An Open Letter To America's Anglers - from Hatch Mag

A very good and very interesting article recently appeared on the Hatch Magazine website. Hatch magazine is an online fly fishing specific periodical and a favorite of mine and many others. The article, written by Todd Tanner is titled "An Open Letter To America's Anglers."

Todd begins the article with an on-point description of why we love to fly fish and than goes on through the body of the article to explain how we as anglers and conservationists are under attack from progress and the economy. That is, the love of economic growth.

I could not agree with Todd more on one of the underlying messages and much of the overt message. We as anglers need to be involved in conservation efforts both locally and nationally. Many of us are not nearly involved enough and just ride on the coattails of other conservationists and enjoys the spoils of their hard work and dedication. I myself can be added to the list of hypocrites. I have been involved with a number of projects over the years but admittedly am not nearly as involved as I would like. Earlier this year I decided to change that and I encourage you to do so as well. The only way to effect change is through participation or donation. Preferably both.

However, that's where my camaraderie with Todd ends on the subject of this piece. During the course of the article he explains that we as sportsman are being coined as "radicals" and references another article written by Ty Hansen titled "Trashing Sportsmen: Influence Spurs Smear Campaign." In this article Ty refers to an individual by the name of Will Coggin who refers to TU accepting funds for conservation from large corporations as “liberal,” “radical” and “left-wing.”

The whole tone of Todd's article is expressing disgust that we as sportsman and conservationists are being considered radicals and are pushing to hard against the machine that is progress. I have to disagree with you wholeheartedly on this one. One gentleman has made the statement and only a few share this extreme opinion.  I'm sure there have been more but I hardly care about the opinion of Mr. Coggin who I have found through my own research to be a little bit out there. The man makes his money and puts food on his table by speaking on behalf of the "Center for Consumer Freedom." Clearly he is going to oppose us.

A few people calling us radicals does not call for us to start complaining and getting upset that we are being grouped with extremists and categorized under the same coined term "radical" as groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the KKK, and others. This simply isn't happening.

Todd goes on to say that conservationists are not radicals but rather, we are patriots. Again, I have to disagree. I grew up in an outdoors family, my family made their living off fishing and hunting since before I was born and I continue to do so now. I understand the need for conservation efforts more than most. But even than, even during the course of some of the work I have done, I do not group myself with the American forefathers, the medal of honor recipients and the true American heroes. By every sense of the word a patriot is someone who loves, supports and fights for their country and its interests. We only care about one interest so I don't think its fair to call ourselves patriots, and that is coming from a US combat veteran who saw plenty of action against the enemies of the United States. 

We are fisherman, hunters, and outdoorsman who love our country and are willing to stand up for our natural resources. But I would like to be clear about my OPINION. Writing letters, donating money, and standing on the courthouse steps to stand up for a single cause does not mean you are fighting for your country. We are fighting for a singular cause that only effects us. People who don't enjoy the outdoors aren't benefiting from us making sure there are fish to catch and pretty things to look at. I understand that this may make me sound like I'm opposed but I assure you I am not. I just happen to to truly value the work, dedication and sacrifice of true American patriots. I do not want group myself into the same category with these great men and women because I want to protect a trout stream. Besides, we are not doing it for a pat on the back.

That rant aside. Todd is totally correct, we as sportsmen are vulnerable right now because the resources that we love are under attack, and we need to do something about it. I guess what really bothered me about it is that these few gentleman took it upon themselves to smear the conservationist front and our response is to return the favor, even to refer to them as "liars and sociopaths." We are better than that. I encourage you to make your own opinion about the article for which the link is included below. I also encourage you at the same time to stand behind the conservation effort alongside Todd, Ty, myself, and all of our brothers and sisters who see the value in our natural resources and are willing to speak out about it.

I have deliberated a great deal about even posting this but in the end, it's my choice to speak my mind, more than that, its my right. I support everybody's right to say what they want about whatever they want. What I can't support us being slanderous about someone or something just because they did it first. We are better than that. I speak for the majority here, not the minority in saying that nobody has personally insulted any one of us, so lets not do it to them. Fight the good fight, stand up for what you believe in, but remember that even enemies don't have to be disrespectful.

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