As the weather continues to warm up, and people’s collective attitudes improve, the time has once again come for us to venture outdoors– something that only a month ago might not have been so enjoyable. For some, it’s hiking, for others, hunting. For me, the changing of the seasons and the blossoming of the trees means one thing: fishing.
Fishing — one of the world’s oldest pastimes and means of sustenance can hold an almost magical charm.
Along with sports, it was a means of connecting with my father. My dad was the first person to tell me about fishing, as his father had done for him. My father was not the best communicator, but when we were fishing, it didn’t matter. The language of something that two people deeply enjoy, and enjoy in part because they are with that other person, is one of the simplest, most beautiful things in the world. Fishing is something that can provide common ground between two people who may not otherwise have any.
We, as a country, need to keep the institution of fishing alive. It will always exist in those places where it HAS to exist– places where fishing is a means of survival. Fishing for recreation, however, is a classic example of how much nature provides for us.
Who doesn’t experience an almost inexplicable feeling when the first warm days of the year come? That feeling when the ice melts, setting the stage for the sun to come out and touch the faces of those who so longed for it during the winter months, is proof positive that a connection with nature is not only recommended, but in my opinion, critical for a happy life. For those who love to fish, there is no better feeling than a line going taut, and the subsequent half-dance, half-battle that is bringing the fish to land.
For as long as I can remember, fishing has been a huge part of my life, and one of the things that makes me truly happy. I know I’m not alone in this, and I know that fishing has bridged father-son divides for as long as recreational fishing has been around.
That feeling that fishermen get when they get that first bite of the year, or get that first glimpse of a big fish they’re fighting may not be here forever. I say this because fisheries across the country, despite the best efforts of conservationists and biologists alike, are not all faring well. Things are slowly improving, but fisheries are not where they need to be.
While sustainable fish harvesting initiatives have gained some momentum among those fishermen who truly care, more needs to be done to ensure that parents can take their children fishing for as long as humanly possible. We simply cannot afford to lose something that can be so special and important to so many people.
As the fishing season begins, fishermen must also do their part because, unfortunately, not all fishermen are concerned with sustainability or fishery laws in general for that matter. Therefore, when you fish, leave the body of water and the area around that body of water exactly as you found it. Any fisherman who leaves the trash from a twelve-pack at their favorite fishing spot, doesn’t deserve the rod they cast.
If there are regulations or slot limits on keeping fish, follow them. They’re there for a reason. If you are a boat fisherman, make sure you understand what kind of emissions your outboard motors produce, and if you need to, replace them. It may be an expense, but its effect is priceless. These are only a handful of the more sensible measures that can be taken by recreational fishermen to at least try to conserve some of the fisheries in the country. My father and I got along best when we were fishing, as I’m sure he and his father did. I hope recreational fishing will still be as great as it is today when it comes time for me to take my son out to the lake and truly feel nature’s connection, a connection that we must preserve.