Jul 15 2014

Holding Fish, does it matter how ?

Yesterday on my O’fieldstream Facebook account, I received a Share from FBfriend Matt Nelson. He was sharing a post made on a New Zealand site alerting readers to the potentially fatal dangers, from improper holding, when attempting to grab-a-photo of a trout.

The article, Trout Dying to Get a Good Photo, was published in the online fly-fishing blog, Bish & Fish: From New Zealand | Fly Fishing Stuff

I’d read this article when it surfaced a few months earlier. A very good article. Much like my own Lip-Grip is OUT, but this article dealt more specifically with trout/salmonids, where my article points, primarily, to improper ‘lip holds’ on Bass.

The reality of fish holding is this: there isn’t a fish swimming that is NOT subject to being damaged by improper handling.

The article came at a time when I was -again- seeing a lot of very long ‘out-of-the-water’ fish grip-n-grin photos: where the fisherperson, ‘grips the fish’ and ‘grins for the camera; often, many times with the same fish, over many minutes of exposed-to-air -NOT- a water-breathing environment.

So I made a comment on Matt’s post/share and then re-Shared it back to my FBfriend list – along with an introductory comment.

The following is the series of comments I made and attributed comments from others. This is – as I say – a matter worthy of, ‘serious attention’.

Article LINK+IMAGE Shared

Anatomical drawing of trout

This image was used by Bish & Fish to illustrate the location of easily damaged internal organs of the salmonid. The illustration shows, due to their location of the typical ‘grip area’, (at and just behind the pectoral fin), the fish are ‘at risk’ of being injured when mishandled for photographs or out-of-water release.

COMMENTS on this post:

LES BOOTH/O’fieldstream: Yes. I’ve been ‘preachin’ this for several years now. And folks don’t like being preached to or at. Well, that’s tough. I’ve done the research and know the results. Improper handling and exposing too many fish to improper handling, through C&R mass-catching … IS damaging the resource.I like fish. Love to fish. And cannot stand people who say they do, but continue to engage in damaging-to-the-resource practices. It’s pure hypocrisy to be that way. And it matters. It matters to the future of fishing and the future of the resource.

It doesn’t matter what species of fish. There are commonly-used-holds that are either debilitating, damaging and yes, lethal – to the fish being handled.

We need to wake-up to the reality. If you ‘touch’ a lot of fish in a C&R fishery, then you are exposing a lot of fish to the results of your handling. Even if you handle with extreme care – it’s very likely someone before or after you – will NOT be so knowledgeable and gentle. It also turns out that WE, OURSELVES!, are not so all-knowing or capable of handling a fish – every time – without adding to the melee.

There are two ways to avoid this issue:

    1. Reduce the number of fish you catch: Period;
    2. Don’t handle your fish. Pass, on the ‘grip-n-grin’ moments;

It’s really simple. If you love fishing, then back-off a bit and let the resource breath. If you love fish, then … back-off a bit and let the resource breath. Yeah.. same good-sense action will help – no matter where your interests lie.

Just don’t continue to lie-to-yourselves, thinking, “There’s no way I could be a problem. I’m a good, responsible, conservation-minded fisherman/woman.” Well, NEWSFLASH .. if you grip-n-grin or C&R 30+ fish a day … then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Preachin’s over … for now.

Matt Nelson: Les, I honestly believe that the majority of today’s anglers don’t know the proper way to handle fish. Catch and Release used to get a lot of attention back in the day…now it is just something that is considered a “given”. Unfortunately that means that most people don’t address it anymore. The magazines don’t run articles on it (it’s the hero shots that sell copies) and Cortland’s Trout Boss lines actually had a horrible image right on the box…so I see them as a major part of the problem. As a guide and fly shop manager I try to educate people on proper fish handling (the best being leave ‘em in the net!) whenever I can, I’ve even started to include it as part of our Fly Fishing 101 classes. To me it is part of a bigger problem which is the ethics of fly fishing. There used to be a “code” of behavior among fly fishermen on the stream, rules and basic manners that were passed down from angler to angler, but you don’t see that as much anymore. IMHO I think a lot of that comes from people learning from the internet instead of “mentors” or other experienced anglers…people get too caught up in what they’re catching and forget about how they should go about catching it.

Les Booth: Amen Matt. In the face of the oblivious .. keep up your efforts. You’re spot on. Some may say ‘resistance is futile’… in this case – and every case where action truly means something … ‘resistance if FERTILE!. Keep planting!

IF interested … read SA-LIFE manifesto on this topic: http://ofieldstream.com/ofs-differs/sa-life-manifesto/

Thanks for the efforts you put forward. Keep up the good influence. SA-LIFE Manifesto | O’fieldstream Outdoor Journal on ofieldstream.com, where I have written, talked about -extensively- and practice a very simple process that entails a straight-forward approach to a set of principles that guide me in my fishing activity.

MY SHARE of the Above LINK+IMAGE

My introductory comments when I Shared:

LES BOOTH/O’fieldstream Pay serious attention to this. If you don’t – or Thumb IT – then you’re placing yourself squarely in the slot of being, THE PROBLEM.

And I’ll add my own to this .. for all you Bass fishermen/women out there – trout are NOT the only fish species that suffers from poor handling! EVERY fish species is susceptible to the damage of poor handling.

“Lip-Grip is OUT” http://ofieldstream.com/2009/06/19/lip-grip-is-out/

Joe McDonald – I see so many of the “BassPro’s” that don’t have a clue about the proper handling of fish.

Les Booth – You’re absolutely right Joe, except for one thing: The Bass Pros … DO KNOW the right way to hold the fish. But they CHOOSE NOT to do so. As I’ve said many times before – and don’t intend to stop:

“Ignorant is not knowing. Stupid is not caring. Ignorant is mere suicide. Stupid – *IS* – a WMD.”

As the old joke says, “If the shoe fits….” Sayin’…

Evidently this SHARED article went over quite well .. as the stats below show – as of (7.15.14 – noon EST)

Nick Pionessa, Vaaliley Wu, Jeff Greco, 8 others like this and there are 52 shares.

The BOTTOM-LINE here folks is simple. If you ‘grip-n-grin’ (G-n-G) your fish, you are contributing to a growing lethality among released fish. If you G’n’G your fish for each fish .. or even a high percentage of your fish, you ARE damaging the population of fish. You might as well priest ‘em and cook’em.

If you want a photo .. take it IN THE WATER.

  • Use barbless hooks;
  • Release with hemostats (grab fly with hemostat and remove;
  • Keep hands and fingers off the fish;
  • DO NOT touch the fish.

And I will add … be responsible and limit the number of fish you catch in an area. Catch-and-Release was not created to give carte blanche to catching as many fish as you could in a given stream or lake section. It was – and still is – a viable way to limit IMPACT on critical populations of aquatic resources: fish, food, shelter, environment. The MORE we CONTACT any of those elements, the more chance there is for a negative reaction.

If you would like some ideas for guidelines, then read the SA-LIFE Manifesto.

Keep ‘em alive. Or there won’t be a tomorrow to go to.

O’fieldstream


Dec 7 2012

Art of the Outdoors

… to be continued.

– O’fieldstream


Dec 7 2012

It’s About the Fly

The world of fly-fishing is a complex, guarded – yet free-wheeling world of traditional feeding lanes that regularly conflict with edgy currents. Today’s world of fly-fishing is that world: more so now, than ever before.

Yet, no matter how fluid the world of fly-fishing becomes, it’s still – about The Fly.

A friend posted an interesting photograph the other day, that consisted of a number of old, broken, worn-out fishing flies, attached to a pole. He labeled it the ‘Fly Cemetery’. I looked at the photo and was struck by the visual. I posted the following as a comment on that photo:

Cool idea! Never thought of it like this. But instead of cemetery .. I’d say it’s more a Tribute Poll … to old friends who served you well. Flies are not just things. They are the connection between… between, the fisherman and the fish. The fly is the first thing that both fisherman and fish connect to and the parting point we both enjoy. Flies are special.

After writing this I got to seriously thinking about what I’d said .. and realized, this was an important point for fly-fishing. The part which caught my senses the most was the following:

Flies are not just things. They are the connection between… between, the fisherman and the fish. The fly is the first thing that both fisherman and fish connect to and the parting point we both enjoy.

Think about it. The one thing that is common to every fly-fisherman and every fish caught on a fly is – The Fly.

No wonder the person who ties their own flies, feels such a connection to their activity on the water. No wonder such a feeling of accomplishment, connection, deep-emotion is felt when a fish takes the presented creation.

This IS big; very big. It’s just downright special.

So that pole-of-used-flies, truly is a Tribute Poll. Some may say a totem to their service as inanimate partners. If those flies could claim origin at your own hands, they are your children-in-collaboration. The combined effort of seduction and deceit – you and the fly – in a game as old as life itself.

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Fly Tyers Supplicate

I think that I shall never tie,
The likeness of the Perfect Fly.
For flies are tied to lie you see,
Truth made plain, not readily.
To whom you seek reply,
Yet answer remains to be?
The fish, the fool and the fly, go Thee.

 

May we who choose to fly, do so with reverence for the bit of feather and fur which make it all possible to live such a wondrous life we lead.

For … The Fly is Special. Special indeed.

O’fieldstream


Dec 26 2011

Literary Connections

My good friend and fellow aquatic hauntee, George Jacox, posted earlier today about books, specifically fly-fishing books he liked. He elaborated a bit on his main thesis. George’s post drew a rather agreeable comment from our common friend, William (Bill) Schudlich. Bill’s comments got me to thinking. First off I just had to make this comment:

—-

Shoot, y’all just named half my ‘special selections’ library’.

As well as the Maclean books – I re-read each of Middelton’s book’s mentioned by Sir Willie of Schudville .. and I do hope one day to get a copy of Rivers of Memory. I so want to read this book! And – if I my ship stops sinking – MAYBE – a copy of, The Starlight Creek Angling Society! I would love to own this book. But I would just like to actually see, hold and read one!

I also totally agree that Traver (real name: John Voelker) books and stories are must reads; with Trout Madness and Trout Magic list high. Voelker was a personal friend of my good friend and colleague from the Traverse City , MI area, Dave Richey. When you speak with a person who actually had, on-the-water/in-the-woods, intimate knowledge of a legend like Voelker, you get a sense of just how much one can miss by not being in the same arena, venue or age. CARPE DIEM!

Then I got to thinking about other books – besides my shared enjoyment of those mentioned by George and Bill. I started to go over some other books I’ve read – and re-read – over the past few years. So a list began to form. But not just a list. What began to form was a much deeper meaning than just reading good books. There was – and remains – an intimate relationship with the books I read, the people I know, icons I wish to meet, passions I love to pursue.

Especially any of the above fortunate enough to also coincide with just about any value on the subject of FLY FISHING.

It’s not merely about literary interest … it’s vastly more important than that!!

Here’s my addition to the conversation:

1_ Anything by Thomas McGuane .. but especially The Longest Silence. This is a book title one should read, ponder and practice.

2_ Paul Quinnett’s books: Pavlov’s Trout (the quintessential book on Outdoor Ethics!); Darwin’s Bass and Fishing Lessons (should be requisite for anyone taking to the water! Paul is a clinical psychologist and developer of the QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer), Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention program. Paul knows a thing or two about the benefits of fly-fishing!

3_ M.R. Montgomery’s, Many Rivers to Cross .. wonderfully imaginative – yet at times, heart rending – a culinary delight of Western fishing for it’s vanishing native lands, vistas, ecosystems and it’s most desirable, cold-water citizens.

4_ Anything by David James Duncan .. most notably for it’s popularity – The River Why. But, if you’ve not read his book, My Story as Told By Water – you have not found the reason for WHY, Maclean could write, “I am haunted by waters.” Read it and you, too, will find your explanation.

5_ Every word written by John Gierach! PERIOD. The guy is a veritable Pied Piper of Fly Fishing Story. There are few writers – from any genre – whom I can read and re-read their work – on any page, at any time – for any length of time … and enjoy it every time. This magical aura surrounding Gierach’s writing never ceases to amaze me. He’s constant in his ability to addict the reader.

6_ And – not because this book is a piece of literary wonder, but because it keeps me in remembrance of a fine man, whom I miss very much: Tight Lines, Bright Water Water- by Dave Engerbretson. It’s a good read about a man who loved, life and enjoyed helping others do the same: in all aspects possible in the grand outdoors: freshly mowed backyard or deep wilderness. There are still times- when I find it hard to believe I cannot just email or call this jolly fellow – my good friend – of such incredible aquatic pursuance knowledge. So, I annually re-read this book… and regularly scan it for tidbits of remembrance. It’s a good habit that I shall continue to nurture.

If there’s a special outdoors/fishing/fly-fishing/hunting or whatever person, who has impacted your life; who is no longer living: if they’ve written a book – or if only a card, letter or left you with a recording or a simple phone message: revisit it: often. Recall their ‘voice’; that energy that made them special in your life; to your life. Keep their flame alive for you. Then, Pass It On, to light the way for others. Pass On… their remembrance to others, so they too, can get to know your special people. Everyone needs to get to know special people. This is a priceless gift to the future.

Carpe Diem ! Seize every moment, every minute of every day – do so with gusto – and renew the definition of:

WHY? …

“…fly-fishing is such a magical place, with magical moments, made more wonderful, daily… by the magical relationships… between, man, water, fish, feather and fur.” – Sam Stovepipe, Sage of Gar Island

Keep the passion going. Read. Remember. Restore.

My Life As Told By Water, by David James Duncan

The River Why, by David James Duncan

Trout Bum, by John Geirach

Pavolov’s Trout, by Paul Quinnett

Darwin’s Bass, by Paul Quinnett

Fishing Lessons, by Paul Quinnett

The Longest Silence, by Thomas McGuane

Many Rivers To Cross, by M. R. Montgomery

Tight Lines, Bright Waters, by Dave Engerbretson