more on catch and release

i often hear the counter-argument “I don’t care about C+R, it’s my right to keep fish, we’ve done it since the beginning of history, it’s in my legal rights”, etc, etc, etc. blah, blah, blah…

ok, so you want to keep fish and as far as i’m concerned as long as you stay within reason and local regulations then i guess go ahead and reduce a worldwide dwindling fish population a little more. you’ll have guessed that i do not kill fish any more than i would kill a horse after riding it or a dog or cat after playing with it or, as Mel Krieger once said to a young woman when asked about C+R

“If i had the great pleasure of making love to you i wouldn’t kill you after… “

‘nuff said, my point isn’t to tell people what to do. however, even if you’re going to keep fish, learning proper C+R methods is an absolute must, here’s a few reasons why:

– all of us often catch undersized fish. these little fish are fragile and can’t put up with improper handling. if they don’t go back in good shape they won’t live to reproduce and make a lot of other little fish that will become bigger fish that will make tons of other fish. easy math.

– although stronger and they can generally put up well with being caught, the same basic ideas can be applied to the larger specimens. if they got that big and healthy is because they have a very strong genetic structure. these fish will make more and better fish if they are allowed to continue reproducing.

– sometimes we’re fishing for one species but another takes the fly. they can be out of season (from varying reproduction periods that differ from one species to another) or an ‘undesirable or un-tasty’ species. either way these must go back properly. there is no such thing as a ‘trash’ fish and i feel sorry for anyone who would use that term. every single element of an ecosystem is as important as another and complements the whole.

here’s a really nice article on C+R i hope you’ll find informative from my good friend “Lineslinger“ Will Shaw.


the title says ‘trout’ but the methods are pretty much the same for most species. there will be more on this subject later as i’m slowly putting together with several other authors what i hope will be an accepted reference in this matter.


Harsh or on the money ?

From an article written by well known Scottish angler Stan Headley a few years ago.

” I think that the rainbow trout fisheries have done a lot of harm to the brown trout fisheries,  People coming to the sport of fly-fishing tend to come via the rainbow fisheries. There, they find a totally artificial environment designed to provide fish for fishermen who, let’s face it, are generally of limited ability. OK, they may be very good at what they do, but it’s like comparing someone who knows his back garden intimately with someone who travels around the World.

The rainbow trout fishery environment produces anglers who believe:

1.   That handing over money is actually buying fish,

2.   That they are entitled to fish

3.   That fish are a commodity

4.   That it doesn’t matter what the fish look like or how they fight, as long as they are big

5.   That it doesn’t matter how the angler treats them either.

The above distinctions do not apply to everyone who fishes put & take fisheries, but the overlying ethos closely resembles the above, and most certainly applies to most.

Wild trout fishermen never think that they are buying fish, only buying fishing with a good chance of a fish or two if they get it right. That is a million miles away from item 1 above. And items 1 & 2 are why so many people get seriously pissed-off when they go wild trout fishing and get stiffed more often than not.

When you catch a wild trout, you are more than likely the first person ever to catch that fish, and whether it is 6 ounces or 6 pounds it is an important moment in both your lives. That fish was not born to be caught, but was happily going about doing what comes natural until you came along and interrupted it. The realization of this tends to make you a bit more philosophical than the rainbow trout fisher who only feels he is a small cog in a big wheel of fishery business. Another ‘bow, another dollar!

When people come to wild trout fishing with a rainbow ethos:

1.   They expect fish

2.   They don’t understand why every fish isn’t a specimen

3.   They fail to comprehend that size isn’t everything and that some environments produce smallish fish, whilst the loch over the hill might produce monsters

4.   They don’t understand that what makes a good day isn’t simply weight of dead fish, but the camaraderie, the environment, the sport, the means of catching, and wonderment at the natural, wild world and its products

5.   They fail to realize that just because they caught four the last time they were here, that they may catch sod all, or thirty, today,

6.   And when they have a bad day it’s because the management are spending the re-stocking money in the pub! Don’t let anyone suggest that the angler is not capable of getting his limit.

And the reason this is important is because such feelings and perspectives make wild trout fishery controllers (owners or club leaseholders) act very strangely. They try to satisfy people who are virtually incapable of being satisfied. Fishery owners start pumping in hatchery-bred stock to make the fishing uniform.

Wild fishing, by its very nature, can never be uniform, and when the fisher finally has his way and the fishing is uniform, it’s no longer wild. And instead of the wild stock being enhanced and supported by hatchery-reared stock, it is decimated by them, and more and more stockies get pumped in to address the problem of the disappearing wild fish.

Oh, god! I could go on all day on this subject. But let’s just accept that rainbows and hand-reared brown trout, and those that love them, should be kept away from wild fishing until they learn that fishing is about a whole lot more than a heap of big, ugly, dead fish. ”