Two years ago, I got pretty excited by the cover of The Drake, showing the ultimate in fish handling: this salt-water fav actually stayed totally submerged, with the fisher’s hands and rod in the background. I thought that was a model for handing catch-and-release fish, and one that made me question some of my own fish wrangling, especially when taking that all-important beauty shot.
Over the weekend, I received the latest The Flyfish Journal with the above cover. Doesn’t it look like this cutthroat trout is getting squeezed? The magazine features a bunch of excellent pictures from fishers in a photo article called “Rises,” but to promote this kind of fish handling on the cover I find questionable.
From that 2015 piece, something to ponder from Gordon M. Wickstrom, the author of “The History of Fishing for Trout with Artificial Flies in Britain and America: A Chronology of Five Hundred Years, 1496 to 2000,” who wrote about six periods in fly fishing for the Orvis News blog in 2011:
“In closing, allow me to play the prophet: I think that, in this New Period of angling, we are part of an important cultural shift toward a deeper humanity and mercy of the good Earth. We may find ourselves living quite differently, living better with less, with a greater delicacy, clarity, balance and honestly. Fishing a fly on a clear, cold stream may well serve as a working model and inspiration for what we want. It shows forth qualities — environmental, psychological, social, economic and political — that we need to incorporate into the future.”
See you on the river, Jim Burns
Wickstrom was right. We’re entering an age where understanding environment is the key to survival. Those who have a reverence for nature will have to set a template for the future. To what degree we learn the hard way remains to be seen.