Watchin' For You!

J. Castwell
October 12th, 1998

Is Fishing Bad?

"Aw, come on dad, just one more!"

"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. Sharing.

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.

Rainbow and Brown

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 perfect tool.

My 'ethics,'for what they are worth. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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