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It’s Okay to Like this Fish Picture

Look at this trout I caught.

It’s okay to look at it, and like it even.

Trust me: I did everything right.

You know what I mean?

Here’s what i did:

I was fishing in a stream that was legally open to fishing according to the state of New Hampshire. My license was not only up to date, but I checked off all the little “donate $1.00 to the cause” boxes when I bought it. In fact, I attended a handful of local conservation meetings prior to stepping foot on the land.

Additionally, I was using traditional fly fishing gear. No tenkara, no mono rigs, nothing like that. And certainly no spinning gear. My leader was light enough to be “legit,” but heavy enough to play all fish quickly.

You better believe that my fly was barbless. Moreover, I bought it at a local, independently owned fly shop. I trust them when they say that the fly was tied nearby, using natural materials that were obtained thoughtfully.

Stream access was unquestionably public. It wasn’t a private stretch, let alone private water. But I didn’t spot burn… but I also told some new fly fishers so they could learn to enjoy the sport. When I waded, I was sure to wade carefully and mind every redd. I moved so slowly, taking every opportunity to balance fishing with respecting the resource.

As you can see, I kept this fish wet. I didn’t overhandle it, bring it out of the water, grab a dry hand, or land it using a net with an abrasive basket. And, of course, I released it.

When I took the picture, I didn’t take a long time setting up the shot. Notice how I don’t have any product placement? Even though I have professional relationships with a number of fly fishing companies, I kept this image pure by not including their equipment or logos.

I took a kid fishing, picked up lots of trash, and voted straight Democrat. There was contemplation for all the wrongs that humanity has wrought against nature, sorrow for the extirpated species, and I parked far away from the water to reduce my carbon footprint. Heck, I even felt some guilt over all the privilege I have because I get to fish.

Happy now?

Is my fish picture acceptable?



I thought about letting this post just sit on its own, but I don’t have enough faith in my writing to communicate the kind of satire and sarcasm I was shooting for.

With a few exceptions, I am unequivocally in support of everything I mentioned above. Not only are a lot of the things I mentioned best practices, but they’re law. All fly fishers should strive to be upright stewards.

However, there are a lot of internet white knights and keyboard heroes that feel the need to police fly fishing cyberspace. I can’t remember the last time I was fishing and someone came up to me or a companion and commented with zealous animosity in real life. Yet I see it happen incessantly on social media.

We shouldn’t have to add a dozen qualifying statements (or hashtags) to pictures of fish. We shouldn’t have to even think about such things.

We should be good to the resource, but it should never come at the expense of being good to each other.


  1. nick cef says:

    Absolutely gorgeous.Trout to me are works of art. I love to photograph them and try to capture that beauty. I’m not really interested in the “trophy” shot, but I can appreciate that, too. Obviously, the fish should be handled carefully and intelligently, but, holy cow, people are going overboard. As it stands now, with the level of shaming going on (all online, as you mentioned) at the mere touch of a fish, it’s only a matter of time before we’re told to stop hooking into fish altogether. I’m beginning to suspect that that’s what’s behind all this shaming. Fish are certainly tougher and more resilient than they’re being made out to be these days.

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