|How many times have seemingly unrelated events occurred that ultimately match up to make perfect sense. A few weeks ago, Jim Shepherd who publishes a daily email blast The Fishing Wire wrote a column, Paying it Forward, in which he describes an organization called Recycled Fish.
In this article, spokesman Teeg Stouffer explained, "There's a lot more to stewardship than catch-and-release. "There's the idea of recycling old line, lures, weights and other gunk on the water — and cleaning the shoreline as we're out. That's part of the whole idea of being a steward of both the fish, the fishery and the environment we enjoy when we're fishing."
That's where the Recycled Fish idea of "paying it forward" comes into play. The organization has designed a stewardship kit that is pretty simple to put to use — and pretty smart in its underlying concept. It uses the idea of 'paying it forward' to get stewardship material, as well as, a gigantic shoreline cleanup trash bag into the hands of as many people as possible.
Pretty interesting concept but since I don't fish much on streams and lakes, it didn't seem to be anything that I could apply to Baja.
Then several weeks later, as I continued my ongoing garage and storeroom organizing project, like most fishermen, I couldn't bring myself to throw away any old fishing tackle. As the pile of "stuff I don't use" grew, I realized that much of the pile was actually obsolete. Fluorocarbon line replaced the spools of Dacron and monofilament in the pile, 2 speed reels, high-speed spinning reels, etc., had replaced most of the pre-2000 reels in the pile.
As I filled a plastic tub with items from the obsolete pile, I found an old spinning reel that I had used on a trip to Laguna Manuela north of Guerrero Negro in the 70s with Tom Miller, now deceased WON Baja editor. That was a great trip…camping and catching our way up the west coast beaches all the way up to the border. One of the things that Tom always did at the end of our trips on the last day on the last beach, was remove his sandals and leave them on the beach, saying someone who needed them would find them.
Then another scene unfolded in my memory of me on a La Ribera beach over a decade ago: one of a Mexican family…grandfather, son and grandson fishing on the beach with an old spinning rod and reel. The sardina were thick that morning and jacks, roosters and ladyfish slashed back and forth feeding on fleeing bait.
I was guiding a client and as I sat watching my client casting his fly into the fray, the grandfather's rod bent nearly double as a big fish snatched the hooked live bait. After the fish finished the first long run, and gramps began reeling, it was obvious there was a malfunction with his old reel. The son seeing his father falter, quickly reached for the line coming from the rod tip. Once he had it in his grip, he began hand-lining while his father slowly wound the line on the reel. Meanwhile, the young boy cheered his father and grandfather as they landed the 20 or so pound jack. What do you think a good working reel would have meant to that family, that day on that beach?
Click, click, click…dots connected. Staring at the trash pile, I realized that there were enough old reels, lines, leader materials, sinkers, swivels, lures, etc. to fill many tackle boxes.
So here's my "paying it forward" idea. On your next trip to Baja, fill an inexpensive tackle box with your old fishing hand-me-downs. Giving the box to a fellow Mexican fisherman allows you in a small way to pay it forward in appreciation of all the fun fishing trips you have enjoyed in Baja.
If you have any similar "paying it forward" ideas, email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AS THE PILE of "stuff I don't use" grew, I realized that much of the pile was actually obsolete.
I FOUND AN old spinning reel that I had used on a trip to Laguna Manuela north of Guerrero Negro in the 70s with Tom Miller, now deceased WON Baja editor.