I am honored to be recognized, but more importantly inspired to be associated with amazing people - from the folks fighting for Bristol Bay to those who make Recycled Fish one of the most exciting new conservation and fishing organizations out there.
Click on the image to read a great write up based on provocative questions by Recycled Fish volunteer, Josh Milczski.
Holiday Tackle Box Auctions Loaded tackle boxes carry special meaning for our waters
NEBRASKA CITY, Neb., Nov. 10 – The Holiday Tackle Box really is a gift that keeps on giving. That’s because proceeds from each purchase will benefit our fisheries and waterways.
From Nov. 14 to Dec. 13, Recycled Fish will auction a different fully loaded tackle box every day on eBay. Each box is valued at around $350, and a different box is auctioned every day.
“When you win an auction, our waters win too,” said Teeg Stouffer, Recycled Fish Executive Director.
Funds raised will assist programs through Recycled Fish, but 20 percent of each auction also will benefit different Recycled Fish partners in stewardship, including Vanishing Paradise, Anglers Legacy, KeepAmericaFishing, Clean Angling, Wildlife Forever, Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, USA Ice Team, Casting for Recovery, B.A.S.S. Conservation, The Future Fisherman Foundation and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.
The Flambeau tackle boxes range from recycled plastic three-tray models to Bio ‘Tuff biodegradable containers and many other models. Every box features a pair of Onos Curlew sunglasses, and is packed with hooks, baits, weights, line and accessories from Berkley, Strike King, Vicious Fishing, Sebile, FoodSource Lures, Castalia Outdoors, Secret Weapon Lures, Scott’s Elite Lures, SAFE Angling, Timbuktu Outdoors, Lucky Bug Lures, Tru-Turn, Trilene, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Grip-On Lights, Recycled Fish, Fish Itch, KayakJak Outfitters, Clean Angling, Grabber Warmers, Wildlife Forever, Shark Tooth, Ventafish, Let Us Fish, Fishhound, BugBand and MonsterOutdoors.com.
“It’s the time of year when we’re looking for special gifts,” said Stouffer. “Giving someone one of these Holiday Tackle Boxes is extra special because it not only sets them up for countless adventures in the outdoors, but the proceeds help protect our waters and wild places.
“Whether it’s restoring the Louisiana Delta, preventing the spread of invasive species, or introducing new people to the sport of fishing, there is much we can all do to be a part of helping our waters,” he added. “Many anglers have a specific passion when it comes to stewardship, so you’re able to bid on a day when you have a deeper connection with the benefitting cause.”
A complete listing of the tackle boxes, the featured items and the benefitting non-profits is available at www.RecycledFish.org/HolidayBoxes. Visitors can sign up to be notified daily when each auction goes live.
The first auction goes live at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.
About Recycled Fish:
Recycled Fish is the non-profit organization of “anglers living a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream.” We Are Stewards.
The Recycled Fish “Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge” invites anglers to become actively involved as not just a user of our waters, but a steward of them. The SAFE Angling Program — Sustaining Angling, Fish and Ecosystems — is a way to help anglers embrace a lifestyle of stewardship on the water. It involves catch and release fishing, the use of single barbless hooks, biodegradable lures, and non-toxic weights. Recycled Fish also teaches anglers about preventing the spread of invasive species, habitat loss, removing litter and pollution prevention. For more information on the 501(c)3 group go to: www.recycledfish.org .
Recently, I teamed up with Josh Mills of Chucking LIne and Chasing Tail. Oh, the joys of the internet and blog-o-sphere, it brings up so many great opportunities for writing, collaboration, and of course fishing. After some chatting about the issues facing Brisol Bay and the history of crap that has impacted the Columbia river watershed, we thought we'd put our thoughts on a common page and this is what we came up with:
Thinking about Bristol Bay and other locations for mining in America, our dear friend Lisa Murkowski noted today how federal conservation efforts, particularly the work of the EPA were stagnating economic opportunity. She wondered what impact these regulations were having on our economy, on jobs, and the like. All very reasonable concerns given our current economic situation, given the various voices screaming from both sides of the aisle at Wall Street and corporate America. But what she misses is that these potential places for mining are not just places for mining.
(Sun setting on Bristol Bay, somehwere near the Pebble deposit)
This is not a vacuum.
No, these are places like Bristol Bay, coldwater habitats around the West, places where folks like us like to walk to rivers, wade through streams, and chase fish without the fear of smelling sulfur or hearing mining blasts, or finding no fish or worse yet no water in the river anymore. What she fails to realize is that these places are already a part of a massive economic engine.
Anglers took an estimated 51,000 recreational trips to Bristol Bay annually
This amounts to an estimated 100,000 angler days a year fishing in Bristol Bay
Of those trips, 65% were taken by Alaskan residents
35% were from non-Alaskans
The Bristol Bay sport fishery employs upward of 1200 people a year
Outdoor recreation in Bristol Bay amounts to upwards of $160 million in annual expenditures
So, there. If you want to compare dollars for dollars, there is plenty of fodder for the discussion. And, the reality, particularly today, is that money talks in all of this debate over fishing, conservation, and resource management. But let's pause and remember there is a lot more too it.
Once upon a time, seemingly forever ago, I wrote an article published in the Journal for the American Academy of Religion, an article that was recently described to me (by someone who didn't know I wrote the article), as one of the only peer-reviewed analyses of the cultural (albeit religious and spiritual) dimensions of fly fishing. There are a handful of others out there and quite frankly, though, you don't need an academic to tell you that fly fishing means a hell of a lot more than the dollars it generates for the economy. But as numbers get thrown around, it is important to remember what is at stake in all of this.
We fish because it means something to us viscerally. Whether swinging flies at steelhead on a cold winter's day, or hiking the high country in search of native trout in their native habitat. Fly fishing's impact upon the angler is an affective mark of connection to something more than ourselves.
David James Duncan, mused that
When the trout are happening, I can kneel on merciless stones happily, for hours and hours; I can stare into blinding glare, withstand heat or cold, be chased by bears, cow moose with calves, or redder necks than my own, and still rush gratefully back for more. I don’t understand the why of all this. I don’t try to understand. I just pull on my waders and merge via a spirituality so thrashing, splashing, cursing, casting, and Earth-engaged it doesn’t feel spiritual at all: it just feeds the spirit.
At the end of the day, we don't reflect upon the why of fishing in economic terms. Instead, we open a beer, share a tale with friends at the barstool or around a campfire, and we recount stories from fish caught and missed, close encounters with bears, or general moments of clarity. We all recognize there is something special, deeper, and powerful about the sport. If there wasn't, we wouldn't care about Walton or Gierach, there wouldn't be vast libraries of texts in special collections of university libraries, or there wouldn't be twice as many fishing and fly fishing blogs on the Outdoor Blogger Network blog directory as any other topic (and that is hardly the whole of the fishing blog-o-sphere).
The why of fishing is, further, what drives many folks to move beyond fishing to conservation. Or, it should at least. You've heard my rant, you needn't hear it again.
But seriously, in my academic days I compiled countless hours of interviews with anglers who articulated that fishing impacted them deeply. That fishing encouraged some broader understanding of river ecosystems and ecology. That understanding led to a realizing that they must do something for rivers and watersheds that were in peril for whatever reason. And finally, that realization, then, drove them to speak out or get engaged in conservation/restoration work.
Though, if only more anglers thought that way! (Admittedly, my interview samples were limited to those already engaged in conservation).
For the future, however, we need to keep encouraging more folks to fish, because that should mean that there are more out there fighting the good fight. It also means greater numbers in the column of economic benefits.
Herbert Hoover insisted that "next to prayer, fishing is the most personal relationship of man [and women]." He also used sentiments like these to justify investing in fisheries and resources conservation. So, for him the economics and the affect were not too far a part.
In the halls of congress, economic arguments might rule the day, and rightfully so. After all, we are talking about jobs in a down economy. But when it is said and done, let's try to remember that there is a lot more at stake than dollar signs. Or, better yet, let's make sure that those making the decisions understand the numbers so that something greater can be protected, preserved, and passed on to the next generation.
Thus far, my semi-regular posts of Why Fish Wednesday has featured quotes from historical figures in the sport, notes from books, musings on the majesty of the sport. However, today I am taking a different turn. This is the interview edition. Interviews on blogs and fly fishing interwebs seem to be cropping up with more frequency. I have it my own mind to do some interviews, but have not gotten around to it, and well now it seems that others are ahead of the game. So, I wanted to highlight a few. Of course there are podcasts such as the Itenerant Angler or The Fish Schtick, but the interviews I want to highlight are textual, and I think there is something refreshing about seeing and reading someone else's words. It takes a bit more to pen pithy responses to hard thought questions.
The first of note is a semi-regular series by the dudes over at Chi-Wulff: "People of Fly Fishing". From the moment I first stumbled upon the Chi Wulff Blog, I was impressed by the thoughtful nature of the commentary from Mark, Jake, and more recently Quinn. Their interviews are certainly just as thoughtful. I had the pleasure of answering their questions. I have to admit they took some time to answer in any short and pithy way fit for the short attention spans of the blog-o-sphere. The folks they are choosing are some who I would not have heard of before, others who I have, all of whom have varied perspectives on our sport, industry, and the challenges of fly fishing and conservation into the future.
The second is a brand new series worth highlighting. This one comes as a bit of a gratuitous plug for Recycled Fish. But hey, as a board member, I can do that right!? Anyway, they've started a nifty series highglight the "steward of the week." With that plan comes an interview, or interview questions turned into an article about the person. This week's steward of the week is April Vokey and as you can read, she is on a recent tear to raise awareness about the threats to the Skeena Headwaters. Her interview highlights how "why we fly fish" has as much or should have as much to do with "why we engage in conservation." As I have argued elsewhere, if you aren't doing both, then get off the water. Afterall, though, fishing gives us so very much we can at least give something back to the waters that sooth our soul or keep us out of trouble. Unlike the other two series highlighted here, this weekly not of praise will span the world of fishing from fly to ice.
Finally, I have recently been enjoying reading the back files of "20 Questions" on Eat More Brook Trout. If you don't know the blog, I would highly encourage you to spend some time with it. Chris Hunt is a great writer with a fantastic view of problems facing our waters around the west. And he should, as he is Director of Communications for Trout Unlimited. Chris's 20 Questions lighten the mood, with inquiries that drift toward fun to personal, wondering what qualities the interviewee might deplore most in him or herself. But in the process, the answers always got to more serious points in the world of fishing and conservation.
Each of these sources of interviews takes different tactics at getting to know the people of fishing, why they fish, and how their work might engage the good fight of fisheries conservation. Sometimes the people interviewed are pretty known in the fly fishing world. Other times, the interviewee might be someone a bit more anonymous, but who is out there doing good work.
In the end, I would encourage you to take some time to read said blogs, spend some time on the interviews, learn about the issues confronting anglers and fisheries conservation and what people are doing about it all. Or, if you are simply curious as to what is the idea of perfect happiness is for someone like Russ Schnitzer, then these are an equally enjoyable read. No matter what they are great reads and who knows you migh learn something new about your fellow anglers, bloggers, good fight fighters!
There might be other such blog series out there, if so, let me know I would love to keep a tally and add to my reading list!
“If one has to die, I should think November would be the best month for it. I should think there is nothing very bad about dying except for the people one has to leave and the things one hasn’t had the time to do. When the time comes, if I know what it is all about, I suppose I shall think, among other things, of the fish I haven’t caught and the places I haven’t fished.”