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Why Do We Fish? Part II


Mike G
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Bridge: In a previous thread, Why do They Fish?,, we learned a lot about ISA by comparing it to TU. Mike Clifford challenged me to come up with some ideas for ISA. Though I would like to jump into that topic, I want to be sure I understand the group well. The ink is barely dry on my first check for dues. As a result, I think, leaving comparisons aside, a direct analysis of ISA is in order. To get things rolling here is what it means to me based on my reading of the documents and what I see happening in these forums.

 

ISA

 

 

1) The purpose is to enjoy World Class Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Illinois.

 

2) Corollaries are:

 

a) We fish.

 

B) We pick battles carefully.

 

c) We work towards the following goals:

 

i) Preserving and enhancing existing fisheries

ii) Creating new fisheries

iii) Preserving access to existing fisheries

iv) Improving access to existing fisheries

v) Being willing to do what it takes in pursuit of these goals. This includes but is not limited to:

 

(1) Political Action

(2) Legal/Court Action

(3) Conservation

(4) Education

(5) Co-operation with other groups

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I agree with all of the above, with the exception of the following:

(1) Political Action

(2) Legal/Court Action

 

We never get involved in political action of any kind.

This isn't to say we won't occasionally come up with a "Resolution of Support" or petition our legislators on core issues.....but even those instances are pretty rare.

The ISA was instrumental in preparing a release with Prairie Rivers on mercury regulations, but it was strictly research (fact-finding) and wording in the final document.

 

As far as I'm aware, we have never done anything in a court of law to promote, change or petition for anything.

 

(3) Conservation

(4) Education

(5) Co-operation with other groups

 

There ya go.....and lots of it.

 

I find the word "conservation" can be taken in so many different contexts.

Some will tell you they do it by fighting the powers-that-be to the highest level to prevent garbage dumps, mines or make changes in stream DO levels.

Some will also challenge the true meaning of the term "grass roots", as it can also take on many forms.

If you are looking for a thorough analysis of what the ISA stands for, that will take a little time and more opinions than mine alone...but we'll get there in this thread eventually.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mike G, I appreciate most of what you're saying here, but there are a couple of points here that I hope you will re-evaluate.

 

First, I agree with Mike C's statements about legal action. Unless an ISA member-lawyer appears out of thin air and is willing to do mountains of pro bono work, it isn't likely we'll be in a position to take specific legal actions any time soon. The focus so far (and appropriately, I think) has been to facilitate and initiate concrete positive actions outside the legal arena. Other groups are geared-up for that work. Where they agree with our goals, we have supported them.

 

As far as goals of the ISA...I think two points from this list need to be addressed.

 

1) The purpose is to enjoy World Class Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Illinois.

 

c) We work towards the following goals:

 

i) Preserving and enhancing existing fisheries

ii) Creating new fisheries

iii) Preserving access to existing fisheries

iv) Improving access to existing fisheries

v) Being willing to do what it takes in pursuit of these goals. This includes but is not limited to:

 

First, it is true that your point "ii" has been part of the agenda of many fisheries groups for a long time. Unfortunately, that pursuit has met with unmitigated disaster over and over and over again. By shuffing fish around the country and all over the world, anglers and anglers groups have indirectly caused extinctions and extirpations of numerous species, especially amphibians, but also other fish and even other fisheries. The professional fisheries biologists are still in the process of adjusting to these hard earned lessons. That task is made significantly easier when anglers and anglers groups recognize those lessons as well, and use their influence to avoid further problems of this type. Responsible fisheries conservation groups (and the ISA is a fishing/conservation group) should specifically avoid creating new fisheries and work instead to safeguard and preserve existing ones.

 

Second, all of us need to think hard and long about what we mean by "world class smallmouth bass fishing". If we could catch 8 pound hormone-laden genetically modified freak of a fish out of cement raceway, would that be "world class fishing"? Do we want fisheries like the ones in Idaho where introduced smallmouth grow to huge sizes...and then destroy native salmon runs in the process? I'd call that a world class disaster, not a world class fishery.

 

We have native smallmouth fisheries in Illinois that reproduce naturally and grow to trophy sizes. Let to their own devices and with a little bit of protection, you can 20+ inch fish here from populations of fish that were around before Europeans came to North America. To me...that sounds like a pretty good start on a world class fishery.

 

I'd like to hear other ideas too.

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Mike G, I appreciate most of what you're saying here, but there are a couple of points here that I hope you will re-evaluate.

 

Tim,

 

I suppose I should explain what I mean about a few terms. I use legal and political action in a very broad sense. In that sense ISA has always been legally and politically active. Otherwise how could it claim any credit for closed seasons and bag limits. I consider attending hearings on things like dam removal political activities. Of course we want some laws and some legal teeth in the laws. At the grass roots level that means making your voice heard and walking the talk with your vote, IMHO. We can point to some big political and legal accomplishments like the EPA, keeping miles of the Chicago lakeshore open to the public, and the efforts of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District to expand the land holdings of the district and open them for public use.

 

But not all legal actions are dramatic class action suits championed by lawyers in shiny suits. And not all political actions require a big dollar national "citizens for.." organization. Some day you have to hear (Chicagoland Canoe Base's) Ralf Frese's account of how his rental records were used to keep the Kiswaukee river open when a landowner threatened to close a section of the river to through traffic. That was a small scale but very important legal action. Political and legal action should not be dismissed out of hand. Would you play chess and tell your opponent that you will never use your Rooks? Though we might want to use them sparringly, I want to keep those arrows in the quiver. There, just the threat of using them adds weight to ISA's position.

 

"Creating fisheries" also has many meanings one of which I guess is indescriminately planting exotic species in existing waters. I am not for that. However, I am for making fisheries where there were none as we do by building ponds and reservoirs. Maybe it is pushing it, but IMHO reclaiming a foul pond or foul stretch of river to the point where it can support our bass is creating a fishery where there was none. BTW I would stock these waters as advised by the DNR biologists.

 

I had a wise teacher in college that advised us,"Never say never and never say always." In math and logic these words are valid, but in the real world they eventually let you down.

 

In other words, such words can paint a guy into a corner. That is the long and short of it. Keep your options open.

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