This topic contains 33 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Creek 2 years, 4 months ago.

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    Just to offer another perspective: I am an atheist. Not a militant or evangelical atheist, just an atheist. On the other hand, I have a profound reverence for the natural world (less so for the manmade world). My time in the outdoors is often spent in wonder at the intricate and complex relationships and adaptations that have evolved over the millennia, leading to a system which, in the absence of man’s meddling hand, simply works. The longer I live and the more I see, the harder it is for me to view man as the ‘crown of creation’. Man clearly needs the natural environment; I see little evidence it needs him.

    This reverence led me to study (both formally and informally) the natural sciences, environmental and natural resource management, and to work my entire career in those areas of endeavor in the private, public and educational sectors. I am now retired, and continue that love and those pursuits. My behaviour onstream is governed not by a biblical code, but by the laws of the land (at a minimum) and by my personal ethic, based upon my admittedly limited understanding of the natural environment.

    To my mind, a man’s ethics are best reflected by his behaviour when he believes no one is watching. For me, ‘no one’ includes deities. For me, it is not dependent upon fear or hope of punishment or reward in an afterlife, nor a concern about more immediate karmic implications.
    I don’t believe I have inherited any specific right or privilege over the other organisms of the planet; I do believe that I must attempt to live in tune with them if I wish for their continued existence, even if it is only so that I and my progeny can continue to enjoy them. But more importantly, I believe what Aldo Leopold said:
    “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
    Lest this seem to be some sort of sermon, let me say that I respect the religious beliefs of others, and especially those expressed in this thread. I was raised Pentecostal. I fully understand where you are coming from. One of my favourite fishing buddies is a hardshell Baptist; another is a Catholic. Another is the son of a Presbyterian minister. I don’t much care HOW a man comes to behave ethically, only that he does.
    (and of course, the above is just my opinion)




    Very good post. I agree with a lot of what you do too. Regardless of what the Bible says. I have compassion for all living things. It was very hard for me to be a hunter. I never wanted to kill an animal. However, I also had this irresistible urge to hunt for my food. Do I kill an elk for my food, or let cattle be slaughtered and eat that meat? I struggled with that for years. I still do and I believe i’m done with hunting. I’ll probably use my early 1800’s style Hawken muzzleloader for rendezvous black powder shoots from now on. I’ve always enjoyed shooting the gun more than killing with it.

    Getting back to fishing. It’s become more complicated for me than hunting. By me bringing up this subject it’s got me second guessing myself over and over. Thoughts that were on the back of my mind before are now right in my face. Is whatever damage i’m doing with C&R worse than killing the fish. Can I kill the fish and feel good about it? I try to picture myself killing them, and it’s not a happy thought. It’s kind of brutal. Stick them in the creel alive, and feel them thrash around until they suffocate. Bash in their head on a rock. Reach in and break their spine. A couple of other ways that are no better. If it was possible to ask the fish if it would like to be and released, or die, the answer is obvious. The only answer that is satisfying is to not fish at all if the other option is killing the fish.

    I’m glad it’s winter and i’m not fishing right now. It will give me time to think about this. At this point i’m not sure what i’m going to do. This is not as simple as I thought it was going to be.


    Scotty MacFly

    To kill an animal just to kill isn’t logical, or humane. I have no respect for that. But catching a fish, or hunting big game honorably is done for the purpose it was intended for… I don’t care what kind of fish it is, unless protected species of course, it is there for us to eat. It is our choice whether we eat it or carefully release it. Fish will continue to live if not played to long, and not abused when taking out hooks. Keep them wet, and be gentle. It’s been proven. But you will once in a while find a person who is uneducated in C&R, and you see them rip the hook out, and see how far they can throw the fish back. I hate those people.

    Great post wheeze, and you are correct about the Earth not needing us to survive, but we need it. That’s why it was in existence before man entered in. And man has a way of messing things up instead of noticing how perfectly it already is. Sometimes I think man is the dumbest species on this planet because of all the harm we have done.

    As for you Creek, and this is for you, look up Acts 10:13. I think it will help.
    I do feel bad when I run over a raccoon, though I think they have some suicide plot going on because you see more of them on the road than any other animal. None the less I feel bad. I feel bad if I catch a fish and with all good intentions want to release it, but it wants to belly up, I feel like dung. That is not the way I intended it. So I then eat it. Sure, we have feelings for these creatures, and we want to see them flourish and survive, that’s why we have things like Trout Unlimited, and other organizations that promote conservation. Life isn’t PC, just go to an airport and have your flight delayed 3hrs, and you’ll see what I mean. What’s important is that we respect ALL man and show compassion when needed, no matter what race they are, or religious beliefs, color, gay or lesbian, or physical and mental challenges. We are all human beings who want to be loved and respected. Is that so hard to do? Just my opinion.

    Creek, either way you choose to go, you’re not in any wrong. I see it as a win, win situation because it’s how you want to fish and it is an ethical way. If you were to catch fish just to throw them on the bank and die, then my friend, we have an issue. But you are not like that. So we have no issue. But I say this in all respect; I believe you’re being too hard on yourself. But that again is just my opinion.

    Think on it some more Creek, I believe either way is ethical if done correctly. But to kill just for the thrill of killing, that has no honor.



    Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all of the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.” Genesis 9:1-3


    Scotty MacFly

    I completely forgot that one….Amen.

    Now that brings up a question also related to fishing regulations about our native trout. But I don’t think I want to bring it up. It’ll open a huge Hills Brothers can of worms with the rules of the forum. But a conversation I would like to have one on one. I think it would be most interesting and full filling.


    Scotty MacFly

    I must speak with my Pastor on that verse. He is also a fly fisher.



    Please do. I’d like to hear his answer.


    Scotty MacFly

    I just sent him an e-mail. I’ll let you know what he says. This just came to mind, what happens when you catch a fish too small to keep? Hmmm.

    I have read a study where they injected bee venom into the jaws of trout to see if trout feel pain. They said that the fish would rub their faces on rocks until the sting subsided. I have also read that fish feel no pain, but they fight because there is now tension pulling them one way and to them it isn’t normal. So out of the confusion of all things, the fish fight back.

    I do know you can play a fish to death, just as you can run a horse to death. That I try very hard to prevent.



    All the fish wanted was to eat a fly. Instead, it’s forced into a fight for it’s life. A fight that kills 10% of C&R fish.


    Scotty MacFly

    Yes, but it saves 90% I did get a reply from my Pastor, and he say’s to tell you congrats, because with all the questions he has ever answered, this is a first.

    Creek, I want to help you. And I will let you know what my Pastor said, and with the respect and permission of the other members I will relay his thoughts to you. But it will be later tonight because I have to go to my son’s wrestling match. And actually, it isn’t like a sermon at all. But I think you’ll like it.

    Remember, Satan can twist things around and try to make us feel guilty for things we shouldn’t feel guilty for. Sounds as though you are confused, and God doesn’t bring confusion. He brings the truth and light. Maybe with what my Pastor has said will bring you light.

    Talk to you later.


    Scotty MacFly

    Here you go Creek,

    From my perspective there is nothing in the Bible that speaks directly to this. Obviously we live in a fallen world, not functioning presently as God fully intended. Certainly man is given responsibility to manage the earth, not exploit it but certainly to take advantage of and enjoy the fruit of our labor. Certainly there are people today who place higher priority on the rest of God’s creation, than on the crown of God’s creation in man. C & R can be a management tool to keep fish for the future; of course there is no guarantee that when a fish is released a bear, a raccoon, or a bigger fish won’t eat it! Eating fish we catch is perfectly acceptable in God’s plan. The pain issues are difficult to understand, but I think we would all agree that it is not right to intentionally torture or disfigure anything in God’s creation just for the fun of torturing or disfiguring something. Obviously the brains of animals, fish, birds, etc. are much different than ours so it is not accurate to project to fish or animals how our brain and memory function. Pain can be a teacher, even to a fish that is released. They seem to at least become wary of something that has fooled them in the past, or something that just does not seem to accurately imitate food.

    As a management tool, C&R has helped impact fish populations and the recreation of fishing dramatically. Studies do tend to show that fishing today is so much better than it was fifty years ago. Now to look at it from a biblical point, God owns everything, meaning the earth and all the inhabitants on it according to Psalms 24:1. We are stewards of the earth meaning we should take care of the planet and our natural resources. Sportsmen, like hunters and those who fish know this better than anyone. Though we must remember that God is in control, not the human race. God sets up Governments and places the right people in certain departments within the government to hear our concerns on the subject of conservation and thus they act upon it, developing laws to protect our wildlife. Salmon rivers that were depleted almost completely have come back thriving due to this.

    God takes care of the animals, so when releasing a fish and it dies later on, who’s to say that it wasn’t in God’s plan for the fish to die to feed the eagle flying over head. If you release a fish and it lives, it isn’t time for the fish to die. Just as us, we know we will die, but the question is how and when. Only God knows. He knew our deaths before we were born. As for taking fish to eat, we know already that’s what they are intended for. And once again we have regulations that we follow set by man, appointed by God to ensure a future for the species we target.



    Thanks for this Scotty. Unfortunately is hasn’t helped me that much. Hw actually said something that I can’t agree with. God gave us a free will. I can’t believe that it’s God’s will on everything we do.

    As an example. Let’s say I was a poacher for elk antlers. I kill an elk, take the antlers, and leave the rest on the ground. Maybe the dead elk would feed the bears, coyotes and crows that come along, and that’s God’s plan. However, the killing of the elk is completely on me, and i’d be wrong in God’s eyes and man’s.

    So, the result of what I do can’t be said that God planned it. He may plan the result of what I do, but not what I do.

    As for C&R being good conservation? Yes, it is, but it’s not as good as not fishing. That’s 100% conservation unless the waters need fish to be reduced, and that’s not done by C&R.

    The example I gave of fishing for brookies in mountain creeks to save the cutthroats is good conservation. Eating the fish is pleasing to God, and removing the brookies is good conversation and pleasing to man. A win-win situation.

    So, i’m back to my original plan. The plan is only good if I can bring myself to kill the fish. If I can’t kill them doesn’t mean my only other option is C&R. My only other option is to stop fishing.


    Scotty MacFly

    You’re absolutely right on the freewill. God will not over step that because he wants us to make the decisions, and when it comes to C&R, well, it’s up to us to decide what we do. I’m just glad either way it isn’t a sin.
    I think he meant it as what ever we do, God has plan B. Take Adam for example. Jesus was plan B.

    But Creek, you bring up a good point about harvesting the brookies, and by doing that you’re saving the cutthroat. A very good point indeed.

    Like I said before, what ever makes you happy as long as it’s ethical. I see nothing wrong with your plan, and I’m glad you yourself brought it up that if you can’t kill the fish, quit. I guess the saying is true, ” when you leave a man with no options, you leave him with no choice.”

    I understand what you’re doing, and I think it’s very honest and honorable.



    Thanks Scotty.


    Dry Fly Guy


    I’ve followed this topic and wondered how it would play out….Always at the ready with my “lock” button.

    Personally I appreciate the civil and respectful discussion that has taken place, and I think it was done in keeping with a fishing topic and not just blatantly trying to proselyte a belief for or against a religious subject. I found it stimulating conversation and I applaud you all for stating things with a purpose (and belief) but not in trying to sway others to it. The religious aspects simply lent a bit of context to understand the authors mindset.

    So while this discussion certainly fell outside of the “letter of the law”. I believe it remained within the “spirit of the law”.

    And I thank you all for it.

    If others here have felt uncomfortable in me allowing this discussion to continue on, you may contact me privately if you wish to express your concern(s) and I will seriously consider them and any action now (or in the future) that I should take to ensure that this forum remains a friendly place and welcome to all.

    ~ DFG

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