I recently read about a fisherman who was caught with 45 walleyes over the limit on Lake of the Woods. Every time I hear about cases like this, I get angry.
I thought about it on Saturday, when my wife, four kids and I were returning from a two-hour volunteer shift at Feed My Starving Children, an organization that sends food to hungry children in third-world countries. It was against this backdrop that I pondered the case.
On the one hand, taking this many fish from a lake so large doesn’t seem like such a big deal. If there’s a lake that can handle this kind of harvest, it’s Lake of the Woods, which may hold more walleyes than any other lake in Minnesota.
On the other hand, when you consider the thousands of children around the world who are starving and often don’t get even one nutritious meal a day, keeping this many fish seems like pure gluttony.
In fact, I believe it is. We live in a time when an ever-increasing number of people are harvesting fish and game from our woods and waters. Therefore, it is crucial to the continued health of our natural resources to follow the laws and exercise self-control when it comes to how much we take home.
Case in point: A recent half-day trip to Upper Red Lake. While on vacation near Bemidji, I took the family to Upper Red Lake to try and catch some walleyes. We caught walleyes all right, but couldn’t seem to find any outside the protected slot of 17-26 inches. We caught only a few shorter than 17 inches, but I felt they were too small to keep. So, we left the lake at sunset with no walleyes.
Yes, we were all disappointed. But, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I followed the laws and taught my wife and kids to do the same. That’s more important than keeping fish, especially illegal ones. And, if everyone practices this kind of conservation, we will help make sure our children and grandchildren have lots of fish to catch. I, for one, want to leave that kind of outdoors legacy.