A guy catches the fish of a lifetime and kills it, and the fly fishing community is up in arms. The non-fishing population, and even many anglers who don’t fly, don’t get it. Isn’t the point of fishing to catch something to eat? I showed the picture to a friend and got that exact response.
To many outside the fishing community, catch and release seems akin to torture. Or, as some who have made the hunting analogy say, nonsensical–like wrestling a deer to the ground, dunking its head under water for a quick photo op, and letting it go. (I’d credit the originator if I could remember where I read that one.)
That analogy sort of works because, for all the mystical bullshit about becoming one with the fish or bonding with nature, fishing is hunting, without the kill shot.
We release fish because we can.
Watch a well-fed house cat stalk a field mouse. It doesn’t need to but it has to, as millions of years of predatory evolution snap off the proper synapses in its brain, and it crouches into deep focus and adrenaline management, waiting for just the right moment to release endorphins in mid pounce.
We’re born to that, too. You can trick yourself into thinking we’ll evolve to a higher level by going herbivore.You can trick yourself into thinking Dane Cook is really talented. It doesn’t make it so.
The hunt is what it’s all about, the stalking and pursuit of quarry by means of a long stick and hand-tied duplicity until the object of our desire is fooled, fought, and subdued. We get off on the endorphin release and then we get to make a choice. We can let the fish go and let it breed so we can do it again. We may be stupid, but we’re smart enough to know that if we kill everything we may never get to do it again and nobody else will either. So we let them go and we fiercely fight to protect where they live so we can keep doing it.
If this is all peculiar to you, so be it.