The Results of Our “Selfie” Poll and Our Prize Winners

One of Will Long’s self-shot images, which set off this discussion.
Photo by Will Long

Last week, we posted a how-to story on taking photos of your fish when you’re alone on the river, and this generated enough debate that we created a poll. We asked the simple question, “Is taking a ‘Hero Shot’ selfie unethical?” Here are the final results.

Although the poll featured a black-and-white, yes-or-no question, the discussion that ensued in the comments section was full of thoughtful, nuanced opinions. Most folks seemed to think that there is a way to take such a shot that minimizes the harm to the fish. Check out the whole discussion here.


Here are the opinions of our two First-Prize winners, who will receive a copy of  Great Fishing Lodges of North America by Paul Fersen:

Ken wrote:

It’s not black and white, but the rule is very simple. Keep the well-being of the fish foremost in your mind. Remember, the fish was minding its own business when we intruded on it with a fly. Keep the fight short, take the picture if it flows quickly and smoothly; if things aren’t flowing, release it or break it off quickly. Catch-release-and die later seems less ethical than catching one modest fish, killing it quickly, and cooking it. Just be honest with yourself you work with that fish. That holds true when fishing or when I was an active fishery scientist for 30+ years.

Travis wrote:

I fish wearing a “chest mounted video camera” not saying the brand but I capture all my fish on film hold it in front of myself then and then release them. It’s quick and almost as if your camera isn’t there. I do believe that some people are reading entirely too much into this issue. I wasn’t born nor am I old enough to be a hippie but I do catch and release and in my short experience the special regulation streams where I fish still hold trout. More trout than what they used too. Or so I’ve been told. Yes there are less intelligent people fishing out there but survival of the fittest and do your part. Dictators tell people what they can and can’t do. Telling someone that it is or is not ethical doing what they are doing will sure to have a stronger adverse affect.

Our two Second-Prize winners, who will receive a 16-inch Orvis Trout Sticker:

Dale wrote:

Your friend’s disagreement hinges on the assumption that taking a self photo is a longer process than someone else doing it. If I’m with my buddy, I’ve got to interrupt him and he’s got to walk from wherever he is to take the picture. This is no quick task. However, if my camera is set up on the bank, the process of turning it on and posing is much quicker than the aforementioned alternative.

Alex wrote:

Depends on conditions. If the fish is resilient, then take your selfie. A bass or sunfish or gar can take a beating and still bounce back. But if it’s a hot day with low warm water and you fought the trout for 20 minutes to net it, let the poor thing go straight away.

And our Third-Prize winner, who gets an official 2014 Down the Hatch Chum eyeglass retainer.

Aaron V wrote:

I had the same reaction to Tom’s podcast when I heard “Facebook is the biggest killer of fish per year”. It made me reevaluate how I handle fish. When I first started out I want to capture every fish I caught, and probably did some harm. As I’ve gotten older, I care less about only hero shot, and more about photos that tell the story of the trip. My car, the path to the water, a mayfly on a stick, etc. Using a GoPro that is constantly filming has also lead to some great still shots without me having to alter my normal catch and release behavior.

Congrats to all, and thanks for taking part in the discussion.

7 thoughts on “The Results of Our “Selfie” Poll and Our Prize Winners”

  1. This was a great series of comments, with lots of good points; will make me much more aware of the impact taking a photo (either selfie or by a friend) has on the fish. Thanks!

  2. When you take into account the fact that this discussion was held on the Internet…I have to say I’m impressed at the intelligence and civility of all those who ventured an opinion. I read through it all again, and there’s a lot to think about. This was a very worthwhile exercise. Well done, Orvis.

  3. Good discussion if only to raise awareness to the risk of the fish for those that are naive to such things. Ultimately, each person will scale towards one end or the other of the ethical dilemma. At least in raising awareness to the risk to the fish, those folks are now armed with knowledge to hopefully make their own ethical call when the situation arises. Ensuring the safety of the fish is paying it forward which should always be the mindset with anything. Good luck!

  4. Hope it is not too late to weigh in on this subject. Ever since I read this on the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries web site:

    ” For example, while only about 300,000 striped bass are harvested by Massachusetts anglers each year, about 500,000 released striped bass die as a result of handling stress and injuries. ”

    The fish never come out of the water any more. Into the net, snap a photo, unbutton it, and let it swim away when it’s ready. No rushing. Even then, I bet the survival rate is not 100%.

    1. Everyone will make their own decisions, but I appreciate the discussion and raising awareness about (if you’re going to take the shot) some best practices.

  5. Third prize winner Aaron brought up a great point. There’s so much more to capture and remember about a day than just the fish. To go one more step, let’s remember to take care of not just the fish, but the trails and critters that we pass to get to the fish.

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