It's a subject that angers a lot of folks.

And at this time of the year, the tempers really start to flare. As anglers line the county's streams, lakes and rivers, they often leave something behind. Sometimes it's on purpose. Sometimes it's by accident. Either way, litter is a big problem.

Here's what the typical scene looks like. A couple of buddies go fishing along a well-stocked trout stream. Within a couple of hours, they've walked to several different holes, ate a sandwich and drank a couple of sodas.

By the time their stringers are full, they lose track of everything they carried in. They're distracted by the excitement of a good day of fishing. And as they head for home, they leave a couple of pieces of trash.

It's not a huge crime, right? It's not like they're poaching trophy deer from the back of their truck, right?

I beg to differ.

Littering is a big deal.

To prove the point, let's change our perspective. Let's look at it from the landowner's point of view.

Each year, he makes a choice. He decides whether to post his land or keep it open to fishermen. Imagine how easy that decision is when he walks his property and finds beer cans, cigarette packs, bait tubs and yards of old fishing line.

In our overly litigious society, most landowners already have a natural tendency to limit access to their land. Tossing our garbage on their property only makes the decision to post that land much easier to make.

If you've been a longtime hunter or angler, you know one of the greatest threats to our sports is access to land. Each year, the list of properties open to the public gets smaller and smaller.

That's why littering -- as small as a crime as it appears to be -- is a big deal. It's the main reason we can't hunt or fish in all the places we'd like to.

So what can you do to help? First, it's all about awareness. Even in the excitement of the catch, be mindful of where you set things. A lot of litter is not purposefully left behind. It's forgotten about. Take a small grocery bag with you to ensure you've got something to carry your trash home in. When you're done with something, put it in the bag.

Also, don't hesitate to clean up after someone else. It's either you or the landowner that's going to pick it up. If he doesn't have to do it, there's a good chance you'll get access again next year.

Finally, I say it so much, but have some respect. Don't toss your cans in the weeds. Don't start a campfire on somebody else's property without first getting their permission. (That's a crime, too). And don't hang out with folks that do.

The bottom line is that absolutely no good can come from littering. It damages the reputation of our sports and makes it harder on everybody else. It steals opportunity from all of us.

That's why littering is such a big deal.

-- Reach Andy Snyder at sports@yorkdis