This topic contains 33 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Creek 2 years, 3 months ago.

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    Guilt is hard to ignore. I’ve been feeling guilty lately about C&R fishing. Before I go on with this I need to say i’m talking about myself, and everybody is free to do as they please. I’m also a hunter, and only hunt for what I eat. Other than the challenge of the hunt, the meat is the only reason I hunt. Of course conservation is also part of it. Colorado depends on hunters to keep the herds healthy.

    So back to fishing. I always thought C&R was good conservation. Maybe it is, but if i’m honest. It’s for my own pleasure and a bit of torture for the fish. So, if it’s conservation. How would it change anything if I didn’t catch the fish? None at all. The only conservation part is i’m not taking the fish from the waters. I can do the same thing by not fishing. So, i’m back to just doing it for my own pleasure. It has always rubbed me the wrong way. I could see the fish were suffering. Yes, i’m a soft touch.

    What can I do that’s really conservation that will still interest me? As a Christian know the fish and animals were put here to feed us. I’m not fond of eating fish with one exception. Brookies! It’s the only fish i’ve eaten that I enjoy. Brookies in a lot of our creeks are causing a big problem. They reproduce so fast, and are such aggressive eaters that they take the food from out native fish which is the cutthroat. This will be conservation to fish for brookies and eat them. It will help the cuttthroats survive.

    This actually, all works out perfect for me. I love fishing the high mountain creeks where brookies live. I love eating brookies, so no C&R for me. Creek fishing is always effective with dry flies. My favorite and only way I fish. My much loved Adams is all I need for a fly.

    So, that my future. Hiking into the high mountain creeks with my dog to fish for brookies. All cutthroats caught will be put back. I know C&R, but unavoidable in this case. It’s not legal to keep them where I go. The plan will be to catch some brookies for lunch and build a fire to cook it up by the creek. Then take a few home to eat later. Colorado is generous with brookie limits.

    There you go. A simple plan. Gear will be a short 6 1/2′-7′ glass or cane rod. A small classic C&P reel, and silk line. Fly will be the Adams. Leader will be furled silk. Life is good when it’s simple.


    Scotty MacFly

    Creek, as a Coloradan myself, I stand firmly with you on the brook trout issue. Eat them, then eat some more. They use up all the resources in lakes and rivers and do hurt the other fish quantities and qualities. They are the rabbits of the lakes and streams. So go ahead and use that generosity of the limits Colorado gives us. They are beautiful fish for being a wonderful pain in the rumpus though.

    As for catching the other trout species, if it bothers you that it hurts the fish, here’s an idea. Clip the hook bend off the fly. Then fish away. The fish take the fly, you have a little battle going on till the fish realizes it isn’t hooked and spits the fly out. Win win scenario. Then when you have had enough of the small battles with the cutthroats, put on a Adams with a hook and get some more brookies.



    I don’t think that would work Scotty. They spit the fly out right away all the time, but can’t if they’re hooked. So, all i’d see is a splash or rise, but nothing would ever be there.

    I’m actually fine with just the high country creeks. It’s what I love the most anyway. It has another perk. If I get high enough to the headwaters there’s hardly any runoff. I always hate runoff and now it won’t be a big deal. Might just miss a week or so of fishing.

    One thing to watch for is the bears. They come running when they smell brookies cooking. My dog will warn me, and some bear spray should keep them away.


    Scotty MacFly

    Well, my heart was in the right place, ha ha.

    Nothing like those high elevation waters is there? And depending where you go, it’s only you and nature with no one else around. My kind of heaven.

    Yeah, the bears can be a bit of a problem, that’s no lie. Keep an eye on the dog.



    Thanks for bringing this up, and letting us in on your thinking on the matter of C&R. I understand that your Bible, depending upon the translation, gives man ‘dominion’ over the birds, beasts, etc. It is comforting that some conservation-minded folks interpret ‘dominion’ not to imply a right to unbridled exploitation but rather a stewardship role.

    In any case, I’ve had a few of the same thoughts of late. Mind you, brookies are our ONLY native (and almost exclusively resident) trout, so geography changes all that. At the end of the day, I must admit that it has been a lot of fun for me, but considerably less so for the fish, the unwilling partner in my recreation. I must confess that I have no real knowledge of how fish feel pain, but their behaviour on the end of my line certainly implies that they would rather be elsewhere.
    And regardless of the care taken, C&R is a consumptive activity. Fish (at least a few of them) die after release, energy levels are depleted, oxygen is used up to toxic levels at high water temperatures, feeding and spawning are often disrupted, long term behaviours are altered. The good news is that the biomass of fish that die following release is not lost to the system. It gets recycled right there in the stream.
    Fishing is a fundamentally predatory activity. One could argue that it fulfills a primal imperative in us to chase and kill our food; to outwit our prey. Maybe its tied to our place in the food chain. Kind of like the overfed, housebound housecat who, upon escaping to the backyard, cannot resist killing songbirds for reasons beyond its understanding.
    Maybe it is recognition of these insights that drives us to handicap ourselves when we fish, just as you have proposed. We abandon live baits, we refuse to fish over spawners, we use lighter rods and lines, we limit ourselves to flies, or dry flies, or dry flies fished upstream during a hatch, or one pattern of dry fly, or one size of one pattern.
    In short, when I C&R fish, I’m not sure any more that I’m casting from any significant moral high ground.
    I guess I’m not done thinking about this (and I’m sure not done fishing), but that’s where my head is at these days.
    Thanks for bringing this up!




    Thank you for your post. It’s good to see others are like minded as me. I’ve thought about my post since making it. I’ve thought about more than I ever have in the past. It was always on my mind, but more in the back of my mind. Now, i’ve brought it forward and I can’t think of anything else lately.

    I think part of my answer is flawed. I feel instead of just fishing for brookies, because I like to eat them better than other trout. I should not change how or where I fish at all. Yes, i’ll still fish the mountain creeks for brookies, but I live two minutes from the Arkansas River. It’s foolish to not fish it. It’s really a nice river to fish.

    The problem is not where or how you fish. The problem is why am I fishing the way I do. I look down on trophy hunters who just kill for the antlers. My view is that all hunters should be hunting for the meat. Then I don’t do it with fishing. That’s very hypocritical. To make it right I need to keep all fish I catch for food. It’s funny that’s i’ve looked down at bait fisherman and lure fisherman, but they keep the fish for food. How wrong could I have been? It’s not how I catch the fish that counts. That’s a personal choice. It’s why am I catching the fish that matters.

    So, I only see one change I have to make. I have to eat the fish I catch to feel good about it. I look at it this way. What if Jesus was standing next to me when i’m fishing. Would he be more pleased if I caught the fish and released it, or caught the fish and had it for supper. The answer is obvious for me.

    It doesn’t matter how I fish anymore. Whether its dry flies on bamboo, or using steamers with an UL spin rod. It’s all good as long as I keep all fish I catch eat them. I’ll also have a completely different attitude to those who are fishing and keep the fish.

    How did we ever get into this? My dad and his dad always kept the fish. They never dreamed of doing anything else. You can see this all the way back in the history of fishing. I can’t believe it took me this long to really open my eyes and mind to this.



    FWIW, fish lack a cerebral cortex and according to most objective (i.e. – not paid for by PETA) research cannot feel pain as we do. I personally don’t lose a lot of sleep wondering if I’m being cruel by hooking and releasing a fish.

    With you 100% on keeping non-native species and eating them.


    Dark Waters

    I’ve certainly had these thoughts before. For a while I didn’t know what to think.. there were a few years where I didn’t fish much at all and I had a girlfriend that thought all fishing was cruel.

    It really made me think about what I was doing and why. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I fish, because, well… it’s just what I do, it is a part of me and who I am. It’s no less unnatural for me to want to fish than to sit in an office for 40+ hours a week and rot.

    I’ve had thoughts about hikers, fishers, hunters, paddlers, etc. There are lots of things we do that seem to have no purpose, or are just done for recreation. The common person has limited outlets in todays (first) world to go out and explore and live off the land, adventure, and truly live like our ancestors did. I believe these activities serve as a fix for our now unnatural lives, and in that light, they make perfect sense to me.

    I don’t keep fish, because I don’t want to. I want to see them go free. I dislike the taste of fish.. it literally makes me gag. Growing up I witnessed a lot of excessive meat hoarding, and a favorite species severely decline, almost two now. (weakfish and stripers)

    If more people were concerned with the well being of a species they wouldn’t keep every last fish they could, stuff their freezers only to throw it away later once it’s freezer burnt and unused. It’s so wasteful. The man that taught me how to fish, was a meat hunter and if he didn’t want to eat the fish we caught, he would give it away, but everything was killed. That just didn’t make sense to me over time. I do understand the urge to go out and do it though, it’s a natural skill that we’ve practiced for ages.

    To me, the big difference with hunting and fishing: While hunting you don’t get to decide to release the animal once you’ve killed/caught it. There is really only one result. I’ve never hunted because I believe that if you kill an animal, it ought to be eaten, and I just prefer the taste of farm raised animals. I would never eat wild game unless I had to eat it for survival. I’ve tried enough to know that. I will keep a fish or two for family, or to even try on occasion for myself. I have not done that in a long time though. I just want to make sure that what I take doesn’t go to waste. A dead fish in a stream will not go to waste.

    Over time, fishing has become more about the total experience now, relaxing and feeling one with the beautiful surroundings. It’s nice to catch fish too, but I don’t catch enough to feel guilty about it. If it was too easy, or too routine, I’d probably lose interest anyway.

    This is just my current perspective on a very thoughtful and interesting topic.

    Thanks for posting.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  Dark Waters.


    Stocking the freezer isn’t legal here. When they put a limit on a fish it also applies to what you have at home. It’s worded in your possession. That means while your fishing, and at home.

    So, I would eat the fish I caught that day. It means less fishing, but that’s part of the deal.

    I can’t be concerned what others do. That will drive you crazy. My only concern is myself. If i’m happy with myself. I’m happy, and it doesn’t matter what others think.


    Dark Waters

    Never heard of regs like that, but I like it.



    I never thought i’d ever need a creel, but i’m looking for one.



    Regs here are the same. A daily limit is also the possession limit for sport fish.


    Scotty MacFly

    Dominion, Genesis 1:26. The Hebrew word “radah” a prim. root; to tread down, ie. subjugate; spec. to crumble off: ( come to, make to ) have dominion, prevail against, reign, ( bear, make to ) rule, take.

    Strongs Exhaustive Concordance. This is What the word dominion means in that verse.

    So Creek, there is no reason why you can’t keep the fish you catch. But look again at the word reign. To reign over something or someone, you make the decision of whatever it is you reign over. You rule. So whether you keep the fish, or C&R, there is no wrong way. We have dominion, we make the choice. That’s why I use barbless hooks. And while I unhook the fish I keep it in the water. I am very conscience about the well being of the fish. That’s one reason I don’t take photos. I respect what God has given us to enjoy. I catch and quickly release for the fish’s benefit. I keep fish as well at times, but only my son and I eat fish, so like manna, we only take what we need. My freezer is never filled with fish, in fact it doesn’t ever see fish caught by me, because when I keep a fish, it’s for dinner. Store bought fish, that’s another story.

    It’s your choice to keep the fish, or let them go. God has given us freedom of will, and He will never overstep that. And neither will I. For those who do, well, they have their own issues. Let them deal with their own. No judgment from me.

    I will continue to C&R, and keep when I choose. And at the same time continue to thank God that I can by His grace. He gave it all to us to enjoy because of His love for us, whether we accept it subjectively, or objectively.

    So don’t feel guilty.



    So, Scotty. Do you think it would please God if I shot game, and just left them on the ground? After all, I can do as I please with them.

    A lot of the apostles were fisherman. Not one was a C&R fisherman. The Bible can be interpreted differently for all of us. I have to go with what I believe it means. I always feel that God will find a way for me to get it’s true meaning. Sometimes it’s by giving me guilt. I know he’s talking to me when I have that feeling. I ignored the feeling for too long. It’s time for me to release the guilt, and do what I think is right.

    This thread was about what i’m going to do and why i’m doing it. I wasn’t trying to convert anybody and I tried to make that clear. In return i’d like the same freedom.

    I think i’ll just stick to plan 1 and just fish for brookies in the mountains. I do love the solitude, and then I won’t be forced to eat the browns and rainbows from the Arkansas River.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  Creek.

    Scotty MacFly

    I respect that Creek. And it wasn’t my intention to preach, but I love the Word of God. My apologies if I offended anyone and took it too far. Though to answer your question, we are to eat what we kill.

    I think sticking to your plan is the perfect plan for you, after all it’s what makes you happy. Nothing wrong with just fishing for brookies for the reasons you speak of. This topic is very interesting, and I don’t think a lot of fishermen ever really thought about it. I respect your thoughts, and opinions, as well as everyone’s. I want you to know that.

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