Anglers wielding cameras have killed more small stream wild trout — intentionally or not — in the last 10 years than in the previous 100. You can blame it on the convenience and portability of digital devices. You can blame it on social media. You can blame it on anglers. Or narcissism. Or all of the above.
Whatever the root cause, I still see far too many images on social media of mishandled wild trout. Fish being held in dry hands. Fish thrashing around in landing nets, airborne, nowhere near the water. Fish photographed laying on grass, twigs, leaves, rocks, and other substrate no wild trout that’s going to be released should ever touch.
Let’s assume for a moment that I’m not talking about you. You’ve visited keepfishwet.org. You know the drill for ensuring more favorable catch and release outcomes. I applaud you. And now, I’d like to ask you a small favor.
Stop taking so many pictures of wild trout.
We all agree: wild trout are beautiful. The delicate parr marks, breathtaking halos, and butter-yellow hues of wild browns. The intricate, Faberge Egg-like designs and vivid colors on wild char. They’re all a wonder, and a marvel to look at. But do we need to see a photo of 2…4….6…and more… wild fish from your most recent small stream outing? The answer, I believe, is no.
So next time you’re on your favorite brook, take the Wild Trout One Photo Challenge: You photograph one fish, and one fish only. That’s it. All the others go quickly back into the stream, and you get bonus points if those non-photo subjects never leave the water. Think of how many wild fish you’re not subjecting to additional stress. It’s a win for you. It’s a win for the next angler. And most of all, it’s a win for the fish. Remember, the stocking truck isn’t coming back to replace what wild fish we kill, accidental or not.
I truly thank you for your consideration.