Fishing is a sport, hobby, investment, and excellent use of one’s time. As fishermen and women, we are blessed with the opportunity to experience the best nature has to provide along with filling a competitive desire of stalking, hooking, and landing the largemouth bass. Fishing gives us so many things such as those “Kodak” moments, time away for work, an opportunity to forget about everything that is going on in life, and just the chance to do something fun. Without fishing, what we spend our time and money doing…chasing a white ball around a pasture, watch people that drive in circles making left turns, or just become one of those dreaded “couch potatoes”.
Many people think that fishing is an infinite resource, just like water. I hate to break it to you, but it “ain’t” going to last forever if we don’t do all we can to protect our resources. So…while you take advantage of all that fishing has to offer, whether it be while standing on the shores of a ditch or a river, floating down a creek in a tube, padding your way through bayou’s in a pirogue, or cruising around in your expensive bass boat…what have you done for fishing lately?
1. Have you obeyed all the state and local laws that apply to the specific area you are fishing? Those laws were adopted for a reason; and no matter whether you agree or disagree, it is the law.
2. How have you handled the laws relating to the actual catching of fish? Is there slot that must be dealt with and what about creel limits? Whether we agree with these or not (and personally I think slot limits are a complete and total waste of time and effort), breaking the law is not the way to go.
3. Safety is a big concern for fishing and boating. Have you operated your boat safely, made sure all safety features are operational, worn your personal flotation device at least while the big motor is running, and placed extra emphasis on watching for others on the water.
4. What about the “fisherman’s code” that has been hammered into everyone…catch and release? Have you handled this in a practical manner? Part of the reason that slot limits do not work is that fishermen/women do NOT take fish out of the bodies of water. Catch and release is a good practice, but like all other things…doing it to excess is never a good thing. Taking fish is not a crime, no matter what people might tell you and it is not going to end fishing forever. Catch and keep once in a while…treat yourself to some good eating. Too much catch and release, as well as too much catch and cook, can do harm to this sport.
5. For the tournament fisherman/woman, have you taken extra precautions to ensure that the fish you place in the livewell are kept alive for their release at the end of the day? You need to make sure that your livewells are operating properly; and if necessary, use additives such as Rejuvenade to boost the fish’s chance to live.
6. The sport is called fishing; it is not called “fishing while leaving your trash for others to deal with”. What have you done to help protect our land and water? Besides bringing home your trash, you should also not leave trash left by others. Some “foreign” items left in the water can be harmful to the wildlife that inhabits the area…such as the fish.
7. One of the greatest parts of fishing is the sharing of the sport with others. Have you taken someone fishing, especially a child, to allow them the opportunity to participate? Also, it is an awesome feeling to teach someone about fishing…see them experience the excitement of catching a bass.
8. On the lines of sharing the sport, what about sharing information. Have you tried to help others through sharing baits used, techniques followed, patterns figured out, and areas fished? Ultimatebass.com provides an excellent avenue for sharing information. No matter your level of expertise, all information you provide can be helpful to others.
9. I hear, from time to time, that fishing consists of sitting in a boat and watching a cork, while drinking beer. I can tell you that nothing is farther from the truth, as least for me. There has never been on drop of alcohol in my boat and the only time I sit down is when moving from place to place.
Fishing is thinking, making decisions, and constantly questioning yourself. Have you worked to stay sharp and put your best into fishing? Mr. Bass is more than an ample opponent and it would be unfair to Mr. Bass to not give it your all. In this competition of fisherman/woman against fisherman/woman, against the elements, and most of all against the bass; putting forth your best effort elevates your participation in this sport from “just getting by” to “being the best you can”. You owe that effort to the sport and the bass. Whether you are a weekend angler or a full-blown tournament fisherman, think about all that fishing gives to you.
In contrast, think about what you have given to the sport of fishing. If you are giving less than your best, you are not only “shorting” the sport but you are doing disservice to yourself and your fellow anglers. So take a few minutes and think about it…what have you done for fishing lately.