A simple trick for leaving the river cleaner than you found it.
[by Seth L. Fields]
It seems our public waters are getting a bit crowded. There are more fly anglers today than in recent memory, and finding a stretch of unoccupied river is becoming difficult as a result.
However, the fly fishing community isn’t the only thing undergoing expansion. As the world around our fisheries becomes increasingly industrialized and accessible, there’s much more than just anglers lining the banks of waterways. The sad reality is there are fewer waters that aren’t affected in one way or another by developing landscapes, and litter is becoming exceedingly prevalent in many of our favorite fisheries.
While urban waters largely absorb things like tainted municipal runoff and rubber tires, I’m always amazed at the number of bottles and cans I encounter on otherwise wild and pristine rivers. Most anglers want clean and healthy waters, but let’s be honest; we mostly just want to fish. However, if we’re truly the stewards of the resource we profess to be, we have to wrap our hands around the issue (literally) before it gets out of control.
If you’re worried about the health and cleanliness of your favorite water, carry a couple of trash bags on your next outing and collect any refuse you encounter while you’re fishing. It’s a simple way to rejuvenate our resources, and the necessary gear and effort involved are minimal.
I recommend black trash bags with drawstrings, especially if you’re fishing over spooky fish when stealth is a must. A flash from a bright, white bag might just send that bruiser you’ve been stalking a mile upriver. Thread your wading belt, sling strap, or backpack buckles through the drawstring loops of the trash bag so the bag simply hangs behind you. Then, as you fish and encounter garbage, simply collect it and put it in the sack.
Generally, the trash bag won’t become so heavy that it impedes your day on the water. If the area is especially littered or you find you’re picking up heavier-than-usual items, lugging around a swollen bag of trash can become cumbersome. If that’s the case, tie the loose ends of the drawstring loops together so the sack doesn’t spill, and place it securely on a trailside or some other distinct location you’re sure to revisit on your way back to a vehicle.
Taking out trash is a really simple way to make a big difference and set a great example for others on the water. With fly fishing’s inevitable growth and the increased strain on our waterways, the only way to maintain the purity of the landscapes and the longevity of our cherished sport is to protect both.