From Jordan —
It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of fish and ignore best fishing practices, especially if you’re frustrated because the fish aren’t biting. No matter what, being responsible is part of the sport. If you’re new to fishing, be sure to familiarize yourself with fishing regulations. Also learn how to properly handle fish that may end up on your line. If you’re an experienced angler, remember the basics.
If you harvest breeders, drop trash in the water, or cull, you may harm the environment that hosts the fish you love to catch. If you take one overslot, lose one piece of plastic trash, or kill one fish while culling, you won’t see a decline in the wildlife and habitat. But, over time, the environment will silently suffer.
Revive and release breeders once you have your trophy.
While fishing, keep in mind the things you can do to preserve the wildlife and habitats around you. If you’re near or offshore with a fish on the line that doesn’t appear to be legal, don’t gaff it until you know you can keep it. As a general rule, don’t gaff anything you don’t want to take home.
When you’re inshore fishing and reach for the net, consider using one with rubber mesh material. This type of net is more forgiving on the fish’s outer protective slime coating.
Don’t let bait sit on the bottom on a slack line; know when you get a bite. Avoid gut hooking what may be a breeder inshore. Also, while fishing with topwater or subsurface plugs, consider changing out treble hooks to single hooks. This tactic is much friendlier to the fish and angler trying to unhook their catch. And always consider whether what you want to harvest is what you (or family or friends) can actually eat. Oftentimes, Nicole and I catch more fish than we can eat, so we snap quick photos before reviving and returning the fish to the water.
You might have heard that sunscreen is harming the world’s coral reefs. If you haven’t, read more about the increasing evidence showing certain chemicals in sunscreens are bleaching coral here. Nicole and I use very little SPF cream (never spray) on our faces during fishing trips. That’s because we wear long-sleeve shirts, hats, pants, sunglasses, and buffs. Wearing the right attire can spare you and the environment from the harsh chemicals found in sunscreen. The spray kind is especially harmful because wind carries it into the water around your boat. Not only does the spray mix with the water, it’s wasted because you never get to use it. The only time in recent memory that we’ve been sunburned while fishing is when we didn’t wear head-to-toe gear and tried to compensate with sunscreen. As avid Florida anglers, that’s proof of the power of UPF clothing.
Last but not least, if you cruise by a piece of discarded trash, stop and pick it up. This simple act can help maintain the fishing spots you’ve come to love. And always bring a trash bag so that you have a convenient way of storing waste until you’re back on shore.