CATCH AND RELEASE - Neil - Nov 6, 2011
CATCH AND RELEASE
Raise the issue of catch and release in a mixed crowd of fly fishers and you are almost certain to start a debate. Debating an issue is a good thing if it leads to understanding, and I think that it's appropriate to explore the history of the idea of catch and release fishing.
In-fisherman has a better method the CR - Catch your limit but limit your catch. I'm not just a Fly fisher I use spinning gear as well. It really bothers me when there are stretch's listed as fly fish only. Every person who buys a license helps fund their FW services so why does one segment of the sport get preferencial treatment, we all help pay for it.
I think we can all agree though that there are bad apples on both sides fly and hardware/bait.
And yeah rtidd I agree with your "Raise the Issue"
Great article by Neil,
I totally believe in Catch & Release on all wild fish. The Federation of Fly Fishers is a strong supporter of this as well and I am a very active member of the FFF. I fish for trout and smallmouth bass in the rivers of Montana and Washington. I C&R every one, even my larger 'hogs' that I catch. I firmly believe in Lee Wulff's saying that game fish are too valuable to be only caught once.
As for hatchery trout, I am far more open on that subject. Personally, I still practice C&R on them as well but if someone wants to keep some hatchery trout then why not? The fact that I practice C&R simply means that someone else will also be able to enjoy catching that particular fish.
I'm in the middle of this issue really. While I practice C&R probably 98% of the time, I do so only based on the particular waters I am fishing. Not because I am against killing and eating a wild fish, but strictly on a conserevation basis. If the particular water I was fishing had an abundance of wild fish, I would have no problem taking a limit home.
I like the In-Fisherman approach published many years ago. In effect it proposed a C&R limit that assumed a certain number would die "even under the best conditions." It realistically asks, "How many fish do you want to kill or risk killing?" For example, assuming an 80% survival rate, your C&R limit is 10 to avoid killing more than two. A lot of guys are bothered by the math or do not believe any of the fish they release will die. So it is a hard sell. The last time I tried, I was accused of being an ignorant butcher who did not know how to remove a hook.
My pet theory on C&R adds a genetic component. If there is an aggressive gene or genetic makeup in fish, we probably catch the more aggressive fish. If these are killed, the remaining gene pool becomes less aggressive. In effect the fish become harder to catch. The coin has another side. There may be a shy or cautious gene. In that case if we take out the normal fish, we are left with a very skitish population again hard to catch.
Bear, I have a hard time understanding the In-Fisherman philosophy. I have seen very few and I mean very few fish caught on the fly that were going to die due to any damage caused by the fly, very few.
I suspect that most of the fatalities are due to the catching, handling and/or release techniques of the fisherman. I have seen some fishermen play a fish until the fish was totally exhausted, never a good sign. A fish like that needs a lot of time to recover, time many fishermen are not willing to give. Others handle the fish totally wrong when in the boat and some just dump the fish overboard without trying to resusitate the fish.
The few fish that don't recover become a food source for micro organisms, or Otters, Osprey, Eagles, Raccoons, or many other fish eating creatures. Not a total waste.
But see....that's where I have the problem. I hunt, and realize that at times there is wounded game. It's a blood spot. And on the same hand, nothing in nature goes to waste. The old addage, "the yotes have to eat too" has a lot of truth in it. You will never get accused of failure to recover a deer....by an oppossum, who is grateful for the bounty.
But I don't get the moral high-ground of saying, it's acceptable for a fish to die if the intent was not to kill it, but unethical for a fish to die if it is intentionally kept for the pan. Either way, the fisherman killed it. In one hand, the fisherman consumes it, and in the other nature consumes it. Flyfisherman....especially trout fisherman fishing moving waters will seldom ever accept that they kill fish even during C&R, mostly because all the fish that die are never seen. They are swept downstream to their demise, as the tablefare of the raccoons.
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