As a daughter of a long time Conservation Officer in Minnesota, I was brought up to think of the future of our hunting and fishing. When we would fish, our unwritten rule was to release any walleye over 4 pounds to let it produce eater walleyes for the years to come.
I was fishing on a lake in my hometown last weekend, and my fishing buddy and I landed an 8# 29" beautiful walleye. His plan was to fillet it, but I refused.....we were near shore, so I insisted on taking it in for a quick picture then releasing it. To him, a bigger fish simply meant more fish in the pan to eat. A discussion included my threatening never to fish with him again if he killed that big fish. I said if he was THAT hungry, I would buy him a pound of hamburger!
We did go in and take those pictures, then quickly and carefully returned the big gal to the lake. She swam around the dock for about five minutes. She was probably just de-stressing and getting her bearings, but I chose to believe she was showing off her beauty and saying thanks. A number of people at the resort came down to see her, and enjoyed seeing the big fish swimming about.
Later, after she had swam off and we had returned to our fishing spot, I asked if he really didn't enjoy watching the excitement of everyone exclaiming over the fish as much as a big fillet, and I think it began to make sense to him. A new convert to catch and release!
So, a little of my Dad's conservation came through as Father's Day approaches. I thought of him as I was fishing, and remembered all the times we had fished on that lake, and the thrill when we landed a 28 pound sheephead one evening about 35 years ago. The many years that he served the state as a Conservation Officer might not have left his daughters rich at the bank, but did leave us with a legacy of a love a nature and respect for protecting our natural resources. I still miss him, love him, and wish him a very happy Father's Day in that great fishing lake in the heavens.