I read about it in the newspapers, I hear it on the evening news and I endure conversations about it when I can't get away fast enough. "PC" or political correctness just goes against my way of thinking and I hate to see that it is so prevalent in saltwater fishing.
Once upon a time it was a pleasure for folks to escape for a morning or afternoon of fishing. They'd unload their boat, hit the bait camp for a quart of live shrimp and spend the morning free shrimping for trout at the bay wells or catching fish under a popping cork. Or, if artificial baits were more to their liking, they'd plug for their fish and enjoy the day much the same as the bait fishermen. Afterwards they'd bring their catch to the dock and clean them, laughing and having a good time visiting with other fishermen and sharing bits of information about how, when and where. Not so much anymore, or so it seems.
I witnessed not long ago something that burns me up still. A young couple had pulled their boat and trailer up to a public cleaning table and was carrying their cooler down to the table to go to work. We had finished filleting our fish and were washing down the area when they walked up.
They didn't start unloading their catch, they just sort of waited around and since I didn't notice a fillet knife in either of their hands I asked if they would like to use my electric one. They looked at each other and said no that they were just waiting on us to leave. I told them that there was plenty of room and that I just wanted to leave the table clean for them. They looked at each other again and she finally told me that they were embarrassed to clean their fish in front of us. I asked why and she explained that they were down on their vacation from the Plano area and the day before they had cleaned a good mess of trout, redfish and flounder and some guys had looked down their noses at them and asked if they really needed all of that fish. She said they got pretty nasty calling them tourists and more or less just harassing them for keeping fish. When they morons asked what they caught them on and the answer was live shrimp, well according to her they acted like they had used dynamite. Her husband told me that he didn't want any trouble with anyone and that they just wanted to enjoy the few days they had left before returning home. He didn't want any trouble?? For keeping fish??? He even told me that they never spoke about keeping fish around other fishermen because keeping them just isn't "PC" these days. PC? In fishing?
Just keep five is good. Just keeping your legal limit is good too. Just going fishing and not catching any is good. Fishing with bait is good. Fishing with artificial bait is good. Floundering under lantern light and gigging them is good. Fishing and keeping your legal number of fish is good. But to make people feel embarrassed and to intimidate them because they caught fish and kept them or for what they caught them on is just over the top for me and folks, it is just wrong.
I love to fish with hardware. Fooling a fish, enticing a trout to hit topwater baits or soft plastics is what gets my blood pumping when I fish. I don't keep all of the fish I catch on each trip but I will should I feel the need to. I don't think I'd want to hear someone tell me that keeping a mess of fish isn't "PC" or that unless I'm releasing all that I catch I'm not "PC." For one thing it wouldn't go over well with me and for another thing it's just plain rude and those who know me will tell you that I don't play well with rude people.
I've found that five trout do me just fine as a personal limit but the law doesn't say that I have to do that nor does it say you have to either. It's a personal preference and an idea that our esteemed Editor turned me on to. I do that but I won't look down on you or tell you that you're not being "PC" for not doing it.
I know a lot of people, and I'm one of them, who can fish all morning and not catch a single fish and still are able to say that they had a great morning. But not everyone feels that way. Some people fish and keep what the law says they are allowed and that's okay. To them if they haven't filled a cooler they've not had a successful trip. It's a shame they feel that way but that's one of the reasons why the TP&W sets size and bag limits. But are we really to the point where we are going to start making people feel bad for catching their legal limits of fish or for using live bait?
There are few places in life these days where political correctness hasn't reared its ugly head. It's prevalent in the hunting world where a deer hunter is made to feel bad if he shoots a buck that is too young or a buck whose rack is too small. Do we have to put up with it on our bays now too?
My first and only 30" Trout was pretty near DOA when I landed her one hot June day but my son's was alive and well when he landed his. He let her go and he felt good about doing it and watching her swim away, the accomplishment being enough for him without feeling the need to mount the fish. But I can tell you that he wouldn't have looked down on someone for not releasing that fish. He would have enjoyed the moment with them and now days it seems that a lot of people are not of that same mindset.
So to the guys that gave the young couple a hard time one day in Port Mansfield for fishing and keeping their catch, try to say hello to my friend Glenn and my son and I the next time we're there cleaning fish. I can promise you that the conversation we'll have will never be considered "PC."