What is it with Fishermen?

posted Feb 4, 2010, 4:20 PM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Feb 4, 2010, 4:42 PM ]
"Fishermen are pigs." 
The lovely M was looking down into the water, where she saw an old jar of salmon eggs lying among the stones.  We were fifteen miles from the nearest trailhead in a stunning part of Yosemite.  It was a beautiful, isolated lake at 10,000 feet, with nice-sized trout and gin clear water.  Towering peaks loomed over it, rosy in the evening light.
I would have said it was pristine, except that pristine means unspoiled.  And this water was spoiled by an idiot fisherman. 
I had to agree with my wife.  To be fair, I have made the comment many times to her, so she wasn't trying to start an argument.  Fishermen are pigs.  They leave fish guts in the lake.  They leave lures on logs in lakes.  They leave strings of monofilament draped on trees and bushes along streams.  And they leave paper and plastic packaging on almost every stream in California.  
So what is it about fishermen? 
Maybe some of them are so focused on catching fish that they don't realize exactly what they are doing.  But at 10,000 feet, fifteen miles in?  You have to be a real jerk to litter up a lake at that point. You have to be pig. 
And yes, I am a fisherman.  I fish every chance I get.  And sometimes I lose a fly, or mess up some monofilament leader.  When I do, I make every effort to clear up the mess, so the next guy can actually experience the same beauty, the same "pristine" conditions. 
But I can't remember the last time I went fishing and didn't collect some kind of debris, detritus, or trash that had been left by a fisherman.  I have waded out into lakes to pull that lure off the log.  I have spent half an hour winding the monofilament out of the bushes along side the river.  I have used my fly to pull up fish guts from the bottom of the lake so that I could leave them on a rock nearby, to be eaten by a raccoon or other friendly scavenger. 
Every time I go fishing, I end up with a pocket full of trash left by my fishermen friends.  And every time I empty that pocket into our trash back at camp, I say the same thing:
"Fishermen are pigs."