|Pretty standard saturday at our house (I kid, I kid)|
Given our overall behavior from about 1983 to 1990, that must have been a huge pain in the ass, and I definitely remember it being a debacle almost every time. Pops, at that time, was definitely not the most proficient angler in that era (by the way, he will read this), but he was particularly patient with us, our snagged lines, lost fish, hungry bellies, and assorted little-boy-antics-in-a-small-boat. "He hit me!" ....need I say more? One particular memory sticks with me from around age 11, though, from a hot spring afternoon, with just my Dad at our local reservoir - a baldcypress swamp flooded for grain mill operations in the 1800s, and later, for municipal water supply.
|Photo: Jeffrey Pippen|
|Not me, but I had this|
exact hair cut, and
ugly surfing shirts
Then, a strike and pull - the kind I now instantly recognize as a perch. I reeled it in, and it was a big yellow perch, swollen with eggs. Now, you've gotta realize that Pops will keep and fry any fish that can be caught, more or less. And yellow perch are high on the list, let me tell you. But he presented me with a tough choice, saying, "Now Kirk, this is a really good fish, and we can take her home and eat her. Or you can throw her back, so her babies will live." It was the first time I ever released an edible fish.
|Just like this one!|
The moment stuck with me. 25 years later, I almost exclusively practice catch and release fishing, and I've dedicated my career (and much of my personal time) to cleaning up the area's waterways for fish and for people alike. I tell myself that it's (my catch and release antics) a direct result of the pervasive water pollution we have here in the Chesapeake Bay region, but there's something else deep within me, when I catch that 15" crappie or that 14" rainbow trout, that says, "let him go." And I usually do.