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In the tradition of "Back In My Day" stories, my father often talks about how much better fishing was when he was a kid. Visions of huge trout pulled from our own local lakes and rivers to this day make my fingers twitch as dad tells us how things used to be. But now the fishing isn't quite as good. There are much less fish and they are generally smaller. It has even gotten to the point where my father refuses to "waste" his time fishing the blue ribbon waters here in Utah and will only head North in search of bigger and better opportunities.

Why? What happened? Where are these lunkers our parents told us about? What can we do to make sure there are fish in our favorite holes when we get older? What must be done so that our kids will still be able to fish the streams we grew up on?

The answer is simple. We must leave the fish in the water.

With ever increasing fishing pressure on our waters, the only way to get more fish and bigger fish is to leave them where we find them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that we stop fishing all together. That cure would be worse than the disease. But we don't have to, and shouldn't keep every fish we catch.

Those fishermen who have attained an "enlightened" state of awareness have long known the virtues of practicing catch and release. This policy not only allows existing fish to get bigger, but to spawn and provide for future generations of fish.

Not everyone wants to release all the fish they catch. Some people actually like to eat what they've caught. No problem. These people should know that the smaller fish are actually firmer and better tasting than bigger fish. Those who like to keep and eat their catch should be happy to put back their larger fish to let them spawn.

And lastly, to protect the future of our fishing, we need tighter regulations. In parts of Utah where I live, you are allowed to take eight fish home with you. Eight! Imagine how big the fish in these lakes would get if we left some of them there!

But whatever we do, we need to protect our resources. That way we won't have to tell our own kids how big the fish used to be. We can show them.