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  #11  
Old 08-26-2007, 11:26 AM
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Gerry Romer Gerry Romer is offline
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Question Yet another view

Hans,

Let me pose another question. When fishing for these mountain gems, we all - at one time or another - hook a monster shiner, or 4" fallfish, or chub. Some of these little buggers put up quite a fight and must surely be exhausted by the time we release them. And they seem to be real easy to foul hook.

Are you plagued by the same guilt when you release a 3" war paint shiner that you just foul hooked through the eye?

Do you feel guilty but just not quite as bad as you would if that had been a 9" brookie?

Not casting any aspersions here, guys and gals... just wondering if (for Hans specifically) there are degrees of guilt involved.

Similarly, if you're fishing for smallies and end up with a catfish on the line, do you feel as bad/concerned about releasing the catfish as you would about the smallie?

I really believe that we tend to place higher values on, and attribute higher order qualities to, fish that we have specifically targeted as game fish?

Final question: Or, am I just nuts?

Gerry
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  #12  
Old 08-26-2007, 02:36 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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Gerry!

No you are not nuts, and I'm afraid I am as guilty as others of not respecting a shiner as much as a Brown Trout. yes to answer your question I think it is guilt on a degreed scale. The hierarchy goes something like this. Fish belonging to salmon, trout or char family are first. Fish belonging to Sunfish and or perch and pike family next, Fish that are non game etc etc. With risk of taking this discussion too far, It's kind of the same thing we do in the world as a whole. Regardless of our politics or upbringing, we value some people more than others as well as some animals more than others. It's not right but we do either consciously or more sublime without thinking about it.

To get back to the original discussion. Yes, I'm afraid I have put the trout and salmon species on a pedestal. This leads me to another though. Where on that hierarchy comes my wife in. LOL.
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  #13  
Old 08-26-2007, 03:31 PM
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If we rank fish by species, can't we also rank them by family? And as the native species, shouldn't the brook take top billing? If we declare the native fish to be number one in our hearts (as I have seen countless people do in this forum), shouldn't we then keep any rainbow or brown we catch (of legal size of course) in order to give our favorite a small leg up?
I am not looking to open the door again on the impact keeping fish has on overall population, now we are talking about theory and ethics, so the fact that killing a few rainbows will have little to no impact on the brookie population is beside the point.
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Old 08-26-2007, 03:57 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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Brian!

Yes, you are theoretically correct. It is as you know the other way around out west where they consider the Brook Trout to be a nuisance. I also believe that the park manager do actively manage the brook trout as for reintroduction and protection versus the non natives, brown, rainbow. I guess we are lucky to have the non natives. If we really look at the mandate for the park. To protect and conserve native flora and fauna. The rainbows and browns are really an invasive species here in the park. It's a complicated issue but I have many times thought along your line of thinking. I have more than once reintroduced a brookie in to the pool below me and taking out the rainbow and putting that fish even lower.

I doubt it has any effect but it's fun to do anyway.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:56 PM
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Leonidas Leonidas is offline
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Default Another thing to mention

I too practice C&R, have been for years and years...I too believe and understand as one of the other posters mentioned that most fish caught and released do survive. It is unfortunate if we happen to foul hook a fish or damage a fish in the process, however a great benefit of C&R is that all or most of the fish that are caught and released still has the ability to spawn. To me this is one of the main reasons that most of us practice C&R to help ensure our little part in the survival of a species not one particular fish.
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  #16  
Old 08-26-2007, 07:17 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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Okay, I understand the part of why we use C&R and the potential benefit and the potential negatives with it. My intention or dilemma in my original thought is not really so much about that. My question is if it is ethical to play and stress a fish and make it potentially frightened and then release it just for fun. I realize that we can't know for sure if a fish can feel fear or anything like that. I guess we will never know. We all know that animals differ from species to specie on how intelligent and developed they are. I guess this will ultimately lead to the question of how intelligent a fish is? I can assure you that an elephant can feel depression and fear so can my cats when I take em' to the vet. Can a brown trout feel the same? We won't know for sure.

This have been a very interesting topic to me and i feel the same as I did the other day. I think I'm going to change my way of releasing fish. If I feel that a fish I have just caught cant' make it. I.e. if its' bleeding or have some other kind of internal or external damage I will try to keep it if it is legal to do so. I guess this is going halfway over to another side. Not saying that this is a revelation or anything, but sometimes it is good to change some habit in order to stay alert and alive.
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  #17  
Old 08-26-2007, 08:44 PM
appalachian angler appalachian angler is offline
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I practice C&R 95% of the time and it is almost an involentary action. Perhaps Habit is a better word. I try and play fish as quickly as I possibly can. No "showboating" here. I use barbless or pinched down barbs on all my flys. I loose more fish that way, but I too enjoy the hook-up more than the fight. I have no problems with folks killing fish within their legal rights. I will occasionally take home a few stockers, or an injured fish. If I don't catch enough to feed the family (ie. taking 1 injured fish home) I will boil the trout and feed it to my cat. No waste that way. One of the reasons I practise C&R is to leave the fish for some youngster who might just be catching his/her 1st trout! At least this is what I like to tell myself and others. I would rather that fish go home in a kids' creel than my own.Most of the fish we catch have origins in the hatchery. Notice I said origins, not that they were stocked as adults. Non-native species thrive where native brookies can't. I see no problem with this since many will be killed for food...either by Humans or by otters, birds, or snakes. In the park and on the tailwaters, nature seems to find its balance despite human intervention. I only have a problem with C&R when it is practised with negligence and/or indifference. I must confess that I do wince from time to time when I see some nice "breeder" size fish on a stringer. I have been there and done that. I chose not to do that anymore because I prefer to fish on and not have to fool with a stringer! For the record I believe that ALL members of PETA are idiots. If our future generation loses interest in fishing because some quack has convinced them that fish have feelings, then conservation as a whole will become third rate, and the greed mongers will just continue to rape this planet till it becomes a total wasteland. Lets keep a few fish around for our kids to enjoy, and teach them stewardship and management of our precious resources. Fishing is fun...it's supposed to be! I don't feel guilty about releasing fish anymore than anyone should feel guilty about killing one. Personal choices should be respected as such.

AA
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  #18  
Old 08-26-2007, 09:08 PM
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nvr2L8 nvr2L8 is offline
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Default Thanks for starting this one!

Hans,

I appreciate this discussion as much as any I have seen on the board because it gets to some of our basic feelings about fishing. First of all, as discussed earlier, I recognize in my own mind there is a hierarchy among trout in the Smokies with brookies on top, brown next and rainbow on the bottom. For most of the Summer, I have fished the upper rivers of the park partly because the temps and water have been so much better but also because of the chance to catch brookies. While I actively hunt them hardest, I also am most careful about returning them to the water as though they are somehow more worthy of caring for after the catch. Go figure.

I have fished in the Smokies for over 30 years, most of that with spinning rigs, and have practiced C&R the whole time with only two exceptions. On my birthday back in the late 90's, I caught an 18" brown on a Rooster Tail and had the strange feeling that it was somehow a birthday present to me. Haven't caught another brown since. That one was grilled out and made a delicious meal. On one other trip with my kids, my son and I caught several very nice rainbows (12"+) out of Little River and took those home for dinner. Other than that, I have always felt that I would rather return them to their stream to give someone else (or possibly me again) the pleasure of another catch.

I have a little, no actually a lot of trouble with the concept of an extended fight with fish that are, on average, between 6 and 12 inches in size. It's the catch and not the fight that I enjoy and so I land them immediately. When one of those guys explodes from the bottom of a pool to the water, whether it takes my fly or not, my heart feels like it's going to pound out of my chest. I have laid awake at night, knowing that I was going fishing the next day, with that same adrenaline pump just imagining that experience. That and the fact that I'm steadily increasing my skills to make a successful catch is the real pleasure for me.

Fighting one of these little guys just for the fun of it seems a little pointless, i.e., over 200 lbs. against a few ounces. Hardly seems like a fair fight. Now, I imagine the experience would be different if I was on a deep sea excursion with much larger prey. But SM trout?

Guess the bottom line is, my policy is catch and release with as little impact or dammage as possible on the fish vs. catch, fight and release which seems cruel and pointless for something so relatively small. It's the hunt and the success of a hook that provide me with the most satisfaction. It's much more fun to say, "Grow up, I'll be back."
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  #19  
Old 08-26-2007, 11:10 PM
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Brian Griffing Brian Griffing is offline
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Hans,
I think I now understand what you are asking. Is it morally right for a human to toy with an animal? Is catch and release just an acceptable and legalized version of kids throwing rocks at a dog?
To address your question, or what I think is your question, I have to ask another. Are you different than a fish? That is a stupid question on the surface, but what I really mean is do you believe that you are an animal, no different than a bear, or an elephant, or a dog? Or do you believe that you are something different, something higher, something created with a divine spark?
If we are just another animal, separated from our wild cousins only by opposable thumbs and the fact that we are not afraid of vacuum cleaners, then the answer is simple. Ethics are man-made and are determined by societies. There are no ethics in the wild. Animals do what animals do, without a moral dilemna. Personalities differ, actions differ, reasons differ, but none are immoral. Cats play with mice. Killer whales smack seals around, and wolves eat elk while they are still alive. You may choose to release a fish out of pity's sake, or so you can catch it or its offspring again later, or because you don't want to carry it with you. If we are just animals, then morality is based solely on law. So if what you are doing is legal, it is moral. The reason behind the action is irrelevant, it is the action that determines its morality.
But if you believe we are something different, that we were created separate from the animal kingdom, that our bodies are no more than vessels for our eternal souls, then the reason for your action is far more important than the action itself. Are you fishing because you enjoy tormenting fish, or because you are awed by the natural world, and have a desire to experience it first-hand? Law doesn't determine morality, one's own sense of right and wrong determines morality. In this option there are legal immoral actions, and moral illegal actions.
For my own part, I think God created trout so that we could truly appreciate streams. And I don't think that the fish hold it against us.
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  #20  
Old 09-19-2007, 12:44 PM
oody3wt oody3wt is offline
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I usually adapt my c&r tactics to the stream conditions but as a rule of thumb i release most all my fish with no regret. however i did start guiding this past summer and to some degree i feel responsible for the dumb things clients will do, ie: not weting their hands, playfish until they are dead, keeping the fish out of the water for pics way to long, running a finger through the gill cover, throwing fish and the list go's on.what are these people thinking. Mostly its the new fisherman if you could call them fisherman at all. But before every outing i go through the routine of explaining ethics, tactics, responsibility and so on. Well anyway i'm going to go pull my hair out.
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