I know it is somewhat of a tangent, but I figured I could knock this out quickly and possibly drive some of my fishing-related social media connections to TTAK. I am going to give it a shot anyway.
Yesterday I had the somewhat rare opportunity to fish for myself. While I spend 60+ days a year on or around the water, I seldom have the chance to spend more than a quick scouting hour here or there actually fishing myself. It gives me a chance to recharge a bit and more relevant to the subject at hand, I can sometimes keep a fish to test a knife.
“Catch and Release” is a big deal within the flyfishing community. It is a fact that sportsmen and women are among the most ardent conservationists around with license fees going to support habitat restoration, and many also give of their time for conservation efforts. Most flyfishers, myself included, have long frowned at those who leave the river with a stringer full of fish.
I have begun to temper that attitude over the last couple of years. While I release the overwhelming majority of the fish my clients and I catch, I have begun to keep the occasional one or two of late. I not only do it to test knives, but also because my 6 year old daughter really loves grilled trout. Wild, organic, free-range protein is never a bad thing so long as it is responsibly sourced.
A few years ago I had a talk with Steve Moore, the Fisheries Biologist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While most park streams average around 2000 trout per mile, the population fluctuates up or down by as much as 50% in a given year depending on factors such as temperature and water levels. Angler predation has a negligible effect on population levels. In fact, Steve wishes that people would keep more fish as the remaining fish would grow larger with decreased competition for available food.
I still prefer to “Limit my Kill” rather than “Kill my Limit” when it comes to fish. Obviously, there is no catch and release hunting, so I strictly obey season and harvest limits when engaging in these activities and I always eat what I shoot or catch (groundhogs excepted). I have enjoyed sharing the fruits of my efforts with my children, and will continue to incorporate game meat into their diets.
Do you keep fish and/or game and what are your tools of choice for processing?