Let’s get something straight. Just because we are knife wielding, fast wading, bush whacking, cigar smoking, perfume wearing, grouchy grudge holding Cubs fans who invade every river as we possibly can, wreaking miles of havoc on the fish population with our enviable casting skills and top notch equipment, does not mean we don’t care. Sure, we gas guzzle our way across the country and leave behind a waft of 97% pure deet as we blaze through forests and rivers. But, there is more karma to us than meets the eye.
Ok, you may not believe us. And yes the act of fishing can sometimes seem quite barbaric. The idea that any human would want to venture out, hook a poor innocent fish and then take a picture of the crime is just disturbing to an angling amateur. But, hopefully as evidenced by our past blogs, you have been given the impression that hooking fish is just an advantage of the overall experience of fishing and not the end goal. We do care about other things. Well, that goes for AC at least. A girl has to enjoy her early twenties. And no Dad, we didn’t dive from the fence into the pool. We used the roof 😉
But we digress from the naive and rebellious and venture forward into a very old and wise notion that our blog this week is themed upon. Karma. Yes the mother of all “what goes around, comes around”. Ethics, a small but good deed, spare some change, kill the goat and win the series, we’ve heard it all. But when you’re in the river, running wild through the raw jungles of America with only our Benchmade 375 Adamas fixed-blade knives and a keen eye for bears, karma is in the hands of Mother Nature.
So, just how do we give back to her? The best we can of course. We enjoy fishing and we want to enjoy it the rest of our lives. River conservation, fish re-population, and consistent waterway rejuvenation are important to us. But, instead of donating money or planting a tree. We do the small things a responsible angler should do. Like use biodegradable lures so when we lose one it is safe in the water and decomposes naturally. We pack in and we pack out. The only thing we ever leave behind are our legacies!
But what about the fish you may ask? Hooking them can’t be too responsible now can it? Well what if we told you that every fish we catch, we check for parasites. Yep, most the parasites in the rivers we fish (category 3-5 rapids, ground driven, high base, low peak flows) are long and grey worm or leech suckers that attach themselves usually to the tail or fins of the fish. We use our clippers to pinch the head and clean off. And our hooks? We use clippers for them too. Instead of yanking the hook out, we go out the way it came in, by maneuvering the hook back through the mouth the way it came. This saves damage to the fish and allows for us to delicately remove the hook.
But that’s not all. You may have noticed the way we hold our fish. Lippin can only be done on certain species. Small mouth bass have no teeth, only tiny hair like barbs that have no real significant feel to the human finger. But, we don’t just lip these guys because we can, it is proven that by grabbing the fish by the mouth it calms him and suspends his desire to want to flap around. So, while we grab our cameras for the lunker of the day, the fish is relaxing in it’s own little world waiting to be released and possibly posing itself.
Which brings us to the key of all river karma…Catch & Release. If you aren’t starving and have access to a fish market, then please put the fish back. We do! It allows us to come back for seconds (even thirds). Did you know that it takes the average bass 6 years to grow to it’s average adult size. Which means all the time leading up to that size, the fish is still young and in high school, learning ALGEAbra and FISHics. Sorry, couldn’t help it!
We care a lot about the waters we wade in and out of. So we do what we can to repay the abundant rivers by looking out for their safety and coming to the rescue when we can. They may be small deeds, but we know the river appreciates it and we hope that in return it rewards us generously, in all perspectives of the angling kind.
So, in keeping with karma and the theme of this blog, we aren’t going to dwell on the amount of fish we caught. Instead, we want you to enjoy these photos of our favorite river in a city we cannot give up someplace in Wisconsin. The place we go not just to hook fish, but to cast away our worries, reel in hope, and catch up on a little bit of karma…