By Andy J. Danylchuk, PhD
Recreational angling is an incredibly popular leisure activity in North America, spanning a wide demographic of our society and occurring almost every place fish can be found. Tools and techniques for recreational angling are also vast and selecting the right gear often consumes a lot of our leisure time, basements, and wallets. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ sport and, for the most part, I think we like it that way.
Given recreational angling’s popularity, breadth and depth, this also means that many different kinds of fish are caught in many different ways. That is part of why we do it. In some cases anglers catch to keep, but even they have to release fish that are the wrong species, aren’t of legal size, or when the limit is reached. There is also a growing movement focused on voluntary catch-and-release—a way to enjoy the sport but potentially reduce the impact on fish. In theory, catch-and-release is more sustainable and more conservation-minded. If you see it swim away, the fish is fine... right?
Above: Images capture a brief moment of the handling event after a fish is landed or once it's released. For example, if a fish is completely submerged in an image, can we safely assume it was submerged for the entire handling event? As we move forward towards responsible angling, it will be important to encourage anglers and photographers to capture images of best practices. Photo: Dave McCoy