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Taking responsibilty for our waters

by: John Stevens 3/24/2013

Too often as anglers we tend to blame others for the state of our waters.  I admit, I , myself have done just that.  The reality of it is that if we take a cold , hard look at ourselves, oftentimes it is by our own doing.

As anglers in a semi arid state such as Colorado, I believe that we all have a personal responsibilty to our waters, and other anglers.  This has been bothering me for some time now.  Many of you may have noticed that I seem perhaps withdrawn, or out of contact nowdays.


I make no secret of the fact that this year I intend to catch my 10 lb walleye.  After that, I am in pursuit of the saugeye and walleye records.  My personal responsibility and ethic won't allow me to keep a fish over the 24" range, so I am at a quandary there.  But, the pursuit is what I am after. We all know that there are few waters in Colorado that have the potential to grow fish of those proportions.  Which brings me to this blog.

I am not against anyone taking a pic, or even keeping a fish of a lifetime.  That being said, I do wish that some of us (including me at times) were more responsible to how it is done.  Posting a pic of you holding that fish of a lifetime, is amazing and to be applauded.  But, please be aware of the body of water that it was caught in.  If it were a larger body of water, say Cherry Creek, or Chatfield thats fine.  However, if it comes from a smaller body of water, please don't name the water in the photo.

A couple examples of this happened to me.  First, I was witness to a friend of mine catching a large walleye from the dam at Cherry Creek a few years ago.  Overnight literally, there were over 20 boats fishing the dam the next day.  That night, over 40 anglers plyed the face of the dam in search of that walleye which was caught and released.  That's fine in as much as Cherry Creek is a large enough body of water to withstand the pressure.

The second example is one of many that we have all seen.  When I started fishing again, I talked to a few local anglers to find a spot where I could take my son to catch his first fish.  I was told of several small ponds that are regularly stocked with stocker trout.  I fished those ponds for an entire summer, and everytime the DOW posted that they had been stocked, you couldnt buy a spot on the bank!  Literally.  Two weeks later, you couldn't buy a bite from the fish that were left.

What I am saying is, that I believe that most of us want to be conscious of our waters, protect our fishing spots, and to some degree, protect the fish. To do that, we really need to stop for a second and think about what we post, and who is going to see it. It is easy to blame this site, to call it names, to say that it is ruining Colorado fishing. But, that really is not true. Word of mouth, the internet, clubs, groups, they all play a part in identifying local waters. What does more damage to our waters pressure wise I believe is irresponsibilty from the anglers themselves. Superfluous posting, naming waters in pictures, leaving trash in your secret spot, these are all ways that we as anglers impact the pressure our waters see.

As a Lake Skipper here, I see and recieve all kinds of lake reports and conditions updates.  I am amazed at the things anglers put in those reports and oftentimes have to do an extreme amount of editing to make them readable, as well as to protect the waters somewhat.  I understand that you are happy and want to share your extreme good luck, but please don't report that you caught 5 gallon bucket fulls of fish at lake x.... That information is superfluos.  A much better report would say that bass are biting in the mornings on rattletraps ripped through the weeds.  No needless numbers of fish caught, no inciting the masses to overpower the lake.  Clear, concise, factual.

Nobody likes to see reports labeled.. good day at Lake X, Y, or Z on the forums.  I understand that completely.  But, at the same time, do we as responsible anglers need to post every single fish we catch, from every single body of water?  I don't, and haven't now in the past couple years.

So, in conclusion, the next time you see your personal honey hole, or favorite lake, river, pond overrun, ask yourself what part did I play in making this happen? If we are honest with ourselves, and actually think about it and look back we may find that we played a larger part than we thought.

I hope that everyone can get out and enjoy the waters now that are opening up.  If you see me at a local body of water, stop by and say Hi!  But, please don't give up my spot that night!

Good fishing,



Blog content © John Stevens
Member comments
tatonka, CO   3/24/2013 9:20:02 AM
Agree 100%. Its up to each angler to do what they can to preserve a body of water. Unfortunately not all anglers will get that. I'm more worried at this point if we will even have enough water this year to keep them all swimming though another drought.
takeakidfishing, CO   3/24/2013 9:24:00 AM
Well done as always Tiny. Erik
FishSeal, CO   3/24/2013 9:24:03 AM
My thoughts are that with the economy in it's current state, we should also expect that local and closer water bodies are going to be hit harder and the impact will be more noticeable. I'm noticing this already with some of the local water bodies here. There's not a lack of fishers... but there is a lack of moolah, so closer is better. Good blog Tiny, I tried to contact you, let me know if you received it. FS
FISHRANGLER, CO   3/24/2013 9:45:20 AM
You should post pictures with examples to show people how they can still post a picture, but protect the smaller lakes. The lake with the trout, well that's is what you want, I would want all those people fishing for those trout instead of the other great species we have here in CO. The CC thing is not that big of a deal, Countless large eyes have came from there and that will continue. We have guides that teach and show everything everyday here. They make a living giving up spots and techniques and still do well. Then we have the angler that just went out with said guide and shows everyone what they learned. And the guides still do well. I and yourself have caught fish and share that info with friends and they did the same and we still catch fish. The only true way to keep it on the DL is to not have any friends and not speak with anyone. That is not a reality and not likely to happen IMO. I think we shouldn't worry so much about it. These part time anglers hot spotting the smaller lakes still need some knowledge plus skill to catch these fish. Most don't have it.
FISHRANGLER, CO   3/24/2013 9:59:39 AM
I would also like to add that without some of the people in the past writting blogs and lake up dates and posting pictures from Charlie Myers to Matt and DOW and every other 10 thousand other sources, that I would not have all the tools I need to locate the species I like to target. So In my mind I want that info out, just not all of it..LOL
fishing bum, CO   3/24/2013 10:00:33 AM
KingFisher13, CO   3/24/2013 10:23:12 AM
I agree 99%. It would be 100%, but I actually like lake X reports.. ) I never post locations, but do post pictures that would give away the location to anyone who regularly fish there. I also post a week or two late. If there was a hot bite, it's usually over. I myself, really like seeing fishing pictures... Very well written, and a great point made John! Thanks
Flyrodn, CO   3/24/2013 10:23:31 AM
I would add it goes beyond just posting responsibly, to which I agree, it also means using discretion in who you speak, brag to. I can assure everyone, if you brag to others the word will spread faster than a raging wildfire. If you don't wish to share your spot, seal them lips. A second point, personally I think we gain more from speaking out (nicely and at the appropriate time) about our feelings on conservation. While I personally will never fault an angler for keeping a wall hanger, it will never be me. I believe in release all trophy (MA) classed fish, period. I would encourage all to do so, especially those teaching/passing on fishing skills, such as guides. Teaching others the "right" thing to do, will go farther in protecting our resources than keeping a secret in my opinion. Thanks Tiny.
foCOfishin, CO   3/24/2013 12:56:31 PM
I think that there will be a day whence the reporting of ACTUAL numbers caught can benefit the fishery, and can still be kept out of the publics hands. This is why CPW biologists use creel surveys.... Angling pressure is a difficult variable to measure, and so it becomes equally difficult to determine which waters will need the most assistance (eg, stocking, stricter regs, etc). I hear what you're saying though. This web site is part of the social media where everything can be shared freely, yet so many anglers hold their local/favorite waters dear to their hearts....and rightfully so! One of my favorite high elevation backpack camp sites is also one of my most secretive fishing holes. I found a small population of greenback cutts residing in a pond protected by a single 5' barrier from 100% brookies below. I'm very careful about who Ill bring there to fish or even camp - its a spectacle of threatened nature for goodness sake, nothing like it.
BobLoblaw, CO   3/24/2013 4:27:53 PM
Nice blog John! Seen too many little ponds that cant handle the pressure get raped by meat hunters and I just need one trophy for my wall guys. So whats your hate mail count up for this one, I know you were at 23, have you hit 50 yet? Its a shame the small ponds cant handle the publicity that people would even rail against it. Do a little research and go find the ponds, if I can do it, it isnt that hard! But nope everyone wants everything handed to them. So what are you going to do when everything has been posted to death and the only lakes that have quality fish are the big lakes? If you want everything handed to you, you arent going to like Cherry Creek much, she just mulches fisherman along with the ecoli making a nice food base!
NoNick, CO   3/24/2013 5:38:58 PM
B.L. is right on. It's true that angler responsibility is key to preserving fishing opportunities. However, when you plaster information all over the most convenient means of people getting it (the internet), the percentage of those who don't care about preservation accessing those places goes up. People can look the info up on the 'net at anytime and from anywhere. Word of mouth is not that convenient nor is simply being in the right place at the right time to see someone land a good (or a lot of) fish. When zero work is required to figure out where they are biting and what they are biting on, the end result can be a "fishing flash mob". That's just a fact, we've all seen it. Responsible use of information is more important than trying to make ourselves believe that most everybody out there is a responsible angler who just doesn't know how to be one yet.
JKaboom, CO   3/24/2013 10:18:40 PM
Great BLOG Tiny - a lot of food for thought in the BLOG and the responses thank you :)
Coyute, CO   3/25/2013 10:22:22 AM
If the fishing world was devoid of hypocrisy, anglers would have very little to talk about. The more people who claim that sites like this have little to do with hot-spotting, the less I believe it. Of course they do! My advice, pick your fishing friends wisely, know when to keep your mouth shut and don't be a braggart - especially in the company of strangers and mental gimps. I share information with people of good character (waning in numbers these days) with many of these folks with character being the same people I call friend. The lazy, the stringer posse (people who keep everything they catch) the excessive trophy-on-the-wall guys, the guys who keep everything so they can feed their families (bad providers) and the googans can respectfully suck it. :)
John Stevens (Tiny Stevens), CO   3/26/2013 12:44:47 AM
Thanks for all the comments, feedback and opinions guys. I do appreciate it a lot. Thanks also for reading my blog. As I said in the blog, It is very frustrating to me that sometimes there is a lack of common sense. A lot of good ideas and practices have come from the feedback on this blog... Keep it up! Thanks again, Tiny
Pine, CO   3/27/2013 12:35:51 AM
Inciteful and well written John.....couldn't have said it nicer myself!
John Stevens
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