A recent bull trout kill thread in a fishing forum make me start to think the role of angling in this endangered species. Angling for trophy and endanger sp. is always been in a grey zone, to anglers, to wildlife departments, or to conservation groups. I am not talking about protection, I am talking about the conservation. The difference is clear. Conservation is the field included SUSTAINABLE USE of natural resources. That is the main reason make conservation so hard, Fortunately, or unfortunately it always lie on the grey zone, it is a art form when exercised. Question: if the wildlife department said: you CAN take 1 bull trout a day in this particular watershed. Would you do it, or not? If you don’t, what do you think if other angler does?
There are several elements in this question. The game rules and the ethical feeling. Needless to say, any game has it’s rule and every player should follow the rules. Simple! An angler should follow the rules. Remember, the angler killed a bull trout is just exercise his right on the river, he did not violate the regulation. So what is the fuzz? Well, the fuzz is some anglers think the kill is not necessary, because they think they can exercise another form of angling which is “catch and release”. You hook and play the fish, and let it go for another day of surviving or let another angler has chance to hook it again. It seems cruel, but the reality is if the fish number is big, the chance of fish get hooked again is low, low enough to not call it tortures (in my opinion). So, it really is the idea of recycle a fish and reduced the angling stress on a population. Personally, I exercise catch and release, and I TRY to make sure the fish swim away healthy if I don’t want to eat it. (I love eating fish BTW). So, it would be a prefect world if everyone exercise catch and release. right? Well… yes and no. It’s an ideal but it is impossible in reality. It’s more like asking every fisherman on the river to be fly fisherman or catch and release fisherman (those two thing are not necessary happen together BTW). It is just impossible.
If the rule says you can keep a bull trout and you did. There is no question about it. You can blame the angler is ignorant. Ignore the fact that the bull trout is listed as an endangered species. But he is right about his citizen right, he follows the game rule. What you should blame, if you think you really need to, is the wildlife department that set the rule. We (me included) are barking at the wrong tree?! How many of us willing to participate a boring meeting, willing to write a letter to the relative organizations. How many of us feel the thrill and the need to point our fingers to others on the internet web? You have a deeply thought about bull trout and probably, some ecology knowledge about the endangered species. But this doesn’t absolutely make you a better fisherman. Bottom line, better fisherman is the man who follow the rule. AND should follow and participate the meetings in the fish and game department and of course exercise higher standard of environmental ethical.
We need more people on the river. So killer angler is good? If he follow the rule. Yes. We still want him on the water. We need all kinds of angler to enjoy the river. I really don’t mind to share the water with other anglers. The more people on the water means more power to the water. One of the biggest threat of the environmental conservation issues is that people lost the interest of the particular natural resource and it become the minority fighting the big commercial monsters. It usually ends up as lost of the law suit, lost the resources. It’s so sad that we use our mind and our desire as the center of the world. Sadly, and cruelly, this is how the world works. How many people will concern how the fish feel, how the polar bear feel? We feel the need of conserve clear water is because WE want to drink it. We feel the ice burg is melting is a bad thing, because we are worry about the climate is destroying our fishery and agriculture. Who care what animal feel? Maybe only Dr. Jane Goodall care about what animal feel.
Conservation needs strategies. This is the reason we want all types of anglers on the water. We need to protect the rare and endanger sp. even the kill is an another form of conservation strategy. Remember conservation is sustainable use, not pure protection. Otherwise, other non-fisherman will say, why catch and release? Stay home and leave them alone!
I am a biologist grew up with a fishing rod in my hands. I have been fortunate enough to embrace my love of art and science in my career. Most of my free time were well spent in the nature, either studying bird behavior or chasing variety of fish with fly rods. My favorite art medium is watercolors, I love the natural and spontaneous feel created by watercolor pigments. I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University. Welcome to my website. Mark