When it comes to fishing, particularly fly fishing, one of the biggest issues is fish handling. Fish mortality is a sensitive topic. We didn’t use the word “controversial” intentionally as it’s not so much a controversy but more of a matter of polarizing perspective and context. As fly anglers, we should assume all fly fishing anglers, have the best intentions in mind when it comes to protecting our resources, primarily the fish themselves. But that is not the case.
This past year has seen the largest influx of new fly anglers. To some, it’s great. To others, it’s just more congestion of already happening overcrowding of the rivers we fish. Regardless of how you feel about the saturation of fly anglers, it is in the best interest of all anglers that we share the proper ways of doing things in order to protect all that is what we enjoy and do it in a way that is palatable and digestible for everyone. One of those things is proper fish handling.
We get it. We want photos. The adage “no photo, no fish” is a strong mantra especially nowadays. Social Media being a big influence on the angling industry, is filled with “hero” shots from exuberant anglers who intend to share their adventure. Regardless, it is more important that we as fly anglers help spread the message on how to handle fish. From hook up to release, many new and even long-time fly anglers just simply don’t know (or don’t care) to handle fish. It’s our job as fly anglers to help educate, encourage, and execute best practices when it comes to handling and managing fish.
Fish Handling Resources to Share
With all that said, this post is not intended to be controversial or challenging. The intent of this post is to just be your friendly PSA. There aren’t a lot of resources specific to handling fish. The good news is, we’re sharing one here.
Helping anglers improve the outcome for each fish they release.
Keep Fish Wet is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping anglers improve the outcome for each fish they release. They advocate small things anglers can do to increase the mortality outcome for fish beyond release. Their goal is to increase survival rates and returns to our favorite places to fish, using research and science, in other words, advocate and improve the practice of better catch and release. Their Best Practices on catch and release, are thorough and in-depth. Check out their Tips and even best practices for photography.
No one is perfect. All we can do is to do our best to continue to do our best. If you haven’t checked it out, check it out. If you have seen it, share it. We all have a vested interest in doing all we can do to protect our resources. Do your part.