Fishing Dopers - What would you have done?

On a fishing trip today my buddy caught a 22- inch bull trout which was a beautiful fish. He asked me to take a picture and I said, “Sorry, I left my camera in my truck.” He then asked me to hold the trout while he ran back to his truck to get his camera (about a 10 minute trip.) I said, “No, this fish is an endangered species, they are catch and release only. You have to let it go without a picture.” He asked me again to go get a camera and I said, “No. Let the fish go.” and walked off to fish upstream.

When I came back 10 minutes later he was walking around with his camera and the fish on a stringer. He asked me to take his picture and I first said no, then said yes (just to get the fish back in the water quicker.) He then released the fish back into the stream where it floated about three feet away and just stayed behind a rock until it disappeared, slowly. Buddy said, “I’m so mad at you for telling me to let it go without a picture I can barely even talk. That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever caught.” and I said, “You should have let it go.” He went back to his truck and when I got up there he said, “Goodbye, I’m going home.” and left.

I refuse to feel bad about it - he kept a 22 inch endangered species on a stringer for 10 minutes so that he could get a vanity picture. That’s both illegal and unethical. I don’t think I’m going to go fishing again with him unless he agrees to follow the rules AND fish ethically and with respect for the resource.


Nothing to say other than that you are absolutely correct.

And kind of a jerk, too.

I fish, a lot. Hardly ever keep anything, maybe once a year or so I’ll keep some and fry them up. Catch and release 99% of the time.

Yeah, it’s an endangered species, yeah it was pure vanity, but on the other hand, you could have shortened the process by 10 minutes or so. It not the end of the world, and if he was a novice, a huge moment for him. Life isn’t always black and white.

When we go out deepsea, it’s strictly on catch and release terms unless we re going to keep one to consume.

I think you did the right thing.

He’s an asshole and you shouldn’t fish with him any more, ever. I fish a lot in south FL and if we ever catch something that needs to be released, it’s released immediately. If someone happens to snap a shot was we’re dehooking, fine, otherwise there’s no shot.

People are funny when it comes to hunting/fishing and if they feel the rules apply to them or not. I personally think it’s a good way to see what kind of person they really are.

Both our vehicles (and cameras) were at least 5 minutes away in one direction. There was no way to shorten the time - you had to go over logs, through waist-high grass with some unseen holes, through a mud bog and up a short hill. Then do it all over again coming back.

Buddy is not a novice - he’s a much more fanatical fly fisherman than I am and has had 10 days of fishing (and catching) western Montana rivers in the last three weeks.


Well, that changes the dynamics a little. If he was a novice, I cut a lot more slack. If it was a once in a lifetime fish, a little slack. Is he typically like this?

I have several known associates that are slayers. Never met fish or fowl or prey they didn’t want to kill, clean and throw in the freezer. Can’t stand going with them. You know what? A 6# northern isn’t going to taste that good, especially when you put him in the freezer full of other food, and maybe eat him in a year or so. Let him go.

This is a little murky. It sounds like you were already a little pissed at him, or perhaps frustrated.

It’s been a problem in years past (we typically go for a 3-4 day trip in the summer.) Past problems have included:

Not wanting to row on the river, because he can’t fish while rowing.
Wanting me to row upriver so he can fish a particular hole. (I shut that down real quick.)
Not sticking around to clean the raft after floating or whining if he does.
Not bothering to read the regulations before fishing.
Asking me to lend him gear, because he left his behind.
Not wanting to leave a hole if he had one fish rise 45 minutes ago.
Ignoring camp chores so he can go fish.
Driving 50 roundtrip miles from camp to fish one hole, where he caught a fish last week (with no other fishing access for 45 miles of the trip.)

On this trip he also kept more than his limit and kept two illegal fish (oversize, wrong species.)

I think I’m starting to see a pattern here. :dubious:


Yeah, you need a new fishing buddy.

I’d be honored to have you as a fishing buddy. Your friend, however, needs to fish at the grocery store.

That part gets me, too. WTF? This guy is no kind of friend and a shitty fishing buddy.

Kinda confused here. Was the fish on a stringer, in the water the whole time? Or did Bonehead actually carry the fish with him when he went to get the camera?

In the water the whole time, not so bad. Obviously, there’s some trauma from being caught, but the fish would recover.

If he carried it back to the truck, that’s an instant death sentence for the fish, regardless of putting it back in the water.

Have you considered filling your friend’s waders with Redi-Mix on your next outing?

Whistle your answer is right there staring you in the face. He’s a poor fishing buddy who needs ot be left alone for a while to hopefully come to his senses. Those are simply poor sportsmanship no matter what way you cut it. If he want’s to continue the prikery let him, just not with you.

You did the right thing, however, is he a close enough friend to call and talk about this? If so then a call just to chat would be in order.

Wow. Not only a jerk, but a lazy one too! Throw him back.

agree with the other posters - catch and release ‘only’ means just that - return the fish as quickly and safely as possible to ensure its survival - he’d still have the memory - and next time he’d remember the camera.

He broke the law - simple as that.

He netted it, then carried it up and put it down on the grass to get the hook out and put the stringer in. He didn’t carry it to the truck but definitely lifted it back out of the water by the stringer, instead of supporting the fish while lifting it. (I was gone for most of the time so I don’t know how long it took him to get the hook out and stringer in. He always picks fish up to get the hook out. :mad: )

We’ll talk at some time (we’ve been friends for 30 years) but I’m not going to seek him out now. He has a real problem with admitting that he is ever wrong and I have no patience for his likely trying to argue that the fish was not harmed at all by being stringered for 10 minutes or that you can stringer a fish and still call it “catch and release” (Try that one on a game warden) or that he needs to keep more than the limit to feed his family (he and his wife make $150K a year or more.)

I just don’t plan on going fishing with him for a long time, if ever.


Mmmmmm… squishy.

I think you did the right thing, or at least the best you could under the circumstances. Nobody’s perfect and I’m sure there are probably little things you do that annoy him, but if your account of his general behaviour is at all accurate, he sounds like a self-centred tosser. Let him fish on his own.

Can you clarify this for me? I’m still a novice fly fishergal but I was taught to pick up the fish to remove the hook. (I cradle the trout in one hand, remove hook, then hold it in the stream until it recovers and zips off.)

Am I doing this incorrectly?

And yeah, your fishing partner is a jerk. Find yourself a keeper. :smiley:

From the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks site, which I am too lazy to link to (just search “catch and release angler”):

Landing Your Catch

  • Land the fish as carefully and quickly as possible.
  • Avoid removing the fish from the water.
  • Do not let the fish flop about in shallow water, on the ground, or in the bottom of your boat.

Handling Your Catch

  • Keep fish in the water. Avoid handling the fish.
  • If you must handle the fish, cradle large fish gently with both hands; one under its belly, one at the tail.
  • Keep your fingers out of and away from the gills and eyes.
  • Use wet hands or wet cloth gloves to handle the fish to avoid wiping off slime.

YMMV, it takes practice to release the fish in the water without ending up with the hook in your fingers. Just be patient and focused.