“Growing up in Florida in the 1950’s, we looked at the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, rivers, and lakes in our state as vast bodies of water teeming with fish — and, they were! No matter how many fish we caught, it was inconceivable to us that we could have any impact on the fish population.
I remember that catches of 100 or more Speckled Trout, Mackerel, and countless other saltwater species were common. It was considered a bad day if the fishing guides didn’t catch over 100 per boat. Large stringers of big bass were featured in local newspapers. All of this was proof that you were a good fisherman.
Little did we know, this was really a fragile ecosystem. Over time, it would be decimated by climate change, pesticides, industrial pollution, toxic runoff, destruction of habitat, and intense recreational and commercial fishing pressure. Sadly, that’s just the short list.
I believe our moral duty is to preserve this treasure for future generations. We should limit our catch and NOT be focused on catching our limit. Using circle hooks will not stop climate change, rid the waters of pollution, or help you pick winning lotto numbers. Although it will help by allowing us to fish and do the least harm to the fish we catch and release.
I also dream that future fishing tournaments will be video presentations of big fish caught and released unharmed. NOT dead fish brought back and weighed. Bill Fish, Tarpon, and other fishing tournaments already do this. We have the fishing products and technologies to be better. It is time to start fishing with a heart. Future fisherman will be glad we did.”