One of our main problems is that the sportfishing community is fragmented. We do not have a common voice. There is Trout Unlimited, Fly Fishing Federation, B.A.S.S., IGFA, The Billfish Foundation, Muskies Inc., Atlantic Salmon Association, American Museum of Fly Fishing, The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, American Sportfishing Association, Izaak Walton, and hundreds more! Each, on its own, tries hard to solve its problems but, except for B.A.S.S., none has the numbers that would impress the politicians, governments, etc.
We desperately need an umbrella organization, composed of the above groups, associations, and other segments of the fishing world.
Consider the enormous power anglers could have if all of these relatively faint voices joined into one booming, powerful force. Then, and only then, can we flex our muscles and get things done for fishing and sport fishing. Each group retains its total independence but, when necessary, speaks with the help and power of an umbrella organization. Cooperation is to each one’s advantage and a wonderful support system.
Let us use International Congress of Sportfishing (ICS) strictly as a working title.
Think about the power of this federation. We mentioned The Billfish Foundation’s campaign to curtail restaurant use of marlin and swordfish. Sure, the Foundation has made a dent, but if members of the proposed ICS got behind this, there is no doubt that the campaign would be a tremendous success. It does not matter whether we are bass, trout, salmon, pike or bonefishermen; it matters that we present a powerful, united angling front. And, if Trout Unlimited needs additional help, it could get it from tarpon, marlin, tuna or striped bass fishermen. After all, we are all anglers; we differ only in the methods we choose and the species we seek.
Governments and politicians only respond to big numbers. Let’s make the numbers work for sport fishing. Remember there are an estimated 50- to 60-million anglers in the United States.
I have mentioned some clubs and associations, but that is only the start. The real success of an International Congress of Sportfishing lies in a multi-tiered structure of various sportfishing segments.
Let us consider the outdoor/fishing magazines: Field and Stream, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Fly Fisherman, Marlin, In-Fisherman, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Atlantic Salmon Journal, Florida Sportsman, Fly Rod and Reel, BassMasters and all the rest of the fine angling publications. Wouldn’t they have something to gain from the success of ICS? Of course, they would. In many cases it might mean the logical road to survival: Could these publications exist if PETA and other organizations get their way? If commercial fishing destroys our oceans? If pollution kills more lakes and rivers? I don’t think so. So the magazines should want to participate.