"Rivers need friends. The more people fishing the river the more advocates that river and fishery have."
I have always been troubled when I hear this common justification for overcrowded and over hyped fisheries. It seems to make sense but I just cannot connect crowds and commercial hype with more wild fish advocates.
What I found interesting and quite sad after resuming going to meetings
within the past couple years is that for the most part it has been a step back in time. The same people that were fighting ten to fifteen years
ago are the same people fighting today. While seeing familiar faces was
nice it also reminded me that the vast majority of fishermen do not
attend meetings or write letters. When it comes to the guide industry it is even worse.
I have always been awestruck and jealous of the wild fish advocates who continue to fight the battles year after year and decade after decade. For every small victory there have been hundreds of losses. I personally have wavered over the years with my activity rising and lowering like the tides. Lately whenever I question whether to just enjoy fishing until it is all over and forget about getting involved I remember the faces that have been in this fight since before many of us were born and realize I have no right to be frustrated or impatient.
We've all seen the increasing pressure over the years on the wild fisheries we hold dear. What we are not seeing is any kind of corresponding increase in attendance at important meetings involving our fisheries. Our rivers need more friends but they need real friends who will get involved. Regulations that impact overcrowding or the angling experience will not result in less people being involved in saving the rivers. The same people in the fight now will be the same people in the fight in the future regardless of angling regulations.