I was in two minds about writing this article because of its contraversial nature but the bottom line is, if we as anglers fail to take corrective action, then those that oppose us and the sport we love so much will.
A positive reputation is something that takes time and is difficult to build, yet can be destroyed in an instance. Undesirable behaviour such as littering the environments that we as anglers have the privilege to access, will not only give fishermen and fisherwomen a bad reputation but may also increase the restriction of fishable locations that we are lucky enough to access.
This is not a one off incident, however a trip I made just last week out to Thompsons Creek Dam (TCD) has definitely motivated me to speak up about the issue. One of the fundamental reasons that drives me to promote the sport, whether it be through lureandfly.com or general chit chat with friends or strangers, is not only to encourage involvement of this great past time we love so much, but also that our presence alone as anglers on waterways (whether urban creeks and local estuaries through to remote coastal beaches) quite possibly means that those who do utilise these lower traffic areas to participate in illegal or undesirable activities such as dumping of rubbish or commercial waste may think twice if there is increased traffic of anglers, who are likely to see or report them.
I know that for good friend of lureandfly.com Aaron Horne, this is most definitely the case and a major reason for his drive to promote bass fishing in the creeks of Western Sydney where he has seen all levels of dumping from trailer loads of rubbish, abandoned cars right through to chemical waste.
When I was at TCD last week it really hit home for me, not only because of the rubbish and state of the facilities, but the fact that TCD is private property and is open for access only to anglers. Beer cans, tuna cans, drink bottles, plastic wrappers, I came across all of this rubbish and plenty more during my trek around the dam that day. In this instance, there is no-one to shift the blame to or share it with. My previous thoughts that ‘lazy’ people didn’t bother to fish remote or difficult to access places has well and truly been proven wrong (not that TCD is necessarily either of those but it does involve a fair amount of walking).
I’ve written about the freedom to fish in Queensland before, where you can easily access the canal systems or fish the river in the middle of Brisbane City where the only access restrictions I’ve come across are that the ferry wharves are off limits. In Sydney we are lucky enough to be able to use the ferry wharves as fishing platforms after hours when the ferries stop operating. These and the few other accessible locations can become quite crowded. Maybe it’s because of the Sydney housing ‘bubble’ and the premium value of land, but it seems that at a lot of land based fishing areas, where the majority of anglers spend their first years fishing, we are deterred by body corporates, security, signage or just irritable residents.
These are only the examples that I’m personally familiar with in Sydney. If the constant media reports and community rumblings are anything to go by, anglers leaving these Sydney areas, coastal rivers, beaches and rock platforms as well as inland rivers and dam systems in this state of disarray, you can only assume that our battle for these access privileges will only become a much harder fight.
What we as anglers can do is really simple. Regardless of whether it’s in the city, the country, the ocean, private property or not, take your rubbish with you or use any bins provided. If you managed to carry it to the location, there should be no issue carrying it out. As much of a cliché as it is, the old adage; Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints, could not be more true for us as anglers.