• info@wildcumberland.org
  • PO Box 872 Scottdale, GA 30079

Responsible Angling

In the U.S. alone, recreational fishing is an industry that employs close to a million people and contributes in excess of $100 billion to the economy annually. Anglers play a critical role in keeping our wilderness wild and our fish populations healthy and active. Learn more below.

Do Your Homework

Know before you go; research your angling destination so that you are properly equipped for whatever you might encounter on your fishing expedition.

  • Know the fishing regulations in your state. Fishing limits on size, number of catch, etc are set to protect a species from decline and keep the populations healthy for next year’s anglers, too.
  • Know the species of fish you are likely to encounter on your trip. The ability to properly identify your catch is just as important as knowing size and bag limits. 
  • Acquire proper licensing. Fees from licenses help to support the research and conservation programs for future generations of anglers.
  • For more information, visit  https://georgiawildlife.com/.
  • Be aware of threatened and protected species in the area. The Northern Atlantic Right Whale, manatee, and multiple species of sea turtles utilize the waters surrounding Cumberland Island during migration, breeding, and calving seasons. 
  • Be sure you know how to identify signs of these species in the area and what to do if you encounter them in distress. Some of the basics are:
      • Should you slow down your boat speed? 
      • Learn how to properly identify these species.
      • Know the seasonality for sightings, what to do if spotted, where each may be seen, etc.

Practice Responsible Angling

None of us want to kill fish we don’t intend to keep. You can take steps to release fish in a healthy condition that gives them the best chance of survival. Here are a few ways to practice responsible angling:

  • Circle Hooks
    • Use circle hooks to minimize the impact of the hook, and remove it as soon as possible. Circle hooks catch the fish on the lips at the corner of its mouth, decreasing the mortality rates of released fish as compared to J-hooks. J-hooks are often swallowed by the fish, causing damage to the gills or other vital organs.
    • Don’t use offset circle hooks, however. The offset hook point defeats much of the purpose of using a circle hook in the first place.
  • Lead-Free Tackle
    • Use lead-free tackle. Fish and wildlife exposed to excessive amounts of lead can develop problems affecting everything from their nervous to reproductive systems. The lead can kill birds and other animals that eat fish that have consumed lead sinkers as well.
  • Use Appropriate Tackle
    • Make sure your tackle is appropriately matched to your target species to help increase survival rates. Using tackle too light for your target capture will cause you to fight the fish for longer periods of time. Ultimately, this error increases the likelihood that a fish may become too exhausted to survive once it’s released.
  • Minimize Fish Stress
    • Keep your catch in the water as much as possible while removing the hook or lure to minimize stress to the fish.  If it’s the catch of a lifetime and you must take a photo, return the fish to the water as soon as possible afterward. 
  • Practice Proper Crab Trap Etiquette
    • If crab traps are more your style than fishing rods, make sure to check them every hour and release any diamondback terrapins that may be trapped, since they need to breathe air.
    • Crab traps left in the water when you are not fishing for crabs are called “ghost traps” due to the amount of animals that become trapped in them and die. Dispose of your traps responsibly to avoid trapping diamondback terrapins or other animals.
  • Leave it better than you found it
    • Trash and debris in the water can be mistaken for food by fish, mammals, and birds. If wrapped around these species, or consumed, debris can lead to immense suffering or even death. 

Keep an eye out for commonly-discarded items like fishing tackle, nets, cigarette filters, balloons, ribbon, and grocery bags — which are all particularly dangerous to marine ecosystems. 

Some public boat ramps have recycling bins for monofilament fishing line that you can use. In the absence of those, cut your fishing line up into small pieces (less than 12 inches) and place in a covered trash bin to ensure the line is disposed of safely.

Camden County offers some fishing line recycling bins. They are positioned by Georgia Coastal DNR and maintained by Camden County 4-H & Extension. 

Florida fishing line recycling bin management.

Participate in Citizen Science 

Anglers and wilderness scientists have a long-standing relationship, working together to keep our fish populations healthy. In addition to helping with our cooperative tagging program, anglers can help keep our wilderness healthy by assisting in the battle against invasive species.

Invasive fish species wreak havoc on our ecosystems, introduce disease to native fish, deplete food resources, and displace the native species we enjoy. Anglers can do their best to avoid introducing invasive species by emptying ballast and cleaning their boats before putting them in the water. In some areas, anglers can even earn money capturing invasive species. Learn more here.

We’re All Connected

Anglers, scientists, wilderness advocates: we all want the same thing. All of us share in our love of the outdoors, the ocean, and keeping our ecosystems healthy for our future generations to enjoy. Together we can support, maintain, and improve our ecosystems to facilitate healthy ocean life populations for anglers and ecosystems alike.

Additional Resources: