OK, so it's hardly the best fishing photo of a striped bass you might find, but have a close look at this advert that I saw in the excellent US based Surfcaster's Journal (free online mag, check here) and read the text - "We gave you the tools to catch her......letting her go is up to you. Please support catch and release". Now that is something else isn't it? A US based fishing tackle company who I must assume have paid to place that advert, and whilst of course there is the company name and a picture of one of their lures, I find it pretty damn incredible that the message is in fact promoting catch and release and not so much their products.
If this doesn't strike you as something pretty unique, then I would ask you to go find me a saltwater based fishing advert anywhere in a UK or Irish publication (paper, online, whatever) that promotes a sport fishing message along the lines of that US Super Strike advert. I know squat about Super Strike other than from the advert I must assume they make and sell fishing lures, but I find it very impressive that a fishing tackle company has actually paid money (to place an advert) to try and help promote catch and release.
What does this say about the respective tackle trades in the UK and the US? I am not trying to start any kind of argument about one being better than the other or pointless stuff like that, but from the time I have spent in the US I am of the opinion that their tackle trade as such is much invested in the fact that without a viable sport fishery there are of course no anglers and thus no fishing tackle to sell to them. Nope, nowhere is perfect, and the grass might sometimes be greener, but some of the stories I have been told about major US fishing tackle related companies spending very serious wedge on all manner of conservation based projects are incredible. Look at companies such as Costa del Mar and Patagonia for example, and I am sure there are stacks more examples.
More and bigger fish to catch quite simply means that more people are going to go fishing, and of course they are going to buy more fishing tackle. All the nicest shiniest fishing tackle in the world isn't going to catch you more fish if the fish aren't there to catch, and whilst I accept wholeheartedly that the US marketplace is of course considerably larger than here in the UK and Ireland, I personally believe that the attitude across the pond is that bit different. Better? Whatever it may or may not be, it fascinates me how the powerful the recreational sport fishing industry is as regards politics and votes. Money talks, end of. Like you I love the fact that going saltwater fishing here in the UK and Ireland is free, but I can't help but look across the pond and think about how paying to go saltwater fishing is potentially a major factor in there being so many different and healthy saltwater fisheries.
I see a simple but fascinating advert like that and I can't help but think about things. Whilst my dream trip is still a week's bass fishing over in Ireland, my outlook on sport fishing must be global. I travel for my work and via that I get to see some of the best fishing on this remarkable planet - and I also get to see the ways in which other tackle trades go about their business. I have huge respect for the UK tackle trade, indeed I know a number of people within it who are doing the most amazing things, but I can't get away from how much that simple advert in the Surfcaster's Journal has got into my head and made me think about stuff. Do we owe it to fishing to try and do more for a better future for the sport, or is it quite right that business be about profit and jobs only?
Below are a look at my features inside the new edition of Sea Angler magazine, out this week. Hope you enjoy.............