Recently, I found myself in the gaping chasm that one inadvertently falls into while scrolling social media on the couch at the end of a long day. In this dark place, there was no shortage of naysayers casting recreational anglers as sadists, scumbags, and even murderers.
The definition of a murderer is:
Someone who kills another person deliberately and without lawful justification.
You can’t call a fisher that! We’re not out there harpooning anthropomorphic mermaids for goodness’ sake.
From a non-angler perspective, I can understand that it might look barbaric and akin to a selfish trophy hunt when they see a picture of a smiling angler celebrating the capture or death of a fish. What images do not portray, however, are the care and time put into dispatching and processing the catch; the recipes excitedly looked up and prepared; the meals enjoyed by family and friends; and the healthy (well, with a small side of mercury, perhaps?), wild protein nourishing the body.
The moaners don’t understand the sacrifices, time, dedication, and preparation that we put in to achieve fishing success. There are often longharboured dreams, hours of driving, and years of failure hidden behind the picture. They also don’t see the fish put back into the drink, or the calls to head back in early when we’ve got enough for a feed despite the fish below still biting their heads off.
What angling dedication develops in us over time is an immense passion and respect for the fish we are trying to catch. When we target a fish, catch it, look after it, break it down, and prepare it ourselves, we feel a sense of innate satisfaction because we have the closest connection possible to the food we have worked so hard to enjoy. In turn, fishing becomes part of our lifestyle, and we have a vested interest in the sustainability of our marine resources so we can share this lifestyle with future generations.
If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or prefer industrially farmed meat, that’s cool. But please don’t try to burn recreational fishers at the stake. We’re not evil spirits; we’re simply doing what we, as humans, have evolved to do. After all, is it not the most natural thing on this earth for a species to catch and eat its own food?
Nick Jones Editor