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If Fishing Is How You See The World...

If Fishing Is How You See The World...

It doesn’t matter how you vote, what cable news network you subscribe to, or which political party you affiliate with; if you’re reading these words, chances are you consider yourself an angler. And while this might define you as an “interesting person” on the sidelines at your kids’ games, it also brings with it the responsibility of speaking out and standing up for things that matter to our lifestyle and passion. 

If you identify yourself as a fisherman, that’s likely because you come alive with a rod and reel in your hand. It’s that feeling you get as you wrestle with your waders sitting on the tailgate, or when you start stripping line as the first shadow slides across the flat, or as you motor through the no-wake zone in the predawn light. You are alive. You love this. Fishing is how you see the world.

My Grandfather Wandell Mooney

Maybe you have been fishing for decades, and you know there are precious few things that bring you to the peaceful, restorative place that fishing does. For me, it is the connection with my natural surroundings and the mentors long since gone who first showed them to me. Their gifts gave me a way to tune out all the noise and distraction that bombards my ADHD mind in this modern world. I am amazed that I have vivid memories of the bunker schools off the lighthouse and rolling up on them with my Grandfather and a ⅞ oz Atom Popper. As excited as twelve year old could possibly be. Yet I regularly forget names, birthdays and what I had for breakfast.

The reality these days is that “tuning out” is becoming more difficult. No doubt you have witnessed some form of degradation in the salty things you love. Be it the parking spot now closed off down by the point, or the declining stock of striped bass, or any number of other examples.  In reality, much of what we love - the very things that we identify with and are drawn to as anglers- are under attack. We must now put in more than we take out. Otherwise, as we have already learned what we love will continue to disappear at an accelerating rate. If you look down the road and imagine our sport in 10 or 15 years, the future is unclear at best, downright unsettling at worst.

As anglers, we must recognize that our shared passion bonds us. There is no room for our differing fishing methods, preferred species or distant geographies. The frontier of fishing is no longer technical or geographical. It is in our shared regard for what is wild. When the fish win, we win.

The days of carefree participation are sadly behind us. Especially if you desire a world where your kids and grandkids could enjoy experiences on the water similar to those that you experienced on your fishing journey, it’s not enough to just be a “fisherman” these days; we all must band together to fight the good fight. 

It is clear the resources and the places our sport depends on need a louder voice. Unless we speak up to protect and preserve the things that matter to our passion- the very foundations of the pursuit that makes us feel the most alive - we will find ourselves with even more limited resources in the years ahead. The individuals and agencies that are threatening the very things we love are counting on our complacency. 

One of the things that separate fishers from other recreationists is the great lengths to which our community will go in our pursuits and, in turn, protect the fisheries that feed our soul. If only more of us accessed that same motivation that gets us out of bed to fish at 3 a.m. or has us fishing through the 2 a.m. slack tide, we would be an unstoppable voice for conservation and change. We need to use this same drive to protect our passion for future generations.

Protecting what you love is not a red vs. blue or a right vs. left issue. Outdoor and conservation-driven activism and involvement should not be based on party affiliation or political alignments. It is sourced from our dedication, passion, and whatever other factors that bring you joy and connection on your terms. Fishing is highly personal, and in the eyes of this die-hard angler, the true definition of freedom.

Inspiration Credit: Jim Klug Co-Owner Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Company, my Grandfather Wandell Mooney, and Thomas McGuane

Resources: American Saltwater Guides Association

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Garry Medeiros - May 17, 2021

Great article. I have to say red or blue politics is playing a role in our fishing. Our liberties for fishing and hunting as well are being taken away. I’m all for conservation. All I do is catch and release, I’ll bring home fish that don’t make it that’s about it, but! These conservationist are just trying to shut down shoreline areas to fishing.

John Kelly - May 3, 2021

Excellent write-up!! If not us then who??? Get involved, be involved and stay involved.

Capt. Vinnie Calabro - April 20, 2021

Whenever a nature issue such as striped bass enters into crisis mode drastic measures need to be undertaken on all fronts.
Environmental issues need to be addressed and I can go into detail another time.
Mismanagement across the entire east coast and that moves laterally from sportfishing aspects to commercial fishing.
Seldom is one aspect a solution.
Fisheries management IMO has been a disaster .
I think that either a moratorium or a more stringent season should be researched. It’s really disgusting that this fishery is in the shape it’s in.

Danny Miller - April 9, 2021

Good words. Reminded me of my childhood and love of nature. Wish more people shared our respect for the sport and of the natural world.

Neale Wortley - April 9, 2021

First – These words are so true for today – - – so true.
Second – The “first rule of fishing” has come so much more to the fore-front of how we pursue our passion. The “first rule of fishing” being – - – FISH WHERE THE FISH ARE!
I was truly blessed to be able to fish around “The Great Land” (Alaska) for 35 years before retiring down to Vancouver Island (Canada). I have been lucky enough to have fished the Kenai River when a 40 pound King was a common hook up (and there still was a “daily limit” of one fish) – meat fished for halibut out of Homer (we never kept anything under 70 pounds) because being an old time “Forest Ranger” living in small little northern communities a hundred pounds of salmon and halibut to supplement a moose or a caribou was a MUST to get through the winter. Fishing for Silvers out of Zachar Bay on Kodiak Island. Every “Dungie” pot you pulled up had a half dozen legal crabs in it. The glory years of the 80s and 90s (even early 2000s). I have no doubt that it was like this pretty much everywhere, just as I’m sure all of us who are passed that “mid-century” mark grew up (as so aptly pointed out by Mr. Jenkins) where our dads or grandpas got us up early on a Saturday or a Sunday morning – - – packed a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and an old Stanley thermos of tea and took us out to – - – - the crick – - – - or the beaver pond – no more than a 30 minute drive away in the old pickup truck. Days of pure magic. All you out there – my fellow “anglers” who were boys AND GIRLS back then, our childhood years were halcyon. So FREE and UNHINDERED by the “things” of today! Not so much for the newer generations.

For all of us here in the Pacific Northwest and not being so bold as to say that I speak for fellow anglers in California, Oregon, Washington, but here in British Columbia as anglers, we live with a target on our backs. That “we” are one of the major contributing factors in the “dearth” of the Pacific Salmon populations – not even remotely acceptable as a premiss. It’s like trying to explain to individuals who simply DON’T want to hear that Ducks Unlimited is the single largest waterfowl CONSERVATION organization in North America (all they want to believe is that – “we” kill ducks and geese).

For now, having been an “ocean” fisherman for so many years and being a competent mariner – I can take my boat out for “weeks” at a time UP into the Great Bear Rainforest and fish Rivers Inlet and Hakai Passage (where there still are 50 and 60 pound Kings to shred your puny 30 pound test line) – Seaforth Channel, Milbank Sound when the Silvers are running it’s still as much fun as it was back so long ago fishing that beaver pond. I struggle to not give into the “defeatist” thoughts that creep in now and then – - – how much longer will there be places and opportunities where I can “fling a fly” – “throw a lure” – “drag some bait” – - – - where “the tug is the drug”.

But for now – “Tight Lines” everyone.

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