On June 22, 2012
Comments (5)

I have been thinking, for over three years our message has been “tenkara is simple; it allows you to carry less stuff with you. Just a rod, line, spool of tippet, forceps and nippers and then a box of flies. Less stuff”.

I truly love being unencumbered by gear. I love not having to take something (or forget it on an outing) that other anglers may perceive as vital. I love not having to deal with a bunch of gear. But then, I have been thinking: what can we do with that under-utilized capacity that we have of carrying more stuff with us?

So, I’d like to ask you to join me on a mission to carry more stuff on your next outing.

When you go fishing next time, bring with you an empty (or nearly empty) backpack. Line it with a trash bag if you wish. And, as you walk to your favorite fishing spot, along that fishing trail that fills your spirit with goodness, pick stuff along the way and stuff it in your backpack. Heck, just use your vest, all those pockets left empty by the absence of your spare fly boxes, floatant, packs of leaders, box with splitshot can come in very handy.

As you walk, instead of looking at the water – you will reach it in a second – look at the ground a bit, look for faded beer cans that were discarded a long time ago (if you pay attention you will find these EVERYWHERE), look for the crushed plastic bottles, look for pieces of fishing line, and reflective Cheetos bags. When you’re on the stream, look at the branches hanging over the water, there will be some lost tippet in there, maybe even a lure at the end of that. Pick these up, and stuff them in your backpack. When you walk back to your car, take satisfaction in that heavy load you’re carrying in your pack. Rejoice in the feeling of carrying a lot of stuff with you.

Tenkara has opened the doors to remind people how little they can carry with then. But now, I think we can start making better use of carrying less fishing gear with us by actively and purposefully carrying more trash out.

P.s. I probably don’t have to write this, but if you are wondering when the “Carry More Stuff Day” is going to be, it should be noted it is everyday!

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  1. Steve says:


    how timely and true your post is. we just got back from four days on the forks of the Tuolumne River and in my downtime, sitting at rivers edge or along the trails i couldn’t help but be amazed at the callous disregard for the beauty people find themselves in and the crap they leave in their wake!

    My fishing buddy and I have always adopted this idea of taking out more than we bring in and it is easily done. My daypack even with a light jacket, water and food is still half empty.
    I have a good bag supply with the sturdy plastic bags the morning paper comes in. They sure work with the German Shepard. :-)

    Worse than the littering is the less occasional but more insipid marker graffitti that i have scraped off river boulders and such.

    Litter Life Spans
    • What you throw out today may still be around in the year 3000! Check out
    decomposition times for some commonly littered items.
    o Glass bottles: 1 million years
    o Plastic foam cups: More than 500 years
    o Aluminum cans: 200-500 years
    o Plastic bags: 10-20 years
    o Cigarette butts: 1-5 years
    o Piece of paper: 2-4 weeks

  2. Tom Sadler says:

    Excellent post and something we can all do to help keep our habitat healthy! Your readers may be interested in a great program my friend Teeg Stouffer runs at Recycled Fish. The 1 Million Stewards program recuits anglers to do the very think you mention and has a great reusable Shoreline Clean Up bag as part of the program. You can even donate and “pay it forward” for other anglers. Pretty cool.

  3. Right on, Daniel. I think all of us are stewards of the wild places that we frequent. If you notice a piece of trash, why not pick it up? It takes almost zero effort. My pack comes home from fishing trips with new collections of beer cans, cigarette butts, and frayed old tackle. Like Steve said, I was raised not to be a ‘litterbug’, and to leave a place better than I found it. Sadly, not everybody is taught that way.

    I have a close friend who did a service trip with an environmental NGO in Peru. They spent a week hauling endless amounts of trash out of mountainous rivers, which are often used in small towns as dumps. The river just carries it all away downstream for someone else to worry about. On the last day of their trip, heading home, the group met a cute little kid at the train station and they gave him a candy bar. Much to everyone’s horror, the kid turned around and threw the candy wrapper in the river.

    If you grow up seeing adults treat the world as their dumpster, you learn that it’s okay. I do think that’s changing for the better with time. But I’ve been wondering about a better way to reach out to people in a way that’s not confrontational or judgmental, and can help people to treat the natural world with respect and awe. I don’t have any answers, but maybe there’s more we can do.

  4. Bob Foresti says:

    …well said, Daniel… well said…

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