That’s what biologists call fishing when they sneak off to do it. This time of year – snook and redfish are around and one is compelled to sample the ichthyofauna as often it allows itself to be sampled (which is another subject that bumps into mysticism and Hemingway.)
Bruce and I were noting the other day that for many a biologist and conservationist, there’s a straight line of passion that began outdoors with fishing or hunting. These outdoor experiences are often the path to preservation, conservation and serious academics. And many a great conservation organization has its roots in preserving habitat and protecting the health of the environment – Ducks Unlimited, Coastal Conservation Association, Trout Unlimited, Tarpon Bonefish Unlimited. These groups are dedicated to preserving wild nature for all of us whether we hunt and fish or not.
Touchy subject – hunting and fishing. Lots of different people are engaged in these pursuits in very different ways with a wide range of ethical approaches to what’s acceptable. Catch and release, game fishing, spear fishing, bait fishing, fly fishing – all of these words don’t just describe different styles of fishing – they describe different denominations in the cult of fishing with real philosophical differences (not to mention all those people who aren’t proponents of sportfishing at all!) What I think is becoming clear to everyone is that the ocean is beleaguered and fish need all the conservation efforts on their behalf that anyone can come up with.
So my personal stand is – eat what you catch or release it, use barbless or circle hooks, save breeding stock, know when to stop despite legal limits. And whatever you catch, however you catch it – thank the gods of fishing by doing something to protect the environment. You can give money to many fine organizations. You can volunteer time or your talents. But put a little back as a way of thanking nature for all the good it’s given you.