The predawn quiet was overwhelming. Only the timeless sound of water rushing around the rocks of a mountain stream could be heard in the distance. The old man was relieved. It had taken him forty years to finally conclude that what he really wanted out of life was the simple beauty he had left behind so many seasons ago. The lure of Wall Street, big money, and position, however, had taken him away from his youthful loves, and made him a financial giant.
Luckily, he had survived the high pressure of big business, and was finding that his memory was still intact as he carefully made his way down the tricky path to the stream with his old flyrod. After all, he was about to partake in the opening day of the trout season at a secret pool on a remote section of the creek.
A trout that had made its home there during the elderly gentleman’s youth had been the fodder for many daydreams as he had gazed from his New York office into the dull, gray concrete of another building across the street. He hoped that some of that trout’s relatives were still in residence.
As the first streaks of light from the gathering dawn began to illuminate the scattered trees, the man heard a strange, but frighteningly familiar sound. The distant noise had the distinct ring of an unmuffled internal combustion engine, and it was getting louder. Within seconds, more like sounds could be heard. The old man began to visibly shake. He could only stand horrified as the shadows of several 4-wheel drive vehicles, sporting huge, incongruous tires, and overflowing with people began pulling to a stop on the opposite bank of his “secret spot.”
Even worse, was the scene that was revealed by the full light of day. The ground around the once pristine wilderness area had bee chewed up by years of big tires and too many people. The flashed reflection through the prism-like surface of the stream from a silver can that lay on the bottom brought an instant tear to the old man’s eyes as he turned to walk away. The elderly angler had been confronted with the worst problem facing those concerned with Georgia’s fishing future…population explosion!
Most experts agree that nearly all environmental issues, safety problems, and fishery-related challenges in the future will be centered around the population boom in Georgia. In fact, most projections conclude that the human population in Georgia will double over the next fifty years.
During Zell Miller’s term as Georgia’s governor, he realized that more and more people were buying and developing important tracts of land near water and in the mountains. Therefore, he began Preservation 2000, which was a program to buy huge tracts of land that could be kept by the state so that future generations could still enjoy the outdoors.
We are also very fortunate in Georgia to have some of the best wildlife and fishery biologists in the world looking out for our interests. Compared to the indifference in some other parts of the country, these experts are well aware of the seriousness of depleting or polluting our precious natural resources, and are already taking measures to correct future problems. Many of their solutions will put additional restrictions on how we fish and what fish we can keep. The length of fishing seasons may be changed, and much “catch and release” will practiced, but the results will be positive for everyone.
Because of good planning, excellent sport fishing should last through the coming decades. Like the old man observed in the opening scenario, however, one can never go back and expect the world to stand still!