But let’s not kid ourselves. Catch-and-release done wrong is selfish. It’s a simple issue of motive.
Jim Harrison offered the best perspective on the matter I’ve ever read. He said, “Catch-and-release is sensible, which shouldn’t be confused with virtuous. ‘I beat the shit out of you but I didn’t kill you’ is not clearly understood by the fish. This is a blood sport, and if you want a politically correct afterglow, you should return to golf.”
I advocate catch-and-release fishing, on the rivers, in the lakes, and on the ocean. But I’m not about to stand on this soap-box and say I haven’t kept a striper, or a salmon, or a redfish, or even a trout for a meal, now and then. And statistics will show you that mortality rates among fish caught and released are likely higher than you’d want to know, some say as high as 20 percent, depending on the species, and factors like water temperature. The guy who nets, manhandles, de-slimes, and half-suffocates 30 fish while his buddy fumbles for the camera — but lets them all go — is tougher on the resource than the guy who pops a couple trout in the creel.
Every fish left in the river on a Monday night makes for better fishing in the river on Tuesday morning. But take time to think about how you go about catching and releasing fish. Actions speak louder than words.