If you didn’t already know, I am a catch and release only angler. Lots of people especially around Texas go fishing in order to catch fish to eat, but it not about that for me. This is not to say that I disagree with eating fish- I just don’t do it for that reason. The reason I fly fish is not for the food opportunities, but for the sport.
In all of my years fly fishing, I have never kept a single fish for eating. My first day fly fishing, I adopted the practice of catch and release and have stuck with it since. This has practice has turned me into the conservationist that I am today.
The reasons I catch and release my fish vary. One reason I practice catch and release is because I want to watch my fish grow. I don’t fish in places that are very popular to other anglers, so if I catch a fish and put it back, chances are I will most likely be able to catch that same fish again knowing that nobody else has taken it home with them. I get to watch that fish grow in size over time and to me that is worthy.
Another reason I practice catch and release is to maintain a healthy fishery. Being from Texas, I don’t know many other anglers who strictly practice catch and release, so I know that fish are constantly being taken from our rivers and lakes, diminishing the population. When I return my fish back to their home, I am assuring that the fishery is being maintained by at least myself. Travelling frequently to the western states has allowed me to note the conservation that takes place in the western rivers and lakes. I notice that over there, the majority of anglers I come I contact with practice catch and release.
I would like to urge everyone to practice catch and release while fishing at least a little bit. I am not meaning to say that you should never keep a fish to eat, but if you are not sure whether or not that fish will get eaten by yourself or your family, putting it back in the water will do no harm!