal

Part Nine

Through The Eyes of a Beginner

By Don McPherson

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 was.

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 access.

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 Bulletin Board!

Previous Beginners Journal

Return to the Beginners Journal
Part 1 Reflection | Part 2 Sorting the Equipment
Part 3 The New Fly Rod | Part 4 A Little Respect
Part 5 Snapping 'em off! | Part 6 Get a Few Lessons!
Part 7 Stuff | Part 8 Tube It?
Part 9 Take a Little Time

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