View Full Version : Fishy dilema

05-02-2010, 09:55 PM
recently i hooked a not-so-legal length brown with a fatal hook set, right in the gills. what's one to do in that moment? Unfortunately, I released it. I know the fish probably died soon but if I had kept it I thought a good ol' ranger would swing by and I'd be hooked myself. I was sorta saddened by the seemingly lose-lose scenario.

05-02-2010, 10:12 PM
It is a sad situation when that happens. He will likely become part of the food chain, something will eat him. Still, like you, I hate to see a trout die like that.

05-03-2010, 03:01 AM
Contrary to popular belief, killing one trout isn't going to be detrimental to the river or creek....we like to think of ourselves as benevolent masters of the fish we catch - but in reality, if you hadn't killed that fish, chances are he'd have been eaten by a heron, an otter, or another fish sooner or later.

Nothing is wasted in nature. A dead brook trout is a crawfish's buffet.

It's ok. Don't worry about it. There are plenty of fish out there, even if we all foul-hooked one every week and it died. The TN WRD will tell you that fisherman have little impact on fisheries, and I imagine that would include killing the odd trout here and there.

Of course, if you're upset emotionally over seeing a little trout swim off to die, then that's a whole other thing. And maybe golf is in your future. Golf balls never die, they just get dirty and waterlogged and recycled.

Again, don't beat yourself up over it. Foul-hooking happens. We try not to do it, but even the most careful fisherman occasionally ends up accidentally killing a fish. You did the right thing by letting it go.

05-03-2010, 05:15 PM
Like others have said, I try to be careful with the fish I catch. I try to not keep them out of the water any longer than necessary, I don't play them any longer than necessary, and I do my best to return them to the water in good shape.

However, I know some will die. The good news is they will be eaten by something and will return to the eco system as nothing in Nature is ever wasted.


Jim Casada
05-03-2010, 05:52 PM
Knucklehead--You are pounding yourself on a matter which shouldn't really trouble you at all. For starters, you did the right thing by releasing the fish, no matter how badly damaged. I don't think any Park ranger would be likely to swallow tale of gill damage and "I knew it would die so I kept it." Of course, I've been checked exactly twice in the last two decades, and I fish a lot. Truth be told, I wish Park rangers did a lot more checking.

As for the trout, others have summarized things nicely. Fish die--it's part of nature's cycle. Nothing is wasted. Moreover, as I've said repeatedly on this forum, virtually all streams in the Park are overpopulated. Park biologists will bear me out. You do a stream a favor when you keep a limit, although in the larger scheme of things fishermen don't have much of an impact--period. That's why you can now keep speckled trout after so many years when you couldn't.

In all likelihood some crayfish dined well, or a hellbender had a feast, or a water snake caught a meal which will last for days. If that didn't happen, a 'coon dined on the dead fish, an otter ate it, or some other critter enjoyed a bit of nature's bounty. To agonize over matters such as this is to worry unnecessarily. Darwin (or more accurately, his supporters) wasn't off base when he described nature as being bloody red in tooth and claw.

Folks like me, who grew up participating in hog killings each fall, who wrung chicken necks on Saturday for Sunday's feast, and who lived close to the earth, understand nature's cycle and take it in stride. You just experienced a micocosmic moment in that cycle.

Jim Casada

05-03-2010, 09:47 PM
Jim, that was the best description EVAR. ;)

05-05-2010, 11:45 AM
You know, I know the information that all of the responders posted as replies to this issue, and even knowing it have found myself saddened by accidentally killing a fish. It took you all putting it back in perspective for me to realize it. This will definitely make me feel better in the future if it happens again, as well as give me a great way to explain it to my children.

Rog 1
05-05-2010, 03:02 PM
I whole heartedly agree with everything that has been posted on this issue...as a side note I think it is safe to add that none of the replies have come from PETA members.

05-05-2010, 11:39 PM
excellent thoughts. Unfortunately for me, even though i grew up in the middle of nowhere in n. west tn, i still was very distant from the natural world. living near the mtns has taught me a great deal about the wonders good ol' mother nature has. and the variety of her languages keep on impressing me. be it in life or death, hardly anything appears to go wasted. I'm finally truly seeing life and death as parts of an eternal cycle. once again, thanks for all the incredible insights.