Choose to make the right decision

I had an interesting chat last week with an area biologist about a problem that has presented itself recently on Lake of the Woods.
Some people are keeping large lake trout that are, in fact, legal to keep but these large fish are an incredibly valuable resource. Furthermore, they are protected fish which are leaving the area they live in during winter and anglers are taking advantage of this.
For the catch-and-release minded anglers, it is a great opportunity to catch trophy fish. But for those who want to kill these fish, it is a huge ethical problem.
It is my opinion that trout of the quality found on Lake of the Woods cannot be found within 500 miles of Sunset Country.
We are spoiled as anglers in Sunset Country to have many of the absolute finest fishing opportunities in the world on beautiful, undeveloped waters. Our area fishery managers and biologists have done a fantastic job at preserving our unmatched resources for many years.
On Lake of the Woods alone, we have world-class fishing options for seven or eight different species. The same can be said for Rainy Lake and countless other bodies of water in the region.
This is the reason nearly every fishing show comes to Sunset Country to film episodes for a variety of species.
What I’m getting at with this story is those of us who live here have to take responsibility for preserving these awesome resources since they are so valuable to all of us in many ways. Our fishing opportunities attract people from all over the world, leading to a huge economic impact for the entire region in so many ways.
Fishing is a traditional pastime that can be enjoyed be people of all ages and abilities, and the science is out there that proves if people abuse the resources, they will disappear—likely forever.
I have a lot friends in the U.S. who go ice-fishing and are lucky to catch two or three walleyes in a day (and these are good anglers). The waters they are fishing just do not have the number and quality of fish we have in ours.
They come up here and are blown away at the quality of the walleye fishing.
Conservation-minded concepts like catch-and-release, selective harvest, and ethical angling practices are being absorbed by more people every day, but we all have to practise what we preach in order to achieve the ultimate goal of sustaining the resources we have just outside our door.
I grew up fishing with my dad and grandpa and I was taught that it was okay to keep a few fish to eat, which it is, but not to keep more than we could eat. The goal of going fishing should not be to go out and bring home a limit every trip.
The days of keeping everything we catch are over.
Ethical decisions we make as anglers will have a lasting effect on our resources. It is up to us to choose to make the right decision and let big fish go, and not exploit “easy” fishing opportunities like the large lake trout in Lake of the Woods or crappies in many waters in our region.
I can tell you influences from many of the people I have fished with have shaped my thoughts on fishing and conservation, and I have been lucky to have some excellent people teach me the right things to do.
When you go fishing with your friends or kids, be a good example and practise responsible fishing ethics. What you do on the water will have a lasting impression on those you share the experience with.

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