When you go backcountry camping there is a rule called leave no trace. What it means is that the land you stayed on should remain the same as it was before you camped on it. This rule can also be applied to fishing, perticularly fly fishing since you have to wade through the environment of the fish. Fish conservation should be on everyone’s mind while fishing. The main problem that affects fish populations is not overfishing but it is the destruction of habitat.
When fishing in a river it is important to be mindful of your surroundings. Try not to move things or alter the environment in any way. Don’t move logs, rocks, or any other possible habitats. They may look like nothing to you but they are actually vital to the survival of trout populations. Even logs that aren’t in the water and are laying in the Riparian area are important to the ecosystem. They act as a habitat for bugs. Bugs are one of the most popular foods among trout. The ecosystem around the trout should be kept in perfect condition. Some trout such as Brook Trout have a low tolerance to change. Water temperature and Ph levels must be taken care of. Luckily, many rivers have natural buffers to protect them from natural threats. For example, many streams run over limestone which neutralizes acid rain. Rivers are capable of fending off natural threats but they are not able to fight against man made threats. These problems indirectly affect a population of trout.
A more direct threat is when anglers catch a fish they don’t handle it correctly. Most anglers know the rules and do handle fish properly but there are still some who are unaware of how to handle fish the right way. The main thing people forget to do is wet their hands before handling a fish. It is extremely important that anglers do this because if they don’t they are rubbing the protective coating right off the fish. When the coating is removed the fish is much more susceptible to diseases that affect the skin. When you wet your hands it acts as a barrier between your hands and the protective slime. Another good tip that some may be familiar with is when you take the trout out of the water to snap a photo make sure you do it quickly. Some people say to hold your breath and when you can’t hold it anymore that’s when you should get the fish back in the water. I say just be conscious of how long the fish is out of the water and you should be fine. You can take a photo in the water so you can quickly put the trout back in the river after the picture is taken. Overall, your main focus should be the trout’s well-being and to be gentle when handling it.
These tips are just general rules to follow while fishing. If everyone helps out a little bit now it will go a long way in the future. One way to help is to buy a hat on the trout savers website http://www.troutsavers.com/ where all of the money goes to conservation.