(Above: I came across this picture while fishing Clear Creek in the southwestern part of Golden. The name “Jessica” was written next to it. Thank you Jessica, I could not have asked for a better picture for this blog posting.)
This rant is not stating by any means that “harvest” is bad. Mankind owes its existence to harvesting the precious natural resources of the land and making the best use of these materials. The Native Americans were masters of this. The first and foremost philosophy they held dear was RESPECT! They took their coexistence with nature very seriously and even incorporated this into their religion. Every creature and plant to them had magical secrets that were unique and just as beautiful.
So many so-called recreationalists poorly assume that their permits, entrée fees and licenses entitle them to do pretty much anything they want in the outdoors. Legal limits, littering and even the law seem to be skirted aside with excuses or tales of inconvenience. Fisheries, trails and other outdoor areas show far too much evidence of this ill behavior. Colorado is seeing more human pressure as a result of the substantial influx of people during the 90’s. Habitat and open space is shrinking due to development. We as individuals are hard pressed to stop this. But there are many things we can do. Here are five things right off the top of my head that would go a long ways to make things better.
1. Pick up trash when you see it. Every scrap helps. Do not leave trash. Litter is an insult to the natural beauty of Colorado and should not be tolerated in any form.
2. Selective harvest means you take the most common size and species, not every single fish or the biggest fish you catch. Abide by slot limits that are opposed. Conservation and harvest can go hand in hand if done responsibly. The fisheries and the harvest will get better every year as a result.
3. Keep in mind that you are not the only one that is or will be fishing this spot. This means that when you decide to take a full limit of fish, there may be 100 other guys thinking the same thing. Legal limits are designed to limit pillage while allowing some harvest. Legal limits should not be considered the goal of the day for all anglers every trip they take.
4. Minimize your impact at all times. Nature can only absorb so much punishment. Minimizing human impact is the key to keeping the outdoors naturally pristine for centuries to come.
5. If you plan to release the fish, minimize your impact on that fish as much as possible. Take a picture or two and let it go. Who knows maybe you will catch the same fish next year and it will be even bigger.
The good news is that the quality and ethical sportsman that carry respect in their heart far outweigh the bad. There are more people picking up trash in some spots than ever before. It just doesn’t look that way sometimes. We need more good people out there respecting all forms of wildlife, even the frogs, turtles, squirrels and fish.
More good news is that Colorado fishing is still fair to good for the most part. This fluctuates greatly depending on the location. But we all know it could be better if more people hopped on the “good fishing” bus. Stepping over worm containers and spent fishing line should never be part of the outdoor experience.
Sorry for the rant and apologize for sounding like an after school special or a sermon for some environmental group. Reinforcing the need for good behavior, conservation and respect for Mother Nature is something I am passionate about.
I want to give a shout of respect out to the Division of Wildlife, (even if I disagree with them at times) Parks and Recreation folks and all of the ethical sportsman out there. Your management and fees keep things going. (PETA doesn't do ##$%^& for habitat. Bunch of worthless whiners) sportsman and recreationalists fund habitat management.