Bassin’ Blogosphere: No New Anglers!!!
Nov 17th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 17th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’ve had days when I head out to the water to chase my favorite bass friends in the fabulous Fox River here in my home state of Illinois only to be appalled by the fact that there were other anglers fishing “my” water, “my” hotspots, for cripes sake “my” river! The nerve! The audacity! Those bums got up a little earlier and beat me to the spot.
Are these feelings normal? Do they last? Yes and no, but admittedly they are there at the top of my mind and I’m guessing at the top of your mind as well when you have similar experiences.
So, if many of us have these feelings, why then the big internal discussion in the angling world about increasing participation in the sport of fishing? Come on now, are you all telling me you want more folks clogging up the launch ramp at your favorite body of water on a Wednesday morning when you took that day off just because it was mid-week and there should be less fishing pressure? Admit it, you know you don’t want to see more boats and anglers out there.
This is where my personal preference interferes with what I know to be right. I traveled the country for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) starting up the grassroots promotion of the Anglers’ Legacy initiative. I went from trade shows to consumer shows to tournaments to club meetings to retail outlets and on and on and on. Like a good field operative, I promoted the message of increased participation or increased license sales to fund our sport and conservation efforts, but at the end of the day I still don’t want to see somebody pitching a tube by my favorite bridge piling when I want to be fishing there, darn it!
In fact, while jetting around the country from corner-to-corner and coast-to-coast I had these discussions with tens of thousands of anglers. Surprisingly, many who took the Anglers’ Legacy pledge to take someone new fishing who wasn’t currently participating in the sport, also said there were too many folks fishing, too many folks at the launch ramps, too many people fishing their honey holes.
So then, why push for more participants in sport fishing? Is it a fishing industry conspiracy to simply rake in more revenue? Maybe. Is it a way for the states to attempt to increase their cash flow for conservation? Probably. Why support the notion for increased participation if it will only clog up the already angler-choked waterways we know and love? I’ll tell you what, I’m not sure.
I’ve certainly made it known to any reader of the OutdoorsFIRST Media sites how I feel about fishing. I certainly will teach my children how to fish and anybody who asks me, but I’m not sure I will ever smile with glee looking at a crowd of anglers choking up the streams of Yellowstone National Park or crowding the launch ramp at Barto Landing on the Illinois River or long lines to lock-through to Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The reality is if I did my job for the RBFF and they keep carrying the ball along with the many other organizations out there, the above scenarios of crowded fishing grounds should make us all thrilled. Those of us who have promoted these causes and those of us who have signed on and bought into the message should be ecstatic. However, I know I won’t be. I don’t want to see massive crowds, except at sport shows and weigh-ins.
Okay then, I need to rethink my support of these efforts to increase participation and grow the sport of fishing, right? Wrong! Fear not, fishing takes physical effort and the ability to get up and get out and do something. If my decade of selling fitness center memberships (yes I was one of those irritating sales guys) has taught me nothing more than this about human nature, it’s the inherent fact that most folks won’t actually participate in an activity if it takes any effort above and beyond their daily routine.
Programs and initiatives like the ones I’ve promoted across the USA are good and should be supported. In reality, it’s the only way we are going to keep the money flowing to keep what we have; and hopefully grow the conservation efforts to provide more access and opportunity for all of those who wish to fish. Just don’t get up earlier than me and beat me to “my” hotspot.