Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 31st, 1999

Got Milk?

I've been reading Wisdom of the Guides - which is "Rocky Mountain Trout Guides Talk Fly Fishing" - hopefully I'll have it finished soon. It is interesting from many aspects, one which continues to disturb me is how much things have changed since the 1970s when both JC and I were licensed guides in Montana.

We haven't been on a desert island disconnected from the world, but the change in attitudes makes it seem like we have.

Greed is the dirty word here. Yes, I know it has always existed. But I don't think it was as prevalent as it seems to be now. Stick with me here, this really does all connect.

For the last week there has been a terrific exchange of opinions on Castwell's column, By Saving Fly fishing, Have We Lost Something? on the Bulletin Board. Most readers got the point, some didn't. Those who missed it may at least have more information to work with the next time they have an opportunity to release a fish - or keep it.

It is here, Catch and Release, now the point of the Greed Factor.

Gary LaFontaine Quoting from Wisdom of the Guides, here is Gary LaFontaine, (page 27) "The one thing that infuriates me is people catching so many fish, even with catch and release. I saw an ad the other day in Fly Fisherman magazine for the South Fork of the Snake: "Our client caught and released 136 fish." All the studies show that no matter how carefully you release fish, you have about four percent mortality rate. That clown that caught and released 136 fish killed more trout than the bait fisherman who takes his five fish and goes home.

We have to limit the fishing not only to catch and release, but also how many we're catching and releasing. The idea of going for some incredible number of fish a day, making that our goal, is the real problem. I think we have to limit even our catch-and-release pressure on the streams.

Q: Would you try to do that by regulation?

LaFontaine: No, You'd just have to do it as a matter of fishing ethics. Like saying after catching 20 fish could you sit down and smell the roses or something? Look at Sphinx Mountain on the Madison, or just sit down and enjoy the experience?"

Fishing ethics? Where were the fishing ethics of the place/person who placed that ad in Fly Fisherman? Where were the fishing ethics of the person who accepted the ad? Why did some editor approve it? And finally the publisher of that magazine is ultimately responsible for everything that appears in it. Where were his fishing ethics?

Then again in a country where it is not only "Me First" but increasingly "ONLY ME" the Greed Factor can take root and flourish. And no one has to be responsible. Believe me, no one is responsible - just ask them how many fish they released!

Never mind the "Got Milk?" Got ethics? ~ LadyFisher

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