By Jim Hickey
Are bass anglers (or any angler for that matter) ignorant, arrogant, and just plain stupid?
Sometimes you just have to wonder…
Bass fishing is, as all outdoor recreational activities, a privilege. In today’s sometimes overly critical world we must work diligently to protect our ability to access all water bodies, home to our favorite resource.
We are both stewards and ambassadors of our sport and in many respects, the resource. Anytime we act carelessly or intentionally damage the resource’s environment or leave a negative impression with the casual observer regarding our actions, we often ignite a bias against our access to that environment.
How does it happen?
In many ways they are nearly impossible to list but here are a few examples:
- Leaving or discarding trash around areas where we are fishing (either on land or water);
- Taking fish for show and then dumping them in the trash receptacles at the ramp or worse yet, just leaving them on the bank to rot; or
- Being less than courteous while either fishing on the shore, at the ramp and on the water to other people, especially non-fishermen.
What do these actions end up causing?
At best, the negative image of bass anglers as sportsmen and worse a growing number of regulations and restrictions limiting our access to this precious resource.
One particular example springing into my mind dates back a number of years and involves someone flagrantly misusing the bounty of our sport.
This one issue involves a lake in southeastern Massachusetts surrounded by three properties, one a golf course, second cranberry bogs and the last a privately held conservation area.
Both the golf course and bog owners did not (and still do not) permit access to the lake from their properties because of previous vandalism and liability issues. For many years, however, the private conservation area owner did allow access to a small launch and picnic area on the south side of the lake.
Or at least they used to until one so-called bass angler did the unthinkable…
After betting a friend he could catch a limit (5-fish) of big bass (> 5 lbs. each) from this lake, he managed to accomplish that feat on his next trip. Rather than just take the fish home to show his friend, he pinned the bass on a stringer then tied the stinger around a tree at the launch for his friend to see later that day.
Now remember, the launch is located on privately owned conservation land so when the caretaker made his rounds that afternoon and saw this idiotic display, he immediately reported it to the main office.
Within 24 hours, the land was posted, the access road sealed off with earthen mounds (replaced a couple of weeks later with locking, iron gates) and all future fishing access denied.
So again I ask, as bass anglers, are we stupid, arrogant or just plain ignorant?
There are many water bodies in southern New England where access to the water is rapidly becoming virtually impossible due to heightened development of the area or negative treatment of formerly cooperative landowners. Actions like this or even simply discarding of trash or being discourteous while fishing will result in a growing number of access issues.
Always bear in mind, the actions of today often dictate our access to our treasured resource for the future…
Jim Hickey (a.k.a. Doc Bass) is an avid freshwater angler mainly pursuing black bass (largemouth, smallmouth & spotted bass) for over four decades. During that time, he has been active as both a recreational and tournament angler, as well as assisting others in honing their fishing knowledge and skills. Doc Bass continues to share his thoughts on successful bass fishing on numerous forums and websites including his own bass fishing blog site.
Please visit: Bass Fishing Tips n Tactics to access more articles and videos on bass fishing methods and tactics.