Fishing Hurts, Again (Still?)

Winter’s approach means less time on the water for most anglers in the northern hemisphere, and more time in front of the fire, contemplating this and all other seasons past. It also means more time in front of the computer, discussing our “sport”.  Erin Block has kicked off our more philosophical time of year with a very interesting conversation on her blog about ethics, specifically casting to spawning fish.

Every angler has his or her own justifications for fishing (or not) the way they do (or do not) and I am glad to see Erin’s post take off the way it has, even if I prefer to save such heaviness for the dark cold blue of deep winter. Her words, and the comments they have spawned (pun intended) are definitely worth a read.

The fact that anglers are willing to discuss their fishing ethics is encouraging to me. It is certainly better and more productive than some of the stuff non-anglers throw at us, as pointed out by Marc Fauvet of The Limp Cobra in his post, My rod’s bigger than yours. PETA has adopted a strategy to eliminate fishing by relating the torturing of fish to penis size, referring to the penises of the anglers, not the fish. Never mind the fact that many of the world’s finest anglers have no penis at all. Check it out and see if you have something to add to the conversation over there, before it turns completely to goats.

Personally, I still sometimes wonder why I feel the need to drive a hook into a fish’s mouth and reel him/her in, just to let him/her go. Or why I set traps for beaver, muskrat and mink. Or swat flies, kill wasps and poison mice. I do, however, know why I do not fish for dogs and I wrote about it once. You can read my story here: Fishing Hurts.

Meanwhile, I’ll be blowing out water lines in the camps and trying to get stuff picked up before it freezes to the ground. It’s going to be a long winter.

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Fishing Hurts, Again (Still?)

  1. I think N.O.W should go after PETA for leaving women out of the equation. That, would be a hoot and a half!

    Long winters are good times for such discussions — and as you say, both are just starting…

  2. Fishing when trout are spawning unethical? Here’s a twist on that. Some years ago I was fishing from the bank of the White in Arkansas in the fall. The browns were on their redds. I had a wonderful day of fishing there. But I disturbed not the spawning trout. The redds were quite identifiable from the bank, and I fished several yards (maybe 20 or 30) downstream of them for the large rainbows that were feeding on the drifting eggs. To me, that was okay, even though I would not have considered fishing for the spawning browns.

    I blatantly fish for bluegill on their beds, and even seek out such places for casting. Yet, I would not do so for their close relative the bass. Go figure. Maybe that is for the same reason that a caterpillar slayer would protect a butterfly.

    • Hi, Paul. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      My problem is with disturbing spawning fish. What you describe is quite different and I don’t blame you for matching an “egg hatch” to get the rainbows while leaving the browns alone. Bluegills are another ball of wax, considering their numbers, but I feel the same way as you about bass.

      I have family in the Ozarks. I should get down there again sometime soon.

      • Paul Arnold

        Thanks for your concurrence. As for the Ozarks, I only went there to fish. I had recently met Dave Whitlock, and he recommended Mountain Home, AR, and the White as a year-round fishing destination. Tailwater, and all that. I live now in Bloomington, Indiana, hardly a trout Mecca. But I still get around. I do enjoy your site and its cachet. Footnote: have you encountered tenkara yet? If so, comments about your reactions welcome. For me, I fear I am getting the tenkara fever. ~pfa

  3. And who shared this on facebook? I’ve had more hits from there today than I ever got on anything when I participated in that craziness. Whoever it was, thanks!

  4. We all link to your posts sooner or later. Thought you figured that out already?

    In the land of smallmouth bass in rivers, the conversations on the ethics of casting to spawning bass goes on and on. Then I go out during that time, see miles and miles of rivers and creeks with no anglers out fishing and wonder whose trying to protect their spot.

    All I know is that by the end of June, in the creeks and the rivers, I see thousands of bass fry rummaging around along the shore lines. Where I go, the bass don’t seem to care much about this issue. They’re busy.

    I never did say whether or not I cast to spawning bass now, did I 😉

    • I do notice the links but there was a sudden flood of referrals from facebook and since I’m not there any more I couldn’t tell who they were from. It’s nice to have pimps.

      I suppose one could read that “the bass don’t seem to care” and infer something about the skills of the angler, but I know better than that, right?

      • “I suppose one could read that “the bass don’t seem to care” and infer something about the skills of the angler, but I know better than that, right?”

        Coitus interuptus, if that’s what it can be called. I know how I would react.

        I am also at times the most successful unsuccessful angler in the Chicago Metro Area.

  5. Paul – As a matter of fact, I addressed tenkara last fall:

    We’ve got the flies to go with those rods, too:

    • Paul Arnold

      Thanks for the tenkara references, Quill. I would not have missed them for a ranch in Montana. I think you and Eugene have put your fingers (bloodying one of them in the process) on the root of the tenkara thing. Remember beginning to fish as a kid, using a pole with a string on the end? There is something proustian about this whole tenkara resurgence (or maybe only surgence?). Cutting a willow for a rod. Tying a string and hook on the little end of it. I need to reflect on all this. Will someone pass me a Madeleine, please. And while you’re up, grab the duct tape, too. Gotta think about this whole idea of purists and simplicity. In those Webster cartoons, who is the purist? The city guy who only fishes dries to risers or the barefoot kid with his stick, pole, and hook? Imagine this variation of the iconic cartoon: “He don’t use worms!”

  6. hi Quill,
    something that bothers me as seen here and on the other blog’s comments on ethics is species segregation. it’s ok to fish one on it’s redd and not the other.
    an ecosystem is a unit, works as one and needs each other. not one species is more important than another.
    this is awfully close to the mental process that breeds racism.
    i AM NOT saying that this is the case of the commentators but i do think it’s yet another subject that fishers should think about.

    thanks again for another great post,

    • I suppose it comes from the human desire to believe we know what is best for them, and that we can somehow “manage” them. I think — with bluegills, bream or whatever you want to call them, anyway — the belief is that when left to their own devices they breed like crazy and there will be so many of them that their overall size decreases. Fewer bluegills = bigger bluegills.

      Then there is also the issue of “trash fish”. I despise that term and the thought process that goes along with it.

    • Paul Arnold

      As for equality of species, there is not only the issue of which redds are sacrosanct, but also the related issue of folks in the West seeking to destroy non-native species (e.g., rainbows and browns) so native fish, such as cutts, can survive — a sort of a piscine anti-immigration policy.

    • “something that bothers me as seen here and on the other blog’s comments on ethics is species segregation. it’s ok to fish one on it’s redd and not the other.”

      As I see it, this depends on what your goal is, and how your ethics fit into that. Is the issue you’re concerned about pain and suffering? Then maybe it matters not when you fish for them at all, but whether you fish for them. Is it about leaving more fish for future generations (of fish, or of fishermen)? Well, then it might be perfectly reasonable to fish for one species – e.g. an abundant bluegill – but not for another.

      “an ecosystem is a unit, works as one and needs each other. not one species is more important than another.”

      I don’t think this is really true. Some species have a disproportionate impact on the community – they’re called “keystone species” for that very reason. If your goal is to maximize the diversity of the community, it really does make a difference which species you remove.

  7. sorry Paul, don’t know why my comment got connected to yours…

    • Goats. I have nothing against goats, actually, but when they come up in a conversation that started out about penises, I get nervous …

      (Anyone wondering what the heck penises and goats have to do with anything should click the link above and check out Marc’s post about rod size.)

    • Paul Arnold

      Thanks, Marc. I was wondering if I’d made a goat of myself.

  8. no Paul, i’m sure you’re not a goat ! 😀 and thanks for adding in what i forgot to… well, add.
    ahhhhh, this stuff is all so complex to talk about without sounding like a an extremist fanatic, specially by written words. it’d be a nice topic around a campfire though. maybe one day !

  9. Nancy Spivey

    Interesting topic. I have nothing to add, but I think PETA’s extremism takes them right out of the conversation. As to the penis-size issue, HA-HA-HA-HA! That’s all I have to say.

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