Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fishing Ethics

I started thinking about this the other day after reading a letter someone was going to send the wildlife politicians about legalizing power bait on artificial only streams. There is an underlying war between fly fishermen and bait fishermen. Where the ethics question comes in is, I’ve met many “fly fishermen” that push the limits of the rules to their personal standards. Here’s an example. Some fly fishermen do not believe in using bait or powerbait. Talk to a fly fisherman long enough and he’ll tell you a story of tying a rubber worm or god forbid a real worm on his line and fishing with it. Droppers are used often when fly-fishing. Most people go with 1 dropper. Usually only 1 because if you use more you can tangle your line more often. Some use as many as they can. How is this sporting? I heard another story recently about a technique that is basically chumming. This “fly fisherman” told me when the fishing is rough sometimes he’ll look at what nymphs are under the rocks. Tie on a pattern similar, then shuffle his feet knocking the rocks about and up rooting the nymphs then he casts downstream. This is a great idea but is it sporting?

What most fishermen in general hate are poachers. There’s been many techniques that give nature lovers and fly fishermen the chills. One is taking a car battery and hooking jumper cables too it, then throwing them in the water. This will send a shock through the water stunning any fish close enough and making them easy pickens for a net. Another is to dump milk or Clorox bleach in the water. Fish cannot process this threw their gills and will start to die. These are extreme and horrible things to practice. I’ve also heard of people spear fishing for trout in streams and rivers. This is still somewhat sporting because you are spear fishing but it’s still pretty easy pickings. Plus most spear fisherman will go after larger fish. The worst of the worst is the people who follow the stock trucks then after the stock truck leaves they net the stunned fish and take them home. Fishing is totally different from even 10yrs ago. People are using every advantage they can. Even so called “fly fisherman”. I put that in quotes because many fly fishermen hold themselves in some superior category. Like they have a greater knowledge of nature and fishing. Many push the rules as they see fit. My advice would be don’t do something you will regret. Before you break the rules think about how it will feel afterwards. I’ve put a rubber worm on my fly line and caught a big trout. It didn’t feel right. I felt like I cheated. It definitely wasn’t as much fun as catching a trout on a fly I tied. We need to do all we can to keep the purity of the act of fishing itself. I don’t fish just to catch fish. It is an experience. I love showing people how to fish. To me it’s about enjoying the great outdoors, learning about nature, respecting and making a relationship with the water and life living in it and around it.

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