May 23rd, 2005

Fish to Kill
By James Castwell


I got to thinking the other day, not always a good thing at my age, but from habit I do it anyway. This time I went off the deep end about what is fishing all about anyhow. I mean, why has man been doing it for so long. Why did he start in the first place, why does he still do it, and more specifically, why do we do it these days and with a fly rod.

I mean, a net in the shallows seemed to work for a few centuries, still does in many places for that matter. Many methods work to get the fish, and mostly they are all for the table, or on a stick if that happens to be the fish du jour. Seems to me that most fish, then and now are captured to be eaten. Fish eat fish, we eat fish. That seems like what fishing is all about. We fish to get fish.

Now enters man. Man with a long stick and some goofy notion that they are to play with. This idea still meets with astonishment in several countries today. To catch a fish and throw it back is insanity, really. But, here we are with our high-faluting ideas and noble ethics, catching fish, patting their slippery little heads and bidding them a fond fare well. We have convinced ourselves that against all of the conventional wisdom of the ages, it is not nice to hurt a fish, not nice to kill one and immoral to even think of eating one. Well, not all of us have, but a darn big bunch of us have. The idea has even spread to other countries. Places where one would presume that the more pragmatic and 'meat and potatoes' society would be brighter than to be led down such a romantic stream.

But, nonetheless, it has been done and we have done it to ourselves. So we fish with delicate little flies so as not to hurt the poor little fishies. Remember, it was not always like that. Do you think the boys in the early frontier days in the great North East of our country were vegetarians? Think again. They caught fish. They ate fish. And you know what? Their flies were designed to catch fish. Fish to eat. So what happened?

It got too easy. The dumb denizens jumped on flies faster than we could cook them. After all a fellow can only eat so many, then they get a bit boring. Ask some of the other cultures who still mostly live on them. We also discovered it was kind of fun catching them with these little flies. Our culture degenerated and we became fly fishers of the round (tying) table, in the evenings (at night). As it were, 'Latter Day Knights of the Round Tables.' Fly fishing clubs popped up. Fly tying groups formed and fanned out into organizations on both sides of the pond. We have slid our way to the boggy bottom of the proverbial slippery slope. It ain't nice to hurt fish.

We took a great phrase and twisted it. Here is today's version.

"A fish is too important to only be caught once. It must be annoyed for the rest of his miserable life!"

"Bull-pucky," says I! We must take back our heritage! Well, okay let's not get carried away here, but at least perhaps we should occasionally think about what the real issues here were and maybe should still be. As an example consider this scenario. It's a private pond, dug by the owner, stocked with eggs he bought and raised, he charges you to fish and you must kill and keep every fish you catch. You must also take them home and eat them. It is ten bucks a fish and he furnishes the gear. How many are you going to catch? Ok, I agree with that.

Let's say you can use your gear and you can release everything, but if you hurt one, you must keep it and pay for it and eat it. Alright, I will accept that too. What if you can fish all day and release everything, and if it dies, it dies. No problem, the pond needs the nutrition and it really is good for his ecosystem. Now what? In fact, a few dead ones are almost welcomed, too many of them in there anyhow. Things start to change here don't they. Am I trying to set you up? Would I, J Castwell do that to you? Of course I would. Will. Have.

What if, the next time you are out, lake, stream, salt-chuck, I don't care, what if you for some reason had to land every one of the fish you hooked? No LDR, you had to land them, bring them in and kill each and every one of them. There is a person standing right there observing you, you may not even begin to try to lose the fish. Fun? Think it would be fun? Right, I don't think so either.

And finally this. When, the next time you are alone, fly fishing and get one on, you tell yourself that you must land the fish. You will not be satisfied with just playing with it, none of the, "Heck, I was going to release it anyway!" Nope, you make a deal with yourself that you must land it no matter what.

What would you change? ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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