Well the trout opener here in Ontario has come and gone and the rivers have been inundated with anglers itching to do some open water fishing. I’d like to be that stand up guy and say how nice it is to see people getting out on the water, taking in the great past time that is fishing. I can’t. I can’t be that guy sitting at a key board feeding everyone some bull in hopes of gaining a few more followers. There is something wrong; something very wrong. I tend to avoid high traffic areas after the opener, so the problem isn’t that apparent to me while on the water. There is however a very disturbing trend on my social media feeds. It’s a trend that if continues, could very easily lead to destruction of an incredible fishery. The mishandling of released fish is something that needs to stop. Pictures of fish thrown in the grass and mud or held up by their gills with photo captions reading ‘Released to live another day’ or ‘Swam away safe and sound’ many of which are being posted by respectable, or at least I thought they were respectable, anglers. Now before people start jumping all over this with excuses to help them justify what they are doing, know that I’m not here to debate catch and release. My only point here is that released fish need to be handled with care to help ensure their survival.
Out of both disgust and frustration I’ve tried to avoid my social media feeds over the last few days. It’s really not something I want to be looking at day in and day out. I figured I could put together a detailed post outlining proper fish handling techniques, a little education never hurt anyone, but then I remembered the keep ‘em wet initiative.
I first noticed the hash tag keepemwet about this time last year. I honestly thought nothing of it, just another hash tag blending in to the white noise of all other hash tags. But the more I saw it, the closer I started paying attention to it. When I finally checked out the website I realized just how outstanding this initiative was. The use of the hash tag promoting proper fish handling techniques and educating catch and release anglers on what they can do to help ensure the future of this great past time. Whether you fish for smallmouth or steelhead, Keepemwet Fishing offers a ‘baseline of best practices that keep fish healthier and should always be used when releasing fish.’ (taken directly from their website). The website really is a wealth of knowledge and great practices. So instead of me outlining the proper ways to handle a fish as I see them, I’ll leave you the link below. Honestly I couldn’t have put it together better myself if I tried. Kudos to the people over at Keepemwet Fishing.