Fishing, Cycles, and Change
by: Lloyd Tackitt 3/10/2014
Fishing is of course cyclical. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter cycles by seemingly endlessly, and each season has it's own unique attributes. Each full run through the seasons is one cycle of the wheel. Seemingly endlessly.
But what you notice after enough cycles is that each cycle is different from the last one. Maybe not a lot different, but some different. And even small differences add up to large differences with enough time and accumulation.
For instance. I first started fishing the Brazos, my stretch of the Brazos, in the summer of 1971. In some ways it was a very different river back then. There were gazillions of fresh water mussels in the river bed, and hellgrammites under every rock. There were more fish and bigger fish. Now the mussels are all but gone and so are the hellgrammites. There are still fish, but not as many and not as big. I think there are two reasons for this, one is that for a period of several years there was a gravel washing operation up river that clouded the water, and I think there is considerable runoff from farm fields that carry fertilizer into the river. The fertilizer has increased the moss quantities and the moss has choked out a lot of things. Back in the 70's we rarely saw any kind of moss. Now it is there all year round, and can be so thick that it becomes nearly impossible to fish. Even wading through it can be a major chore.
Another change that has come along are airboats. There weren't any back in 71 that I can remember, now when the weather is good there are three to five that go by each day, sometimes ten or more. Noisy things but otherwise fairly harmless. Still, when you are out there in the peace and quiet enjoying the quiet sounds of nature - and then have to listen to the roar of an airboat for twenty minutes that drowns out everything else and actually hurts your ears (why else would they wear hearing protection?) - it can be disappointing. How two people can share the same river with such a hugely different amount of consideration for others is difficult to reconcile. It's a sign of things to come.
I suspect the biggest changes are closer to the cities. I suspect, and some of this suspicion comes from forum posts, that there are a lot more people fishing now than there used to be. Increased fishing pressure decreases fishing success and generally usually causes a litter problem, spoiling the whole thing for everyone except the new comers who don't know any better, at least not yet. I guess it's up to us to educate them now.
The US population in 1971 was roughly 203 million people, the latest count is 316 million. A more than 30% increase. But fishing seems to be getting to be a more popular sport than ever before so based on what I've read I suspect the increase in fishermen is more than 30% over that same amount of time. And then add in boaters who share the same waters.
Another change has been the declining availability of fishing on private land. Used to be that it was fairly easy to get permission to fish on private land, now it's not and this increases the pressure on public waters.
If you read some of the old fishing books you'll also notice that today's fishermen seem to be better equipped and have more skill at catching fish, so not only are there more fishermen on less water, but they are better fishermen - even though they are dodging ever more water-skiiers and jet-skiiers. All in all what I've seen in my 60 odd years is a trend that if it continues will ruin fishing, at least ruin it as I remember it being and as I would like to see it continue to be. Maybe that's old codger thinking, but even old codgers are right sometimes.
Bottom line: These are the glory days, the salad days, the days you'll tell your grand kids about. What your grand kids will tell their grand kids about will be something much less. Enjoy it while you have it. Try to keep it as long as you can. It's slipping away, slowly, but slipping away.
Old codger out.
Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
opencage, CO 3/10/2014 8:58:46 PM
From what I've experienced, old codgers know a lot about fishing, so you got my ear. I try to follow your advice when I'm out and enjoy what's around me and what I'm doing. Though I have a feeling I won't really realize it till I'm older. I look forward to Dave's thoughts about the changes he's noticed about Colorado fishing as well. Thanks Lloyd.
Coyute, CO 3/11/2014 9:20:28 AM
It's no secret that fishing forums have ruined a lot of quality spots. Some people care more about an agenda making a name for themselves and making a few bucks than quality fishing.
Bassackwards, CO 3/11/2014 12:19:00 PM
Funny thing is that I costantly see that kids don't get out of the house, and all they want is an electronic experience. Most people say, get out and play, and while I agree, there's a tiny part of me that says...no kid stay home eat cheetos and try to beat that video game. That way when I am an old codger I will be one of the only ones out on the water.
IceFishingFool, CO 3/11/2014 1:26:22 PM
I've been doing my part, caught 2 jet skis last year, Pretty sure I convinced the gal driving one that if she had kept going what was on the end of the line that skipped over the hood, would have ripped her face off.