Along the same thread as last week…
If I do get to fish the run I want without being squeezed out or pinching someone out of their spot, the goal then becomes catching fish. As much as I say, “It’s about the experience” the truth is that the experience of catching fish is much better than the experience not catching fish. It isn’t the point, it certainly one of them. I release everything except for salmon and the occasional Dolly Varden for a riverside lunch during summer.
I get that regulations stipulate certain fish can be caught and kept. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I have seen some beautiful fish clubbed and cleaned. Maybe they were big rainbows, maybe small steelhead, but either way, small creeks have a limited supply of beautiful fish and with all the other species of abundant fish that can be caught during different times of the year, do you need that rainbow or steelhead too?
Kill six silvers out of a couple hundred thousand, no big deal.
But if a creek has an annual return of 400 steelhead and if there are 100 in the river at the time in which you fish it, killing one is a legitimate percent of the total population. If there are a couple really big, really nice resident trout, and you kill them out of the gene pool, the river will take a turn toward “used to be” because if that entitlement attitude is extrapolated to everyone else, it is not unreasonable to assume that run abundance can be catastrophically damaged by just a few anglers in just a few seasons. Dead fish don’t spawn.
If you are going to kill a fish, take it.
I showed up at a creek in the Ketchikan area a few weeks ago, and a 10-inch Dolly was lying there, speared through the gills by a stick stringer.
Fishermen and hunters get bad names terribly easily. I am in no way completely innocent here. There have likely been fish that have died as a result of me catching them, bringing them in and photographing them, even if I handled them as carefully as possible.
The problem is it’s difficult to get large groups to self-manage the same way. There are arguments formed using specific events as compelling evidence for conservation, as well as anti-hunting and anti-fishing. They cite fires started by careless campers, wanton waste of deer by poachers, general waste and garbage, tons and tons and tons of garbage left behind by lip-rippers.
Alaska will never be California if for no other reason than the unlikely potential for an extreme increase in population density, but that doesn’t mean we should be careless with our fish and game resources. That also doesn’t mean we should automatically look to governing bodies to regulate from afar.
It would be nice if we could depend on the responsibility of people with gear and Gore-Tex to maintain the resource, so we don’t have to rely on people in pinstripes with pens to salvage what’s left.