October 12th, 1998
Is Fishing Bad?
"Aw, come on dad, just one more!"
Till next week, remember ...
"Nope, ya got enough, and
remember we got to clean 'um too." And so the
perch fishing poles were wound up, gear gathered,
and we would leave the dock on Saginaw Bay,
Michigan, head for home and 'cleaning perch.'
So it was when I was a kid. Sometimes in the winter
we would spend a few hours on Saginaw Bay, fishing
through the ice for perch. Sure, we fished them year
around, they were fun to catch, darn good to eat, and
each meal helped out the budget.
I didn't know about 'sport'
fishing in those days; probably would not have
understood due to no frame of reference. Those
days were in the early forty's. We were not poor,
neither we were we wealthy. Just average folks
who lived where there was an abundance of easy
to catch and good eating fish. I was raised and
grew up fishing for fish I could eat. There were
few 'home freezers' in those days, at least we
didn't have one. We caught what we could eat,
and eat very soon. Sport? Perhaps. More like
recreation that a family could eat.
It was not until many years
later that I started to fish for trout. So, I
used the same ethics... catch only what you can
eat. It was, of course, a 'badge of manhood' to
be able to relate to others that I 'got my limit.'
Manhood is a fragile thing in a persons twenties
and needs to be built with relatable deeds. I did
well and caught, killed, and ate many trout. As
time passed, I did change from 'killing my limit,'
to 'limiting my kill.' A person must evolve. I
did, from using spinning gear and worms to fishing
for trout with flies. And I felt the exhilaration
of having 'upped my standards.' I had arrived. I
had 'evolved' into a 'fly-fisherman.' I met others
who were fly-fishermen, and they accepted me into
the 'wonderful world of fly-fishers. A comradery
developed. Mind you, 'comradery, not 'competition.'
If it had been competition we
would not have most eagerly shared all and everything
we knew, thought we knew, and were learning. This is
not to say that the same thing does not exist in
spin-fishing, bait-fishing, or chucking spears at
spawning carp. Probably it does; it just did not
for me. In fly-fishing I found a home, so to speak.
The nicest folks I know are in fly-fishing, but heck,
I don't know hardly anyone who is not. Certainly not
a fair testament. And, besides I know of no fly
fishers who did not start out doing it some other way.
Are we fly-fishers better than the
ones who are not? Well, have you ever tried to convince
someone that they should move up from spin-fishing to fly?
If so, why did you? Because, for you there was a higher
degree of satisfaction. You had found something and
wanted to share it. Is that wrong? I don't think so.
If you had felt 'superior' to them, you would not have
bothered. Well, we share. It is part of what fly-fishing
is all about. That is what this whole web site is about.
Oh sure, there are some 'stinkers'
in our recreation, that is just the way they are.
Fly-fishing didn't do that to them. They were born
that way. And they may give a big lecture on how
their 'ethics' are so much better than yours. Don't
listen to them. We each have a right to our own
ethics, you and me. I may not think exactly as you,
and you might not like what I do. Do I sometimes
kill a fish? Yes I do. Do I have a reason for it?
Yup. For me, I feel that I should get some blood
on my hands once in a while so I don't forget that
what I am doing is not in the best interest of the
fish. He does not enjoy the game. It messes up his
whole day. Can I rationalize that thought? Yes I
can; to some extent.
Would I feel badly about killing
a 'mess' of perch tomorrow. Not at all. Unless there
was not a surplus of perch where I caught them. If
there was no 'harvestable' surplus I would not go there
in the first place. It would be pointless. The fishing
would not be good! So, I try to fish where there are
lots of fish. Most of us do. If a resource is so
depleted that there is no surplus, should I be fishing
there at all? Even is it is just 'Catch and Release?'
I don't think so. If the resource cannot stand some
harvest (ie. killing) than should I be there at all?
I don't think so. So, is some C&R a bad thing, or
miss-used? Yes, I do think so. Is it all? Not by a
long shot. Is it wrong to 'go play with fish?' To
just catch and release all you catch, like for
instance, bonefish? Not if there is a surplus of
them it isn't.
Is fishing bad? That depends. If there
are not enough fish, sure it is; even with C&R. If
there are enough fish, then fishing is not bad, and
C&R won't hurt anything. Is C&R bad? In some cases
I think it is not appropriate. In others, it is the
My 'ethics,'for what they are
worth. ~ JC