Most who fish just want to be left alone to do so.
Others desire that too, but are not content to leave it at that. They want to ensure quality fishing for future generations. State conservation directors in B.A.S.S. Nation are among those, as are volunteers with Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation.
My friend Teeg Stouffer is one of those, which is why he founded Recycled Fish, reminding anglers that we all live downstream.
I am one of those as well, which is why I founded the Activist Angler website with the goal of “promoting and protecting recreational fishing.” That’s why I’ve volunteered to be a fishing instructor for the Missouri Department of Conservation this spring.
And it’s why I wrote my new book, Why We Fish, in the way that I did. Most of it celebrates why we keep going back to the water and the benefits that we derive from doing so. But a small portion is devoted to stewardship and the threats confronting recreational fishing.
When I’m on the water, I’m not thinking about such things, and I’m not asking you to either. But when you’re not fishing, I’ll hope that you think about stewardship and the importance of passing on healthy fisheries to future generations.
And I’ll hope that you’ll take the Recycled Fish Stewardship Pledge:
- I pledge to live a lifestyle of stewardship on and off the water. Living as a steward means making choices throughout my daily life that benefit lakes, streams and seas - and the fish that swim in them - because my Lifestyle Runs Downstream.
- I will learn the fish and game laws where I hunt or fish and always abide by them.
- I will practice catch and release and selective harvest faithfully and responsibly.
- I will "police my resource" by turning in poachers and reporting polluters.
- I will make up for "the other guy" by cleaning up litter wherever my adventures take me.
- I will boat safely and responsibly, never trespass, and treat other enthusiasts respectfully.
- I will inspect, clean and dry my boat, boots and waders when moving between waters to prevent the spread of invasive species.
- I will provide my time, money, or other resources to support stewardship efforts.
- I will take steps to see that my home, lawn, vehicle, workplace and everyday lifestyle are as fish-friendly as I can make them by reducing my water, energy, material and chemical footprint.
- I will encourage others to take on this ethic and will connect others with the outdoors to grow the stewardship community.
- I choose to serve as a role model in protecting what remains and recovering what’s been lost of our wild and natural places.
- I am a steward.