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Hi Everyone...

When I first started taking my children fishing about 17 years ago... I didn't just want to teach them to fish.

About 10 minutes before we got to the lake I would tell them not to get the fishing gear out of the van until we had cleaned up.

We would get 50 gallon trash bags and walk around the area we had selected to fish and pick up old line, plastic cups, paper etc, The children were under strict instructions not to pick up glass, hooks or anything they did not recognize... and to tell 'Daddy' if they found any of these items.

They used to moan and mope a little... especially my boy Jon Jon... all he wanted to do was fish.

We did this every time we went fishing... after a while my daughter discovered 'Barbie' and it was just Jon Jon and I. This made the clean up a little more work and thus he didn't like it much. In fact it almost reached the point where he didn't want to go fishing anymore because of the Clean up thing.

One day we were walking the bank with our trash bags and a California Fish & Game Officer walked up and asked us what we were doing. I explained that we fished there a lot and we always cleaned up before and after we started to fish. My boy Jon Jon stared at this man in the green uniform and kept looking at the badge on his chest and the gun in it's holster... The Officer tousled Jon Jons hair and told him he wished there were more fisherman like us. He explained to Jon Jon that he had just picked up a dead duck. The ducks feet and beak had become entangled with fishing line and it had starved to death.

The officer left and we finished our clean up duties and started to fish. About an hour later the officer returned. He walked up to my boy and handed him a plastic replica of a Fish & Game Badge.

The look on my boys face was nothing short of incredulous. The officer shook his hand and said, "Thank you for helping me do my job".

I pinned the badge to Jon Jon's shirt and as we fished I kept catching him out of the corner of my eye, polishing it with his shirt sleeve.

It had taken me many hours over many fishing trips, to try and explain to my children why we had to clean up after ourselves. They understood this but they had a problem understanding why we had to pick up after other people. I can still hear the moans and groans that came from the rear seat of the van.

Following the experience with the officer, I never again had to ask Jon Jon to help me clean up. In fact the first items he put into the van when were loading to go fishing, was a couple of big trash bags. When we arrived at the lake, he would spring out of the van and grab his bag and start cleaning up all by himself.

We saw the officer many times after that and until he got a bit older Jon Jon always wore his badge when we went fishing. In fact I think he still has it in his tackle box to this day.

Some people are slobs and don't think about keeping our parks and lakes clean. It is up to us to teach our children the importance of being responsible. If we don't show them... who will show our Grand children.

Tight Lines

Rob

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nice job guys!!
i too believe in leaving a place in better condition than what it was , plus it helps to always police the area, old farmers are pretty picky about who they let fish their ponds
If I was king, there would be mandatory jail time for purposely throwing trash on the ground and double penalties for discarding line and plastic worm bags in fishing areas. What are these idiots thinking?
What a thoroughly enjoyable read.

My father and I have had a tradition over the years. We go to a lake called Conestoga in March--when we know it's too early to have much luck--and my Dad always brings a heavy-duty-extra-large trash bag. On the way back to the vehicle we walk slowly along the dam and the dozens of other fishermen bring the trash up out of the rocks. It either brings out the best in folks, or maybe even shames a few, but the effect is the same.

A huge bag full of trash that we deposit in the 55 gallon drum that we parked right next to.
This is great and you guys are truly Sportsmen!
That was an outstanding read! My girls and I do the same thing. What a great story to start my day. Thank you.
Good on you, Rob, both as a sportsman and as a parent!

(When I get the chance to teach youth fishing classes here in Nebraska, I remind them to always take along a grocery sack so they can leave their fishing spot cleaner than they found it. For some reason, people who pick up litter rarely litter themselves. :) )
Not only a trash bag but also take a hammer and a broom every once in a while. It may incon. some folks but im a stickler for knocking those nails back in there place at my local dock and launch and sweeping away the pine needles.....oh oh oh I just heard my bluegill get himself a minnow in the tank!!!!!....Where was I? Oh yea sweep the dock and get all the leaves and pine needles. Theres always tons of kids running around barefoot and I would hate to see them snag a toe in a nail or a loose board. Not only clean it but maintain it!

Take a kid fishing.
Mayo
As one who has worked as a maintenance employee for my local parks dept for the past 18 years, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see your story. The park I work at has all types of activities, and all types of people, good and not so good, that utilize our facility. You cannot begin to concieve the depths of disrespect that humans exhibit in public venues to both nature and to our fellow citizens. I have not seen it all, but I have seen a high percentage of it. It is truely refreshing to know that some people do make a difference, rather than saying 'thats not my job' or 'I'm a taxpayer, if it wasn't for me you wouldn't have a job'. And I have heard and been told much worse.

Great job, great story, great heart. Thanks Jim Gronaw

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