Let’s start the week by sprinkling some hot sauce… Simple question: Is it fair game or dirty pool to take a grip-‘n-grin photograph with a fish you landed, but was foul-hooked?

I ask because it actually came up as an issue on a guide trip this summer. “Joe” was guiding “Bob” when Bob hooked into the biggest rainbow trout he could remember. Problem was, he hooked it in the pectoral fin. He did a nice job and landed the fish quickly (perhaps even a more impressive fighting and landing job than if the fish were mouth-hooked)… Good work, Bob. Next thing I noticed, Joe was grabbing for the camera… “let’s get a photo of this!”

I’m thinking whoa, whoa, whoa… get a photo of what, an accident? If you hit a buck with your car, do you jump out and mug for the camera then also? Let’s call it like it is… Bob didn’t catch that fish, Joe. He snagged that fish. It happens to everyone (good fly fishers less than bad ones)… but that doesn’t count. Does it? And besides, that exhausted fish (more tired than if it were mouth-hooked) should be put in the water, now. Photographing a snagged, whipped, beat-up fish adds insult to injury.

Or maybe where the fish is hooked is just a technicality. What do you think?

Another thing… when I guide, I notice that when people foul hook a fish, 99% of them say something like, “I think I had him in the mouth to start with… or I think it rolled on the fly… blah, blah, blah.” And I say, “Nah, you had it in the butt, pretty much right off the bat, Bob,” because I think I do the angler more of a service to acknowledge the goof, learn from it, and move on… rather than rationalizing the gaffe. Foul hook-ups happen. So isn’t honesty the best policy?