By John Bunner
As fishermen we generally accept that having an understanding of the quarry we are after leads to more successful outings on the water. So why do so many anglers struggle with educating themselves on the whole picture of the watershed that they call home?
In my short time on this Earth I have heard some of the craziest things concerning the health of a particular watershed. Most of these comments and idea’s are based on half truths, common misconceptions, a general lack of understanding of the pieces to the puzzle and a blatant disregard for what makes sense!
For some, their knowledge comes from long hours spent fishing a particular flow while keenly observing what is happening in and around the water. For others, time spent in a classroom environment studying facts and scientific principals is the answer. No matter how you gain this information, it is important to do so not only to improve your catch ratio but to also understand why this particular stretch of water is considered a “good” place to fish.
In gaining this knowledge you will be able to help identify the shortcomings in your watershed and if you choose to make a difference in the health of the water and creatures found in it, you will have sound information to take to someone who is able to help rectify the situation. This is a win/win situation for the angler as well as the watershed its self.
You see, if you take the time to understand the big picture you will not only catch more and larger fish but you will also be in a position to make it a better place to fish for yourself and future generations to come!
So where should you start? Well, a good place to start would be to contact your counties’ Soil and Water Conservation District. Ask them about the health of your watershed as well as area’s of concern. Another good place to look for information is the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. IDEM can tell you about permits that have been applied for and issued in your watershed as well as fines for those who choose to ignore our environmental laws. Also look at the Department of Natural Resources. These folks are true professionals who are willing to discuss all things nature. If you have a specific fish question you can contact your regions’ fisheries biologist who would be more than happy to inform you on any fish related topic. The DNR also has a great education center for the public where you can become educated in all things outdoors! These organizations are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak when it comes to educating yourself.
Remember, our local and federal governments cannot do for us what we the people want unless we are educated on the issues that matter most! At the end of the day, the health of your watershed is up to you so make a difference and educate yourself!
Some links to get your education started:
Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources of Indiana
IDNR Natural Resources Education Center