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A Fisherman Out of Water… » If you don’t know what it is, bonk it!

Home » If you don’t know what it is, bonk it!

If you don’t know what it is, bonk it!

While fishing on the Olympic Peninsula recently I had a rather interesting encounter with a fellow angler.
It started out like many river meetings do, exchanging a few fishing tips, comments on the weather and so on.

The conversation turned to fish he had caught over the weekend. He proceeded to show me some pictures on his iPhone of his girlfriend’s first steelhead, a very DEAD native fish. Since retention is legal where he was fishing I cringed a little and agreed it was a nice looking fish, emphasis on was.

Somehow the subject turned to my knowledge of fish (most likely because my truck says “Fishwhatcom.com” on the side). Out came the iPhone again, this time to show me a picture of a fish he couldn’t identify. “We caught this guy over on the Hoh. Never seen one like it before” he said. “It sure was tasty though!” added his girlfriend. “We didn’t know what it was so we bonked it”

The fish in the picture was a good sized Bull trout or Dolly Varden. Given its location in the river system I’m going to lean towards Dolly Varden. In any case you’re not allowed to keep them. When I told him what kind of fish he “bonked” he responded by saying “We’re not supposed to keep those are we?” “No, you’re not” I said. His girlfriend chimed in again with “It sure was good eaten though!”

Did I call the game warden on these two? No, the evidence was gone anyway. I honestly can’t understand the thought behind killing something because you can’t identify it. The “shoot first and ask questions later” attitude just isn’t a good one when it comes to fish retention.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve kept plenty of fish in my day. But I’ve never kept one that I wasn’t damn sure of what it was.
I prefer the attitude of a lifelong friend of mine. He once caught and released about seven large hatchery Coho salmon because he didn’t know if they were Kings or Coho. The other anglers fishing near him thought he was nuts. Of course none of them offered to help him with making the ID. Now he knows but it warms my heart that because he didn’t, he let them go.

I don’t have children yet, but when I do I’d like them to be able to catch fish. That’s why I let go more than I keep these days and I will never retain a wild fish. They’re just too precious a resource to waste.

Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a slightly disillusioned fisherman.

-S

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