Hunting Fishing

Anglers, are you a taker or a steward? Roger George says we need more of the latter

Fishing expert Roger George asks anglers which camp they’re in: Do you see fisheries as personally owned disposable resources, or are you a steward?
Fishing expert Roger George asks anglers which camp they’re in: Do you see fisheries as personally owned disposable resources, or are you a steward? The Seattle Times file illustration

It’s frustrating to watch how some anglers treat our fisheries as if they are personally owned disposable resources.

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Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert and guides in the Central San Joaquin Valley. JOHN WALKER THE FRESNO BEE

On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see caring fishermen who believe it’s their personal responsibility to protect our inherited resources.

Why are there two camps? At the heart of this question is a basic truth that people have different world views. We live in an increasingly “microwave” society that’s based on immediate utilization and personal preference. Use something for your purposes, then jettison it after its usefulness is done. If you feel entitled, do you really care if anyone else is affected or offended by your choices? Thinking about long-term consequences – or about anyone else – isn’t part of this paradigm.

When it comes to anglers who subconsciously subscribe to this world view, they see our fisheries as just another asset to be exploited when they choose.

Our fisheries are not set up to be sustainable if anglers push the limits – especially with more anglers, social media pressure, better equipment and more technology. It’s a recipe for disaster if there isn’t some degree of conscious self-restraint by each angler moderating the impact they are having on the fishery.

On the other end of the continuum are the fishermen I call the “steward” mentality folks. They don’t look at our fisheries as something they own, but rather as a resource – and a privilege – that they are entrusted with to preserve, protect and enhance. These folks are intensely aware that everything they have is due to someone else’s vision, hard work and passion decades or more before.

This steward perspective carries over to an appreciation for how each action they take has an impact on others and the fishery.

In contrast, I see anglers who leave trash, are rude, take every fish possible and brag about it many times. Understand, I’m not outright condemning anglers who take out limits of fish, but rather those who know – or don’t care – that it would be better for the lake’s health and other anglers if they took less. I’ve heard them bitterly defend taking out full limits as their legal right, then wondering why the fishing falls off – and usually getting offended that anyone would suggest they limit their take!

What’s your bottom line? Is it “your rights” or is it “your responsibilities”? The pressure on our sport continues to increase. We need good anglers who are dedicated to preserving and conserving our way of life. It begins with how we see our role. We need to be thinking way beyond ourselves, for our future and everyone’s sake. Good stewards always do.

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at rogergeorge8000@sbcglobal.net,

at facebook.com/Rogergeorgeguideservice and @StriperWars on Twitter.

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