At its heart this site has always been a blog. Hopefully a helpful one that answers a few questions other people might be thinking but can’t find the answers. Another reason for it’s existence is what I would call the “quagmire” that is the fishing forum. I remember 8 or 10 years ago trolling through them looking for all the fishing info I could and they used to be pretty good. Then they started to slide a little and a lot of the time almost any civil conversation would degenerate into a giant argument, and todays topic was, and I’m pretty sure still is the source of some of the biggest. Taking fish to eat.
I think many anglers started out with that child like mentality of “kill it, take it home and show everyone what I caught”. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of that when I was young. For many summers, collecting as much meat for the freezer was the aim. Thats just how it was in those days people.
Then the idea of “catch and release” became a thing. Gone was the idea that if you caught it, you had to kill it to prove it. It permeated a lot of the fishing circles in Australia but I feel like somewhere along the line it went too far. Anyone with a picture of a dead fish destined for the table was immediately shouted down like some heretic. As a result, I would say there would have been a good four of five years there where I never took a fish. It got to the point where even if I wanted to I didn’t even own a knife capable of preparing it. Much to the dismay of a few girlfriends who didn’t understand the concept of spending so much time fishing and never bringing any home to eat.
I can pretty much pinpoint exactly where the idea to start taking fish to eat on a regular basis came from. Aussie fish tend to be fairly tough and you can take a few photos and they tend to splash you in the face as they swim away strongly. Rainbow Trout, don’t seem to do that. A couple of minutes out of the water for a quick photo and they go belly up pretty quick. Now if there is one thing that does get my blood boiling it is wasting something you took. So naturally, I started taking these Trout home to eat and they were pretty damn good. I remember liking Flathead a lot and guess what. They are pretty tasty. Snapper, yum. Blackfish, yum. Kingfish, yum. Now I start getting to the real blasphemy. A couple of just legal EP’s make for great eating. I would honestly say it reminds me of Barra. Which makes sense because they are kind of like southern Barra.
So the whole point of this is that the whole catch and release idea is good but it can be taken too far. If you are going to take fish, just take what you need. I don’t freeze fish anymore. It gets cleaned, goes into the fridge and gets cooked that night or the next. I do steer clear of the big breeding fish like large Flathead but thats really not that hard of a mental leap to make. Do you want to eat a 6’5″ 80 year old, grey haired Great Grandmother or the 5’2″ 20 year old Granddaughter? ………… so to speak. Leave the big ones to make lots of tasty little ones.
There are also a few other good reasons to give eating a little more fish a go than you might have. With lovely fish dinners you may find yourself with a partner saying “are you going fishing this weekend? I want some fish.” It does happen people. Also we as anglers need to be a little wary of the animal liberation mob who see fishing as some kind of cruel, barbaric pastime up there with Bear Baiting , Cock fighting and setting cute little fuzzy baby ducks on fire for a laugh. In some countries I believe catch and release is illegal and when you catch a fish you have to take it for the table and stop fishing. The better a fisherman you are the less time you will get to do it.