The Great Outdoors by James Murray

Column: When several anglers get talking over coffee

Great Outdoors by James Murray

Get four people, let’s say anglers, sitting around the table at a coffee shop and you are likely to end up with at least five different opinions on any given subject.

The other day a group of us had gathered and were discussing the lack of quality fishing on a lake not too far from here. We were all of the opinion that things have been on a steady decline for the past couple of years.

“Ever since all those powerbaiters started putting in their lines,” one fellow said.

“And to make matters worse, they keep every damned fish they catch,” piped up another. “I mean, you can’t put a fish back when it’s swallowed powerbait. No point in putting it back just to die.”

“They leave their lines in day and all night,” added someone else. “Not a hell of a lot of sport to that.”

“I don’t see why they even bother putting limits on a lake if only a few anglers are going to obey the rules,” said another.

“Two fish, that’s all you’re allowed,” said somebody else. “That’s the legal limit for rainbow trout on that lake. After I get my two fish, it’s catch and release for the rest of the day.”

“A couple of fish for the frying pan is all a person ever needs anyways.”

“Two fish, that’s what it says in the synopses.”

“Once you’ve taken your two fish, that should be it for the day, you should be off the water. That’s the way I see it” another voice interjected.

“What do ya mean? After I’ve got my two fish, I release everything else,” responded the first fellow. “I’m entitled to keep fishing as long as I don’t keep any of ‘em.”

“Catch and release is fine, but what happens when you’ve already got two fish in the boat… an’ even though you fully intend on releasing a fish, you know it ain’t goin’ to survive. Are you still gonna put it back in the water – just to die?”

The cycle of comments and opinions went around the table another couple of times.

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“I only keep a fish if I can’t be sure it will survive. Say if it takes the hook too deep, or I can’t get the hook out properly, without bloodying the fish, then it becomes supper.”

“Catch and release is not a perfect science,” added another guy with a formality to his words. “There will always be a certain mortality rate, no matter how well you release a fish.”

“You could just keep the last two fish of the day,” added someone in a slightly mocking, if not mimicking, voice.

“Or fish for perch – if you’ve got your limit of one species, can you still fish for another species?”

“If you’re fishing for trout, you’re not likely to catch too many perch, or vice versa,” added the guy with the formal sounding voice.

“If you have your limit of trout and you still want to put in a full day’s fishing, then why shouldn’t you be able to go after some perch? There’s more than enough of them in some of our lakes, anyways.”

One opinion led to another, around the table and back again.

“No, two fish and you are done. Once you’ve caught your limit of any species you’re off the water. No two ways about it. It only makes sense.”

“Catch and release – it all boils down to honour among anglers.”

“Except among them powerbaiters”

The conversation went on until one fellow said he had to pick his wife up at the hairdresser’s.

“The women are probably all sitting around having a hen party,” he said, chuckling, getting up from the table, “A real hen party.”

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