Tips & Tactics #9 – Do you always release your fish?

The first year I grew lettuce in the garden and picked it for a salad, my youngest said he didn’t want any. I asked why, since he always took a salad. “It came from the dirt.” was his reply.

When fishing the East Branch of the Ausable on a summer evening with my cousin Tom who lived on its banks for 20 years, I was surprised at the immediate hit and nice size fish. As I was releasing it, he said, “Oh, that’s right, you’re one of those catch and release guys.”

I nodded.

He added: “I’m a hook ’em and cook ’em guy myself.”

These two stories lead me to a point relative to Catch and Release, a position I agree with and promote:

There is a food chain and we are at the top of it. There is a connection between the sports we enjoy and our more primitive inner selves. We have evolved, as has our society, to the point where most of us don’t have to run a trot line or jacklight a deer to have dinner, although some of our ancestors did.

I believe our children can benefit from understanding the relationship between man and nature. They should be exposed to where food comes from as much as why conservation is essential in this crowded world. Each parent can choose how to impart this lesson. I did it with lettuce from the garden, trout from a stocked stream and pheasants from the farm.

Today we know that all resources are extremely finite and can be easily abused into extinction. We have the luxury of setting aside time and places for our recreation and pleasure. We also have the option of eating food from sources other than the wild. I personally enjoy a well-prepared fish dinner at a nice restaurant more than frozen fish from the week (or month) before prepared by Yours Truly.

If we want to continue to be able to fish, never mind improving the fishery, catch and release is as important to the future of trout fishing, in fact all fishing, as anything else we do, especially on streams with reproducing native stocks. (Eastern Brookies, Yellowstone Cutts, Apache Trout, Bonnevilles, Goldens, Northeast Striped Bass, etc.)

Steelhead doing what they do

For more on the importance of catch and release go to How to Fly Fish for Trout, the First Book to Read.

Tom's Fishing Stories

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