Please remember that I didn't make the original post. I wrote something and some may not like the way I expressed my thoughts. I have not edited the writing but did read through once. It seems to have a goodly amount of run on sentences and comma splices but it's getting late here and I just punched it out. It is not my most positive work but like I said, I didn't start the thread
I've been fishing a long time, maybe not as long as some of you but for a while. Obviously the Madison River has changed in the amount of pressure that I witnessed during the 1981 through 86 seasons as has nearly every other river or creek that hosts a good population of target species.
I won't bore you or patronize by saying exactly how many years I've been tying flies and fishing America and Canada but have fished from Newfoundland to my current home waters here in Alaska and hit most provinces and states between the two. Over the past 15 years I have witnessed growing pressure on fisheries here in the 49th state and am not surprised that it is an epidemic nationwide.
Here's what I've resigned myself to: any attempt to regulate the flotilla's of drift boats and guides, to regulate the residential or non resident fishermen permitted on rivers will be met with a wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth which will be deafening. While a few may welcome regulations as being a forward looking management tool to protect a species the vast majority, especially those who currently exploit the resource for personal financial gain will band together to create a political influence body.
The problem is a natural one, it is a predator prey relationship. At this point in time the prey have been identified as an important factor in corporate marketing. Whether the marketers are tackle manufacturers churning out 7 to 900 dollar single hand fly rods or 1000 to 13000 dollar Spey rods or they are guides, lodges, shops with guiding services or any other fishing related business it's all part of the predator side of the equation.
The associated marketing generated by this billion dollar adventure industry reaches more and more people every day, week, month and year and subsequently a percentage of those millions reached will enter into the fishing game thus becoming predators added to the overflowing mix already at hand. Multiple "Guide Schools" all over the west churning out more hopeful Hemingway types who want to live the dream only add to the feeding frenzy all ready underway. Those not scooped up by fly shops or lodges may try freelance operations and given the growing customer base some will survive. YouTube Videos and Face Book Pages filled with what many gleefully call Fish Porn help to fuel the average suburban dwellers thirst for becoming part of the scene, the adventure and the predators literally grow through a sort of binary fission……. In other words it ain't just the guides and lodges, it's everybody.
Yeah but what about the prey?
Well some rivers and creeks just happen to have a good population of trout, salmon or steelhead trout so those rivers and creeks will become ground zero for the predator / prey drama to be played out on. The fisheries will be used and in some cases abused so long as the prey species can survive the pressure. The use will be both residential and commercial in nature. Some of the prey species will die needlessly due to overhandling, some will bleed out from a bad hooking. I haven't even gotten to the current fad of bobber fishing which makes it even easier for the weekend warrior to get those fish and glory shots have I? Never has it been more likely for a first time steelhead fisherman to boat three or more on their first trip! Sorry but that's just unnatural when talking wild fish in the 21st century......
As long as the guides can fill the boats daily with hopeful sports and produce successful days of watching for the clients bobbers to bob there will be ever growing pressure. The private residential folks will keep buying drift boats and the lodges will thrive.
There's only one thing that can and will reduce the crowding on streams and rivers. That thing is when the fishery reaches the break point and numbers of the target species fall off dramatically. When that happens the predators don't catch on instantly, they keep coming and do so until it becomes obvious that they are not catching. At that point the search for scape goats usually begins because someone or something must be the target of blame for not only the fishery collapsing but the economies that have been growing off of it with total disregard for the imbalance of the predator / prey relationship that has grown under their own stewardship.
I began learning 30 years ago to find places that are not rated as fisheries for the species I enjoy fishing for. Places that have few fish but that fact is directly reflected by the fact that I am usually alone when I fish. The unfortunate intrinsic here is that where there are a large number of fish there will be a large number of predators trying to catch those fish. It's that simple, fewer fish equals fewer fishermen, period.
I fish for the shear joy I get from doing it, it's been that way since I was a little boy and never changed. I don't mind fishing where I may catch one or none on a given day so long as I can be alone. I am not a catcherman, I'm a fisherman. I don't fish the famous rivers here in Alaska for exactly these reasons which I've tried to outline in this rambling essay. I'm a slummer, I fish anywhere that no one else does and I enjoy every day.
Those who are young enough may live to see the crowding fade away because once the catching plummets you'll see lodges for sale with no buyers standing in line. You'll see Craigslist littered with drift boats and the users looking for an adventure will have quit. I may not be around to see it everywhere but it is happening here. Just a beginning, like a long freight train leaving the yard it'll take time to reach terminal speed but there's no stopping the trend I see in South Central Alaska at this time.
Yeah it's kinda sad but I do enjoy the solitude, so look ahead with a smile if you just love to fish. But if you're living to rail that fish that just made your Thigamabobber twitch and rack up the numbers because you and your buddies have a bet on low man buys the beer your numbers will go down, trust me on that.