/ Opinion

Open Letter: A new narrative on fishing and travelling

Fishtripr Co-Founder, CEO Quentin Walravens sent the following message to the Anglers Community and beyond, outlining our vision to build a new narrative on sport fishing as a way to bring more people to the outdoors.

Many years ago, when I first started fishing, I never thought one day I would be lucky enough to work with my passion. I always felt that just being out in the blue open water is a magnificent feeling all in itself. But there is certainly something inspiring about the serenity of the clean, fresh springs just before the adrenaline that hits you when you catch the fish. Fishing is a mix of calmness and adventure. It is an experience like no other.

So, today, as I reflect on all these enjoyable moments, I not only feel fortunate to have this opportunity to make fishing even a bigger part of my life, but I am also excited to know that I am being part of this great project of ours that will shake the angling community.

Part of what makes me so happy to work with anglers are their stories. Talk to fishermen anywhere in the world and you will hear the old tales. Fishes bigger than men; lakes that were so plentiful, the fishes jumped into the angler's boat; or even fish so strong, the fisherman got pulled into the water. The new fisherman stories are not like those ones. Sadly, these tales have become rarer and rarer each day. As an angler myself I know that, without a doubt, there are many passionate anglers out there, but why is it that fishing has become more challenging to practice?

We are #ConsciousAnglers

The fact is that environmental issues have been impacting the fishing scene. They are everywhere we look: Droughts as never seen before in Europe, plastic fragments found in fish species in North America, global warming leading to large-scale fish kills in the Arabian Sea. The Foresight Future of the Sea Report warns that the amount of plastic present in the seas is expected to triple between 2015 and 2025. On last September, more than 80% of continental Portugal was in severe drought. Fishing in the Tejo river became pretty much impossible as dead fishes could be seen everywhere.

If these facts seem out of our hands, others depend heavily on the actions of recreational fishers. A single weekend fisherman who catches a few bass or bream and doesn’t release them doesn't make much of a dent in the livelihood of the aquatic ecosystem. But multiply that by the 125 million rod-and-reel fishermen worldwide, and that could significantly compound the effects of hooking a fish here and there, don’t you think?

As anglers, we must face the fact that, despite our best efforts, we do have an impact on the resources that allow us to do what we love most. The good news is, there are many things we can do on an individual level to tip the scales in favor of the fish and their environment to keep our fishing opportunities flowing far into the future. That is why promoting responsible angling is the very backbone of everything we do at Fishtripr.

Connect people with nature

Fishtripr’s mission is simple, to bring more people to the outdoors, fostering a deeper connection with nature. This is the very definition of why we exist. The number of people staying inside in front of their computers barely moving at all increases every single day. A research showed that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmate. 20% of them have never even once climbed a tree. These data are worrisome. It is important not only for children to be in the outdoors but for all of us.

Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive, and this fact has even been proved by scientific studies. Away from traffic and work, nature is a quiet spot, perfect to relax and forget the problems of the urban city for a few days. I believe that spending time away from urbanization can recharge your strengths and provide more disposition. For me, fishing is one of the great ways to do just that, take care of one’s self and experience a strong bond with nature.

That is why I intend to boost the fishing scene by providing easy to access experiences for everyone! Not only for fishing enthusiasts but families, couples, friends, employees… For everyone, from everywhere around the world.

Fishing everywhere, for everybody

In order to achieve such meaningful mission, we launched fishtripr.com and we built this platform around four pillars that aim to guide us :

  • Conscious angling; the very backbone of Fishtripr. Aldo Leopold, a great American author, fisherman, and naturalist of the 19th century said: “A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.” And with this definition in mind, an angler may be a conservationist so as long as his “stroke of the axe” is guided by principle, ethics and a dose of ecological mindfulness. It is with these attributes that I propose fishing can, in fact, exist as a modern and powerful tool of conservation in the 21st century. This is why all our guides at Fishtripr practice exclusively catch and release policy.

  • Discovering new places; one of the biggest thrill of the fishing experience. Fishtripr is everywhere you want to fish. Our goal is to invite people to explore remote destinations in foreign countries by combining angling and travel. We strongly believe going fishing with local guides as well as getting to know different cultures to be a life-changing experience.

  • Normalizing fishing; probably our biggest challenge. For many years, fishing has been associated with boredom, but we are here to change that mindset and set the record straight. Fishtripr is on a mission to change the story of sport fishing through purveying the market's essential storytellers, brands, destinations, and resources, displayed in a way that magnifies the beauty of this extraordinary lifestyle and modernise its perception.

  • Leading by example; the most significant way that we can influence others to adhere to responsible angling. In 2018 Fishtripr is donating 1% of all of its turn over to the No-Kill Foundation. The No-Kill Foundation exists to raise awareness and promote a more sustainable way of fishing. It believes in a community and a collective effort to make such vision a reality.

The long road ahead

We have a lofty mission and know that it won’t be accomplished right away. It’s likely to be a long and difficult road ahead, but we plan to stay the course and weather the storms. We know that fishing is often misrepresented today. But we believe that through our collective stories, photographs, and partners, we’ll be able to educate some folks about overlooked realities and win the minds and hearts of those who still have them open. Through presenting stories based on virtue, ethics, personal growth, and personal merit, our aim is to inspire, educate, challenge, and in some cases, set the record straight about sport fishing.

Today we’re proud to showcase the work of guides and other fishing professionals who, in my opinion, are some of the most relevant voices in the fishing space right now. Their work is thoughtful, ethical, and beautiful, yet rarely showcased in mainstream media and hard to be found by outsiders. Many of them I’m fortunate to call friends and all of them I can confidently call brilliant talents.

We’re counting on them to build the place where outdoors and people connect. We hope not only to become the top-of-the-mind fishing brand among people, but also to be the meeting point for the conscious anglers' community, bringing them together, and most of all giving them a voice.

– Quentin