My fishing career began like most others, dunking worms. Just a couple of years old, with pigtails and bangs, pink spinning rod, and a squirming creature at the end of a hook. My grandfather was a proud spinner fisherman, never picked up a fly rod and never wanted to. He got me out on the water; he was the reason I developed a fascination with fish. But, my tender child heart soon turned from fascination to complete horror. Not only was I to rip worms in half, but then we were hooking a fishing for our sick human pleasure? Um, no thank you. At the time, as far as I was concerned, my fishing career ended at the young age of four.
Then I entered my mid-twenties, met a boy, and that all went out the window. But, I still struggle, more often than not, with the "morality" of fly fishing.
I've got a little piece of art that Jacob bought me for my birthday a few years ago, a lovely hand-drawn brook trout, and above it, "The difference between fly fishers and worm dunkers is the quality of their excuses." -Unknown
I think that sums it up pretty well.
As an angler, I try my best to be as kind as possible. Only using barbless hooks, making sure to have wet hands, wearing just rubber soled boots, not fishing during spawning seasons, etc. Is this enough? Or am I a sadistic, self-serving, human?
Maybe I am, but perhaps that's ok. I'd like to believe that the good the angling community far outweighs the bad. That the therapy fly fishing brings to so many through Project Healing Waters of Casting for Recovery is for the greater good. And without the angling community, there would be far fewer conservation projects for clean water.
Let's make sure our excuses are of excellent quality and that our good always outweighs the bad.