By Pat Murray
CCA National President
This seems a fitting topic as one year is winding down and a new year is just on the horizon, but goals are a key aspect of most (if not all) of our lives at any time. We set goals for our careers, our kids, our exercise and our finances. We even set goals for our pets, but strangely, many anglers do not set goals for their angling efforts. We might want to catch more fish or make a better impact in the marine resources we care about, but we don’t always form that hope into the shape of a goal. And as we all know, unset goals are rarely attained.
As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to set some goals for your angling and conservation efforts. Maybe it’s fishing two new bays systems next year, learning fly fishing, hiring a guide for each season or planning an off-the-grid fishing expedition, or possibly getting more involved with your local CCA chapter It could be a goal to spend the time to get connected with your state and federal governmental leaders and opening the door for future conversations on angling issues. Those are just a few of the worthy goals that anyone can set that may take angling and conservation to new levels in 2022.
Anyone who has spent much time around me professionally and/or personally knows I am a fan of goal setting. I set them in all aspects of my life, so I thought it only fair to share a few of my own instead of just cajoling you to set yours.
Be A Bigger Green Fly
In the Spring edition of TIDE Magazine, I referenced an inspiring saying I heard as a fishing guide many years ago – “If you want to be a fly, be a big green one.” It still drives me today. I try to be as big and green a fly as possible when it comes to conservation, but I know I can do more, even in the little things. On a recent fishing trip to Port Aransas, Texas (which is still negatively impacted from a hard winter 2021 freeze), I found myself catching a few speckled trout with the schools of redfish we were targeting. Although I did not keep any trout (and still don’t plan to through 2021), I found myself taking extra care when releasing them. I always try to take excellent care of any fish I catch and particularly of those that I plan to release, but I noticed that I was being even more careful and not rushing to get a catch-and-release fish off to get my bait back in the water as quickly as possible. Careful is good, but being patient while careful is great. That’s a great reminder for likely most anglers and a great goal for me.
Not unlike goal setting, I can be annoyingly preachy about the need to go fish to anyone who will listen to or read my thoughts on it. Unfortunately, I am very guilty of not adhering to the important mantra that those who are most connected to the resource are its best advocates. This year might have been one of my worst examples of not taking the time to fish. From overflowing inboxes to Zoom meetings to family time, it is regrettably easy to ignore fishing.
I haven’t determined my exact goal yet, but I am determined to set a minimum number of days for 2022 and track it so I make sure I go fish. I have to remind myself that at some times, it might just be a quick trip to the Galveston jetties at sunset or even a locally accessible bass pond. Fishing is fishing and the more we pursue it, the more we want to protect the future of it.
The most important thing in goal setting is to start. Like in investing, starting 30 years ago is best, but if you haven’t, starting tomorrow is the next best time. The same holds true with angling and conservation. Whatever you have or haven’t done in the past is irrelevant as long as you dig in tomorrow.