Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Why we fish: Tom McGuane

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out. We must make holy war on the enemies of aquatic life as we have gillnetters, polluters and drainers of wetlands. Otherwise, as you have already learned, these creatures will continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We will lose as much as we have already lost already and there will be next to nothing, remnant populations, put-and-take, dim bulbs following the tank truck.”  –Tom McGuane writing in the Some Remarks section of his outstanding book The Longest Silence.

Watch “Buccaneers and Bones”

The good folks at the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust have put up a trailer for the new TV series “Buccaneers and Bones”. It is running on the Outdoor Channel. The first episode is Dec. 26. If you liked Pirates of the Flats, you will want to tune in.

Check it out!

Taking care of our marine resources

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas.” Those words from author and fly fisherman Thomas McGuane are captured in the trailer for the new ESPN2 Outdoors series “Pirates of the Flats”.

The series, scheduled to start Dec. 27, follows the exploits of seven world-class anglers as they chase bonefish in the Bahamas. The trailer is on YouTube.

The show features some entertaining fishing buddies, including Lefty Kreh, Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton, Tom McGuane and Yvon Chouinard. What makes this series significant is the conservation message that is a key element of each show.

“We are all in this together,” Brokaw said.

Working as a consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership on their Marine Fisheries Initiative, I see the series as an excellent way to show how connected recreational fisherman are to the resource.

There are also some very interesting behind the scenes looks at the series.

Go online to the Tin Shed section of Patagonia’s Web site, Patagonia.com, and click on the fly box on the bench to the left. It will take you to images shot on location by noted photographer Val Atkinson and Patagonia’s Bill Klyn. Klyn offers an excellent behind the scenes narrative as well.

Atkinson, the on-site photographer for the series, has his own terrific slide show as well at Valatkinson.com.

Of course, the best part of any fishing trip is the time spent with friends. Doesn’t matter the weather or how good the fishing is, if you are horsing around with your pals it is always a good time.

To see how much fun these guys had, go to Garden and Gun magazine for a great video of bloopers and outtakes. You can find it online at Gardenandgun.com. They also published a great article “The Bonefish Boys” by Monte Burke with photos by Atkinson and Klyn.

As you dig into this entertaining and informative look at marine recreational fishing and conservation you meet Dr. Aaron Adams. Adams runs the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. They “support research to help understand, nurture, and enhance healthy bonefish, tarpon, and permit populations.”

What impresses me about Adams is his view of the recreational angler’s responsibility to the resource.

On his blog Adams writes, “A key to marine and fish conservation that seems to be missed by many is that a true conservationist is as adamant about responsibility as he/she is about rights. Unfortunately, such a balanced approach has never been common, and is becoming increasingly rare.”

Adams continues, “Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about fishermen’s rights, and not so much about fishermen’s responsibilities. For example, in my area I’m seeing more and more bad behavior – boats running way too close to anglers poling on flats boats, boats running so shallow they dig scars in seagrass beds – while at the same time clamors of ‘I can go where I want’ are increasing. We can be our own worst enemies at times.”

These days anglers can’t afford to get a bad reputation. Too many people are working hard to be sure the resource is around for folks to have a place to fish.

Adams, Brokaw and McGuane are all correct. It is time for all of us to take our responsibility for the resource seriously.

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays. Wishing you many happy days afield in the year to come.

You can read more of my columns at the News Virginian.com.