About three months ago my girlfriend and I were shopping for books for the little man when we stumbled upon a book called "World Without Fish" by Mark Kurlanksy. Of course we had to buy it since it deals with one of my favorite subjects, fish.
I noticed that it is recommended for children nine and up after sitting down to read it the first night. I realized that this book wouldn't be able to keep the attention of a six month old but it did keep the attention of this 26 year old. Flipping through this 181 page book really made me think about the impact of everyday fisherman have on the population.
Seeing other anglers on the water can be encouraging and disheartening all at the same time. It is nice to see a few faces here and there while working a stretch of water that may be new and unfamiliar. I usually will stop and talk to anyone that is fishing, striking up the the typical, "any luck?" question that sparks a conversation between all fisherman. These are the anglers I enjoy seeing on the water. The people that "do it right" if there is such a thing.
As a fly fisherman I pay attention to the conservation of the waters I fish. The ecosystem is what fuels and allows flies of different types to work. Some fly fisherman frown upon any other type of angling but I do not. If the method used is responsible and keeps the area no different then how it was before the angler was even there then I am okay with it.
It is the anglers that leave their garbage behind, snag fish and keep them, do not follow creel limits, and avoid all fishing regulations that I have a problem with. Bodies of water have important creel and regulations based on studies and fish surveys. This explains the size limits varying from one stretch of river to another based on the location and blockages such as a dam.
These anglers pollute and destroy the environment each time they are out and usually promote these antics to other anglers, or worse, their kids. Whether its cigarette butts, soda cans, worm containers, or a bunch of fishing line, whenever I come across these items, all I an do is shake my head. I know a few anaglers (myself included) that will actually try and pick up some of this garbage to keep the natural beauty of the water. A river can have such mystique to it when walking the shore or wading the banks. It is a nice thought wondering if anyone has ever saw the beauty that I am looking at right now. All of that wonder and enjoyment can disappear quickly after coming across a garbage pile left from the previous user.
It is up to us, the users who do not take the outdoors for granted, to make a difference. Make a comment when you see someone snagging fish or polluting the waters. Call the local DNR and file a report on the person. And teach kids how to not only respect the outdoors, but to also enjoy them. No matter what happens, their will always be people that disrespect and do not follow the rules, but its the generation of true outdoorsman that can help keep mother nature as beautiful and plentiful as it can be.