The world’s first national park and the largest in North America, Yellowstone sits atop North America’s largest volcanic field. The caldera (a large cauldron-like hollow) was formed when land collapsed following the last of three super-eruptions that took place over the past 2.1 million years. It’s a land of steaming springs, geysers, bubbling mud pots and soaring landscapes that almost defy imagination.
When Robert Redford introduced fly fishing to popular American culture in the 1992 movie, “A River Runs Through It,” he also introduced them to the storied trout streams and rivers of Montana. Although I had been a fly fisher for some time, this movie was my introduction to this beautiful part of the world. It was a trip to Oregon last year, however, that taught me to take breaks from fishing to sit back and really appreciate the scenery.
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.
Teaching fly casting has taught me some valuable lessons. Chief among them is the fact that it’s most often easier to learn from scratch using the fundamentals (physics) of the cast than it is to correct bad habits that have been developed over time. This isn’t bad news for longtime casters who have been using improper techniques but points out the necessity of practice to “reteach” the brain how to move the rod.
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.
I like to bike and I love to fish, and it occurred to me a long time ago that I might be able to access some great fishing spots by bike. What I discovered was a way to get in some excellent fishing without having to do the work to get a boat in and out of the water, with all that’s involved. It opened up a new avenue for getting my fishing fix and a bike ride, too.
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.