I'm Gail Campbell in Eugene and I've been teaching fly fishing for about 30 years. By the way, are you aware that Masako Tani is a renowned writer in Japan on fly fishing?
Lately, I've come to realize that what I do is really hook people, through fishing. Fishing has an evolution: you start out wanting to achieve, to catch, to show what you can do, and to eat and be proud of your catch that you've brought to share. As you catch more and more fish, you realize you can't eat it all, so you start to put fish back. As you become a better and better fisher, you start to handicap yourself with smaller hooks, lighter line, and then, fishing with flies. In truth, you progress to caring about the fish, the stream, pollution, good forestry practices that make streams viable for life, and sound laws that protect fish and their environment. Your interest expands not simply for the benefit of your possibly catching more fish, but of the fish continuing to thrive and prosper. Your horizons expand into areas of conservation, restoration, and preservation as you witness our relentless savaging of the environment. You've seen beauty out there on the stream, and you know it must not disappear.
I love fishing. It's my passion. And I love to empower others to enjoy the same passion. But I'm also very reverent about fish. I turned my catch and release corner in '88 on the Bulkley River in BC. I caught a magnificent, wild, 40" steelhead in full spawning color. He was so fine a living creature, My immediate reaction was, Oh, EXCUSE ME, I'm SO sorry I bothered you! and I immediately put him back, resuscitated him and he charged off, to my and his relief to live some more, to spawn, and perhaps to spawn again.(Steelhead can return multiple times to spawn during their lives.)
I teach people how to "trick the fish" with flies. And how and why it's good to put fish back. After all, what do you want with a dead fish at 9:00 in the morning when you're planning on fishing all day? And why would you go to the bushes less than 200' feet from the stream if you knew that your waste would pollute the very stream you're fishing in? The very fish you plan on eating, and other organisms - birds, otters, martins, deer - like Terry said, all life, need clean water. So I teach about that, too. I've concluded that my teaching fly fishing is essentially a great ruse to teach others about the natural environment and how to keep it healthy.
Who among the vegan and vegetarian crowd thinks of spirit in all things? Do they, Thank God, everytime they make vegetable soup, or vegan humus? I'm thinking that the noise against fishing from this crowd may do well to look at it's own use of the environment and other living things. Believe me, the fly fishing community does care a lot about fish and the fish's environment.
I'd also point out that fishers serve a vital purpose in reporting back what they find in the fishing environment - where they find a species illegally dumped which will, and does, upset an ecosystem, e.g., chub introduced from bait wells on boats into Diamond Lake which resulted in a massive and deadly cleanup of that lake. It was flyfishers who also reported early sightings of bass illegally dumped into Davis Lake for fishing purposes. We are a link of information in the state to the natural surroundings. And we're advocates for the health of waterways, of sound fishing regulations, and of responsible fishing when we teach.
In other part, I also help cook at the Simnasho Longhouse on the Warm Springs Reservation. Every part of the salmon is thoughtfully used there, except the guts - and they used to be before modern leaders and lines came into existence. The fillets are cut off but with enough meat left on the backbones for them to be dried and then used to make a very health-giving fish soup, to flavor dumpling dishes, and to make fish powder. The heads are cut in two and baked. Some heads are boiled with the roe to make a dish favored by elders. The fillets are of course used. Leftover salmon is sent home with the guests to help them feed their families.
I've fished for trout, salmon, steelhead, bass, tarpon, bonefish, etc, but I've ceased to fish for salmon because I don't need to help deplete that resource. And I personally consider any salmon left to be treaty fish. At the Simnasho Root Feast this year, there was shock in the kitchen which received only one fresh fish to cook. It was unthinkable that salmon, who are invited to nearly every meal, were not there. No one knew what to say, the ramifications were so awesome. As Terry said, these foods are needed to sustain feed people. Please know that there is a lot of reverence for the fish and for all the foods served there. In context, these foods were put on this earth by the Creator to help sustain them, and the people who eat them have reverence for them.
And yes, my friends in the Longhouse kitchen seem ashamed and disgusted if someone leaves a net in the water and the fish in it don't get to be used. There are lawbreakers in every society. Maybe, too, due to poverty, the netters couldn't get back because they couldn't get gas money for the return trip. But you know, those fish actually do get used in a wider sense: they're taken back by the river to become food for more of the river's creatures, including other salmon. In ODFW's regulations, if an illegal fish dies at your hand (maybe it's too small to keep, foul-hooked, or the wrong species), you must leave it and put it back in the water: It goes back into the river to help sustain more life there.
Of all the methods of fishing, fly fishing seems the most thoughtful to me. I tie, I've made my own rods, and I hope I'm a responsible user of and teacher about the resource we enjoy. When I teach others how to trick the fish with a fly, I also teach them how to be kindest in letting that fish go. And even little kids get it.
Gail Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
posted 4 years, 7 months ago
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