Opinion: Clean Up After Yourself
One of my biggest annoyances is coming to where I am fishing and finding it covered in trash. Maybe it's the Marine in me that expects more from people, and it is damn depressing when I see these areas covered in lazy people's mess. My most recent outing, though, produced something a little more annoying than just trash. Let me explain.
I planned to go to the local causeway to do some fishing with my buddy Justin and was pumped to be getting out finally. Our weather here in Navarre has been less than accommodating for surf fishing, and the grass (June & Sargassum) has been so thick that it has moved 5 oz sinkers with ease. So inshore was going to be the ticket for a while. We planned to meet up at our usual spot and fish both sides of a bridge with hopes of catching our favorite Speckled Trout and possibly a Red Drum.
We geared up and started walking down to our spot, talking like we always do when I was greeted with my newest form of trash left behind by a fisherman. A damn hardhead catfish that someone was using for cut bait the night before, and they left it sitting in the grass right by a rock. Oh, but wait, there's more! Not only did I step on said catfish, but also it was left with its dorsal fin and spine in the fully upright and locked position, just waiting for someone to step on. For a moment, think of Home Alone, where Marv steps on the nail on the stairs (just typing that, I still shudder at the thought of how that would feel as I've felt it before from my childhood), and that's what we are talking about here.
I stepped, not seeing it, and felt immediate pain in my big toe as I moved my foot forward and was lost as to what had just happened. Did I get bit by a snake? Did a shard of glass go through my toe? What in the world just happened? Upon my hopping out of my brand new Oofos Flip Flops and putting my chair down to sit, I finally see the source of my pain. The dorsal spine pierced right through my flop and stuck directly into my big toe. Before this gets too far into the imagination here, I got off fortunate as the spine only pierced my toe slightly and did not get lodged inside me. Justin held up my flop, and the fish came with it. I was pretty pissed off now.
I remembered watching a YouTube video where Joey Antonelli had a situation happen where he was barbed by a catfish in his heel. He had to have surgery to remove the piece that had broken off inside that they could not remove. I remembered what he said about these barbs and how they go in, but have reversed edges like our hooks so that it stays firmly placed inside its victim. I poked and prodded around the puncture to ensure nothing was in there and visually inspected the barb to see if anything was missing. With no more damage than a puncture to my toe and the bleeding stopped, we got to fishing. Sadly, the only thing we caught was that damn catfish.
As a trophy, I took the barb home. Well, I say trophy, and in reality, I wanted to study this thing more. Upon taking a much better picture, I could see what this barb looked like and say it's impressive what nature makes. The tip is perfectly sharp to stab. The barbs are spaced so well that they will definitely stick inside whatever it hits and stay there until painfully removed. It also took me down the road of looking at ancient weapons, and I could see this being used somehow. I digress, as usual. Sorry about that.
A few days later, I'm doing fine. I cleaned the puncture with some alcohol when I got home and bandaged it up for the night. The next day, no pain and no issue to report except for a post I saw on one of the Facebook groups I am in where an angler had the same thing happen to him. But on the beach! He was running to get to one of his poles that a fish was on, and while running for it, he found a catfish buried shallow in the sand with its barb straight up. Unfortunately, he wasn't so lucky as he ended up going to the hospital to have it surgically removed. Exceptionally not cool, and I hope he is doing well.
That brings me to the central part of this article. Why do people think it is okay to leave trash behind after they leave a spot they have been fishing or spending the day at the beach? I can think of all sorts of great things to say:
"You must still live with your Mom, and she cleans up after you."
"I remember when I learned to wipe my ass and clean up after myself. Do you?"
"Are you that lazy or just an entitled asshat?"
This is a family-friendly place where I write, so no, I wouldn't say anything like that. I pick up trash when I'm fishing, even if it is not mine. I taught my daughter to do the same thing because it is the right thing to do. The beach and shore where we fish is not a dump, and I truly despise that some people think it is. Is it too much to ask that people clean up after themselves? Maybe I expect too much from people and hope that they would do the right thing when no one is looking. There is a word for that, I think: Integrity?
Do you pick up trash at the beach or where you're fishing? Tell me about one of the strangest things you have found when doing so in the comments where you saw this post or. Thanks for coming by and reading today! If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!