I think it's important that, as anglers, we remember why we pursue our chosen past time. Put in its most basic form, to others, it can appear strange. However, beneath those initial perceptions people have when they hear 'you go fishing', many are unaware of the depth of knowledge, skill and responsibility that accompany fishing. Now, for the two or three kids I see fishing the free, lower stretch of my local river, fishing is all about experiencing the outdoors, having fun and maybe returning home of the story of the 'big one', which most probably shed the hook. This is exactly what it should be about. Responsibility for these individuals stops at looking after themselves and making sure they leave no litter, or indeed, any sign of their visit. Fishing should be fun.
I love every minute I am on the water (or aything fishing related), but the more involved you become in fishing, the greater the fueling of your interest. With that, often, and should, comes more responsibility. As anglers, of whatever discipline, we are the eyes and ears of the rivers, lakes and coastlines. If you are a sea-fisherman, awareness of the the plight of bass or cod should be in your thoughts. As fly fisherman, we are only too aware (or should be!) of the affect stocking has on wild brown trout, the effects of salmon farming, the dangers of diseases and parasites from overseas and the low levels of salmon and sea-trout in our rivers. We have a responsibility to be aware of the issues and take action to ensure that, not only do we not add to the problem, but make every effort to improve it. At times angling can receive bad press. However I know of many, many rivers that, without the anglers' attention would be in poor conditions. Whether you are helping with copicing in the winter, clearing Himlayan Balsom, or restoring salmon and trout redds, improving water courses, promoting good angling practice, and many other jobs, you are making a difference. We have responsibility ~ simple ~ a responsility to be aware and make every effort to make a difference. No matter how small, you are contributing.
When growing up, I used to catch a lot of eels in the Severn Estuary and the near by canals and rivers. I don't fish for eels now (I'm not sure I did then!), but if I tried, I'd probably struggle. Very much in decline, Anguila anguila are the focus of a fantastic project ~ the Eeliad (Homer would be proud; Classicists raise a smile).
The Eel's lifecycle is a fascinating one. They spawn in the Sargasso Sea, can travel over land with water-locked gills and face many challenges. In some areas of their life-cycle little is known. They are though having their number depleted by something. Parasites, obstacles in and out of rivers, predation, over-fishing... there are many different suggestions. The Eeliad was set up to study these mysterious creatures and try to offer some answers.
Please take a look at their website and blog:
The Eeliad Blog
Awareness is the key.