Would Jesus Keep 'em Wet?
A beautiful wild winter steelhead kept wet.
The modern fishing photo is of a smiling angler looking at the camera and holding a large wild fish he or she just caught and will likely release.
This photo is the evolution of the angler struggling to hoist a large fish by the gills, which in turn, is the evolution of the string of fish held by two anglers or displayed behind a group of anglers.
The main difference, of course, is that the last two examples of killin' and grillin', rather than the practice of catch and release.
In many ways, displaying a dead fish is more respectful of the fish than hoisting it out of the water and posing with it as the fish gasps for air. I say this because hoisting a fish out of the water after a long fight is like dunking your head in a bucket of water after running a mile.
This one was headed to the grill.
Unfortunately, I too have been guilty of this and I have several photos of me displaying a beautiful fish I just landed. But with knowledge comes great responsibility and In the past few years, fishing groups have encouraged their members to keep 'em wet and admire their catch while the fish is in the water. Of course, we still desire a photo of our catch and with the availability of waterproof cameras and phones, it is easy to keep 'em wet and take a photo.
In most cases, the focus of a keep 'em wet campaign is trout and other salmonids that are often considered more delicate than warm water fish such as bass. Although I am not a biologist, I would encourage you to think about the fish first and minimize how long the fish is out of the water. Better yet, keep the fish in the water.
To make it easier, I recommend using a net, especially when fishing for trout and other salmonids. Nets make it easier to land and handle the fish as well as photograph the fish. In many cases, fish that are real trophies may require a net.
I expect the move to keep 'em wet will take several years to become a common practice and will be the subject of many articles and discussion. And, as anglers become more concerned for the welfare of their catch, I expect the next main discussion will be about how much pain fish feel, and if the practice of catch and release is more humane than kill and grill. That is a topic for a future post.
For now, the next time you land a fish you want to brag about or remember, and release, I encourage you to take a little extra time, think about the fish, and keep 'em wet.
Isn't that what Jesus would do?
Go Farther. Catch More.