The Spirit of Giving Back

Aaron Cisneros
The Spirit of Giving Back
This angler not only caught fish, he also took time to clean his backyard.
By the time this issue goes out I will have completed my High School football career. In a way it saddens me, but I will now have lots of spare time to pursue my first passion, fishing. The Christmas holidays marked colorfully with decorations, lots of family time, and the spirit of giving and receiving. A major reason in the writing of this story came about as I recently waded along a sand flat and happened to run across an old baseball cap on the sand bottom. I picked it up and noticed it had been there for sometime. It had small shells and algae growing on it. I thought to myself, "Why would someone want to trash the pristine waters of the Laguna Madre." I picked up the cap, put it on my stringer and later dumped it in the trash. Throughout that day it seemed that I became more aware of the empty aluminum cans lying on the bay bottom. Even the ICW spoils littered with foam packages and other trash materials immediately caught my eyes. Never before as on this day had I been so aware of these unnatural, unattractive man-made materials.

Picking up a few more items of trash from the bay floor that day gave me a good feeling on the inside, but I knew it wasn't enough. Here we have such a valuable but fragile resource in our own back yard, yet sometimes we don't take care of it. We are always ready to receive from it, but are we as ready to give back in the same measure as we take. I'm sure everyone reading this article including myself can say that at some point we have witnessed someone allowing their trash to become part of the natural surroundings. The question is, "What are we doing about it?" "What should we be doing?" I don't have all the answers, but I do know that it needs to start with us educating those that we have an influence on. It begins with correcting and explaining why we should take care of that which gives so freely and brings loads of enjoyment to those that participate in the waters available to us.
I now know that I have been made more aware of this situation from my own experience, and I have decided that I want to do something about it not only in the waters I fish, but also give back to the waters I have never set foot on. There are numerous "trash offs" in our area beaches throughout the year, including the one that my uncle supervises. You can bet that I will be part of that group on their next event. Next time a piece of trash falls or blows into the water take the time to pick it up and discard it in its proper place. There is no place for trash in our waters, and it doesn't take much effort to store it while you're out on the water and place it in the trash containers when you get back to the dock.

The spirit of giving back to our prized resource doesn't stop there. There are countless ways of giving back, like sharing your experiences with those that are not as fortunate to see what we see. Take that unfortunate person and give them something to remember. Now that I have some spare time I plan on inviting my grandfather for a day of fishing, which I know he would truly enjoy. I also look forward in taking out some of my cousins and friends that have been asking me to take them out. Let us give and share with what we have been blessed with and not for one moment think that it's only for us to enjoy. Look around you. Who is that one person you can give a little of your time and bring a life time of memories? I have been very fortunate and glad that a few individuals took their time to show me what has become my passion for the rest of my life, and I hope to do the same to those around me.

It's a good thing that many anglers nowadays are practicing catch and release. It's a practice that seems to be catching on and well appreciated by all conservationists. The phrase "keep five" is alive and well. The attitude of keeping only what you're going to eat is being followed more and more. All the education and information of practicing catch and release is paying off, but let's not stop there. How many times have we been guilty of mishandling an undersize fish, being in a hurry to catch the next legal fish we quickly and forcibly remove the hook from its mouth and sometimes injuring its vital organs? Another method or way we can give back is protecting not only the spawners, but the future spawners as well. There will be times where an undersize fish can not be saved, but the ones I'm talking about are the ones that can be saved. Let's give them a chance by being a little more patient in removing the hook or hooks. If you do, that fish will certainly have another chance in bringing a smile to another angler.

As I mentioned above, there are countless ways we can all give back! Each and every one of us plays a role in taking care of our own back yard that we all share whether it's a beach front, a favorite cove, open sea, or bay in general. Let's develop the spirit of giving back and not live with the mentality of always taking away. Next time you see trash occupying your fishing area, pick it up. Let's all do our part. Perhaps this Christmas you can give someone a mountain of memories by taking them fishing for the first time. Catch the spirit of giving because the more you give, the more someone else can receive. Let's all make our back yard look safe and clean for all to enjoy. Have a Merry Christmas!