Coming Full Circle

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.coxs-river-trout-010

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. 5724 (1)

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. photo-3

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.

In all, I have come full circle. Not to the wanton killing of the old days but back around to the idea that it is OK to take a fish to eat, regardless of what a forum may tell you. 4378

6 responses to “Coming Full Circle

  1. I agree totally Josh. I won’t keep bream or Bass. Bream go back because my family don’t like the taste anyway and Bass because I can’t bring myself to kill one. But Flathead and luderick are great fish to eat my family loves them and like you I only keep what I can eat straight away. My wife certainly appreciates the break from cooking dinner when I bring something home. No negative response from me on this topic.

  2. Now there are fish and there are fish. I caught my first Bass in 1964 and to date have never eaten one. I caught my first Barra in 1949 and it was taken home and eaten. I grew up in FNQ and have had my share of tasting all of the delights of the sea for a long time.

    In the late 70’s I was Secretary of the Broken Bay GFC and in the early 80’s was Secretary of the NSWGFA and in both of these positions I became heavily involved with NSW Fisheries introduction of their tag and release program which is still operating.

    In the early 90’s my neighbour said to me one day, “you go fishing every weekend and never bring home any fish”, which was true. I agreed to bring some home. A couple of weeks later we had tagged over 30 YFTs in the 35 to 40 kg size when one came in badly damaged from the hooks so I kept it, bled it, iced it, etc. So I arrived home late that night with a couple of 15kg fillets of prime YFT, knocked on the neighbour’s door and presented them with the fish.

    A couple of weeks later the neighbour stopped me and said “don’t bring us any more fish” to which I asked “why what was wrong with it?” “Nothing” he replied, “we have been having fish every second day and we haven’t finished one fillet” So as good as the fish was it was overkill.

  3. Wise words, Josh and great that you’ve raised the topic. I think amongst the luring fraternity there is a general aversion to keeping fish for the table, expecially prized species like bream, bass or EPs. I get my weekly fishing pass because my wife loves fresh fish! That said, of course I do not overdo it. When my kids are involved, they are educated on respecting the catch, to give the fish a ‘good death’ because they are sacrificed to sustain us. I ike-jime the fish I keep, bleed them and keep them on ice. When we have fish for dinner, we all appreciate how special it is.

  4. Nothing better than fresh fish When I want to eat some I will go for a food fish summer whiting off the beach(if I get a bream off the beach I will eat it as they are very good compared to estuary bream)winter leatherjackets and the odd pan sized reddy Growing up in Gladstone meant I could catch my favourite eating fish the coral trout but I always thought some of the smaller reef fish moses perch Spanish flag and hussar are better on the plate than sweetlip emporer and mackeral

  5. Thanks guys, it’s good to know I’m not the only one. For the record, an old girlfriend begged me to bring home some fish when I used to live in Bundaberg. At the time I was fishing Lake Gregory / Isis Dam maybe 3 times a week or more. I asked a few people if they were any good to eat to which they replied “if you’re going to eat them from anywhere, Isis is the place”. I took two smallish legals and felt bad for doing so. Neither of us could finish it, it was that bad. So my Bass tally stands at 2 and will remain at 2 because I’ll never make that mistake again. Got to agree with you too Andrew, I used to catch Hussar when Snapper fishing in Bundy and they were awesome.

  6. For the record, you must of caught at 1000+ bass during your time at bundy so the 2 you kept represent 0.2 of one percent. Not likely to decimate the population, glad you tried one first though – means I never had to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s