Looking Out For Fishing's Future

From 7/26/01</font id=blue>

"Conservation" is a word that has found a place with the fisherman of today. 25-30 years ago you would never find this word and fishing in the same sentence unless it was part of a radical statement made by a person wanting to totally abolish fishing. Back in those days anglers thought the ocean and our waterways were limitless and we certainly could not put a dent in the endless supply of fish. Anglers generally brought everything they caught back to the dock to show everyone what great fishermen they were and then they took pictures of all of the fish to show their friends that were not at the dock. During these years there was also a strong presence of gill nets and commercial fishermen targeting inshore and offshore species. Our misguided beliefs about our effect on fish populations has lead to sharp declines in certain species of fish. Before you label me a bleeding heart liberal bear with me. I am not writing this article to say we are bad people and should not kill any fish (our site does feature a recipe page), but to point out that our actions do have an impact and we can make that impact a positive one. 
I think that for the most part anglers today are more conscious of the impact they have on fish. I was happy to hear several stories this year of local fishermen that released fish that could have been state records. I would not have blamed them for keeping the fish and capturing the record, but I think it speaks volumes that they were more concerned about the resource than they were about the glory and attention. There are currently two Governor's Cup series in South Carolina that try to promote catch and release. We are seeing fishing turn around in areas like Florida and Texas because anglers have worked hard to see that gill nets were outlawed and have also imposed limits on daily catches and size limits. I am jealous when I pick up a Florida Sportsman and see these guys holding 8lb trout and am optimistic that through educating people about t