Just What are “Best Practices” for Sport Fishing




A half-century ago Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when asked to define obscenity, quipped that he wouldn’t try to define it, “but I know it when I see it.”


Although a long way from the Supreme Court, pretty much the same thing can be said of “Best Practices” for recreational fishing.The width and breadth of sport fishing’s “Best Practices” are hard to define, but ask any experienced sport fisherman about them and “he’ll know them when he sees them.” More importantly, the true sport angler generally employs this array of loosely defined tools and techniques as an integral part of sustainable fishing.

Concepts behind best practices have evolved over the decades and have been passed on generationally. Whether father, mother, uncle or grandparent, those that passed down the traditional art of recreational fishing generally had a special reverence for the sport, the fish and the outdoor landscapes that provided incredible backdrops for their fishing adventures.Importantly, along the line an increasing number of these heritage practices have been observed, vetted and sometimes augmented by marine science.Recently such science has opened the door for regulatory authorities to adopt better-understood outcomes in their rule-making scheme.As fisheries and habitat change from region to region and from inshore to offshore, so to do the ways which anglers carefully ply their sport.Instead of trying to define the vast array of these fishing tricks and tactics that make up best practices, let’s instead examine the theme behind “best Practices.”

Generally speaking, “Best Practices” are an informal code of conduct for the sports fishing community, indicative of taking an active role in adopting and employing responsible, sustainable tools and techniques when practicing their sport.


Department of Fish & wildlife