Fish and Aquatic Conservation


An illustration of two fish seeming to look into each other’s eyes. Text over the fish says “Hope your holidays aren’t crappie.”
Last Minute Fishing Gifts for the Fish Aficionado in Your Life!

It happens to all of us. You get busy mulling the cider and frying latkes, and before you know it you’re out of time with a boat load of gifts to give. Never fear! We’ve got some gift giving fin-spiration for any fish aficionados in your life!

Send your best fishes with a lovely electronic (or printable) holiday card!

Sometimes the best present of all is sharing our thoughts and a laugh with the people who matter most. Send one of our free holiday e-cards to the fish aficionado in your life and tag us @USFWSFisheries with your cards on social. (Also scroll down to the bottom of the story for full size printable cards if you want to use traditional mail!)

An illustration of two fish called crapiies are in front of a  white background. The fish seem to look into each other’s eyes. Text over the fish says “Hope your holidays aren’t crappie.”
A collage of eight different kinds of freshwater fish illustrations are lined up in a neat grid against a white background that fills the entire card. Lines of identical fish run down the card from top to bottom. The fish surround a large block of text in the center that reads, “Best Fishes for a happy holiday season.”

A small silvery fish called a chub is in front of a white background. A Santa hat and holiday lights wrapped around the fish tail have been digitally added to the image. The words “Bah, Humchub” are in the middle of the card over the fish.
An illustration of a large silvery fish called a coho salmon fills up most of the card. The fish illustration has had a santa hat added to it digitally. The words “Coho Ho” are above the fish, and the words “Salmon’s Greetings” are below the fish.

Plan a winter fishing experience!

A person with dark curly hair looks through binoculars while wearing mittens and a warm coat. 
A man and small child wearing winter clothes hold a fishing rod while standing on the ice. The child is attempting to reel something in.
Left: Waterfowl viewing from the Weaver Bottoms observation deck. Photo by Mary Stefanski/USFWS. Right: Even in the winter fishing is fun at national fish hatcheries like Genoa National Fish Hatchery. Photo by USFWS

Travel this year may look different, but there are still plenty of local winter fishing options near you. Whether you want to head out on the ice in search of a northern pike, or chase catfish on a lake down south, fishing and other outdoor winter activities are available at 296 national wildlife refuges, 35 wetland management districts, and 18 national fish hatcheries across the country.

One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is by spending time with loved ones, so find a safe place near you and make some fishing memories this year! https://www.fws.gov/refuges/fishingguide/

Offer to pay for a fishing license!

A fishing license is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time a fishing license is purchased, a part of the sale goes towards local conservation efforts — from habitat restoration to improving fishing access in your local community. License requirements and purchase locations are different in each state, so be sure to check with your local fish and wildlife agency to see what’s right for the angler or would be fisher-person in your life. https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/fishing.html

And remember, there’s no such thing as too much fishing line.

A person is fishing from a chair in front of a lake. The sky is light purple and pink and the colors are reflected on the surface of the water. Trees are silhouetted in the background.
Fishing for walleye on a lake in the midwest. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS.

You can never have too much fishing line, hooks, or lures. Period. What’s more, the sale of these supplies help support conservation projects like population surveys and habitat restoration to ensure healthy fisheries for generations to come. Since 1950, sale of fishing supplies in America has raised more than $9 billion for conservation through the Sport Fish Restoration Act!

Here’s a list of some basic fishing gear that you can never have enough of. All of this can be found at local sporting goods stores, tackle shops, and even online.


New to fishing?

With over 40 million people fishing each year, it can be a great way to spend time outside with family and friends. Whether you’re revisiting something you haven’t done in years or you’re wanting to try it for the first time, don’t feel overwhelmed! Check out the basics to get started.


National Fish Hatchery System

Since 1871 the National Fish Hatchery system has been at work improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species that are in decline or at risk. Across the country the network of National Fish Hatcheries work with states and tribes to conserve, restore and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generations. More than one million people visit a National Fish Hatchery every year to fish, hunt, hike, go birdwatching, and simply enjoy the outdoors. Find a hatchery near you.


Printable holiday cards. The cards feature an illustration on the front and facts about the fish on the back. Learn more about these amazing freshwater fish at: fws.gov/fisheries. Instructions: Cut along the dotted line to remove border and fold in half. Each card will fit a 5”x7” envelope.

Bah, Humchub Holiday Card Description: A small silvery fish called a chub is in front a of white background. A Santa hat and holiday lights wrapped around the fish tail have been digitally added to the image. The words “Bah, Humchub” are in the middle of the card over the fish. The back of the card reads: Did you know? Flathead chub are a minnow species that rely heavily on vision to hunt and capture insects near the surface of the water. This allows them to survive in murky waters, hiding them from both predators and their prey.

A small silvery fish called a chub is in front of a white background. A Santa hat and holiday lights wrapped around the fish tail have been digitally added to the image. The words “Bah, Humchub” are in the middle of the card over the fish. The back of the card reads: Did you know? Flathead chub are a minnow species that rely heavily on vision to hunt and capture insects near the surface of the water. This allows them to survive in murky waters, hiding them from both predators and their prey.

Best Fishes Holiday Card Description: A collage of eight different kinds of freshwater fish illustrations are lined up in a neat grid against a white background that fills the entire card. Lines of identical fish run down the card from top to bottom. The fish surround a large block of text in the center that reads, “Best Fishes for a happy holiday season.” The back of the card reads: Duane Raver illustrations, from left to right: Largemouth bass, Yellow perch, Channel catfish, Walleye, American shad, Blueback herring, Bluegill, and Brook trout.

A collage of eight different kinds of freshwater fish illustrations are lined up in a neat grid against a white background that fills the entire card. Lines of identical fish run down the card from top to bottom. The fish surround a large block of text in the center that reads, “Best Fishes for a happy holiday season.” The back of the card reads: Duane Raver illustrations, from left to right: Largemouth bass, Yellow perch, Channel catfish, Walleye, American shad, Blueback herring, Bluegill, and Brook trout.

Coho Ho Salmon’s Greetings Holiday Card Description: An illustration of a large silvery fish called a coho salmon fills up most of the card. The fish illustration has had a santa hat added to it digitally. The words “Coho Ho” are above the fish, and the words “Salmon’s Greetings” are below the fish. The back of the card reads: "Did you know? Coho salmon are born in freshwater, live most of their adult lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, or reproduce. While living in the ocean, coho salmon resemble the illustration on this card, but when entering fresh water to spawn, they turn a vibrant reddish-maroon color."

An illustration of a large silvery fish called a coho salmon fills up most of the card. The fish illustration has had a santa hat added to it digitally. The words “Coho Ho” are above the fish, and the words “Salmon’s Greetings” are below the fish. The back of the card reads: Did you know? Coho salmon are born in freshwater, live most of their adult lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, or reproduce. While living in the ocean, coho salmon resemble the illustration on this card, but when entering fresh water to spawn, they turn a vibrant reddish-maroon color.

Black Crappie Holiday Card Description: An illustration of two fish called crappies are in front of a white background. The fish seem to look into each other’s eyes. Text over the fish says “Hope your holidays aren’t crappie.” The back of the card reads: "Did you know? Black crappie are a freshwater species that prefer cover under vegetation, fallen trees or boulders. They are easily confused with the white crappie, but can be distinguished by their black splotches, silvery green color and number of spines on their dorsal fins (7-8)."

An illustration of two fish called crapiies are in front of a white background. The fish seem to look into each other’s eyes. Text over the fish says “Hope your holidays aren’t crappie.” The back of the card reads: Did you know? Black crappie are a freshwater species that prefer cover under vegetation, fallen trees or boulders. They are easily confused with the white crappie, but can be distinguished by their black splotches, silvery green color and number of spines on their dorsal fins (7-8).

Story by Holly Richards and Gwen Bausmith, “Fish Enthusiast” and Outreach Specialist for the Fish and Aquatic Conservation program.