The Catch & Release Obsession

photography-trout-release-chronomid-SwittersBQuite a few of you non-fly fishers, who primarily drop by SwittersB for my photographic efforts, write and ask why I kill such beautiful fish. A very few have picked up on my past notations about ‘the fish was released unharmed’ and wonder why I don’t harvest fish.

If one peruses fly fishing writing, you quickly surmise a fixation with the fish must be released unharmed. It is almost a given that we rarely kill a fish and we must pay particular attention to the preservation of wild trout so as to maintain the genetic stock of what may have been the original, wild residents of a stream.

Somewhere along the way, I have unquestionably bought into all this and never question it. It just seems the right thing to do. I have kept hatchery trout in numbers on camping trips only to waste them in a cooler sans ice. After that happened and I put that bag of trout in a garbage can and set the metal lid down with a clang, I have rarely killed a fish beyond hatchery salmon or wild salmon in Alaska. The real benefit is I really don’t appreciate the taste of most fish. An occasional piece of halibut, fish and chips or fish tacos are about it. A few pieces of smoked salmon, some red snapper, that’s it. So I have no desire to harvest beautiful trout to eat them. I have no need to kill something to satisfy a primal need to conquer. 

I am not judging those that harvest hatchery fish or plentiful wild fish. Decimating populations in fragile watersheds or lakes is unacceptable to me. The connection to the habitat and the vulnerability of the fish is missing for the fisher solely concerned for the kill.

So that is my answer for those that have written about my killing or not killing trout. Just at a very guttural level I think the fish I pursue are beautiful, whether barely covering the palm of the hand or taking two hands to hoist them. They give me a different kind of food that benefits my mind, my well being.

12 Responses to “The Catch & Release Obsession”

  1. April 20, 2014 at 17:45

    Thanks, switterB for your compassionate catch /release method. Studying wildlife is wonderful, you re to be commended for your interest and efforts beebeesworld


  2. April 17, 2014 at 12:42

    Nice tattoo and thanks for the follow! I’m a vegan, so the fish doesn’t do much for me 😉


  3. April 9, 2014 at 09:39

    “Somewhere along the way, I have unquestionably bought into all this and never question it.”
    sums up my feelings about this perfectly. we don’t kill a dog after playing with it nor a horse after riding it.
    nice one Gary.


  4. April 8, 2014 at 18:43

    In these parts our rivers are never stocked, the fish although alien are naturalised and form a self sustaining population. Every fish was born in the river and we fish CAR as a matter of course. In lakes we might take the odd trout because they don’t breed there, but even then it is a rarity. In the end I suspect the important message is that it is OK to kill something if you need to or have to, but it is unacceptable to kill something simply because one has the power to do so.


  5. 9 craig
    April 8, 2014 at 14:10

    an old farmer i shared morning coffee with was getting hammered over his business of raising hamburgers.

    his response…if you are alive you live because of millions of little deaths. !@#$% get over it.

    my own response was never as pithy, however even vegetarians exist by the relentless murder of other living things, like so many issues, it’s just a matter of where you stand when you’re looking.


    • April 8, 2014 at 15:02

      I can’t imagine anyone more pith than thee. Yes, we would all be better off if we considered that one point as well as actually listened to other’s reasoned opinions. Thanks


  6. April 8, 2014 at 13:26

    Brilliantly put Mr Switters – I echo with your sentiments! Most of the places I fish have wild populations and all of the wild fish I catch are returned. One fishery I visit is carefully managed on a sustainable basis and rules dictate we have to keep our catch… those fish grace our table and are deeply appreciated. Thank you for this great post.


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