Last week my wife and I celebrated another wedding
anniversary. We try to do that at least once each year.
In fact, if we ever fail to celebrate that date, I'll be
in hot water because it will be me who forgot the important
note on my calendar. Some things you don't dare forget
and some responsibilities you don't avoid.
My financial advisor (wife) told me I could get a new ladder
this year for our anniversary so I could fix the gutters and
stop them from leaking. I was hoping for a new fly rod and
the time to fish it, but even if I had a new rod, I wouldn't
be fishing it this summer. It just wouldn't be the responsible
thing to do.
This summer I avoided fishing locally. Many of our streams
dried up and many others were so warm, the trout died. Trout
in the few remaining streams were stressed much of the summer
and fishing them just didn't fit into my idea of responsible
sportsmanship. So, I spent most of the summer working on the
basement and praying for rain.
That brings me to my point this week. It's called responsible
sportsmanship; the conscious act of doing the right thing even
if the law doesn't require it. Some people might call it ethics
and others might call it morality, but those words don't fit
the subject. Responsible sportsmanship fits the subject best.
Too many people think staying within the laws governing a sport
is the only responsibility they have toward that sport. As
long as they don't break any laws, they feel they are displaying
the right amount of sportsmanship and responsibility. If the
legal limit is six fish, then there is nothing wrong with keeping
six fish every time you wet a line; right? If the law doesn't
stop you from fishing when the water is warm enough to kill trout,
then fishery managers must want you to fish it; right?
Let's face it; yanking a trout off a spawning redd is legal in
many areas, but it isn't very sporting and sure isn't very
responsible. Neither is catching and releasing a trout in
water so warm that the demise of the fish is guaranteed by
the acidosis it will have after the fight. Fish are a renewable
resource only if they are allowed to renew their numbers or
at least maintain the numbers they need to renew the resource
at a later date.
That's why I made the decision to not fish this summer until
the water temperatures had declined well below 70 degrees.
I had plenty to do anyway, but the idea of not fishing was
a decision I made based on the sportsmanship and responsibility
considerations brought about by the warm water. I'm a little
stir crazy from the lack of fishing, but I know some of the
water will soon be ready to fish again and I won't run the
risk of destroying a resource that is very valuable to me.
This game we call fishing requires a partner (fish) if we
intend to play it. Carelessly risking the life and health
of that partner to satisfy my own desires for sport is neither
responsible nor sporting. This game requires a healthy
relationship between the players if we intend to keep playing.
It's a little bit like that anniversary I shared with my
marital partner last week. If I intend to keep playing
that game, I better remember to play by the rules, even
if they aren't written somewhere. Anything else would
cost me more than I'm willing to spend.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes you have
to measure the fisherman by how much he is willing to
sacrifice for the health of the fishery. If that means
not fishing, then that is the responsible and sporting
answer. It's kinda like that marriage thing I referred
to earlier. My wife doesn't judge my commitment by how
many times I tell her; but rather by how willing I am
to show her. ~ AC