This Week's View
by Deanna Lee Birkholm
May 31st, 1999
Archive of Ladyfisher Articles
I've been reading Wisdom of the Guides - which
is "Rocky Mountain Trout Guides Talk Fly Fishing" - hopefully I'll have it finished
soon. It is interesting from many aspects, one which continues to disturb me is
how much things have changed since the 1970s when both
JC and I were licensed guides in Montana.
We haven't been on a desert island disconnected from the world, but the change in attitudes
makes it seem like we have.
Greed is the dirty word here. Yes, I know it has always existed. But I don't think it was as
prevalent as it seems to be now. Stick with me here, this really does all connect.
For the last week there has been a terrific exchange of opinions on Castwell's column,
By Saving Fly fishing, Have We Lost Something? on the
Bulletin Board. Most readers got the point, some didn't. Those who missed it may
at least have more information to work with the next time they have an opportunity
to release a fish - or keep it.
It is here, Catch and Release, now the point of the Greed Factor.
Quoting from Wisdom of the Guides, here is Gary LaFontaine, (page 27) "The one
thing that infuriates me is people catching so many fish, even with catch and release. I saw an
ad the other day in Fly Fisherman magazine for the South Fork of the Snake: "Our
client caught and released 136 fish." All the studies show that no matter how carefully you
release fish, you have about four percent mortality rate. That clown that caught and released
136 fish killed more trout than the bait fisherman who takes his five fish and goes home.
We have to limit the fishing not only to catch and release, but also how many we're catching
and releasing. The idea of going for some incredible number of fish a day, making that our goal,
is the real problem. I think we have to limit even our catch-and-release pressure on the streams.
Q: Would you try to do that by regulation?
LaFontaine: No, You'd just have to do it as a matter of fishing ethics. Like saying
after catching 20 fish could you sit down and smell the roses or something? Look at Sphinx
Mountain on the Madison, or just sit down and enjoy the experience?"
Fishing ethics? Where were the fishing ethics of the place/person who placed that ad in
Fly Fisherman? Where were the fishing ethics of the person who accepted the ad? Why
did some editor approve it? And finally the publisher of that magazine is ultimately responsible
for everything that appears in it. Where were his fishing ethics?
Then again in a country where it is not only "Me First" but increasingly "ONLY ME" the
Greed Factor can take root and flourish. And no one has to be responsible. Believe me, no
one is responsible - just ask them how many fish they released!
Never mind the "Got Milk?" Got ethics? ~ LadyFisher
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