Catch-And-Release_Is It Really Humane?

I was reading an article today on Google+ about the merits of catch-and-release when it comes to fishing for endangered species. The fish in particular that the article was focused on, was the White River Sturgeon, a beautiful animal by any standard (other than facial features), and a constant reminder that we share this world with many creatures that have been around a whole lot longer than we have.

Photo Credit: http://thelife-animal.blogspot.ca/2012/11/lake-sturgeon.html
Photo Credit: http://thelife-animal.blogspot.ca/2012/11/lake-sturgeon.html

Now the above photo is actually a Lake Sturgeon (close enough for the point of my post), and in case you didn’t notice in the credit beneath the photo, the picture is not my own (I’ll include a couple fish pictures of my own later, but of a totally different species). If you do follow that link, however, it makes for some great reading.

What I did want to talk about in this post is a possible problem that you seldom see mentioned in articles of this nature, but for which I have seen at least some evidence. It involves taking a fish from muddy waters (such as found in many river systems) out into the bright afternoon sun, so that even if you catch-and-release, you might inadvertently be putting a blind (and thus helpless) fish back into the water.

When I lived in Northern Saskatchewan while I attended university in Saskatoon, I used to fish the North Saskatchewan River on week-ends with a couple friends, and we always fished around midnight by the light of the moon. We did this mainly because the river there is known for its Giant Yellow Pickerel. Whereas you could catch 2 and 3-pound eating size fish all afternoon long in that  stretch of water, it was only once it was completely black, with just the moon for light, that the big ones came out hunting.

And that’s my point. If those fish’s eyes were so sensitive that they could find my minnows in that muddy river water, at midnight, by the light of a prairie moon, (and with that mucky water it’s easily as dark in that water all day) just imagine being suddenly yanked out of that darkness into the blazing afternoon sun.  After I read about this blindness issue on a number of occasions, and then talked to some of the older Native guys in the area, I came to a place of understanding where I decided that if I caught a fish, unless it was completely against the law to do so, I might just as well eat it, as put it back in the water where it was probably so helpless now, it was just going to get eaten, or starve to death (for lack of being able to hunt) anyway.

Now I’m not saying that everyone has to believe the same things I believe, and I also think the whole thing varies with the species of fish, and the type of water the fish dwells in. Here in BC where I’ve lived for the last 36 years or so, in our mountain lakes the water is so clear, you can see all the way to the bottom anyway, and the Trout streams are pretty much the same deal. I imagine fish in that kind of setting require different visual equipment then fish that live in water that is so mucky,  that you can barely see a foot in front of your face. But anyway, with all the talk about catch-and-release, I just thought I’d throw that out there.

And now as promised, a couple of my own fish-pics.

Orange Koi At Chinese Gardens
Orange Koi At Chinese Gardens
Speckled Koi At Chinese Gardens
Speckled Koi At Chinese Gardens
Speckled Koi At Chinese Gardens 2
Speckled Koi At Chinese Gardens 2

And finally, just a quick peek at the Chinese Gardens that contains the pond which is home to the above-pictured koi (but certainly not the lake sturgeon). Other than that, have a great week people, be happy, and stay safe.

Just one of the trails that helps transport visitors away from the hustle-bustle of Downtown Vancouver.
Just one of the trails that helps transport visitors away from the hustle-bustle of Downtown Vancouver.

Catch-And-Release_Is It Really Humane?

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