If all you are interested in is fly tying and the most recent success on the Grand River using whatever patterns, then skip this entire post, and go here and here.Â This post is for those thinkers, who want to think, and who want to rise to meet challenges that are going to be put forth toward those of us who enjoy fishing – even Catch and Release fishing.
Let me try to put some perspective on this, as for me, it goes back several years to when Larry Dahlberg, which I reported on, was charged with Fish Molestation. Seriously.Â Fish Molestation, when he was fishing in British Columbia. Â Please read the account here, and then come back to my thoughts.
I had the priviledge of interviewing Mr. Dahlberg after the above incident occurred.Â My interview and article is available here, and you should read it.
I personally was brought up as a child by an awesome father, who was very much a “conservationist,” but at the same time, had no issues with teaching me to kill, when appropriate, the fish we had hunted, and to use them for food.Â It’s interesting to me as a Dad now, and to take out my own four year old son, and how he doesn’t mind when we throw fish back, but at the same time, wants to also take home something that we’ve caught, so we can put it on the bar-b-q and eat it.Â David has no issues with throwing back fish.. but if we’re going to spend time and energy fishing, well, it seems to him apparently, we should also keep something and eat it. Or use it somehow.
Naturally, this is an opportunity for me to teach my little 4 year old about conservation.Â You can’t just take everythingÂ because .. if you do, there might be nothing tomorrow.
Yet, do other “animals” think this way?Â If a robin is feeding her young ones, does the robin worry about conserving dew worms, so dew worms will be available to it’s grand child robins?Â I doubt it.
Do locusts worry or concern themselves with future crops of wheat and barley, before they engorge themselves on the crop?
Are humans supposed to, because of their intellect, give up honing their hunting skills, just because at this particular time of history, some say the skills are not “needed?”
Is there a “moral” issue with knowing one can tie, on a small hook, some bits of feather and fur, that will trick an nice trout, to thinking that the mixture is indeed, some living food?Â What about the trout that would eat a living entity – a trout that would kill a bug, just because the bug makes for good food.. do you know of any trout that would play with bugs, and actually return a caught bug to the wild?
Although I wrote about this years ago, it’s become more of an issue after having the pleasure of re-meeting an old friend of mine who years ago, I shared some interesting evenings where we hung out and had our bait rods set up, hoping to catch fish, while we spent our time doing other things – just waiting and hoping perhaps for some wayward steelhead to find our bait in the river, in the middle of the night.
Since that time, this acquaintance has learned more about some aspects of fishing – but with a view of keeping what she catches, in order to enjoy it.Â She seems to totally not be able to understand the concept of catch and release, and in fact, thinks it is “mean” to try to catch a fish, fight it, possibly injure it, and then let it go.
As well, this issue recently came up in a discussion I had the privilege of having with Silvia D’Amelia who not only works with Trout Unlimited as a biologist, but also competed in the Canadian Fly Fishing Championships this year.Â Silvia and I did not have an unlimited time to discuss this issue, but it seemed to me that ultimately, as fly anglers, we need to come up with premises that justify our honing of our skills, even though right now, we can get fish from the local department store freezer.
There are some major philosophical issues here.Â And if you haven’t read it yet, please go read my article on “Catch And Release Revisted.”
But what if indeed, the only “right” thing for us, as humans, were to be total vegetarians, and not kill any entity we knew to have “life?”Â What does that mean for the grain farmers that have to deal with grasshoppers and locusts?Â Or deer that would feed on their crops?
Isn’t there possibly a simple “utitility” in being able to trick, kill, or protect your work?Â And why bother ending at up with discussing mamals or fish?Â What about insects?Â I bet the most ardent PETA members kill more individual entities than any flyÂ fisher would ever kill, simply by driving a car during the summer time, at night.Â Of course, the wind sheild washer fluids of today are awesome in helping to hide the evidence of all the bazillion of moths, mayflies, mosquitoes, and whatever else was fly during the night, while the PETA member drove his/her car and crushed and killed the thousands of individual entities that had no choice in life but to meet with death at the windshield of a car.
I wonder if PETA members or others who want to place some sort of “equality” of life of all beings with humans, actually give a shit about the deer that are killed by cars driving down Hwy 10 during the spring, summer and fall.Â Or the number of moths murdered by headlights on so called economical and resource preserving cars that get dozens and dozens of miles per fuel unit.
Is Catch And Release become just as much a “religion” as those that would have any of us not engage in any kind of sports rodeo? Â Are the fish there only for our giggles and pleasure, just because we want to have the pleasure?
Seriously, anglers really need to do a lot of deep introspection and figuring out their premises.Â If catch and release is going to become the religion of fly fishers everywhere, then why indeed, bother with fishing at all?Â I mean.. all you are engaging in then, is a rodeo.. a ruthless rodeo, where some entities that are weaker than you, might not survive after the rodeo that is of you, fighting the fish and bringing it to hand or net, for yourÂ own pleasure.
And yeah, it’s not good enough to point out to PETA folks that by driving vehicles at 10 PM during the summer, with headlights on, that they kill more insects than we would ever kill fish.. we need to seriously come up with much better premises in the first place.Â Are you a hunter or not?Â Are you someone that is willing to protect your crops, against what any vermin that might come along and destroy your labour that you have spent, for yourself and your loved ones?Â Are you, by virtue of your human superiority over other species, alone, have the right to learn to hunt, and set free as you please, and when necessary, eat, or protect your labour and feed your own loved ones?
I once spent a great deal of time on a farm.. where there were “wild” cats.. undomesticated cats that would otherwise live in a home … and I watched the mommy cat play with a mouse.. not actually killing the mouse, but playing with it.. as her little kittens watched.
The mommy cat was teaching, I guess – I don’t know for sure, as I’m not a wild cat – her young ones, how to hunt and survive, and yet the mommy cat didn’t actually kill the mouse.Â Just played with it.. and seemed to be trying to teach her “yung uns” how to hunt.
Some say that humans don’t need to hunt.Â Maybe they are correct, some of the time – if they live in a place where they can grow all sorts of grains and vegetables, and can have conditions available that will allow those humans to somehow ensure a good crop, with both food and protective products such as clothing, footwear, bandages when needed, an abundance of herbs with healing qualities, foods that provide protein, ruffage, etc.
What do you do when you have an infestation though, that cuts into all your efforts?Â An infestation of mammal or insect?
I think I’ll go try to catch some fish that have gotten fat on the infestation, and can provide me with some nutrients for my own life.
In the mean time, I’ll have a ball, practicing, and knowing I have skills that I can use to catch those fish.Â PETA members can spend all the time they want, trying to build fences or traps, or whatever, to save their crops.. I can catch fish, if need be, and eat them, and feed my loved ones.
And yes, seriously, I think many of us need to have a major philosophical discussion about this… feel free to say what you will.