Hello fellow blog readers (if you exist), I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Italy WITHOUT A FISHING ROD. This occurrence some would deem unnatural. And others would say I have become delirious and try to send me to a psychologist (not like they haven't already). In hindsight, perhaps I should have brought my rod, and so, I missed out on some wonderful opportunities.
All this got me thinking about fishing in Italy, America and other countries. I really wished (and still do) that to go fishing in Italy was as easy in America. Then I felt lucky to live and fish in America, and I realized just how good we Americans have it.
As a heads up, this is a post about why American Fishing is best. Not that I have any problem with Italy, as Italy is a land rich in culture and beauty. Perhaps no other country can compete in terms of sheer amount of art, architecture, history, and cuisine. And, as proved to me, fishing regulations. More about that later.
Lets start with the massive variety of species (and consequently, fishable fish) available here in the States. Just pick up a Peterson's Guide to (insert North american fish group here). The amount is mindblowing. There are over 1500 species of freshwater fish in the United States (according to the North American Native Fishes Association), compared to the 114 species of freshwater fish in Italy (according to Fish Base). Of course, it must be taken into consideration that Italy fits into America 30 times. However, it is true that most of the fish species found in Italy are also to be found across most of Europe, like brown trout, wels catfish, zander, and pike, as well as a multitude of cyprinids like carp and bream. The majority of the species found in the USA cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The rainforests of South America and the Indo-Pacific exceed the fish diversity of America, but those areas of the world are seldom fished, and if so, in the areas with relatively easy access. A trip to the heart of the Amazon would require a month's worth of time, machetes, a crew, tents, and lots of bugspray. If the Amazon was over run with skyscrapers, McDonald's, and as much fisherman as we have here, I think there would be a little less fish in there. Just maybe. A little less diversity can be sacrificed for easier access and more feasible endeavors.
Following the pure diversity standpoint, I feel that there are much more great fishing opportunities in America than other countries. I fish a lot on my local golf course. If I lived in China, I would probably have to pay to stand on a golf course, and I wouldn't even be able to think about fishing there. People in the US are less tight-fisted when it comes to where people can or cannot fish. Best of all we have a great DNR, both state and federal, that help make fishing access and opportunities easy. They build boat ramps, hand out free copies of the regulations, and use our license money to make our fisheries better (e.g. stocking, habitat improvement, etc.). Not to mention their programs to promote angling as a sport.What's also great is that there is a lot of public water (which goes along with public land) in the US, compared to Italy, where the majority of water (and land) is privately owned. An angler in the US can get char in the Rockies, big bass in the Everglades, even the little gem known as the golden trout in the high Sierras (golden trout wilderness), without having to hassle with private landowners, regulations for bodies of water, etc.
As well as easier and more access and opportunities, there is much more unspoiled fisheries in the United States. Let's face it: We're not a very old country. We haven't delved into all of our opportunities we have. There are still places where no man has ever cast a line before, and still fisheries that people have not utilized. On the other hand, Italy has been fished in for much, much longer (only thousands of years in civilized times), and much of its resources have been seen and used, leaving not much space for new fish or fishing places. In addition, whereas Italy has more than 500 people per square mile, America has just over 80. That's just population, but I think the fisherman density in Italy would be more than in the States. Therefore Italy has more people competing for the same resources than in the USA.
Another point I'd like to make is that the fishing regulations are quite simpler in America. We now time travel to pre-Italy time, where I was all wound up from a fishing drought in the winter, and sooo excited for Italy. Now imagine my face when I read the regulations...
Here's how things work in Italy: So each area has its own regulations, including the cities. To purchase a license is similar to a college application, involving a series of tests, your passport, and self-identification photos. Possibly personal essays as well, who knows. The applications are to be submitted a couple months in advance to allow the Admissions Committee to decide if you're worth the trouble. There is only one time frame for each license: a year. We were staying for a couple days in each city: Milan, Venice, Rome, Florence, and Pisa. Each area required a separate license. To further the complication, most bodies of water also required a separate license, which involves another college application. And areas within areas had their own regulations (there is a section in Rome that has completely different rules, most of which were not even listed). And If that's not complex enough for the Italians, there are hundreds, possibly Gaxillions (3x10^(3x10^3decillion)+3) of strange rules, like how the nets should be positioned while fishing. No offense to the Italian Government. I would also like to quote an Italian fisherman Oliver that I chatted with on his opinion about the rules: "The rules... are complicated even for the Italians."On the contrary, fishing in private water requires no compliance to the regulations, and no license is needed to fish in saltwater. I gotta' give them some credit. In China, as far as I know the system works like this: No pay = No fish. Pay a lot = Fish. In good 'ol America, licenses are as simple as walking into Wal-Mart with a couple of bucks, and then fishing freedom is yours (provided that you follow America's simple regulations and don't do something horrid, like killing native fish and leaving them on the bank to rot. Things like that will be subject to the wrath of Brandon). But I digress.
On a more serious note, I don't think Americans really appreciate all the wealth they have in their laps when it comes to fishing. Our opportunities should be used wisely, not mishandled, and respected privileges. Conservation of our beloved fish should be the top priority when we are on the water.
I feel the slightest bit pitiful for the Italians and Chinese, for they have no idea what they're missing out on. There's no place I'd rather be now than at home in the United States of America.
It is good to be home...
(Sorry for making you read all that, provided that you haven't already fallen asleep. A post with random fish pictures would have gotten more views than this. :D)