Anglers have the power to be some of the most important defenders of the natural world. With all the volunteer groups and charity organizations out there, combined with an ever-evolving push to treat the environment with respect, anglers are already doing plenty to help protect underwater habitats
The first step to keeping a fishery thriving for future generations is to realize fishing is more than just a pastime – it is a recreation and a sport entirely dependent on a healthy ecosystem. Below is a list of some do’s and don’ts of treating the environment with the respect it deserves when fishing.
Ten easy things you can do right away to improve the environment as an angler
- Do pick up used line. Switching lures and rigs and having to retie can be time consuming, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to throw away the cut line. Pick up the loose scraps and keep it in your pocket or in a container to throw out later.
- Do clean your boat and motor often. Aquatic invasive species may linger on the hull of your boat and transfer to other water bodies if you don’t take the time to spray down your boat every once in a while.
- Do report environmental damage and major pollution to the proper authorities.
- Do practice catch-and-release. The best way to keep our fishing heritage alive is to keep fish population as healthy as possible.
- Do release fish as cleanly as you can. It’s not a guarantee that once you put that fish back in the water that it will live happily ever after. On the contrary, a high percentage of fish die shortly after release, even when they appear to swim away unharmed. Don’t keep the fish out of water for very long, and try to avoid causing damage to the gills.
- Don’t spill or dispose of oil or gasoline into the water and especially salt water. Make sure your motor isn’t leaking any excess waste.
- Don’t throw trash into the water or along the shore. Pick up after yourself and leave your fishing spot cleaner than when you found it.
- Don’t use live bait from a different body of water. Helping to halt the spread of invasive aquatic species is one of the most important responsibilities for an angler. Just because a type of bait-fish naturally thrives in one environment doesn’t mean it will go swimmingly if released in another.
- Don’t force a hook out of a fish if you know it may cause major damage. Sometimes fish swallow the lures and it gets caught deep in the mouth or even the stomach. Pulling up forcefully will cause internal bleeding and eventual death. Though it may seem odd, it can actually be better to just cut the hook or lure off and leave it in the fish, as the hook will erode in time. Remember, you can always replace hooks and lures.
- Don’t set a bad example for future anglers. If you’re taking your kids out for fishing, show them early on how anyone can have a great time fishing while respecting the environment.