Preserve your passion with ethical angling
July 27, 2017
Grand County has some of the best fishing in the nation and now one new local entity, Ethical Angler, is working to ensure Middle Park stays lucky for generations to come.
The rivers and streams of Grand County teem with brookies, brown and rainbow trout while massive lake trout lurk deep beneath the surface of our high country reservoirs. This abundance does not happen merely by chance and sustaining fisheries takes concerted effort from the federal level on down. But it also takes something more than regulation or conservation.
As Mike Evans, founder of Ethical Angler, explains, it requires a culture of stewardship.
Evans is a former Front Range business owner who has spent years fishing up and down the Colorado River basin from his Grand County cabin. After retiring to the shores of Lake Granby to pursue his passion for angling big lakers Evans decided to dedicate much of his time, money and energy to ensuring future generations can enjoy the same incredible experiences.
"Ethical Angler is, for lack of a better term, a movement, to try and educate everybody that is involved in sport fishing about how to be good stewards in and around the water," Evans explained. "Stewardship is about knowing and obeying laws and knowing best practices like catch and release or selective harvest."
Evans was clear that he is not looking to change regulations, reduce bag limits, or create stiffer penalties for fishing violations. Instead he is hoping to create a culture of stewardship wherein citizens ensure the viability of fisheries through conscientious actions. He noted that sometimes ethical angling requires going above and beyond regulations on your own accord; and he offered an example.
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"There is no rule about what you take out of Lake Granby other than a four fish limit," Evans said. "However, the sportsman's rule is anything 19 inches or longer goes back into the lake. These fish only grow about one inch to half an inch a year, at most; and the big fish can be 35 years old. Take a picture, celebrate the moment, and then throw it back in to let someone else experience that same great moment. It could be your grandkids."
The idea of Ethical Angler developed after Evans moved to Grand County full time in retirement. His lakeside cabin offered unique opportunities to view the fishing habits of others and he was surprised by the commonality of litter, overfishing, and other obvious violations. He decided to try and do something about it, but instead of seeking regulation or funding for additional enforcement, Evans is looking to appeal to the better angles of our nature.
Evans has been kicking the idea of Ethical Angler around for some time though he pegs the start of the organization at the beginning of June. Ethical Angler is not a 501(c)(3) though Evans said he is mulling a decision to seek the designation. According to Evans the entity has no funding streams, though he has spent his own money to cover costs thus far. Ethical Angler is also looking for partners at every level from local to international.