Fishing – Keeping it Safe, Legal, and Fun!
For so many of us, fishing evokes images of carefree afternoons leisurely throwing a pole in the water, and it should be. Behind the scenes of one of the most popular pastimes is an intricate web of regulations and legislation governed by both federal and state governments.
Along the various water systems lies delicate eco systems in need of protection, and most laws exist for that very reason. Environmental hazards previously unheard of are endangering the fish population with toxic chemicals and consumer pharmaceutical waste at the top of the list. Laws written by Congress provide the authority for EPA to write regulations.
Congress gives the EPA authority to write legislation on behalf of the states, as it would be impossible for the federal government to keep track of the needs of each and every waterway in America, though violations under the Clean Water Act can bring significant federal charges.
Finding unpolluted fishing gems has become increasingly difficult, especially with so many different breeds and environments to choose from. Avoiding tourist traps and over-fished areas is essential for those serious about the sport, with the most success found in proactive states with fisheries dedicated to stocking, cover, and protection.
Freshwater fishing gets no better than California, the only state on the west coast listed in the top ten for Bass fishing in the country. With world record breaking large mouth, and trophy sized small mouth, conservation efforts have paid off tenfold for the Golden State. Fisherman-friendly tourism and strict EPA clean water guidelines lure the best of the best to the freshwater tournaments each year, offering some of the best Trout fishing in the country. Southern California fishing guide Gregg Silks caught two twenty-pound bass in 2016 and says he recently lost a global record fish of 24 pounds. Many attribute the growing record-breaking population to catch and release programs.
Before you turn your nose up at the old cat, know that things are changing in the realm of catfishing. No longer considered just a junk fish, nothing gives a good fight like a giant whisker fish, and they are plentiful in the lakes, ponds, and streams of most moderate climates. Traveling in schools, you catch one big one, there are plenty more down there for everyone else. Gear is inexpensive and relatively simple, making it a great fish for beginners and kids, but removing them from the hook with those needle-like whiskers takes practice and patience. Most states allow various ways to catfish in season such as, pole and line, trotline, limb line, bank, and jug line, though it is imperative to pay attention to dates as seasons for each can vary.
For those looking for a fast, feisty catch, the streams and rivers of North America offer some of the best trout fishing in the world. There's a saying among anglers who prefer fishing this crafty breed, “foam is home”. The base of waterfalls, water sloshing against rock formations, and the undercut of the water bank offer the best chances of a catch, anywhere there might be an indentation that slows the current. Luckily most of the waterways are free to the public and generally easy to access. Obviously, there are many more breeds to choose from, but these three are among the most popular and prolific of the freshwater fish.
The internet has brought the world of angling to millions with easy and instant access to forecasts, destinations, regulations, and now licensing. Gone are the days of limited hours of operations or standing in long lines to get your license. Most states have adopted an online option to obtain daily, short-term, annual, or lifetime licensing, making the process easier than ever. Takemefishing.org offers fishing and boating information by state, as well as a short video on general licensing FAQ‘s in a user-friendly format.
Accessing the water with a boat has undergone several legislative changes over the last few years, with strict guidelines and requirements set by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) for accessibility and building materials. Each state has their own guidelines set forth for planning, zoning, and codes, but there are across the board safety measures put into place for boating and fishing safety. Private property is no exception, and unsafe or improperly maintained ramps and docks can garner high fines and penalties if discovered by state law enforcement. Even permits to build must have a carefully laid out master plan overseen by a civil engineer. Different types of boats need different depths and some are not a one type fits all facility, be sure to check your state game and wildlife website for links to specifications.
Be sure to check your state and local fishing forecast with Game and Fish magazine's innovative online tool. Simply click on the corresponding state and get updates and information on all types of fishing conditions and forecasts with tips and tactics from around the country. Boating anglers a unique and innovative forecasting site using not only the latest weather technology but offers a crowd sourcing global network of onsite reporters. With 50,000 weather stations worldwide, Fish weather gives updates in real-time for the ultimate peace of mind and safety.
The EPA has a four-volume guide on developing and accessing health risks associated with chemical contamination of non-commercial fish for state environmental offices. With regional pollutants varying greatly, communication between public health departments and the EPA is crucial, specifically for highly susceptible crustacean populations. Local environmental agencies should be monitoring bacteria levels in lakes and ponds on a regular basis, especially during summer months when fish are most vulnerable. Your state government website will have updated listings for fishing and swimming advisories.
Fishing - Keeping it Safe, Legal, and Fun! - Video
Research has proven there are numerous benefits both mentally and physically from recreational fishing, even implementing therapeutic programs for cancer survivors. The latest fishing therapy programs are helping soldiers with PTSD recover and learn to let go and relax. Studies showed a whopping 43 percent reduction in feelings of hostility, and 36 percent in sadness. Besides mental health and physical benefits, it's just a great pastime for family bonding or self-reflection.