Catch and release used to be an accepted practice that acknowledged that fish populations are not the bottomless resource they were once thought to be. Proper catch-and-release methods are more important now than ever. Lately, however, a lot of posts of dead fish are appearing on social media that seem to be taken more to impress others and get likes than to provide a meal.
If you’re feeling like you are helpless in the face of the political and environmental storms that have rocked our lives recently, I would like to propose a path forward. We have the ability to help make real, positive changes that benefit our present and the future for generations to come. I have some suggestions on how to do that.
There's less than a week until election day, and regular readers of this column can probably guess how this writer will be voting. I’ve said it more than once, but this bears repeating. I don’t consider myself a Republican or a Democrat, I vote environment. On Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, I will be casting my vote based on research I’ve done on how the candidates have voted in the past.
The next time a personal watercraft driver interrupts your fishing, call them over and wish them a “nice day." These days, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to let inconsiderate anglers, boaters and Jet Skiers ruin your peace of mind. Over the years I’ve adopted a policy that I call, “Show them the courtesy they don’t show you.” My intention is to carry this in the back of my mind at all times. I found it necessary to do this because for so many years it was a knee jerk reaction to unload on anyone who got in my “space” while I was fishing.
In just the last two months there’s been a multi-thousand-gallon sewage spill in Manatee County, a potentially multi-million-gallon discharge from a broken sewer line from Longboat Key to the mainland and a persistent lyngbya bloom (a potentially toxic algae) that is becoming explosive in Anna Maria Sound and surrounding waters. In just the last two months there’s been a multi-thousand-gallon sewage spill in Manatee County, a potentially multi-million-gallon discharge from a broken sewer line from Longboat Key to the mainland and a persistent lyngbya bloom (a potentially toxic algae) that is becoming explosive in Anna Maria Sound and surrounding waters.
Thinking back at the significance fishing and the outdoors has had on my life, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of protecting the resource so future generations have access to the same opportunities we’ve had. That’s why you read so much in this column of the need to get involved in issues revolving around water quality. What’s equally important is how we introduce children to the natural world and fishing.
Gulf Coast Community Foundation President Christine Johnson put it well: , “Saving Orange Hammock Ranch has been a conservation priority for our community for decades! This property is a breathtaking slice of old Florida and holds the trifecta of land conservation benefits – protecting drinking water, preserving wildlife habitat, and providing exceptional public access.”
Fishing and the outdoors experiences have played a pivotal role in my life for almost seven decades and made me passionate about working to protect the natural world. That’s why I keep coming back to what I think is a crucial responsibility: being aware of how elected officials voted when it comes to the quality of the air I breathe, the water I drink, and the water that the fish I love to pursue swim in. It’s become painfully apparent to me that the politicians we elect all too often have a different agenda. That’s why I have decided I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. What I am is an environmental voter.
While it’s true that the water in the bay is crystal clear, and my experience over the last few weeks has been discouraging. There are signs of recovery, as bait enters the bay and mullet are again starting to make an appearance. Still, I believe this is one of the slowest recoveries I can remember since the early 80s.