July 23, 2008

The Real Sportsman

Written by Julie on July 17, 2008. She offers us a gentle reminder of what it means to be a good sportsman.

I’ve always been a fan of catch and release fishing. I’m not sure how I adopted that frame of mind but it may be because many streams that we’ve fished in western PA were fly fishing only which also went hand in hand with catch and release only.

But within the past couple months, I’ve been moving toward catching and keeping, but only within reason. It’s definitely a luxury to eat fresh fish from the ocean, but I always feel bad if any spoils before we eat it. Justin always makes sure he eats every bit of what he keeps…he insists it’s bad fish karma if you don’t. I page through the Fisherman’s Post every week and there’s always pictures with smiling faces and a dock full of dolphin (mahi mahi), king mackerel or specks, and I often wonder the fate of those fish. Do they really get eaten? Or are they thrown into a chest freezer only to thrown out 6 months later from being freezer burnt?

I’ve noticed that the best fishermen, both young and old, are also the best sportsmen. To me the best sportsmen are the fishermen who respect the water, the fish, the shore and other fishermen. Real sportsmen don’t keep a cooler full of fish just to have the bragging rights of a full cooler. In my opinion, don’t keep any more than you think you’ll eat within a day or two. Real sportsmen don’t litter their cigarette butts (or anything else). Do they realize that their trash will end up somewhere else? Justin always puts his in his pocket and then they get washed in the washing machine. It’s gross but it’s better than laying next to a soggy cigarette butt at the beach. The best sportsmen will help out a fellow fishermen but still keep his favorite tips and tricks a secret. Real sportsmen realize the benefit of throwing back over and undersized fish. There’s a logical reason for size limits. The little guy might end up being a state citation in a year or two…

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