Question of the Day: Do you keep fish?


I have begun to keep the occasional fish over the last few years – especially when I need to test a knife like the Wilmont Wharny.

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?

FullSizeRender (2)

The “Fish and Fowl” from Woody’s Handmade Knives is in my testing queue.



  1. I keep maybe three or four fish a year, but only when I’m camping/out for a long day to eat on the spot. The wife hates when it smells up the kitchen.

    I don’t think their is anything wrong with keeping fish as long as laws etc are followed.

    BTW freeze that trout and send it to me!

  2. Roger says:

    I fish maybe three or four times a season. DNR is very active around here and check licenses for everyone except the illegal crabbers. I keep just the more populous of my catches(usually white or yellow perch) depending on my spot.

  3. EdgeofJudgment says:

    I am pretty much a bass fisherman only, and while I love fish (especially fresh), I only keep bass if a pond owner wants me to thin out some of his numbers. I hardly ever keep bass and honestly it makes me proud to release them, let them grow, and catch them again someday. I will, however, pile up the catfish, bream, or crappie for the fish fry/grill if I ever get a wild hair. More respect for a harder to obtain quarry I guess?

  4. I_Like_Pie says:

    I am one of the old school folks I guess. I don’t waste my time fishing unless I am sure that I can bring home enough for a fish fry or skillet full. I take no joy in fishing unless I actually get to eat them. I only take what I intend to eat, and I only fish for things worth eating.

    Largemouth bass are not good eating so they are a garbage fish I would rather not catch. It really perplexes other friends that somehow enjoy sitting on a boat for an entire day.

    Flathead Catfish, Walleye/Sauger, Crappie, and Striper are my favorite table fare.

    I use my old buck pathfinder for the big ones and my $12 mora stainless for the little ones.

  5. Jeff O. says:

    I’m such a horrible fisherman that if I catch one, I’m definitely keeping it! Besides, there is nothing better than a fresh trout cooked over an open fire.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question of the Day: Do you keep fish?

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email