Is Recreational Fishing on its Deathbed?

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deathbed thumb

In my position at the world’s largest publisher of boating and fishing magazines, I get to read and hear the doomsayers, the environmentalists, the scientists, the whiners and complainers, the industry mavens and a host of others — all impart their opinions on the future of our favorite sport. With the state of so many of our fisheries resources falling to dangerously low levels, with fuel costs climbing and with our recreational time seemingly being stolen from us with each passing year, the doomsayers may be right in thinking that recreational fishing hears its swan song. How to turn the tide?

I sincerely believe that the only hope of salvation for our passion lies within our future generations. We must install in our children our passion for fishing, for the sea and for being steadfast and righteous stewards of our oceans and their contents. Though it sounds like a Herculean task, it doesn't have to be. All it takes is time and attention. A case in point: I recently spent time at the Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament in Beaufort, North Carolina. Families of all types and financial strata come together for several days of both inshore and offshore fishing — together. And when back on shore, the event focuses on honing the kids' fishing skills, piquing their interest in the fish, the art associated with it, the sense of competition and above all, Tred Barta's sense of right and wrong. The event works on the honor system; if you say you caught it, then you did. Not a penny goes to a competitor or a staff or Tred himself. All the proceeds benefit children who truly need it at the Boys and Girls Club. Within the next year or two, we hope to reach our initial goal of raising a million dollars for the boys and girls.

So, if we let our children know that we want them with us, that we enjoy their company, that we love fishing and boating, that we need to be careful how we treat our oceans because if the seas aren’t healthy, neither is humanity. We need to show them that we care about others, especially those less fortunate. We need to pass along the lore of rigging baits and navigating and hooking and catching and releasing fish. If we pass that along in a loving and attentive way, then I will rest easier knowing that our future generations will carry our passions on admirably.