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Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Catch and release on 09/07/2011 20:37:15 MDT Print View

What to you is ethical angling? keep the small ones, the big ones, all, none at all? Does it depend on the lake and fish size and population? I know my opionions stated on the previous thread on excessive harvest may make me sound like a hypocrite when veiwed with this next request but... lets not comment on anybodys comments lets just hear everyones own opinions, cuz maybe if we know where we all stand we can learn or educate without offending each other. So the rules here are you dont comment on others comments just make your comment about the question. If this sounds like ive had way to much therapy you are right. I believe that we need to start more educational threads on stuff like this and LNT and bears and hopefully get comments from the more educated forum members providing sources of reference as well as personal experience. Does this sound like I need more therapy?

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Catch and eat? on 09/07/2011 21:21:26 MDT Print View

I am a long time fisherman, starting back when I was a child, going out with my Dad. We always fished legally, and kept what we caught, unless it was an illegal catch. And what we kept, we ate. It definitely supplied meat to our diet - we certainly weren't wealthy folk!

When the "catch and release" idea came along, I thought, "Great! We can catch 'em multiple times, keep fish stocks up, sounds great!" But the longer I thought about it, the worse it seemed. While I still have no problem whatsoever with catching a fish to eat (biologically humans are omnivores, and as opportunistic meat eaters, we have to kill other creatures to get meat), I have real problems with going out to catch fish with a sharp hook in their mouth (throat, gills, etc), scare the bejeebies out of them, sending them into a stark panic (jumping, racing up and down the stream), just because it's "fun" for me. That's just too sadistic: "I have fun making other creatures suffer pain and fear."

Native hunter-gatherers have no problem with killing animals for food and fur (I know, I've lived with them), and sometimes their "play" with the animals can seem cruel to modern people, but they do not waste any part of the animal, and they certainly don't practice catch and release - that's makes no sense in their view of the world.

My bottom line: Catch only what you're going to actually eat. Once caught, kill the fish quickly - don't let it slowly die for lack of oxygenated water. If you want a trophy, take a quick photo and get a fiberglass replica made. Once you've caught enough for your meal, stop, whether they're as big as you hoped or not.

Edited by grampa on 09/07/2011 21:24:04 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Catch and Eat? on 09/07/2011 22:26:21 MDT Print View

Stephen sums up my experience pretty well.

I used to fish quite a bit of catch and release as well, under the belief that it was somehow more ethical to let them go (obviously letting 20 go is better than killing 20).

To each their own, but I have a pretty hard time justifying catch and release anymore.

A few years ago I was fishing for tiny native trout on a small local stream. Knowing their size, I didn't intend to keep or eat anything, fishing purely for sport. An hour or two into my fishing I somehow foul-hooked one in the eye. I landed it, pulled the hook out of its gored eye, and then released it, unsure if it would've been better off dead. That didn't sit well with me. It occurred to me that I was basically f-ing with fish for entertainment that day. I don't think I've flyfished since then, though I haven't totally written it off.

I've fished long enough to know how to set a hook quickly, etc., but even when going barbless and with all the care in the world, you always have those that get gut-hooked, fouled, or simply exhausted for no reason...

These days I really have no interest in fishing unless I'm going to kill it and eat it. As far as meat eating goes, I'm not against getting it yourself. Philosophically, I've just started to really question catch and release. It increasingly seems to me that it's simply sport at the expense of another creature's fear.


But if I deduce that catch and release is needlessly hurting a fish for sport...
How about killing an animal for a meal you could've easily gone without (or eaten veggie)?

Of course, this topic opens a BIG, BIG can of seriously philosophical, hypocritical, and uncomfortable worms.

Edited by xnomanx on 09/07/2011 22:35:23 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Catch and Eat? on 09/07/2011 22:31:57 MDT Print View

that can of worms for bait?
I agree with Craig. Similar experience for me too.

Antti Peltola
(anttipeltola) - F
Re: Catch and release on 09/08/2011 00:20:16 MDT Print View

+1 more for Stephen. But I do release some legal catches too: If I happen to get a very large northern pike, I might release it if it's in good condition. Recent studies in my country state that taking out large predatory fishes allow population of common roach to grow too big and they displace many other species like graylings.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman)

Locale: Nebraska
Fish on 09/08/2011 07:42:59 MDT Print View

I have just recently started to fish for trout on backpacking trips. (I have fished recreationally most of my life) Currently I have only participated in catch and release while in the backcountry. This is only due to the fact that I have not had the chance try cooking them. I would love to learn how to cook them for my next trip. That being said, if/when I do start eating them, I will probably still catch more than I keep for eating. I admit that I don't have much experience yet, but unless the fish is foul hooked through the gills/eye or something, it seems to do just fine once I release it back into the water.

Maybe a better aproach would be to keep only the ones that are foul hooked, and send the healthy ones back???

Edited by bwortman on 09/08/2011 07:44:17 MDT.

Stephen B Elder Jr
(selder) - M

Locale: Front range CO
Re: Fish on 09/08/2011 09:28:19 MDT Print View

"I admit that I don't have much experience yet, but unless the fish is foul hooked through the gills/eye or something, it seems to do just fine once I release it back into the water.

Maybe a better aproach would be to keep only the ones that are foul hooked, and send the healthy ones back???"

You should certainly keep fish that are injured. Sending the "healthy" ones back is a bit more iffy. Under the best of circumstances (skilled angler with a net, barbless hooks etc) the mortality rate for trout is significant. Bass seem to be able to take quite a beating.

When you consider the ethical question of catch and release, you really do have to factor in the mortality question..."catch and release" is often "kill and release."

Having said that, I almost never keep fish. I enjoy catching them but only enjoy eating some, certinly not trout which just don't taste good to me. I have made my ethical decision, which is to fish for fun and live with the fact that some "healthy" fish that I release are dead fish swimming, and that all of the fish that I catch suffer in whatever sense a fish might suffer.

Edited by selder on 09/08/2011 12:12:25 MDT.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Catch and eat? on 09/08/2011 09:33:53 MDT Print View

>>I have real problems with going out to catch fish with a sharp hook in their mouth (throat, gills, etc), scare the bejeebies out of them, sending them into a stark panic (jumping, racing up and down the stream), just because it's "fun" for me. That's just too sadistic: "I have fun making other creatures suffer pain and fear."<<

Well, you've opened up quite a philosophical can o' worms. Question: how many (seemingly) passive activities do you pursue, that in the wider scheme of things, have a massively negative impact on flora & fauna?

Going for a quiet walk? How did you get there? Where/how were the shoes made? (Not to mention clothes.) What about a bike ride? Now, what about backpacking, with the necessary travel requirements, etc?

By offshoring US manufacturing & curtailing domestic oil production, we've conveniently placed our dirty laundry 'out of sight & mind'. But, as everyone knows, the impact is still there, in all its environmentally destructive glory, it's just taking place somewhere else.

But wait, we can take this comparison even further. Let's say we restore some kind of pastoral "balance". Now, we've got beasts of burden pulling our plows & carts, drudging along canals, well pumps, etc.

I've decided to draw the line @ killing. Are C&R fish frightened & scared? Sure, but since most live, they get to see another day. And experience another catch; because, for anyone who has ever caught a bigger fish, it's quite evident they've been caught (and released) several times before.

Arn Aarreberg
(aarrebea) - M

Locale: Northern Bay Area, CA
C&R is fine if done correctly on 09/08/2011 11:51:01 MDT Print View

I mostly practice C&R while fishing but do keep some when I see fit. I think when people fish they should know the lake or river they are fishing. Are these fish stockers? Are they wild native fish? What kind of fishing pressure is there in the lake? These are just a few things I take into account when fishing a particular place and it dictates the way I fish it. Either way I never keep a limit of fish, rarely do I ever keep more than 1 if any at all.

I do see the drawbacks of C&R fishing, but, there is a correct and incorrect way to do it. I see too many people doing this incorrectly. All hooks should be barbless and hook sizes should be matched to the size of fish you anticipate catching. Fish should never be taken out of the water. If a fish has to be taken out of the water never handle it with dry hands or over dry land. This takes away the fishes protective slime and increases chances of a parasite or bacterial infection. Don't just throw the fish back into the water. Spend the time to revive it and make sure it has the strength to swim off strongly. I think with the correct techniques and a little patience C&R fishing is fine. Respect the fish, respect the resource and you are good to go!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
hmmmm. on 09/08/2011 14:48:04 MDT Print View

i'm with tom and craig on this one.

would you hook lizards with a fly for entertainment? would you do it to a squirrel for fun? if not, why do fish get the bad treatment?

if you want to catch them and eat them, that's one thing. they've had a better life than a battery hen or feedlot cow. but hooking an animal in the mouth (or face or eyeball or whatever), yanking it around for a while, and then letting it go, to survive or slowly die... for fun? sitting at a mountain lake and endlessly hooking fish "on every cast" just to f*ck with them to entertain yourself is pretty sad, in my opinion.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Something else buried in the can-o'-worms... on 09/08/2011 15:23:59 MDT Print View

http://cotrout.org/do_fish_feel_pain.htm

Not sayin' this justifies anything, since I practice catch and release (I probably catch <10 fish per year, if that even matters) but it's interesting.

By catching and releasing only a handful of fish a year, am I morally equally barbaric as the people catching dozens an hour and letting them suffocate in a pile on the shore or boat? Maybe. Maybe not.

I'll probably continue to enjoy landing a few fish now and again.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Not much to add to Stephen, Craig, Ken, Dave t, et al except on 09/08/2011 17:24:59 MDT Print View

About the only thing I can add to what has been eloquently stated by others is the perception that fish are in a race against time during warm weather to lay on enough fat to get them thru the winter months. When someone hooks them and plays them in what, to the fish, is a life and death struggle, precious energy is expended. This will likely result in a significant percentage of them not being able to recoup enough of that energy to survive the lean months. Dead fish swimming, indeed. I have often wondered how many slowly starve that way, no matter how carefully they are handled during release. Then there's the moral question about making sport of another being's life, but that is for each person to resolve. Personally, I just can't go there.

Good thread. It is an issue well worth examining, IMO.

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
If I was a fish, I'd rather be released than eaten on 09/08/2011 18:00:09 MDT Print View

Interesting to see the perspective that catching and releasing a fish is morally repugnant but catching and eating a fish is okay. From the perspective of the fish, if given the choice I'm pretty sure they would vote for being released rather than eaten. For me, I enjoy fishing too much to quit but I do fish with barbless flies and release everything I catch.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Catch and release on 09/08/2011 18:09:44 MDT Print View

A local fly fishing shop had a "fish-out" recently in the Olympic National Park. I went with my children and mostly just hiked, but as we were playing along the river, we found several dead trout, mostly in the 10-12" range that appeared to have mouth and gill batter scars. No they were not cut-throats, mostly rainbows. Although I am not certain, it is reasonable to conclude that some of these were caught, then released, but somehow not handled well and suffered to the point of no return. It certainly got me thinking more about C&R technique and ethics.

I tend to practice the already mentioned catch few and eat few tactics (CF&EF), unless I catch something that is required to be released by fish & wildlife statute, to which I humbly oblige.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
shooting. on 09/08/2011 18:16:00 MDT Print View

"Interesting to see the perspective that catching and releasing a fish is morally repugnant but catching and eating a fish is okay. From the perspective of the fish, if given the choice I'm pretty sure they would vote for being released rather than eaten. For me, I enjoy fishing too much to quit but I do fish with barbless flies and release everything I catch."


Well, there's a pretty clear distinction perhaps. One is fishing for food, the other is fishing for entertainment. The "fish perspective" is a false choice.

Imagine if I like to shoot deer. If I went into the woods with a 30.06 and shot a deer, cleaned it, and ate it, that might be viewed by many folks as reasonable. If I went into the woods with a 0.22 pistol and shot every single deer I saw, wounding them (slightly or occasionally mortally) that might be viewed by many as unecessary or cruel. If I did the latter, maybe I'd say: "For me, I enjoy shooting deer too much to quit but I do shoot them with a relatively small bullet and let them run away once shot."

Justin Reigle
(jreigle) - F - M

Locale: SF Bay area
Good read on 09/08/2011 18:32:28 MDT Print View

I think the comments in this thread are very good and find myself agreeing with most of them even to the point of personal confliction. It's certainly a good topic to consider, as I have and do anytime before I fish.

I would never release a bleeding fish, or one I had hooked poorly (eye, gill, body), or a fish that appeared completely exhausted. When I do release fish, they never leave the water and rarely do I have to contact them directly with my hand. I don't overplay the fish and can't remember any fish I have decided to release that wasn't still very mobile and energetic. Despite this, I'm sure some percentage of the fish I release wind up dying in direct relation to the fact I hooked, played and released that fish.

That reality isn't particularly satisfying and I can see myself eventually yielding to the feelings that I'm causing undue harm that is simply unjustified by anything other than selfishness. For myself, this is a deeply ingrained past time that for now I'm comfortable to continue pursuing despite this grim reality.

As for my willingness to decide to partake in C&R and how this defines who I am, speaks of my character or lack thereof, or serves as a defining factor in my overall mental state and propensity for barbarism - I don't buy it. There's more to the story for all of us. The more anyone of us reveals about our personal decisions, biases, and moral structures the more they open themselves up to scrutiny and the judgment of others. Nobody is safe when the "big can of worms" is opened.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Good read on 09/08/2011 20:41:18 MDT Print View

"I think the comments in this thread are very good and find myself agreeing with most of them even to the point of personal confliction. It's certainly a good topic to consider, as I have and do anytime before I fish.

I would never release a bleeding fish, or one I had hooked poorly (eye, gill, body), or a fish that appeared completely exhausted. When I do release fish, they never leave the water and rarely do I have to contact them directly with my hand. I don't overplay the fish and can't remember any fish I have decided to release that wasn't still very mobile and energetic. Despite this, I'm sure some percentage of the fish I release wind up dying in direct relation to the fact I hooked, played and released that fish.

That reality isn't particularly satisfying and I can see myself eventually yielding to the feelings that I'm causing undue harm that is simply unjustified by anything other than selfishness. For myself, this is a deeply ingrained past time that for now I'm comfortable to continue pursuing despite this grim reality."

A very thoughtful post, Justin. Enough in itself to justify this thread, IMO. I doubt very many of us started our fishing careers reflecting on the moral dimensions of fishing, C&R vs C&E, etc. I know I didn't. I was simply fortunate enough to be raised in an environment where C&E was the order of the day. The moral question came much later, as I matured and began to consider the moral dimensions of a lot of things I had previously taken for granted. The first to go was hunting, the result of an ill considered shot that took the life of an animal I couldn't keep; eventually fishing followed, primarily as a result of spear fishing for money in Mexico and experiencing a profound sense of what I would call moral unease at terminating a lot of beautiful creatures for others' dining pleasure, as opposed to killing to fill my own belly. I continued to fish in the mountains, primarily to extend my trips, but something had changed. A few years later I gave up fishing entirely and now my moral dilemma has been reduced to the inconsistency inherent in continuing to eat fish while paying someone else to do my dirty work. My point is that we all evolve as we age, and I think it is healthy for someone to question an activity like fishing and C&R vs C&E at some point. Whether one decides to continue or give it up is an intensely personal decision, but the questioning is healthy, IMO. Good on you.

Edited for grammar.

Edited by ouzel on 09/09/2011 16:53:53 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
morals of catch and release on 09/09/2011 08:16:33 MDT Print View

Model discussion. Thanks everyone.

I find myself going back and forth on this one. Right now, Justin speaks well for me.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: morals of catch and release on 09/09/2011 09:03:55 MDT Print View

Well said Justin.

Nobody is safe indeed.

I'm probably one of the most conflicted hunters or fishermen (or eater?) that you'll meet. I cannot engage in harm or killing without questioning it on many very personal levels; this is coming from an ex-vegan.

As for the morals of catch and release, I've already stated my thoughts. But I do find it very curious that C&R is scrutinized ultimately because it is simply making sport, for pleasure- not necessity, out of the catch. And yet catching and eating a fish would be considered more "pure" or "necessary"? I do not not need fish to survive when I backpack. That's what I carry trail mix food for. I do not need fish to survive at home; there are plenty of other options. And yet I rationalize that it's OK to kill simply because I like the taste, because I'm in the mood for trout? It really doesn't doesn't seem too far off from harming animals, whether they live or die, simply for sport or fun.

In our society of abundance and choices, do we eat meat to survive or do we eat meat for fun?

I certainly don't see too many starving people in the Sierra.

To each their own, no disrespect to fishermen and meat eaters...I'm one of them.

Antti Peltola
(anttipeltola) - F
Re: Catch and release on 09/10/2011 03:07:04 MDT Print View

" I do not not need fish to survive when I backpack. That's what I carry trail mix food for."

Yes but you can easily stay out longer between resupply if you catch fish. I have done 14 day trips where I have 1 resupply in the middle, fishing allows me to stay longer before the first resupply if I want to. This of course is more likely to happen when walking outside of marked trails, as in the trails there is usually not that big options for route changes while still seeing everything you wanted to.

"I do not need fish to survive at home; there are plenty of other options. And yet I rationalize that it's OK to kill simply because I like the taste, because I'm in the mood for trout? "

I'm going to eat meat and fish anyway, but I feel the wild fish or game has lived overall much better life than animals in the farms. I also tend to use those more carefully, I feel much worse throwing away self caught fish than trashing a store bought box of minced meat that went over the time to eat. I feel like I personally have killed for no reason. Anything that makes me throw away less food is good IMO.