Nobody Wants To See Your Rotting Corpse

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photo 2.5

This is why my hero shots will always look better than yours!

I try not to do this. To give up on a well-reasoned argument and turn to an angry rant, but once in a while I can’t help myself. I’m sick and tired of opening Facebook and seeing photos of a dead fish and some grinning asshole. You’re not a hero and that’s not a hero shot.

Fish are beautiful, living creatures and like all living things they are only beautiful when they are alive. Nobody wants to see a photo of your dead girlfriend and I don’t want to see a photo of your dead fish. It’s a corpse, not a trophy.

The color starts to leave a fish as soon as you lift them from the water. I know this because photographing fish is my job. Ten seconds. That’s all the time it takes to photograph a fish. Lift, snap, dunk, repeat. That’s how you do it. Ten seconds at a time. And then let the damned thing go!

I saw a video on YouTube the other day. The guy was talking about catching his biggest brown trout. It was back in the days of film and he said, “I hated to kill it but I had to. I was out of film.” No! You didn’t have to, you self-centered moron! Do you have Alzheimer’s? Were you going to forget catching that fish? Or are you such a lying douche bag that no one believes you anymore?

Killing a trophy fish does not make you cool. It makes you a dirt bag!

photo-3You know what else doesn’t make you cool. Your name in the record books. Nope. Not cool. Neither is “landing” a tarpon on 12 lb test. Here’s a photo of a gal who think she’s cool for setting a women’s 12 lb test record. What a great fish. What a shame it’s dead! Here’s a piece of news for you. You didn’t land that fish. Not on 12 lb test. Your guide free-gaffed it!

That’s how line class records are set folks. Those anglers don’t land those fish. Some guy who’s spent half his life learning to run up on a fish and stick a gaff in it lands them. That’s why he’s holding that gaff and grinning his ass off in the photo. He knows his client had nothing to do with it. He’s not cool either.

A tarpon that size is something like seventy years old. Twice the age of the dip-shit that killed it with twice the life experience. In the best case scenario it will take another seventy years to replace that fish. Maybe one in ten-thousand fish will live to that age and with predation, habitat loss, climate change, parasites and disease created by aquaculture, pollution and trophy hunting jackasses like this, maybe there will be none!

The whole idea of records, let alone line class records is bullshit. The IFGA has blood on its hands for supporting it. Not just supporting the killing of vital sport fish but encouraging the maximum number of kills by breaking the records down to minutia. Seriously, who cares what left-handed, blue-eyed, woman, from Wisconsin caught the biggest tarpon on 11 3/4 lb test with a tenkara rod? It’s just not necessary.

You want to prove you’re a better angler than everyone else? Just talk louder. That’s what every other beer swilling asshole at the local bar does! Just go down to the fly shop and blubber for an hour or two about how you only catch grass carp on 7X with dry flies and how everything else is bullshit. The end result will be the same. Everyone will know you’re an asshole and you don’t have to kill a fish and take out a Facebook ad to prove it!

You want to be a hero? Well, here are a few suggestions.

Join Trout Unlimited or the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust or The Native Fish Society. Go out and clean up a stream or support fisheries regulation or give a few bucks for research.

Teach someone to fly fish. Maybe a kid. Teach them to respect the resource and leave it better than they found it. Teach them that wild fish are a gift that shouldn’t be squandered.

Share something on the internet. How about a release shot? Or a fish held respectfully in the water. Or this post! Let others know that you support catch and release fishing.

Respecting the resource, sharing your love of fish and fly fishing and leading by example. That’s what makes you cool!

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88 thoughts on “Nobody Wants To See Your Rotting Corpse

  1. This is absolutely perfect! Thank you for this piece, it is spot on. The desire to feed egos unfortunately tends to outweigh ethics, morals, and conservation.

  2. Thank You, Glad to know I’m not the only one that hates seeing pictures of dead fish with some Ass Hole with a big smile on their face…

  3. Yep, I’d call that a rant. I’m sure this post will get a lot of that-a-boys, but I doubt it will ultimately help our fisheries or sport and it might even do some harm. Having been to a gazillion TU meetings I have pretty much had it with the “and here is another big fish” slideshows. The best speakers probably don’t need the visuals and the pictures don’t help the lousy speakers. We had a DNR biologist give a great presentation on fisheries and habitat. In the presentation was a picture of him with his two kids at the kitchen table with a couple nice trout about to be turned into the next evenings dinner. Here is a guy that has done more for the fisheries of our state by accident than most of his audience will do on purpose, Talking with some of the audience later you would have thought he had overseen the crucifixion of Christ, and taken pictures. We all kill fish. Maybe we don’t take pictures of them or take them home for dinner but even the best of us occasionally, with no malice in our heart, kill fish. The limiting factor for most fisheries is habitat not harvesting or unintentionally killing a few adults. We need to start cutting our new and occasional anglers some slack or we are going to be seen arrogant assholes, and nobody will want to work with us. Our watersheds and fisheries need more friends. Anglers are not the problem, people that don’t fish are.

    • Kinda of apples/oranges I think. I guess the freshwater equivilent of that size tarpon would be a lake sturgeon. Very big, very old, not a whole lot of them running around.

      Trout, especially in prime waters, grow fairly quickly. A brown with a high protein diet can peak at 4% body mass increase per week during the peak growing season. A brown can live for about 20 years at the most.

      I don’t keep any of the wild trout around here in the streams. The habitat is subprime and I have too much fun catching them to only do it once. However, the DNR stockers in the mine pits are another story. One year I released everything and by mid summer all the trout were gone anyway. The loons ate them. The next year I kept my limit every time and noticed no decrease in length of the season before running out of trout, the loons still ate the majority.

    • Greg, thanks for your comment. I really do appreciate your support and engagement. I value all my readers. That being said, I’m afraid we disagree.

      First let me say that my mission in life is ridding fly fishing of arrogant assholes. I think you will hear that tone in this post. You’re right, even the best anglers accidentally kill fish. But they make every effort not too. An they never kill a fish to boost their ego. How does that opinion make am an arrogant asshole?

      The fact is that most people are simply selfish. They will work up a story in their heads that supports what ever they damned well feel like doing and call the rest of us stupid. I don’t expect any “that-a-boys” for this post. I fact, what I expect is a whole lot more guys like you telling me I’m an asshole.

      That’s what I got the last time I wrote a piece that spoke out against killing fish and that’s what I’ll get next time too. But I’ll keep writing them. Not because it’s what people want to hear, but because it’s what I believe. And because I feel that I have too.

      We put out daily information that helps a whole lot of guys become more effective anglers. If I’m going to do that, it’s my responsibility to make them more responsible anglers. That’s not me being an asshole, it’s me taking responsibility for my actions.

      It’s not fashion, or PR or some kind of trendy cause. It’s what’s in my heart. It’s what I believe. It’s what’s right. Killing fish helps no one. First of all there are plenty of them at the grocery dead already. Secondly, there’s a big difference between a couple of stocked trout and a trophy tarpon.

      I was raised eating fish my grandfather caught and birds he shot. I don’t want to come down on your buddy from the DNR. I’m sure he has done a lot of great work. The truth is that the old model doesn’t work any longer. The idea that The Lord put the fish here for us to eat is mathematically unsustainable. There are simply too many people on this earth for us to all take what we want without consequences.

      Sorry to unload on you Man, but I’m not going to write a book for every guy who want call me an asshole. The haters can all read this cause it’s the last I’ll say on the subject. I’ll ask you to remember this. I don’t have to let your comment up here. I could just post the “that-a-boys” and nobody would be the wiser. So if you’re going to call me out in my own house, this is the cost.

      Lastly, please explain how this post is doing harm? I’d like to see those mental gymnastics.

      • You guys are great. Thanks for using some logic with that mathematics reference. The fact of the matter is that there are 5 billion people on the planet and we can’t kill all the fish we catch if we want our kids to enjoy the sport/passion we have for our fish, whichever species that may be. I am a steelhead angler and I know all too well the impact of unsustainable fishing on delicate species like steelhead. I admit that I take a hatchery fish or two during the season, but that’s it. Cause its not about killing fish, its about catching fish. The traditional and highly emotional practice of killing your catch is dated and should remain a remnant of the days when displaying massive stringers was cool. Its not cool any more. Go to your local fish market for your family’s culinary needs. Take a photo for your ego. And let er go… After a while this practice stops feeling weird and starts feeling right. Just to watch that beautiful creature swim back into the creek….

      • I usually agree with you, but this time we just don’t see things the same way.

        When you get the chance reread my comment. I did not say you were an arrogant asshole! I did say “WE” need to start cutting our new and occasional anglers some slack or we are going to be seen arrogant assholes.

        Some of our fisheries are in trouble. I have helped write and implement a number of watershed improvement plans but I have never seen harvest or accidental kill of mature fish during photo-ops by recreational anglers listed as a limiting factor.

        Our waters need more friends, and we need more anglers even if they take lousy pictures and occasionally keep a few fish for the table.

        The harm is we do not have enough new and young anglers and hunters. People new to the sport tend to keep fish, because they haven’t caught that many, and don’t know how to properly handle the ones they release until someone shows them how. Eventually if we give them the chance and maybe a little encouragement instead of treating them like idiots or selfish SOBs they will hang around long enough to get to where we are. Then they might help us work on the factors that do in fact harm our fisheries and their watersheds, poor land use, stormwater issues, ground water protection, water withdrawls and dams.

        I still love you man,

      • LOUIS !!!! You are so fucking awesome… (Kent is too, but this post is THE BEST)

        Had to scroll down the page for 5 minutes just to write that –

  4. “You want to prove you’re a better angler than everyone else? Just talk louder. That’s what every other beer swilling asshole at the local bar does! Just go down to the fly shop and blubber for an hour or two about how you only catch grass carp on 7X with dry flies and how everything else is bullshit. The end result will be the same. Everyone will know you’re an asshole and you don’t have to kill a fish and take out a Facebook ad to prove it!”

    Good stuff Louis.There are plenty of venues for dick-measuring in our society.

  5. Funny to wake up and read this, this morning. I just posted an article on my Montana Troutaholics Facebook page about handling fish and not killing them. They show a few examples of poor handling but not enough about handling them correctly. Louis maybe you could put something together with pictures to show folks the right way. I am fairly certain most guys don’t want to be killing fish for a grip and grin but just don’t know they are doing it wrong.

  6. Word! This is spot on. I think the same thing just about every day when I see fish pics on facebook or wherever else. The color is gone, skin is leathery, eye pupils are centered. Don’t these guys know how obvious it is that the fish they’re holding has been out of the water for 2 hours? And its not just nobodies, a lot of the “names” do this on a regular basis and should really know better.

  7. Great Post. I hate to see a beautiful fish, a wild creature, a piece of art destroyed. Can you imagine if you went into an art museum or gallery and destroyed a masterpiece just because you could afford it, not cool. So why is it people think that a 70-100 year old piece of natural art can and or should be destroyed just so you get a nice picture or mount hanging above the fireplace. Get a great picture, frame it and hang it above the fireplace or better yet take a photo and then have one of the many wonderful artist out there create a masterpiece for you to remember the great catch and release.

    • I have practiced taxidermy as a side venture since my teenage years and fish replicas are the only way to go in todays time. The detail in replicas are so amazing this day in time that they look way better than a traditional skin mount. CATCH, photo, measure, RELEASE, replica, REPEAT.

  8. I am on your side on this one, Louis. Thank you for using your platform to send the message in such an emphatic way. Seeing a picture of a dead tarpon from 75 years ago is painful for me but somewhat understandable. Seeing one today is inexcusable, especially with a guide in the picture. I have seen in my adult fishing lifetime a degrading of the fishery in the Florida Keys on the order of catastrophic decline. Hope for my grandchildren to experience what my kids experienced fishing with me there is dwindling. And for what?

    Saying that your message bespeaks arrogance is a mystery, given that the upshot of the article is found in the suggestions on how to be a hero by preserving fishing resources. Arrogance is taking life for selfish reasons, not supporting respectful and preserving tactics in fishing.

  9. lol Wheeeeew! Louis, High five brother for spilling out you heart man. Every man and woman is entitled to there beliefs and should in fact stick to there guns as to what they believe unless they decide to change there mind which they also have the right to do because we live in a semi-free country! I don’t agree with killing larger fish! Big fish are way more valuable alive and swimming. Having said that, I don’t agree with, what I call the “Buffalo Mentality”, where some feel they must keep and kill every fish they hook. What a waste! On the other hand, am I going to harsh another mans mellow because he keep a few fish to eat? Na, because I would then be a hypocrite. Every once in a while I and my family like to have a nice fish dinner. There is a balance to all of this but we have to be responsible human beings and do the right thing. Give back twice as much as you take and you will always have for tomorrow. I think where we go wrong as humans on this subject is partly ego, partly greed, and partly ignorance. Having worked in the field of natural resource for close to ten years now I am amazed by the lack of knowledge about fish and game and there habitat needs. Then some folks just don’t give a crap and are just out for there’s. one of the places I guide clients there are two guys that burn my hide. One loves to post up in the same hole when the catch and keep season open and keep everything, and I mean everything, including knotty head cubs and all and double and triple dip his limit. He will do this until Its barren. The other guy that has a house just down the river loves to only keep the biggest fish illegally during the Delayed Harvest season when he is in town. That’s what I don’t like. I agree with the fact Louis that the amount of pressure on the fisheries is larger than yesteryear. That’s the whole reason agencies like DNR stock fish back in the rivers. Hence the name “supplemental stocking”. God did put the perfect amount of fish here on earth, but abuse by our human nature and irresponsibilities of our entrusted resources throughs it all out of whack. God expects us to be good steward of what He made and gave to us and manage these resources responsibly and sustain it for future generations like your children and there children. I don’t think Louis is an A-hole. I just see a passionate person who cares about what he likes and wants it to be the best for the interest of everyone who also enjoys it. God bless and great point to bring up!

  10. Thanks for the post! Changing the selfish minds of these “facebook heros” is not very likely. We need introduce our kids to fly fishing, teach them to appreciate our resources and to lead by example.
    Great stuff!

    Catch. Release. Repeat.

  11. Just what I needed to start my morning. Well said Louis.

    “Those Record chasing douche’s only live to get radical, they don’t have a true understanding of the ocean so they’ll never get the spiritual side of it.’-Bodhi

    I think one of the hardest things for non-anglers/non C&R guys to understand is why we release the fish. I try my damn-est to explain I am fishing for pure enjoyment of the sport and would like to help protect an already dimensioning fish population and that if I want to eat fish I’ll go to the store and buy some. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that convo. Hopefully it helps enlighten some of the people asking the ?

  12. Well said. We need to start speaking out about “record” fish or “line” records. We need to educate folks on how to hold a fish for a very quick snap. Trout, bass and bigger saltwater. Watched a show yesterday that draped a 100 lb fish over the gunnel, with a hand stuck up under the gill plate, and then “released” it. Teach us please the how to.

  13. There was an article in my local newspaper the other day about the guy who holds the state record for brook trout in my state. Well they interviewed him about a seven pound, ten oz wild brown he caught on one of our local streams. According to one of the local fisheries biologist it’s one of the biggest fish to be pulled out of that particular stream. Well they quoted the guy saying he didn’t have a cooler big enough for the fish so he had to fold the fish in half to fit it in a cooler. I am not opposed to keeping some stockers or the occasional fish to eat, but seeing a picture of such an awesome mature fish and thinking about the poor thing being crammed into a tiny cooler really burns me. Seems selfish not to put that fish back for others to enjoy, especially in an area where fish like that are not a common occurrence. Now it’s hanging up on a wall somewhere. Guess some people don’t get what the real trophy is when it comes to fishing.

  14. This post wins the internet.

    Well said, and I 100% agree. Why does setting a record require killing an animal? I hate that. It infuriates me.

  15. Great post. I agree that I respect the guy that’s always educating friends and family about fly fishing and it’s respective responsibility way more than the guy that catches a dozen fish. Catching fish is fun and it’s a reward in it of itself. No one should need a pat on the back for it.

    Cleaning up a river, taking time to teach (spending a perfect day on the water without casting more than a few timesis tough), spending the few bucks you can spare on conservative efforts, and speaking out against people that harm our fisheries cam be hard and thankless work. Those are guys that deserve “that-a-boy’s”.

    If your post changes even a few people’s actions, it’s a success. Thanks for giving your time to this site and representing the down to earth side of the community that is often overshadowed by the pretentious jackass shopping for khakis at orvis, talking about going 20 on 20 with a BWO in the middle of February to anyone that will listen.

    Keep speaking up about your opinions, even [especially] if it seams like a rant. If you don’t occasionally drone on about a topic, you’re probably not all that passionate about it. If you’re wrong, it doesn’t matter as long as you are willing to eat some humble pie, keep an open mind, and keep learning. That said, you wouldn’t have the readership you have if a lot people didn’t agree.

    Sorry if the formating is awful I’m on mobile

  16. Thanks for the much needed rant! Unfortunately I think this problem is at least partly a result of our society’s competitive nature. Some things should not be turned into a contest. Keep on educating people because I do believe that a difference can be made!

  17. Love the article. While I am known to get off on a rant myself every once in a while, what makes this article particularly great is your mention of organizations who are actively trying to teach the conservation ethic to ensure the future of the species we spend millions of dollars a year chasing with fin and fur (or gink and gasoline for that matter).

    For the past 6 years I have devoted an average of 400 hours per year VOLUNTEERING MY TIME toward the mission of Trout Unlimited. The part of working with them I enjoy the most is increasing education and giving opportunity for people to get involved however they can to do what they can given their particular interest/profession/speciality.

    For everyone out there who wants to create a dynamic change in your local TU Chapter for the betterment of your local waters – do me a favor, stop your complaining, get off your keyboard, and GET TO WORK!!!

    It only takes time to make the change happen, and sometimes it takes longer than you expect – but it requires your time and commitment to happen. The rewards of service as a volunteer to benefit your community and the benefit you can bring to your fisheries isn’t something you can buy.

  18. I certainly agree with what you said regarding ‘trophy’ fishing. Any trout though, raises a bit of a conundrum some places. Up here in MT there are several streams and rivers that the FWP are encouraging anglers to keep certain trout to help the only ‘native’ fish, the cutthroat. This would include ‘wild’ rainbows and browns, who were spawned in the stream, but not ‘native’.
    Yellowstone actually mandates that any lake trout caught in the lake be killed, even if the carcass is tossed back into the lake.
    What then? Hard and fast ‘rules’ such as the admirable catch and release might be actually illegal.
    In my 60 years of fishing, I’ve kept enough fish in the early days to satisfy anyone. I’ve also heard damn near every ‘rule’, or moral reason to do or not do practically anything. Only fish upstream to rising trout. Never use a nymph. Spin fishing or bait will send you to hell.
    Catch and release has become necessary, and a good thing. Like all good things, there are exceptions.

  19. Thanks for the post and the attached links. Well said. Made a contribution to the B&TT and Native Fish Society today. Would not have thought to do this without your rant.

    I will eat an occasional fish too, not trout, but others. If I catch a 2lb pompano, it’s as good as dead and headed for the Green Egg.

  20. Yes, you’ll get a plethora of positive responses from other catch and release fly fishermen like myself BUT personally, I don’t think calling those that are not of like mind “Ass Holes, Douche Bags and Dip Shits” is going to sway them to our side.

    I don’t think you’ll ever rid the sport of folks who kill fish but, through education… maybe… some will change but, not through brow beating them…

    Just my thoughts.

    • Let me add, I do keep enough fish for a meal or two and release the rest. I’m in SE Louisiana and a red or two, spec or two, a few bluegill and my favorite Sac-a-lait (Crappie) are exellent table fare.

  21. Fortunately, there is a whole lot of fish killing for the pic than there used to be. Catch and Release has come along phenominally since I began flyfishing 35 years ago. I don’t have a problem with anyone killing a fish if the fisheries can support it and you’re going to make it a meal. It is pretty sad to kill sportfish that have no table value, just for a picture. Good advise on pic/dip/pic/repeat.

  22. This is a great post sparking a discussion we all deal with on a regular basis as fishing recreationists and professionals. The physical and social environments are changing and our experiences and expectations are being altered. New ethics are essential if we hope to continue enjoying our passion for fly fishing.

    Regarding catch and release:
    I really like acorad’s comment….“That’s like me asking you what is the point of f*cking, then, if you don’t want to make a baby.”

  23. Louis, I’m with you 100% my friend! We all want to take photos of our next greatest catch so that we can go home and share it with our friends and family. For some of us, that also means killing the that fish and taking it home to either eat it, or mount it on their wall to show their friends that they are indeed a great fisherman. Now I’m not going to rag on someone for doing this with every species of fish. You can kill all the asian carp you want, mount ’em, or stuff them an eat ’em. Won’t bother me none at all. It’s the guy who catches a big, wild, female brown trout during the spawning season that decides, selfishly, that it would be best served mounted on his wall instead of releasing it to spawn and grow the population of that watershed, ensuring the enjoyment of the generations to come after him. And Tarpon…. Really? Are you going to eat it? Hell no. So your sole intention for catching and killing a 50yr old (or older) Tarpon is simply to put it on the wall? Measure it and get a freakin replica! Oh, you want your name in a record book? Think it will make you rich and famous, and you’ll be able to proclaim that you’re the best fisherman in the world? Please. When it all boils down to it, nobody really cares who you are, will know who you are, and that you THINK you are a great fisherman. And if you think this way, then you might as well be fishing in the same boat as Joe Mercurio. In my opinion a great fisherman is something more than the fishing. It’s the person that teaches the people new to the sport, and educates them about the conservation efforts that go on behind the scenes. It’s the guy with a voice, fighting for his watersehd and joining efforts to clean up a public stream on his off days. It’s the guide volunteering his weekend to help awesome groups, such as Project Healing Waters and Wounded Warriors, doing what he can to give back to those that sacrificed for our country and our freedom. That, my friends, is what makes a great fisherman, and something I aspire to be.

  24. Yeah, there are a still lot of a$$holes around that just cannot grasp the concept of catch and release… That said, on certain fisheries in the UK for instance but also on Continental Europe you are required to kill your catch within size limits. After you caught your maximum number of fish you have to call it a day… And the permits are pretty expensive as well. I make it a point to NEVER fish such waters. In fact, I never kill trout because, like you said, there is enough dead fish in the supermarket. Come to think of it, I never even take a picture of the fish I catch anymore. I don’t need a truckload of pics to prove I caught someting and I hardly llok at them anyway.. Just catch, keep it in the water and release. What’s so hard about it to get?

    The only thing I sometimes worry about is delayed mortality…

  25. Don’t forget about the Federation of Fly Fishers as another organization to join. Conservation, Education, & Restoration are the main goals and they support all types of waters.

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  27. I live in Iowa. We have no slot limits or really catch limits on most fish. The fisheries suck. Unfortunately the DNR are the biggest drivers of our poor environment. The have constantly told me that longer length limits and reduced catch quotas will not improve the fisheries. They are the first ones to say how great fishing is in all the surrounding states who have these things though.

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  29. I’m not sure anybody mentioned the fact that this problem of removing the largest individuals is a much greater issue than the killing of that single fish. If we remove the largest individuals (which are the most successful because they have avoided dying the longest and likely spawned the most) we remove the most successful genes from the population. This weakens the population’s gene pool. Also, as a fish gets bigger, the amount of eggs it holds actually increases exponentially. So, two fish that weigh 10 pounds cannot produce as many offspring as one fish that weighs 20 pounds. The 20 pounder will produce more eggs than the other two fish combined. There should be no encouraging of keeping fish for records. Here we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Thank you.

    • The largest individuals may also the best at eating; another way to insure survival and create a stronger population…as long as its not killed. My foot hurts.

  30. I’ve been mulling this one over since I first read the post a few days ago…

    …and while I agree with every bit of the sentiment expressed buy Louis, here’s where I land: Just like the Looney Tunes* we have polluting our national capital and our our states capitals, all extreme rhetoric does is put the opposition on the defensive, telegraph agendas and turn off to the folks in the middle we need to win our points. This kind of thing also puts the uninformed on the defensive if they are unaware of, or simply didn’t think abut what they were doing when they allowed a shot like that to be taken of them with a fish in their hands.

    Back when I started fishing, I took what I thought was a neat shot of an 18″ brown trout, out on the bank next to my fly rod…it was the firs trout I’d ever caught on a fly, and I’d seen tons of similar photos, and I thought that’s what you did. Had someone lashed out at me, I’d have lashed back, hard, and told them to go pound warm butter up an angry wildcat’s fanny. That’s no way to treat a newbie to any sport.

    I know now that I probably killed that fish, and there’s no way I’d take that shot today…but knowledge came from patient people ‘splainin’ things to me the right way, without putting me on the defensive…and it worked brilliantly.

    So again: I agree 100% with the sentiment, but I disagree with the presentation. It is so often not what you say, but how you say it that makes the difference.

    …sorry for the wordy post…and that it’s so late…but it took a while for me to get the words the way I wanted them in my head.

    *Note I didn’t assign this to either, or any specific party. They are all equally screwed up, out for themselves to the exclusion of the people who they are supposed to be representing them.

    • I agree with you Further North. How many fish have I kept in the past 5 years? None. So philosophically, I think we’re in the same ballpark, Louis, but I’m not going to sway anyone to my way of thinking by calling them an ass hole.

      There’s too much of that kind of discourse in our society these days already. Present the facts, and be patient with people where they are at … Anger does not facilitate enlightenment in my experience, it shuts it down.

      • I don’t think Louis is attacking anyone personally. He’s addressing an action that he passionately disagrees with. It’s one thing to attack a person, that is always wrong in my opinion; but attacking their behavior in a way that does not insult them as a person, is completely fine in my book. If he named the guide that gaffed the 70 pound tarpon that would be wrong. However, by leaving his name out, he is really saying a guide that kills a fish that is that old and irreplaceable is a dipshit. It’s the action not who that guide is that I is despicable.

        My grandfather was a racist. I loved him but hated some of his beliefs. If I told him that racism was wrong and listed logical reasons behind my reasoning, he would shrug it off. It took me and my parents telling him that we hated the way he would spew his hateful opinions and how embarrassing it was to get him to stop. Some people do not respond to reasoned argument. They need to understand it’s a passionate issue for other people. We never attacked my grandfather personally and I won’t attack another fisherman in that way. However if I see a person killing fish in a fishery that can’t sustain that behavior, I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t piss me off. I’ll tell them that it is frustrating to see and I’ll tell them why. I won’t do it in a way that says they are a bad person or a bad fisherman. I’ll congratulate them on their fish and say it’s a shame my 10 year old cousin won’t get a chance at that same fish. I won’t name call or raise my voice or use profanity, but I’m not going to pretend it’s ok.

      • Brian,

        This: “Anger does not facilitate enlightenment in my experience, it shuts it down.”

        …nails it.

        I’d eat some fish I caught, if I was allergic to the them, just like I take a few birds each season when I hunt…but just like when I hunt, I wouldn’t take more than I’d eat in the next few days.

        One of the best parts of fishing for me is catch and release – I wish I could choose which birds to keep after I have them in hand, I’d release the bigger, stronger ones and keep the “eaters”. If I could eat fish, I’d do the same on the water.

        Death is part of life…and I have more of problem with waste than I do with keeping some fish.

  31. It still fishing no matter how you engage in the sport. I kill fish when I or a client wants to eat it, that is one reason they are in the ocean. So you are saying you are better, holy than thou, sitting on highest pedestal, than someone you kills a fish for food. And your response most likely will be, go to the store and buy it. Wrong.
    Fly fishing, lure fishing, bait fishing you are still hooking are wild fish tormenting it and dragging to a boat or shore against it free will.
    Wake up. Yeah fly fisherman don’t hurt the fish.

    • So because an action has a negative impact, you should just say “screw it I’m not going to try to minimize my negative impact, I’ll just do it and shrug off the responsibility?” If I drink I a bottled water, should just throw the empty on the ground instead of recycling it? Because I’m not being as green as someone that drinks out of a nalgene, I shouldn’t try to minimize the effect of my choice. Sorry but I don’t buy it.

      This isn’t a bait/lure fishing vs fly fishing issue. It’s an issue for all fisherman. We all engage in a sporting activity that can harm a few fish. How does this mean none of us are responsible for minimizing the negative effects of it.

      You may be very responsible with what you keep. If so, good on you. However, who eats a 70 pound tarpon? The issue that pisses Louis off is people that feel the need to kill a fish to feed their ego, the effect on the fishery be damned. This is not a battle between both sides, it’s a battle against poaching and needless killing of fish. I want you to be able to catch the fish I’ve caught and I hope you feel the same way. I primarily fly fish but I’ll throw bait on days that it the only effective way and it is legal. I don’t judge people for it because at the end of the day I think we’re all fisherman with the goal of the enjoyment that comes with catching fish. I want all fisherman to enjoy that. How is that putting myself on a pedestal? How did Louis specifically target bait guys? I’ll take fish during harvest if the river can sustain it, but taking a 70 pound tarpon for a record is not sustainable.

  32. Lou,

    When’s the last time you caught a fish? I can’t remember the last blog that actually talked about a recent experience. Please dude, go catch a fish!

  33. So what’s the take on salmon, halibut, ling, rockfish…

    As a dedicated trout fishermen, I practice catch and release.
    However, I also catch salmon, and halibut an other species.

    And you know what– I bleed them, clean them and barbecue them.
    I eat fish 12 months of the year.

    Fishing isn’t JUST a sport. Refusing to recognize that is just plain ignorant.

    Killing fish just for a trophy isn’t something I agree with. But don’t lump all us fish killers together because you’re upset about a couple Facebook photos.

  34. Please let me start by stating for the record I support catch and release and I support my old time friend and bro Louis Cahill……but I live on the Kenai River and one mile as the crow flies from the Cook Inlet. I eat sockeye salmon from my back yard, halibut from the Inlet, ducks from the river, moose from the swamp, and bears from the hills. I won’t apologize for that! I feed three boys and a 6 foot moose killin, fish catching, full on chrome foxy wife! We eat meat and she grows veggies. I grew up on wild fish and as a halibut and salmon guide I have shed enough blood to fill more than one skiff. I wont apologize for that either.
    Louis, you make a ton of valid points. And you clearly state “trophy fish!” That is the difference here, we don’t eat our amazing genetically unique hawg king salmon. We respect them and gently watch them swim away with a true sense of pride! We don’t smack a steelhead in the melon and throw him in the freezer. We pick and choose. But what makes one life more valid than another. I read your comments and you struck a few nerves…maybe it was the dead chick at the top of the post that caught our attention. Either way, we have to eat…fish taste good.
    PS-I have seen you in action on the blood bar in the middle Kenai…putting the smack down on some sockeyes! nothin but respect L.C.

  35. Amen, Hallelujah, Cue the Choir!
    Now, let’s all go out and introduce, teach, and spread the good word about the pastime we are all so passionate about, in whatever way you believe will preserve a sustainable fishery for as long as humanly possible.

    And props to LC for reminding us that the purpose of free speech is to foster ideas and promote further conversation.

  36. Still read this when i want a laugh. You’re right everytime i see pictures like this i think “way to go you killed a 70 year old fish just to post it on facebook, while you’re at it why don’t you just kill my grandma she’d be a real trophy”. I’ll never understand what people get out of this shit but then again I’m not on any social media to begin with. Sad but i believe most people feel the same way we do. One thing that creeps me out to think of is what do they do with the corpse just throw it back in the water and let sharks and crabs have their way with it, what an honorable way to end that animals life.

  37. I do both kinds of fishing, meat-hunting and C&R. I do not fly fish but I have barbless hooks on most of my artificials. You needen’t be a fly fisherman to be a conservationist and I resent the F*** out of fly fishermen who act like they’re upper-crust types. Keep your goddamned opinions of my fishing to yourself. I once read a story that a guy waited for another fisherman to take off, and went down with his spinning rig. He was assaulted, harassed, but he stood his ground and after a second wave or verbal abuse, he pulled out his belt knife and asked them “Anyone want some of THIS?” They STFU after that.

  38. Here is the real article:

    Tim (The guy with the gaff) is a great guy and one of the greatest fly anglers to ever live. Many in the Keys consider him to be the best Bonefish angler ever, yet he won all three major Tarpon tournaments as well. I bet he has landed well over a thousand Tarpon and this one gaff makes the news. He still holds the all time points record in the Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament and it will likely never be beat with the new rules changes. He lives on the water in Islamorada and I can guarantee he cares more about the fishery than you have expressed here.

    Also, if you think you can’t land that fish on 12 pound you don’t know anything about Tarpon fishing. That’s a great fish, but I’ve made fish go belly up with 12 pound in the 80-100 pound range in under 20 minutes. They swam off strong too while I could barely keep holding them.

    The point is that the article doesn’t suck, but the photo you chose and the way you talked about the guy in it is very poor taste. You obviously had no clue who he was and that’s almost worse than killing a Tarpon.

  39. It’s pretty painful to see the photos that some anglers take. Around here the tarpon pictures make me cringe. I’ve also found myself getting annoyed at the fiberglass sharks hanging by the tail at some local restaurants. What does that say about us?

  40. I have never commented on any post by Gink before, but that is so well said, I totally agree and that rant absolutely NEEDED writing. I love Tarpon, and to see that picture in this day and age makes me feel sick. Well said.

  41. Sooo, if I fish with other than fly gear and keep the occasional fish for the smoker, I’m an asshole and a douche bag. Is that how it is ?
    So sad. I used to enjoy this web page. Bye
    don’t waste your time responding. I’m done here.

  42. I would go one step further. Personally, I don’t even understand the picture thing dead or alive. I am not saying don’t do it (I don’t have any real ethical argument against grip and grins of living fish done well), but that I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I almost exclusively fish alone but the moment of handling a fish feels private and untranslatable. A picture cannot sum up my experience of that day and does nothing for my memory of it.

    Plus, I know this is going to sound weird, but there is something about a fish’s vulnerability when it is in my hand that also makes me not want to share that moment with anyone else. The act of catching a fish on a fly instantly turns a predator into prey. The predator made a mistake. Sharing that mistake with others feels weird to me, especially if the intent of the picture is to make me into some kind of “hero.” Tricking a fish with thousands of dollars worth of technology and hundreds of years worth of accumulated human knowledge doesn’t seem as impressive as whatever the fish in my hands had to do to get as big as it is. This doesn’t make me want to stop fly fishing. I still do it, and love it. But it’s definitely not impressive enough to share with anyone.

    I once had a guide take a picture without my permission for his business and post it on Instagram, and it just seemed to reduce the whole experience of that day into to every other superficial thing floating around Instagram. I wasn’t mad at him for promoting his business. He’s got to do what he’s got to do to make a living. I just affirmed for me that showing pictures of the fish I caught to other people isn’t the reason why I fish.

  43. Thanks Louis, a great article and not a rant. As a young fella I’m afraid I was a keen angler who fished competitively and killed a lot of fish. I started catch and release when I lost interest in tournaments and just enjoyed my fishing but still kept a lot of fish for consumption and I had a large freezer.
    It was only when I finally joined a fly fishing club that I now religiously practise catch and release. I wish I’d discovered fly fishing at an earlier age. Maybe age is the reason I’ve changed my attitude to both fishing and hunting, I was a professional hunting guide but now I no longer hunt as it’s difficult to release a shot animal.
    I don’t any trophy mounts and only photograph my fish.
    Like you, I now hate bragging photographs of dead fish and animals but find it difficult to condemn all of the posers as assholes – some of them are young and I can only hope that they change their attitude as they mature.
    I wish I had read your article when I was younger, it may have brought me enlightenment at an earlier age.

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