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:
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.
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:
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.
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.