THE SHORT CIRCUIT
The Deﬁ ning
many times can you hear the rallying cry, “We need to grow the sport” before we realize that maybe it can’t be done? I recently attended a meeting with a group of business folks from the insurance and nan- cial arenas and the discussion got around to what I do for a living. I told them I covered shing and by their reaction it was clearly evident that they didn’t understand how anyone could make a living in shing. “You do what?” and “Not sure I understand,” admitted the execs amidst a few chuckles. They feigned interest and familiarity by politely asking, “How many people sh?” and sharing, “As I was channel sur ng the other day, I ipped past this guy with a capital T on his shing hat.” That is what we are up against gang! Afterwards, as I thought about that meeting I contemplated, “What is the real reason we want to grow shing anyway?” Every time I go to a lake on the weekend it is crowded, no matter which lake I got to, and the boat ramps are full. By growing shing are we ask- ing for more anglers? This was a de ning moment for me. It got me thinking. I have an idea. Lets grow it the right way. Let’s grow it with youth, and let’s grow it by making it better, not necessarily larger. Let’s do more for those who have invested in it to date. Better ramps, better equipment and more sh. Let’s work on more STRUCTURED stocking and habitat programs. Let’s make our lakes better. Let’s make what we have bet- ter. By doing so, aren’t we growing the sport and ultimately won’t the sport grow on its own?
In order to grow anything I believe we must ﬁ rst know where we are and then determine where we want to go. Adding more people is not the answer in my humble opinion. Instead of doing things that make us feel better like taking a neighbor ﬁ shing once a year (or promising to but never doing it), that won’t make a hill of beans bit of a difference. Let’s get ﬁ sh- ing in our schools and those of us who have the ear of our politicians and DNR’s need to use it. Instead of sitting around and complaining, get actively involved. Start a Junior High or High School Fishing Club or help the local college to get one going. Every kid we get in the boat is one less we have to worry about wandering down a wrong path in life.
Bow hunting is growing every year and to date I have never heard anyone say, “Let's grow bow hunting”. I believe its growing because deer, turkey and other game has gotten more proli c and a chance for success is there. As a young man in Central Illinois, it was a special day when I saw a deer and if I saw a turkey it was one at the of ce and not one with feathers. Today, they are everywhere and the herds and ocks are much larger. The resource is better too. Bucks that score 160 points or better are commonplace today. Thirty years ago, a crowd would gather if one was killed by something other than a pick- up truck. The resource got better and more people got interested. Not a direct one to one relationship maybe but there's no doubt that the growth of deer and turkey populations has lead to growth in the sport of hunting for them. That is growing our sport and that is the de ning moment! BW
January/February 2011 2010