How ethical is "catch and release" mentality?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by wbugger, Sep 24, 2002.

  1. wbugger Member

    Posts: 91
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    I have seen a lot of posts on this website for "catch and release" fishing. I have just a couple of questions:

    1) Isn't the term "catch and release" an oxymoron?

    2) What is the purpose of catch and release fishing?

    3) Is it more ethical to purposely attempt to catch a fish, knowing that you have no intention of keeping the fish (in other words fishing "purely for sport") causing possible harm to the point of even killing the fish, or purposely attempting to catch a fish, within what the law requires for such an endeavor, solely for the purpose of killing the fish to eat?

    Just curious.... :HMMM
  2. Chris Scoones Administrator

    Posts: 3,581
    North Bend
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    Lets keep the ethics of fishing for sport a personal decision, a choice to be made on your own. I hold no ill feelings against those that think it may be unethical (PETA aside), but to question it on this forum is antagonistic to the masses you may assume are sport fisherman, C&R or C&K.


  3. Matt Burke Active Member

    Posts: 3,642
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    This sounds like a loaded question, but I'll bite. Is catch and release really the issue here. Aren't we really missing the big picture or is it easier to point the finger at a few hundred thousand meat eating sport fisherman.

    You're in denial if you don't know that sport fishermen have had zero impact on the fisheries when compared to the impact of logging and farming.

    The next time you fly, just look down. It did not look that way in the sixties.


    P.S. I can't imagine this thread will last long.
  4. wbugger Member

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    Define your meaning of "antagonistic"? Are you assuming that I posted this to antagonize the masses? If so, why would you think that?

    As for your statement "Lets keep the ethics of fishing for sport a personal decision, a choice to be made on your own," I would agree, however when someone signs their post "throw em back" or "C&R" or some other catch phrase to that effect, is that not their ethical viewpoint being stated. Do I not have the right to question it as you have questioned mine?

    I respect you and your website Chris so I will respect your request, however, I thought this would be a stimulating conversation topic.

    Sorry for any trouble caused.
  5. wbugger Member

    Posts: 91
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    Yes, catch and release (and how ethical is it) is really the issue (at least for the questions that I posed).

    I simply was asking how ethical is catch and release fishing. I did not ask anything about logging or farming or their subsequent effect on fishing or fish population. These are whole separate issues.

    PS- I did not compare "sport fishermen" to anybody so how can you tell that I am in "denial"?
  6. wbugger Member

    Posts: 91
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    One more thing...There is a post that is titled "Alaska west, river rapers" on this site.

    Would this be considered antagonistic?

  7. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,702
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,744 / 0
    C&R is ethical unless you think it is not.

    Sort of like asking how you stand on hatcheries.

    I agree with Chris this is an inflammatory topic and will only serve to divide the board.
  8. Red New Member

    Posts: 12
    Olympia, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    How ethical is

    This is a personal decision. Everyone understands the possibilities that are inherent when releasing the "caught" fish. Everyone understands the consequences of catch and keep. It's an individuals choice. If you release, use good release techniques. If you keep, obey the regulations and keep only what you are allowed to keep.
  9. Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Posts: 2,878
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    Ethical? I've never given it a thought, C & R is just how I choose to fish.

    "Were is it possible to take a limit of trout every time we fished out favorite stream, how long would it take before the sport began to pall?"
    Art Flick, Art Flick's Streamside Guide (1947)

    If you've ever caught a "hog" in the quality, or other, fishing waters, thank the person who released it earlier.
  10. ClarkiClarki New Member

    Posts: 28
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    This topic looks like one of the trolls you see on the VFS board....which is one of the reasons I quit visiting that board. So, I agree with Chris on this one. I am not a frequesnt poster but enjoy visiting this board due to the lack of people continuously bantering back and forth as I have seen on other boards.
  11. aaron j Member

    Posts: 219
    La Conner, WA
    Ratings: +16 / 0
    Anyone can catch a fish and kill it. I catch and release to preserve a precious resource. Besides, it is an incomparable feeling to land a beautiful, mature trout, carefully take out the fly, and gently revive it until it slips away. Thanks to all who practice C&R--without it our passion would be greatly diminished.

    Happiness is a tight line.
    Aaron J
  12. gknell9 New Member

    Posts: 153
    kirkland, wa, usa.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    The key word here is CATCH.
    To fish means catching fish, but the number of catches is less than the number of fisherman. It is because of the the system, that sport fishermen mainly exercise in the act of fishing.
    Mostly the fishermen are very conservative in their approach to this sport and do not rape the streams. There are of course exceptions but they are in the minority.
    RELEASE is a law imposed on the fishermen by the the GOV.
    However many fishermen would release in any case as they want their sport to continue and have no desire for a mass of fish.
    Salmon may be the exception.Even here the sport fisherman will release a snagged Salmon rather than cheat and keep it.
    So Catch and Release is ethical in many respects when it comes to the sport fishermen. They of all have the greastest respect for the fish and the sport.
  13. pwoens Active Member

    Posts: 2,570
    Spokane, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    I guess to some degree I have never even looked at it from "the other side" and can see where some questions and antagonistic tension would arise. However I do feel it is my ethical responsibility to do my part by releasing the fish I seldom catch. It is much more humane and ethical than just catching and killing them. It all comes down to preservation. And my thanks go out to all who C&R because without this I would not catch those few fish I do and especially the "hogs" as mentioned below. The hogs are a good symbol of C&R because we all know they have had their fair share of artificial flies. Anyways everyone has their own opinion on everything and that is fair. I guess I have never looked at it from any other view because I feel our C&R "ethics" are more than acceptable :THUMBSUP

  14. ray helaers New Member

    Posts: 1,088
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    From a sport-fishing management perspective, c-r is certainly "ethical," but I think the question was a little more philosophical. From a moral or even ecological perspective, things probably do get a little muddier. One thing to remember is that releasing all the fish you catch doesn't give you a special right to catch any fish, anywhere, anytime. Some fish and/or fish-populations should simply be left alone, and I'm not convinced "everyone" understands that.

    Cousteau said that c-r was always absolutely unethical because it exploited a resource for what he considered no good reason. He felt that if a fish resource could not support harvest for food, then it should be left completely alone, but that even a fisher who harvested from a threatened resource to feed himself and/or others had the moral high ground over an angler who fished from a healthy population merely to satisfy his own vanity.

    It's something to think about, but I'm not sure I agree that vanity is no good reason.

    Of course others think animals have feelings and/or rights, that it is unkind or inhumane to torture a creature just for entertainment, and at least making some concrete use of the poor thing (ie, eating it) redeems the excercise to some extent. Some folks think man was put here by God to work, that any kind of entertainment is a sin, and if you're not out there collecting food for your family then you could be making better use of your time.

    Again not bad points as far as they go. But I believe humans have legitimately high needs, including vanity, entertainment, ritual, spititual communion, whatever you want to call it, that angling can satisfy, and that justify the "exploitation" of other creatures. In a very modern and difficult world, it is important to me that I can reach into an almost entirely wild universe (often within earshot of those modern difficulties) and literally touch a wild animal, and in some small way steal a little of his juju. I don't feel any need to apologize for it, to him or anyone else. If I choose to let him go, out of vanity or concern for or a sense of obligation to the resource, I'm not sorry for that either.
  15. SMiller435 New Member

    Posts: 41
    Redmond, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    How ethical is

    I release my fish because I want the fishing to get better in the future. A dead fish will never reproduce.

    And yes, there are other ways to help the fisheries besides C&R.

    Let 'em go!
  16. Matt Burke Active Member

    Posts: 3,642
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    Sorry wbugger

    Thought this was going in another direction. It is an individual and personal decision. That moment after the hook is gone and your just gently holding it in the water. Looking for life, hoping you didn't work him too hard. Then a couple tail thrust to signal he's OK. Then comes that split second when you open your hands and he swims away. A very personal decision knowing you just released a survivor.

  17. Madison New Member

    Posts: 85
    Newcastle, Washington, USA.
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    Good juju. I like it. Although I generally look for good juju in Vegas. I tend to find it in Central BC or Idaho. :DUNNO
  18. fly15 New Member

    Posts: 364
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    I catch and release the fish I catch so the fishery will continue to get better. Look at rocky ford creek if that was open to keep trout and fish with bait there would be no fish left and they would not get as big. Even if there is a slight mortality rate among released fish, If I release all my fish say 90% survive well thats a hell of a lot better than killing all the fish I catch and having 0% survive.If you look at the put and take lakes over here on the west side of the mountains they are shot by june because most everybody keeps all the fish they catch out of those lakes, but if you look at say pass lake you can catch trout there year around because the fish are caught and released.I don't have a problem with someone that keeps a fish here and there but I choose to C&R to maintain and improve the fishery.As for C&R being ethical I think it is. Just my opinion. fly15

    C&R :HAPPY
  19. Salmon Candy Member

    Posts: 252
    Bellevue, WA.
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Thanks for asking the question which may prompt more folks to examine why they do what they do.
    Let's look at the starting point here. Catch and release is a subset of fishing. Release only occurs in the case of catch. Catch only occurs in the case of fishing. If it was only about catching, the game would be called catching, not fishing.
    I fish because of all the elements that blend into the experience. I love the sunny days, wading a mountain stream, busting through brush. I love spending time with my brother, watching him get more out of a single cast on a stream than any other person. I love the feel of the water on my skin. I love the cold weather, being on the only person on a desert lake in November. Yes, I even loved wet wading Lenice in November when is used to be open that late. I love the discovery of a new, at least to me, spot. I love the colors of spring but even better are the colors of fall-there is an almost palpable sense of urgency in the air.
    I've fished in lightening/hail storms and laughed outloud at the absurdity of that scene as viewed by others. I've fished in rainstorms that breached the best goretex. I've dryfly fished in mountain snowstorms at 10,000 feet. I've hiked into places where I had to carry my flyrod in my teeth so I could maintain four points of contact with the rock.
    Could I have had all these experiences without fishing? I suppose so but it would seem a bit silly to spend hours in a float tube without a rod in my hand.
    Since 1979, I have knowingly killed 9 fish (3 salmon, 6 brook trout)and willingly released all others. I do not consider my releasing fish more ethical than those who don't. I just think it makes more sense. Releasing fish, while obviously impacting the individual fish, makes a mimimum inpact on the resource.
  20. pwoens Active Member

    Posts: 2,570
    Spokane, Washington, USA.
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    ASTOUNDING!!!!! I dont think anyone could have explained it any better. That should end this thread. :LOVEIT :THUMBSUP