We all have things which 'push our buttons' - or pet
peeves. Me too.
Our local Chum Salmon season brings this one up. We see
it every year, and I suppose there isn't much I can do
about it. It seems to be part of the culture, well local
Here we have these magnificent fish which swim thousands
of miles to get back to where they were hatched, make
it to the estuaries and wait for the next rain or high
tide to provide enough water in the creek for them to
make their final run upstream. Anglers, both spin and
fly gather to try their best to catch at least one.
Some years it looks like something out of the caveman era
of hunter-gatherers. And the behavior of some the fisherman
isn't far from neanderthal. Spinning lines crossed one
over another, a few fly fishers trying to get a line out
anywhere. People standing shoulder-to-shoulder lining
the edges of the estuary. Each very intent on 'catching'
a big chum salmon. It gets worse when someone actually
has a fish on.
Spin fisherman cast their corkies or whatever as far as
they can. Some use a fast retrieve, and if the line stops,
whump! In plain speak, they attempt to snag the fish. Or
the line is cast out, enough slack is reeled in to make the
line between the fisherman and the weighted lure tight. If
a salmon happens to swim into the line, WHUMP! The line
slides across the fish's mouth and is hooked. Salmon do
swim with their mouth open. In fact, mature males have a
kype (hook jaw), which can be so pronounced the fish cannot
close its mouth.
Catching fish this way is legal. The state of Washington
does not consider chum salmon a sport fish. It is
classified as a food fish, so expecting fishermen to
fair-hook a chum is not realistic. But something is
wrong with that assumption too.
I've seen people who snagged salmon on the back, belly,
dorsal fin or tail release the fish. Some even revived
the fish. Others didn't. Even fish that were supposedly
caught had the lure hooked on the outside of the fish's
mouth. Looks to me like it doesn't matter if you use an
orange, green or cerise lure - or fly.
Why am I picking on the spin fishers? There are a lot
more spin fishers than fly fishers out chasing chum.
And besides, I can cast a spinning rod as well as some
well-known spin fishers can cast a fly rod. You don't
have to be a horse to know what hay is. Snagging is
As long as I am on my soap box, here is another pet peeve:
I have seen fly fishermen with expensive gear, some who
traveled quite a distance to get there, catch a nice fish.
Fairly caught, even well fought, but they treat fish as
though the object of their trips and expense was absolute
If you are going to release a fish, don't drag it up on
the beach, and let the fish get beat around on the gravel.
Battered fish might be a recipe - but it is not how to
handle a fish. That includes big fish. It is not acceptable
to kick a fish back into the water. You don't have to remove
the fish from the water to remove the hook. Once the hook
is out, aim the head into the current so the water can flow
through the gills. Gently support the fish from underneath
until it has enough strength to swim off on its own. Just
because a fish you 'threw' back swam off doesn't mean it
I can't believe the lack of respect for a truly wonderful
resource I see almost every time I go fishing. These fish
are not trash. Surprisingly, I haven't seen any of these
so-called fishermen take the roast they just purchased at
the store out to the parking lot and kick it around.
Perhaps they wait to do that when they get home.
Treating a hooked fish with respect includes proper handling.
Wetting your hands before you touch the fish, carefully
removing the hook - not tearing it out, and reviving the
fish (You don't have to take it as far as Castwell does.
He often says, "Thank you, Mr. Fish.") I'm not that bad,
I just pat them on the head gently and say "Thank You."
Using appropriate gear helps. Catching a big fish on light
gear might be a kick for the fisherman, but it will take
longer to land the fish. More stress and damage to the
fish, particularly if you plan on releasing it.
Stupid, rough, careless handling and mistreatment of fish
by scum-sucking, angus-intellect, pond-slime pseudo-anglers
is just the ammunition PETA miscreants thrive on.
Grow up. Smarten up. Clean up your act. Or don't fish.
And oh yes, have a nice day! ~ DLB
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