Anchor fly had the privilege of sitting down with the Director of Science and Conservation for Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and Senior Scientist at Harbor
The time is now
“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” —John Paul II
More anglers are fishing now than ever before—we all can and should do our best to give back in one way or another.
Advocating for preservation.
The articles below consist of interviews with scientists and researchers in the realms of preservation and conservation.
Our team wanted to understand the crucial challenges facing our watersheds, and what steps anglers can take to protect our fisheries. Anchor Fly has recently had
Many fly anglers became aware of the threat of aquatic invasive species about a decade ago, when felt soled wading boots were implicated in the
#RespectTrout is A Social Media Initiative—an attempt to educate and inspire anglers to help protect and preserve all species of trout.
We of course should respect all fish not just trout, but with the rise in popularity of fly fishing and trout angling we are choosing to focus on trout as a key area of conservation.
One thing you can do to help spread awareness is use the hashtag #RespectTrout when you post your trout fishing photos on social media.
For a comprehensive resource on identifying trout, see North American trout species.
#RespectTrout is Attempting to bring awareness to two main areas
- Illegal Fishing. Call it out when you see it. Please do not be rude, aggressive or passive-aggressive. Give them some facts to help educate them on why conservation strategies are in place and use the hashtag #RespectTrout.
- Catch & release best practices. Spread the word about properly landing, handling & releasing trout (see tips below).
The world of Social = Opportunity for conservation
In the world of smartphones and social media we see it all. This gives a better look at what others are doing on the water. We certainly don’t need to troll for these images, but if you come across an angler practicing unsustainable behavior—we want to encourage you to voice your concerns on behalf of the trout and your fellow fly-fisher.
We often see photos of trout on Instagram where trout are caught illegally and mishandled. Illegal fishing and improper fish handling practices can be detrimental to the species and bodies of water we love to fish. Therefore, we feel a responsibility as anglers to help spread awareness.
Seeing these types of photos on social media is one of the main reasons we felt strongly about creating this initiative.
Anchor Fly, along with respecttrout.org suggest using the hashtag #respecttrout to set an example and advocate for a reduction in illegal fishing, as well as the proper handling of this beautiful species.
What #RespectTrout is not
Everyone has mishandled fish and it takes practice and education to release a fish properly. That’s why #RespectTrout is not aimed at shaming anglers nor is it intended to be an elitist message of, “we know better!” We are all in this together and if we can help even one angler be more mindful with their fishing practices then we have accomplished our goal!
#RespectTrout At a Glance
This picture is a screen grab from a local fly fishing Facebook Group.
As you can see, with 102 comments it created quite quite a stir among the members in this group. In this photo are two big, beautiful rainbow trout—which were caught illegally.
It seems the gentlemen who re-posted DID approach the angler at which time the angler immediately removed the photos. This would have been a great opportunity not to shame the fisherman, but attempt to educate him as to why it is important to follow local fishing regulations.
Catch and Release
This is another screen grab from a local fly fishing Facebook Group. I literally found this AS I WAS CREATING this page. Point in case is that this is a very common picture on social media.
This section has nothing to do, personally with the angler in the photo. The only reason we have included the photo is to provide a common example of what we can all do as anglers to practice better catch & release
Some points about the photo:
After landing the fish, the angler took this brown trout to the bank for a photo. This is creating massive amounts of air exposure and intense stress for the trout.
- Keep fish over the water as they can be slippery and powerful. We have all been holding a fish that flops out of our hands. And a fish that flops out onto a hard dry ground has an impaired chance of survival.
- The angler’s hands appear to be dry, which does not support the trouts slimy mucous coating—vital to their immune system. Always wet your hands before handling a trout.
- The fish is very large. We want to use best practices for all fish, but well established trout are the ones we need to be extra careful with and use additional precautions. The genetics of these fish is what keeps the population of the species growing
Fishery biologists study water to determine population and overall health of the fish species. From these studies, they strategically put rules and regulations in place based on their findings.
Regulations are employed as an attempt to conserve and protect fish populations and preserve species. Fish limits prevent an angler from taking too many fish and keep anglers form harvesting fish of spawning sizes.
The bottom line is that the human population is increasing at such a rate that justifies these laws. If we do not follow the laws that are put into place we absolutely compromise the future of angling.
It is 100% OUR RESPONSIBILITY as anglers to follow these rules and regulations so that these fish will thrive for generations to come.
Catch & Release
Catch and release is a very important component to the sport of fly fishing. It is a great way to help protect trout populations, but we understand the desire to keep fish from time to time. If this is your prerogative we encourage keeping only stocked trout and releasing native and/or wild trout when caught. Native and wild trout have more desirable and sustainable genes—making it more important to release these ones in order to promote a healthy and strong lineage of trout.
With that being said proper catch and release is super important. Improper catch and release can actually be counterproductive – and cause higher mortality rates.
If an angler catches and releases 30 fish improperly they could be harming more fish than a catch and keep angler who takes home their limit.
Here are some best practices for catch and release
Once the fish is in the net take a deep breath and slow down. Enjoy the beauty of the trout and try and calm yourself and the fish. This may sound obvious (and weird to try and calm a fish), but you might be surprised how long this first step can go for a smooth release.
- Avoid fishing in low flows—low flows generally mean warmer water.
- Know the water temps in warmer months. If the water temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit we recommend finding cooler spring creeks or deep lakes to fish.
- Consider fishing with heavier tippet on less technical rivers (less chance of breaking your line).
- Pinch your barbs.
- Try and land the fish as soon as possible. We know everyone likes to play a fish, but landing a trout quickly is essential.
- Fish with a net.
- Only use rubber nets.
- Get your hands wet prior to touching the fish, and minimize handling in general.
- Reduce air exposure—keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
- Keep the fish away from hard surfaces
- Carry forceps or hook pliers to remove the hook as necessary.
- In a worst case scenario where you cannot remove the hook without damaging the fish, then just leave the hook! Cut your line as close to the hook as possible and let the fish go. The fish will have a higher chance at survival if the hook is left. If the river you are on supports “catch and keep” you might consider taking this one home to the table.
- Gently place fish facing upstream in clean clear oxygenated water and let
the water run through its mouth and gills. Hold until it can swim away
on its own.
Key point: Fisherman have long prided themselves by telling stories about the size and amount of fish they landed on any giving outing. We love to catch BIG fish, incidentally the larger fish are the ones we more diligently need to protect. The genetics from these larger fish are the genetics we want to get passed on in spawning.
How to Revive Fish
In a case where the trout is very stressed—gently place fish facing upstream in clean clear oxygenated water and let the water run through its mouth and gills. Hold until it can swim away on its own. If needed rotate the fish in a figure 8 pattern.
Taking photos with trout | Tips
Everyone wants a good photo, however after a fish has been landed it’s in a very delicate state. First, think how long it took you to land the fish—is it deeply hooked? are water temperatures high? The priority here has to be the trout—know when to take a picture and when to focus on reviving and releasing the fish.
1) Ensure the camera is ready to take a picture.
2) Have the angler kneel down in the water.
3) Grip the fish from underneath in the center of their body. If the fish is larger, use your other hand to gently cradle their tail.
4) Avoid touching their face and gills.
4) Keep the fish in the water, count to three with your camera person and time the photo so it is quick… #wetfishdrip–water should be dripping off the fish in the image. This is a great way to tell the photo was taken properly.
5) If you are in a boat or on the bank keep the fish over the water. A fish is slippery and powerful—if it slips out of your hands and lands on the boat or hard ground it could seriously harm or potentially kill the fish.
Anything to add? Any feedback? We are a community based platform and encourage communication and feedback. Please leave any comments below.