The Photarium: Get Better Photos While Killing Fewer Fish

I enjoyed an outstanding day of fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout yesterday on Puget Sound thanks to guide Chris Senyohl of Intrepid Anglers, and Andrew Bennett, owner of Deneki Outdoors, who is now a fly-fishing ambassador for Eddie Bauer (the company is getting back into fly in a big way, but more on that later).

What really struck me, other than the fact that I caught my first sea-run cutts ever, was that Senyohl uses a plexiglass box called a "Photarium" to shoot detail shots of these beautiful fish. Photariums are sold by the Wild Fish Conservancy, and they range in prices and sizes (the large one we used costs $105).

Granted, this isn't your typical grip-n-grin scenario. But grip-n-grin photographs kill more fish than most people realize. And the main reason that fish die is because they are held out of the water too long. One study recently showed that as much as 30 percent or more of fish held out of the water for 30 seconds or more will die eventually, even if they initially swim away after release seemingly un-phased.

I'm not suggesting that every guide should be walking down the river canyons with one of these boxes strapped to his or her back. But for guides--or any anglers for that matter--who operate from boats, they're a pretty enlightened idea. And they actually come with a built in ruler, which helps limit the fudge factor. Most importantly, they give people a little more time (and it should still be limited) to admire the detail and beauty of the fish they catch.

That, in my mind, should be one of the key reasons people go fishing in the first place.