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SA-LIFE Manifesto, Keep them in the water! Or lose them!


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Ronan's report

Friday August 29th, 2014

I posted this on Facebook, after seeing too many big fish held aloft like the Stanley cup, and found out there are people out there in Internet land that are as pissed about this, nope more pissed about this than I am.. damn good thing too, they are a lot smrter than I am.. chew on this SA-Life for a bit and tell me what you think. Here is the link to it.. Les Booth is a damn deep thinker and is on the right track as far as I am concerned, and yes maybe ahead of his time, or just in time.

Damn it's sad to see all these big Bull trout, and other large fish, held up by their throats, with a big sag in their backbones and a vice grip around the tail. Fish anatomy being what it is there is some damaging pressures on vital organs and nervous systems.

For what? So the world can see your straggly face and beady eyes or painted finger nails and smudged lipstick behind a stressed and damaged fish. Your hero shot and comic Buffs and fancy poses, are very vain and not flattering.

Remember that with out those big fish all you're doing is practicing casting in a pretty spot. Protect, respect and nurture the resource!!

SA-LIFE Manifesto

I have written, talked about -extensively- and practice a very simple process that entails a straight-forward approach to a set of principles that guide me in my fishing activity.

  • Fish as if there were a fish number slot limit on every body of water you cast a fly [drop a lure, or toss a bait] and adhere to hooking ONLY that number; landing them or not. Period.
  • Catch or hook - ONLY - the number of fish, for species, size and location, that the legal statutes permit, in the given area and you're done. Period.
  • It doesn't matter if you reach these limits in the first 10 minutes of your trip or it takes a full, hard working 10 hours - or 10 days - of fishing. It doesn't matter if your time on the water if completely free or if it cost you a years' salary to get there.

When you hit that number ... you are done. It'll give new meaning to - "studying the water closely".

I love to catch fish. I love to catch a LOT of fish. And I love it as much as the next person. But... at what price?

For several years now I've practiced the following guidelines in my own personal fishing activity. I call them the

Seven Axioms of Low-Impact Fishing Ethics or SA-LIFE.

Pronounce it and Promote it, as "SAY LIFE")

  • 1. SELECTIVE HARVEST instead of Catch-and-Release.
    SELECTIVE HARVEST (SH) means YOU and ME - the fisherman or fisherwoman - will make the choice (control the outcome) as to whether you harvest or release a fish. Applied to all waters, including those set aside as Catch and Release ONLY, Selective Harvest uses the guides of Axiom 2 (below) in conjunction with the local slot limits for fish on harvestable waters.
    Thus, if the harvestable number is six (6) fish, of a given sport-fish species in the local waters, then the number of released fish will be six (6) fish; regardless of size; and fishing stops in that area. I'm done and must move on.
    Selective Harvest Principles establishes a position of personal responsibility. This position informs everyone - yourself, other fishers and anti-fishers alike - you are willing and prepared to kill the fish, but retain the right-to-choose to release or harvest. Personal responsibility is therefore not legislated, but enacted by a visceral act of self-governance by choice and acceptance of the end result of that choice. Selective Harvest Principles and Set-Limits to the number of fish hooked, released or harvested, insures a minimum of impact on that stretch, reach, bay, cove, run, channel - whatever water environment description applies - by you and your fishing efforts.
    Selective Harvest Principles and Set-Limits on numbers of fish hooked, released or harvested, eliminates any chance of assumed license to over burden the fisheries resource.

  • 2. ALLOWED number of ‘hooked fish' is set at a single digit number (<10). Fish hooked is defined - for a given fishing region - as either

  • Long-Distance-Release
  • Short-Distance-Release
  • To-Hand for
  • Harvest or Release

  • 3. RoI- Region-of-Impact (RoI); strictly adhered to, for numbers of fish attempted to hook in a recreational fishing venue.
    Region-of-Impact, defined as: The size of a given fishable zone/area with specific size definitions (a) and (b). a) In lotic water (flowing water) as : 1/2 mile ( roughly 800 yards / 700+ m ) of linear stream;
    b) In lentic water (confined water, natural or man-made): as an area of 10-15 acres. With the given area subject to being increased in accordance with the level of human fishing pressure and resulting impact.

    NOTE: I will, at times, also make use of a ‘no-hook-fly' (fly with a shank only remaining; minus bend and barb; to hold the body of the fly) that fish will rise to and ‘take or mouth sub-surface'. Since there is no ‘physical damage' in the process I will ‘play an area' more than normal. But I am careful to not ‘over do it'.

    Belaboring a fish willing to rise to - or mouth - a fly, can cause unnecessary stress. If nothing else, such an action takes the fish away from time needed in actual foraging.

    Repeated takes that offer neither bite nor bug, may serve as a training mechanism against the fly being used! So, unless you're into training more difficult fish to catch or subscribing to the anti-fishing mental conditioning proposals ... then I'd suggest you not overdue this either.

  • 4. LIMIT to ZERO any fishing over nesting - 0r nested - fish, as a recreational activity.

    This includes walking-in-water (wading) or use of drag anchors on boats during a species breeding and or nesting times.

  • 5. IMPLEMENT this Code of Conduct into my recreational fishing - to become so foundational - that no history exists to EVER be used - by any group - seeking to destroy our heritage of fishing.

    li>6. FISH at all times, with methods and techniques, supported by scientific study, to be the least impacting upon a hooked fish, adhering to the following influential parameters:

    specific body of water

  • time of year
  • species of fish
  • environmental conditions
  • previous stress impact upon the fishery (natural or man-made)
  • method of fishing

  • 7. EXECUTE all personal actions and activity - in the field or away - in a manner that is least impacting on the vitality - long and short term - of the resource:

  • Land
  • Water
  • Inhabitants


You betcha these are a pretty tough. Some will no doubt even say they are austere; many even say they are an unreasonable, set of guidelines. Impossible to maintain.

And, I will agree...

For a society who has all but abandoned the notion of self-control in favor of a dangerous, deep embrace of a misguided, self-ordained and so-intoned - god-given right of self-indulgence; a notion which is sustained daily in our social education of young and old alike; I can see where it may be perceived as austere.

But, please do yourself - and future generations - two (2) genuine favors.

1) Ask the important questions: get the facts and weed out the editorializations.

2) Support the best actions TODAY, that will provide a lasting TOMORROW - based upon these three simple questions:

Just how austere are these guidelines... really? How do the likely results compare:
long-term effects of our self-guided, self-absorbed, self-indulgent societal norms, imposed upon the natural resources ?
long-term effects of self-imposed guidelines of personal responsibility imposed upon the balance of natural resources ?
Which losses are - in the end - unreasonable?
Whether it's facing:

Having no place to fish
No fish to fish for ... or
Being told it is illegal to even fish
THOSE - my fellow fishers - those are austere outcomes.

And this...

This is where the anti-fishing sentiment growing within society; the ever expanding mentally-urbanized populace; who are physically and mentally out-of-touch with the reality of life in the outdoors, is pushing towards.

This is where the mislabeled outdoor sportsman, whose greed-guided consumptive actions do very little to exhibit the practice of age-old notion of fair-chase Sportsmanship. Their actions and attitudes merely serve to aid and abet those who want to destroy our Fishing [equally at danger: HUNTING] Heritage.

Both extremes lead to only one very sad and avoidable conclusion:


I have been ridiculed by many fellow fishermen and fisherwomen, saying my proposal is just, too restrictive ... and unnecessary. I have been booed as a Chicken Little, falsely decrying the fall of our fishing sky.

Regardless of the rhetoric imposed and exposed on all sides, we must be honest with our motives and our actions. If we want to retain the rights to our Fishing Heritage, we, the fishermen and fisherwomen will have to step-up and make the necessary changes that will help us retain those rights to practice our Fishing Heritage.

The guidelines set forth in the SA-LIFE Manifesto are only too, restrictive when:

Viewed through the eyes of a person unwilling to accept a level of personal control - that feels (perceived by desire as) uncomfortable - but is necessary to insure tomorrow's fishermen/fisherwomen will be doing so in real water, with real fish.
For those who refuse to acknowledge their part in the problems we face as fishermen/fisherwomen.
The SA-LIFE guides seem unnecessary to those self-blinded to the realities around them, bulldozing their way through social structures that are completely opposed to a way of life true fishermen and fisherwomen hold as Rights of Heritage.

Yes, our current legal system says we can continue to conduct the act of C&R for as many fish as we can attract to our hook(s) on a daily basis - within the confines of a posted fishing season regulations.

But ask yourself this basic question:

“Just because it's legal, does it always mean it's sensible... or right?“

Strong emphasis on always and right.

I'm sure any of us can think of a number of occurrences, events and activities that were deemed - by the social powers as perfectly legal - but, society would have been far better off had they never been applied!

Think about it... CHANGE is NEEDED - NOW!

If only 50% of fly-fisherman were to adhere to Axioms 2 and 7 ... we'd not even be seeing the experiments conducted on C&R mortality rates; by-product mortality would be a ‘non-issue'.

Sure it feels difficult at first. Any change is hard... and scary. Initially I felt cheated. But, before long - and quite frankly I was amazed at how quickly the adjustment fell into sync - I was enjoying more about the area in which I was fishing, than ever before, and my fishing experience improved; immensely.

By nature, seeking the details is a strong motivator. However, being so wrapped up in the process of fishing, learning suffered, the surroundings faded to black and I missed far more than realized.

We are not alone in this dilemma. Many of our fellow fishers experience the same experience deprivation. This discovery begins the revelation, the process of regaining the missing dimension of the inquiring motivator. We begin to see all over again.

A sad result of the high-intensity we pay to our fishing actions is - we miss many equally, if not more interesting, scenes, events and activities than - we even experience at the end of the fly line.

Suprisingly, even more about the fishing and the fish and their environs, were learned as a result of these changes. Slowing down, taking time and internalizing a richer, cleaner, clearer, more realistic picture of the environs being fished, made me not only a better fisherman, but a far more enriched human being.

After a while, I looked forward to going fishing every bit as much for all the side-bar-benefits of fishing as I did for the actual fishing itself.

Yes... this is what is commonly referred to as, the Experience. Hey, don't knock it - until you've experienced it.

The value of enjoying our surroundings, is what actually brings most folks to fly-fishing in the first place. So, for most fly fisherman and fisherwomen, it's more a matter of, ‘...dancin' with the one what brung ya', rather than merely doin' the dance.

Food for thought...

Unfortunately we have a few picky eaters in the fly-fishing community. Let's hope those who would slough this off as just so much brie and wine sauce, would actually do some research into the actions, words and hearts of those who were our forefathers of fly-fishing. Otherwise, the future is rapidly moving toward a rather grim prospect.

Food for thought indeed. I do hope this “Manifesto of the Seven Axioms for Low-Impact Fishing Ethics” is chewed on, considered and discussed, by each person who reads it, for a long time.

But not for too, long. We really don't have all that much time. This is really a matter of LIFE and DEATH. If we take too long, we will bog down in details and in the meantime we loose all of what we hold so dearly.

The LIFE or the DEATH of our Fishing Heritage is at stake. So, for us now and future generations just...

Pic of Day

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