Our Waters | 5 Ways to Keep Our Fisheries Clean

Don’t neglect the privilege as anglers

Today is Blog Action Day. An annual event where bloggers unite to talk about a single topic to help enact change to improve people’s way of life. The 2010 topic is Water. Water is something of critical importance to everyone in the world.

But as fishermen we have a duty to protect our resources, and to not only keep the waters clean but to be sure we as an angling public are not leaving the fisheries worse off than we found them. The more that happens the more other interests are going to want to phase us out of the mix. We see it happening in small capacities now.

With so many people in the world lacking access to clean drinking water, we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to have the abundance of water and water activities that other nations can’t even fathom. We are so over-stimulated as a society in this country, that once we get to see or do something a few times, it begins losing its luster and we’re on to the next thing.

That’s one thing we’ve always loved about fishing. It never loses its luster with us. And it’s all about that time on the water. The cool breeze blowing across the surface that seems to grab a rising steam and twirl it around like a puppeteer orchestrating a dance. It totally mesmerizes me when I’m stumbling out of my slumber in the wee hours of the morning on a leisurely idle out to my first spot.

The water is a beautiful greenish blue, and I can already tell it’s going to be a great day before I even make my first cast. I could go all day without a bite on mornings that start like that and still be totally at peace.

The faster and harder we go in our big boats in tournament pressure situations, the more we get disconnected from the resource itself.

But one thing we’ve always tried to do is leave a fishery better than we found it. A small way to start is by never putting anything into the water that wasn’t already there and taking out anything we come into contact with that shouldn’t be there. If we’d all pledge to do that, it would be amazing how much we could accomplish in the way of cleaning up the pollution and debris in our fisheries. It just always seemed like a no-brainer to us.

I keep Walmart sacks in my compartment because I’ve snagged some gnarly stuff in lakes across the country while fishing, and having a sack to put the trash and debris in makes it easier to stow and dispose of properly. Anchors, rods, broken trot lines, ropes, cans, bottles, bags, shoes, underwear, condoms (swear it’s the truth), dryer lint, towels, nets, deflated inflatables and various other things that weren’t originally in the water have come into our boats.

We are extremely fortunate to live in a time with so many opportunities for us as anglers. In this part of the country, we have access to some of the best fishing there is within a 4-hour drive.  I can chase Coosa’s in Alabama, smallmouths in Dale Hollow, and big largemouth in Kentucky, Pickwick and Guntersville Lakes all within a short drive.

But even with all that great fishing, it seems we’ve become more of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind generation. If we don’t see it or know about it, we don’t have to worry with it. Or even worse, someone else will take care of it. The fact is we all need to take care of it. If we all turn the blind eye to pollution, then all this great outdoors we cherish erodes and goes away.

So we make a challenge to everyone who is Wired 2 Fish. What can you do to make your fishery better than when you found it?

Here are five simple things you can do to improve the fisheries near you.

Pick up the trash. Keep the stuff you pull out of the lake while fishing and dispose of it properly. Don’t drop it back into the lake for someone else to snag. You didn’t put it there, but be the bigger man and do what the other person should have done.

Organize a lakeside cleanup. Get kids from the high school, your co-workers or your bass club to do a cleanup. And let folks know you’re doing it so they can pitch in. Make it fun. Make a contest out of it with prizes if you want.

Keep your boat maintained. Make sure your boat is not leaking gas, oil or other chemicals into the lake.

Fish smart. Don’t use 6 pound line around gnarly brush with open jigs where you know you’re going to break off and lose a bunch of line. Don’t cut your line at your rod tip when you get hung and leave 30 yards of line in the lake.

Be an advocate for clean water. I’ve got a 6-year old son who loves swimming and fishing in Kentucky Lake, and I’m raising him to clean up and respect what he has. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t put it there. I want him to understand he’s got to be the better man and do it because no one else will.

Picking up trash isn’t glamorous and some of the stuff is nasty. But that’s what they make Germ-X for. I tell my son, anything he gets on him can be washed off. So don’t use that for an excuse.

You should take pride in being an angler with the amazing resources we have. Let’s just not take it for granted or expect someone else to keep our fisheries strong.

To read more blogs about water today, visit BlogActionDay.Change.Org.