The roads to catch and release are many and varied. Some people start from day one releasing their catch, and some never go there at all. In between lies every spectrum imaginable. In some states catch and release is codified by law in some circumstances, such as slot limits or the intent to reduce a non-native species, or just to preserve a heavily fished water.
For many it is a desire to be ecologically sound, for me it was laziness that started it. I grew up fishing for recreation and equally for food. Releasing an eating size fish was unheard of, never entered the mind at all. Over many years I've caught and eaten tons of fish, and enjoyed every one of them. One day I was fishing and caught an eating size fish, but really wasn't in the mood to take it home, clean and cook it. So I turned it loose.
A small feeling of well-being came from that act. It was a slow process, only releasing fish when I really didn't want to mess with the work of cleaning and cooking. Gradually I found that I enjoyed releasing the fish as much, and often times more, than eating them. Ecology didn't figure into it, neither did any form of political correctness. When I married and discovered that my wife really doesn't like fish I began turning almost all of them loose.
Why bring home fish, clean them and cook them when I was the only one going to eat them. It meant I either had to cook two separate dinners, or my wife and I each cooked our own dinner. The more fish I turned loose and watched swim away, the more I enjoyed the act of releasing them. But truth be told if my wife liked fish I would be keeping a lot more of them.
I release the overwhelmingly vast majority of what I catch, and will continue to do so because even if my wife suddenly develops a love for fish, the fact is that I now get more personal pleasure from releasing them than I do from eating them. I didn't get here by a high philosophical road, I got here by a lazy road that winds through the low-lands. I don't have a dog in the fight where catch and release philosophy is concerned, everyone should do what is right by their own lights and interests. Kill all the fish you can eat is just fine with me. I got here by laziness and self-centeredness - but the end destination is the same for all of us that practice release. It really doesn't matter how you get there, or if you get there at all.
If you really want to learn how to practice catch and release, marry a woman that doesn't like fish. It's a hell of an incentive.
Lloyd I used to keep a good part of what I caught before I got married andkept a lot less after till... I fryed up some gill fillets n changed her views. Now she bitches if I don't bring some home every trip. Not too bad except having to fillet 20 gills gets old quick.
How true is that. Awesome write up. I keep a few fish here and there but also enjoy returning them to the water. I hope that others read your blog and realize that for whatever reason it's OK to let them go!
I grew up just the opposite. Fished with my dad and grandpa. They never kept fish. Grandma and mon didn't clean or eat fish. My wife really doesn't like fish either until I brought home a walleye, then a perch and then a wiper. Now she hopes I bring home something to eat now and then. She isn't crazy about eating fish but now and then one of those is OK. I still release a lot of my catch but will eat a few. I agree do your own thing as long as it meets the regs.
thanks Lloyd, nice write up. Having spent my youth in TX, if we caught it, it went home. Releasing didn't start until my late 20's when the AF sent me here to CO. I didn't even realize I was doing something good for the fish and other fisherman by releasing them Much like you, my wife didn't care for fish that much except when we were camping. My current wife however, well she fusses because I release them now. For me it shows the difference in where and how you're raised. My wife is from Vietnam and you don't waste food. Having grown up in a military environment (my father, then me), I've been blessed to see a lot of diversity. Although I primarily CnR, it doesn't bother me when there are folks that don't.
Lindsay doesn't like fish much either. She'll have fried walleye every now and then. However, when we watched CL's bluegill episode a few weeks back, she seemed interested in his coconut coating recipe, so I told I could bring some gills and crappie home to try it. Should be fun to try.
I don't like cleaning fish much either but that's not the main reason I throw 'em back. I certainly don't throw 'em back because my wife doesn't like to eat fish. If I had a hankering for fish, and my wife couldn't stand 'em, she could make herself what she wants and I'd do my own thing. If anything, my wife complains that I don't bring home many fish. I just tell her I'm a bad fisherman, that's why I need all that gear in the garage. She seems to buy it. A lot of guys claim that ecology and PC nonsense is at the forefront of their minds when talking about C&R - but believing even half of 'em would be a stretch IMO. Regardless of their methods of 'discovering' the myriad of benefits of C&R fishing, if it helps 'em to a more complete understanding of recreational fishing, then I'm all for it. I have my own reasons for releasing most of my fish, and I've found out that the only person that knows the whole truth is me. :)
Once again you hit the nail on the head. Keep or C&R...it's all personal. The reasons seem mute as long as a kept fish is consumed and a released fish fights for another day! Although you say your choices stem from laziness, I think attitudes change with maturity and age. Thanks again for a thought-provoking read.
Coyute...one of these days your wife will find out the truth and you'll have to have a massive garage sale! lol
CnR may have been inevitable for me anyway. I quit hunting because I no longer felt anything when I killed a game animal. Make no mistake, everything I killed I ate, and enjoyed, but I lost the desire to kill, even though the death I dealt was far less painful than a wild animal's natural death. I've had to, and very recently, put down several dogs that I loved. It has become the most hated parts of my entire life, and yet what I did was merciful, well done, and right. But I hated doing it and I hate remembering doing it. I am well aware, maybe more aware than most, that every living thing depends on the multiple deaths of other things, that death is the absolute constant. And yet, for me personally, I see my own life as a daily struggle with some days very hard indeed. The last thing I need is to have some random person trying to kill me. And I began to feel that way about wildlife, they struggled to get through every day, and the last thing they needed was for me to try to kill them. I'm sure that bleeds over into keeping or not keeping fish. I'm pretty sure that in my old age I'll be cutting the hook off of flys, and just going for hits, without actually bothering them by making them fight. But that is years away yet. I still love that fight. I love that.