Becoming S.A.F.E. - Keys you can use

Wisconsin musky angler Pete Maina frequently ponders, "Is it good for the fish? Is it good for the angler? If it’s good for the fish and the angler, it’s probably a pretty sound idea." Stewardship – including S.A.F.E. angling - is really about that way of thinking.

Stewardship of our fisheries has its "fringe benefits." What’s best for fish is clean water. To get clean water, you need a healthy environment in the watershed. A strong, vital environment is a healthier place to for wild things to live – including humans.

Stewardship from an angler’s perspective is a two-pronged approach: what we can do on the water and what we can do off the water. The aim of S.A.F.E. Angling is to address what we can do on the water in our lifestyle of stewardship.

S.A.F.E. Angling has it’s obvious benefits. It offers us more fish to catch, bigger fish to catch, stronger, healthier fish to catch, and sustainability for future generations of anglers. Our relationship with the fishery seems so simple that it almost goes without saying.

Unfortunately though, it does need saying, because while our lakes, streams and seas are angler’s havens, they’re also in trouble, and we’re the ones who are positioned to fix them.

Nobody is more passionate about these "home waters" than those of us who spend a lifetime of weekends and summer vacations on them, plying the waters for fish. We develop a sense of ownership through this relationship with the water, and the fish that swim there. In time, these places become "ours." We feel not only an ownership, but also the emotions that accompany that feeling, like "pride" and "duty" and "obligation" and "responsibility" and "respect." As we string together memories, good, bad, embarrassing, exciting … these waters become part of us. We are compelled to take care of them. That’s Stewardship.

So, what can we do?

Below is a quick list of S.A.F.E. ideas to help you. If this list looks long and intimidating, know that we’re advocating "baby steps." We offer this list in the spirit of "improvement" or "progress;" these are each keys you can use for fishing in a lower-impact way.

Make no mistake, there’s no finger shaking or condescension that comes with these recommendations. We’re just now learning the harmful effects that some of these products are having – so before this, we just didn’t know. Now we do, new information has emerged, new evidence is available, and our goal is to get the word out.

It’s yours to do with as you wish, but we know you wish the same that we do, you wish for healthy fisheries for generations to come because of who you are. You fish. You’re a steward.

10 Keys You Can Use: Safe Angling Tackle

10 Keys You Can Use: Safe Angling Practices