Into The Backing Podcast Ep. 03: Is Catch and Release Fishing Selfish?

Table of Contents

The big question of today’s round table discussion is: Is catch and release fishing selfish? On this episode of Into the Backing, I have invited big game specialist and Sportfishing captain Vic Levett, Australian fishing guide Justin Duggan, and steelhead guide and photographer Adrienne Comeau (who also happens to be a life-long vegetarian) to debate this topic. We dive in and consider factors like can fish feel pain? What kind of impact do catch and release anglers have on a fishery? Is this question the result of cancel culture? And why torture animals for fun? You’ll want to hear the differing points of view before forming your own opinion so make sure to press play.

Outline of this episode

  • [4:35] Is catch and release fishing selfish?
  • [10:05] Catch and release fishers are often advocating for a better fishery
  • [13:03] Do catch and release fishers have a greater impact on a fishery?
  • [15:30] Why torture an animal for fun?
  • [28:23] We anthropomorphize animals
  • [34:40] Catch and release numbers can’t compare with commercial fishing
  • [41:04] Can fish really feel pain?
  • [44:53] There are reasons to let fish go
  • [51:246] If you take the anglers out of the picture you will kill the fisheries

Why catch and release?

People fish for a variety of reasons. Different types of fishing include sport fishing, game fishing, fishing for food, and commercial fishing. The fishing we are talking about is sport fishing since sport fishing is the type of fishing that most often utilizes catch and release. People catch and release for a variety of different reasons which include: inadequate size, wrong species, protected species, and inferior eating. There aren’t unlimited numbers of fish in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Catch and release fishing is one way to protect them. 

What kind of impact do catch and release anglers have on a fishery?

You can find examples of well-managed fisheries and destroyed fisheries all over the world. Wealthier countries tend to have more well-managed fisheries than poorer countries. And these are exactly the places where people fish for sport and catch and release their fish. Most catch and release fishers understand the value of a healthy ecosystem and advocate for a better fishery. If you remove anglers from the fishery that leaves very few people who care for it. Although there is some mortality that happens as a result of catch and release, overall the impact on the fishery is positive. 

Is catch and release fishing torture on the fish?

People often argue against catch and release by asking why one would voluntarily torture an animal for fun. This is a complex question with many variables. When people use words like torture they anthropomorphize the fish. Fish don’t feel the same way that mammals do which is evidenced by the fact that fish continue to eat immediately after being hooked. People that ask this kind of question often don’t have much experience with the natural world. The reality is that fish live a brutal existence. 

Is catch and release fishing selfish?

Although catch and release fishing may be a bit selfish of the angler the end result is that catch is a benefit to the ecosystem. There are few people that care more for the preservation of fisheries than catch and release anglers. Fishing license fees pay for fisheries management. Lakes, rivers, and streams can either be managed or destroyed, and catch and release fishing helps to manage these valuable ecosystems. Listen to this round table conversation to hear us discuss the benefits and drawbacks of catch and release fishing

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Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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