2007: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As another year winds down, there are too many things happening to focus on just one topic for an editorial. So here are some random thoughts on recent happenings: The Good Returning from the Fly Tackle Retailer Show in Denver, Colorado, I had a good feeling about where our industry is going - and growing. In addition to seeing some fantastic new products from some of the biggest (and smallest) manufacturers in the sport, it is promising that a number of manufacturers are going after the largest growing segment of our field: female anglers. They've been a large part of our sport for a long time, dating all the way back to the beginning with Dame Juliana Berners, the 15th-century Benedictine nun who penned one of the first authoritative works on fly-fishing, A Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle in 1496. It's nice to see our sport finally taking note and developing serious products and accessories with women in mind. The Bad Florida's wildlife cybercop debacle continues as law enforcement ratchets up efforts to ensure you have a $50 kill tag if you take time to snap a photo or measure a tarpon prior to release. Idiots. The whole controversy stems from a recent interpretation of regulations regarding Goliath grouper (see "Just Say Cheese"). Tarpon anglers are being lumped into the same group, despite the fact that the object of their affection isn't endangered. And it doesn't stop with the silver king. It applies to any ''controlled'' species, meaning if there are regulations on it, and your photo shows you are clearly out of bounds, you are a game violator - and they'll be coming after you. That big, over-slot bull redfish you caught on your 9-weight? Take a picture, convict. Your 3-year-old caught their first fish off your dock, and it was an undersized mangrove snapper? Have them hold it for a quick digital, and you could be contributing to the delinquency of a minor. As one diehard tarpon angler told me (I omit his name since the shadow government might be watching our website): ''Unfortunately, we are being examined and scrutinized with the Goliath grouper which is an endangered fish. Tarpon and other game fish which may fall into this 'possession' discussion are not endangered and will be greatly affected in an adverse way.'' Not your problem? Think again. Since Florida officials are playing fast and loose with federal rule interpretations, those in your home waters could do the same. The Ugly Several issues back, I talked about research showing that the penguin populations at the South Pole were declining due to a lack of krill due to global warming. Last month I had the chance to chat with Patagonia founder and leading green thinker, Yvon Chouinard. We spoke about his interest in the environment, and I happened to ask him about recent research showing that the Pacific gray whale is in worse shape than previously thought and that most of the population is starving. Being on the leading edge of the environmental phalanx, Chouinard had some even more chilling news. He told me about a researcher who studies plankton and must sift through, on average, 6 pounds of degraded plastic nodules for every 1 pound of plankton gathered ... and the nodules are settling on top of the oceans' thermoclines ... and vast schools of sardines are eating them … Well, you get the picture. That's enough of that. It's time to go fishing.