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Traditions .... Part VI, What's Next?

To start off, I want to give a big thank you to everyone that has followed this series of posts, and those that responded in some form, positive or negative. I knew from the beginning that this might be a controversial thing to do, and I wrote in the introduction “I know that as I write this there is a chance of touching a few nerves, stirring some solid debate, a possibility of just pissing some people off and a chance of losing a few “friends”. The goal here is to challenge anglers to think differently about themselves, the fish and the sport that we love.” I wrote this because I believe there is an opportunity to raise the bar and improve the quality of our wild trout fisheries here in Pennsylvania. The interest is there, and the conversation continually gains momentum. I’m old enough to remember when “catch and release” and barbless hooks were new and controversial topics among anglers, both of which have now become widely accepted practices. The new conversation is about wild trout.

What’s next? I truly wish I had the answer to that question. It’s a story that is just beginning to be written. I know many things stand in the way, which I tried to describe in the different parts of “Traditions”. If we truly want to improve the quality of our wild trout resources, the conversation has to be about the fish instead of the fishing, or the way we each choose to fish. It has to come from a desire to respect and protect the streams we fish and the wild trout that live in them rather than protecting ourselves and our own traditions. It comes with trying to influence the conversation and inviting others to join in rather than excluding them because of a different angling tradition. It comes with teaching others the value our wild trout hold. That’s the only way to get more people dancing around the same fire. Maybe then we might have a chance to better protect those wild trout resources and improve them.

So far I’ve hiked, explored and fished nearly 300 of the streams in Pennsylvania that are currently designated as Class A Wild streams and have fished others that would probably meet Class A biomass criteria if they were studied. These are often remarkable places that offer a quality fishing experience that has all the challenges of the hunt, the chance to explore, and the opportunity to enjoy something natural, wild, and unaltered. They are places that aren’t dependent on published stocking schedules and artificially created trout populations to offer a high-quality experience. While I’ve learned many things in this process, I can’t consider myself to be any kind of expert. The more that I think I learn, the more questions I have. It keeps me going back and exploring them more. The most important thing I’ve gained over time is a deeper respect for these wild creatures, the different challenges they face in the game of survival, and the beautiful places they call home. If anything, I hope I’ve passed that passion and respect on to you. Collectively we can influence the path the future of fisheries management in Pennsylvania might take. Till next week… #ItsAboutTheFish


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