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Landing Fish Responsibly!

September 24, 2018


Years ago, I remember watching a popular fishing show on television. They were targeting small brook trout on some beautiful mountain lake, when one of the guys got the idea to climb to the top of a waterside cliff to better spot and cast to cruising fish. When he got up there—which appeared to be 20–30 feet off the ground—his buddy shouted over something like "what are you gonna do if you hook one?" to which the other guy replied "I'll worry about that later." Ehhhhh...not cool, I thought. For most viewers it likely seemed like a harmless and lighthearted little exchange, but it kinda rubbed me the wrong way.


I forget exactly how any fish were landed from that spot, but that comment didn't sit well with me because personally I always think of the welfare of the fish first.


If I don't see a suitable landing spot that isn't dangerous for me or the fish, I'm not casting. Has that forced me to bypass fish or spots I really wanted to cast to? Absolutely! Not even taking into account personal safety, the last thing I want to do is injure a fish by dragging it over rocks during landing or tossing it off a high elevated position upon release.


One of the most challenging places to find suitable landing zones was when I targeted grass carp a few summers back on the urban canals of Phoenix. Unlike canals here in Florida that generally have more natural shorelines, those Arizona canals were lined with steep concrete walls. Without a very long-handled net, I had to find an area where I could safely get down to the water's edge. My leader was heavy enough that I probably could've dragged nearly all of the grass carp I caught up the wall, but I wasn't gonna do that—that's the whole point of this post!


Luckily, I found one stretch of canal near where I was staying that had a small launch ramp and a bunch of hungry carp about a hundred feet upstream. When I'd hookup, I'd gradually walk the fish back to the ramp during the fight and safely land them right there. Yes, kind of a pain, but it worked perfectly! Unfortunately, those ramps appeared to be few and far between, so access was very limited for me.


In closing, give the fish the respect they deserve. Locate that perfect landing spot before the first cast is made, and if one can't be found, learn to move on!


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