Catch and release fishing has fast become one of my most valued activities, despite me being fairly new to it all. It has allowed me to connect with nature in a far more meaningful way than I ever thought possible.
I’ve always had this internal battle about whether or not my interest and passion for these aquatic creatures were in actual fact harming them… I would watch and compare the ways other anglers would catch and handle fish and more often than not I would find myself horrified. I’ve witnessed a heartbreaking amount of disregard and disrespect shown towards fish and it caused me to feel angry and disillusioned. I was angry at the fact that humans can be so frighteningly without consideration and so thoughtlessly cruel to what are sentient beings. I knew I did not want to be associated with such behaviour. It put me off of the whole fishing idea completely.
Since I am an avid nature lover, I seldom find myself indoors. Being outdoors is something that makes me incredibly happy but when I’m near water, I’m even happier! From camping trips with fishing – obsessed friends, to assisting with data collection – fishing always seemed to be on the agenda. I found myself feeling like a kid again, becoming overwhelmingly excited when I caught a fish. For me the exhilaration was not about catching a wild creature, as I don’t generally support such a concept. My excitement was for the wealth of knowledge, understanding, appreciation and advocation that the interaction was going to provide. The overall idea of soaking up new information and experiencing the sheer beauty of these animals excited me – and still does.
I started spending many hours and days accompanying some fishy friends looking for, not finding, imagining, trying to find again, sometimes finding and then tagging, measuring and releasing fish. The adventures that fishing took me me on and the wildlife encounters it allowed me to have, amazed me. I felt so grateful and privileged to be able to experience this mind blowing planet the way that I was. I had this deep seated desire to explore and learn more.
I was pleasantly surprised by how fast I was learning and how quickly my passion for fishing and knowledge of species was growing. I found myself nagging the boys “pleeeeeeease can we go fish” when it was pretty much hurricane-like weather outside… that’s when I realised I’m hooked. I had learned that just because certain individuals act in an inhuman manner and show little empathy towards other lives, it does not mean that fishing should be defined by such behaviour.
I soon started to realise that there are actually plenty of anglers out there who truly care about our natural environment and actively strive to look after and protect it. They don’t just fish to catch a fish as that simply is a single purpose activity. They fish because the experience fishing provides, is infinite. It does not just leave a fond memory but can also provide valuable information for research (tag and release) and contribute towards the conservation of various ecosystems and fish species.
It has become increasingly important for catch and release anglers, who have this unwavering passion, to act on it and to be a voice for our aquatic friends. If you have a love for fishing and the fish you catch and you desire a world where our natural environment is protected, do what you can to make a difference. Be the difference.