It was day three of a five-day trip on the Buffalo River of Arkansas. The smallmouth bass were biting. They were going to be part of our dinner that night, so we were keeping some. Since it was Saturday, more anglers were on the river than on a weekday.
As we floated downriver other fishermen were passing the word that a game warden was downstream checking licenses and creel limits (creel limits are how many fish you may possess and what length of fish are allowed). However, we had nothing to worry about as the size and number of fish we kept were completely legal.
Knowing the game warden was downstream was similar to the feeling you get when the police are driving behind you. Even though you aren’t speeding or violating the law, it still feels uncomfortable.
We uneasily fished our way downstream, waiting for the uniformed officers. Shortly, a warden in a johnboat asked us to pull over the canoe. We pulled our boat alongside theirs and held on to their boat. We quickly produced our licenses and showed the fish that we possessed, then went on our way.
Ethical sportsmen will have licenses. In the pre-Internet days, hunters and anglers used to go to the nearest bait or tackle shop, or outdoor store to buy their licenses. And that could be problematic sometimes if you were going out of state to hunt or fish. It was a matter of luck that you would happen on a license-selling store.
I suggest using the Internet to get your hunting/fishing license through the department of natural resources for the state you intend to hunt or fish. Then you can print out a receipt of your license, or the license itself, saving yourself the trouble of finding the open store that sells the license. Make sure you get all necessary stamps, such as a trout stamp or duck stamp, along with your license. Your monies go to enhancing the wildlife resources of the state where you got your license.
Not only can we Tennesseans purchase our home state licenses over the Internet at www.tn.wildlifelicense.com, but we can do the same for other states. And you can check out your license options (type and duration of license, etc.) ahead of time rather than making a split second decision while waiting in line at a convenience store with seven impatient customers behind you.
So while you may be thinking about nailing that lunker bass or feisty trout, chew on the following — the Anglers Code of Ethics as put forth by the state of Florida.
Not only does the ethical angler purchase a license, he or she:
1. Supports conservation efforts.
2. Practices effective catch-and-release of fish that are unwanted or prohibited to retain.
3. Doesn’t pollute; recycles and disposes of trash.
4. Practices safe angling and boating, by following the laws and using common sense practices to prevent injury to themselves, others or property.
5. Learns and obeys fishing and boating rules and regulations.
6. Respects other anglers’ and boaters’ rights.
7. Respects property owners’ rights and does not trespass.
8. Shares fishing knowledge and skills.
9. Doesn’t release live bait into waters or spread exotic plants and fish.
10. Promotes ethical sport fishing and encourages others to reconnect on the water.