The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is the leading authority on angling pursuits and the keeper of the most current World Record fishing catches by fish categories. IGFA is also a Supporting Partner of Keepemwet Fishing (KWF). Sascha Clark Danylchuk and Bryan Huskey of KWF hop into the conversation with the IGFA podcast crew for this episode of Reelin with the IGFA. Listen here.
Multiple perspectives on catch-and-release fishing
by Sascha Clark Danylchuk
While many anglers typically think of catch-and-release as a conservation-minded practice it is not viewed that way everywhere. In some locations, catch-and-release is less desirable than keeping your catch. Germany, for example, has banned catch-and-release due to animal welfare issues, and in many other locations catch-and-release is viewed as “playing with your food” or disrespectful. For communities that depend heavily on fish for food (or traditionally have done so), it’s not surprising that they would have reservations about a practice that has the potential for this food source to be wasted because there is some mortality of fish from catch-and-release regardless of best intentions.
I recently spent time in the Yukon, Canada, where perceptions on catch-and-release are mixed. The Yukon is unlike most places in North American in that the First Nations (aboriginal people of Canada) have a Land Claims Agreement with the federal government that gives them the ability to self-govern, as well as set regulations on their traditional territories that cover the whole of the Yukon. For the most part, Yukon First Nations do not believe in catch-and-release for reasons along the lines mentioned above. This makes things challenging as fishing regulations for non-First Nations people in the Yukon are based on slot limits, a practice that mandates the release of certain sized fish.
Finding common ground
Keepemwet Fishing teamed up with a Yukon based fisheries consultant, Dennis Zimmermann, to investigate some of the issues surrounding catch-and-release in the Yukon. Through a series of meetings and conversations we explored perspectives on catch-and-release in the Yukon and from around the world, and began to brainstorm some potential solutions to differing views on the practice. One thing that became apparent is that anglers, regardless of how or why they fish, often share a deep respect for fish and that most anglers want to do the “right” thing, they just are not always sure what that entails. Finding common ground through education and awareness campaigns will be key to solving issues in the Yukon, as well as elsewhere when conflicts over resource use emerge.
For me, one of the most valuable aspects of the work was listening to why people did not agree with catch-and-release practices. It’s easy to get entrenched in common perspectives on how resources should be utilized and treated, yet ‘common’ doesn’t apply everywhere. Having the opportunity to look at issues from a fresh vantage point is always beneficial, especially when it comes to the conservation of resources, including fish. There is also no path forward without first establishing respect for views that differ from our own.
While we have unpublished and published data on catch-and-release mortality for steelhead, the effects of catch-and-release on wild steelhead health and reproduction is poorly understood. As a result, we also draw upon a large body of catch-and-release research on similar species, including but not limited to resident rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and sockeye salmon.
Why is this important?
Today, 70 percent of the major steelhead populations in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California require federal protection and opportunities to catch wild steelhead have greatly diminished in many rivers.
Despite declines, steelheading remains as popular as ever. In some populations we are catching-and-releasing nearly every fish that escapes harvest. As a result, it is important to balance our desire to catch them with handling practices that give them the best chance to swim away without lasting impairment.
To that end, @wildsteelhead and @keepemwetfishing share a mutual interest in educating anglers about best handling practices. Whether you fish gear or fly, from boat or bank, we all share a common bond in fishing for and taking care of wild steelhead.
Keep an eye out for our new co-lab with Wild Steelheaders United on techniques for catch and release of wild steelhead. These will be making an appearance at a shop near you soon!
The Keepemwet Fishing team spent last week at the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, ICAST/IFTD, in Orlando, FL. The highlight of the show for us was hosting a panel discussion on the branding of catch-and-release. We were joined by Brian O’Keefe, Jako Lucas, Jennifer Lavigne, Mark Harbaugh, Dr. Aaron Adams, Capt. Tony DiGiulian, and Dr. Jake Brownscombe to talk about fishing, fish science, and the roll of anglers, guides, and the industry in creating sustainable fisheries. You can watch a recording of the discussion here.
The show was also an opportunity to for us to meet with current partners and establish new connections with likeminded individuals and companies. While Keepemwet Fishing did not have a booth of our own, some of our partners were kind enough to give us space at their booths. A huge thanks to Patagonia, Nautilus Reels, Thomas & Thomas, Alphonse Fishing Co, KastKing, Smith, Sight Line Provisions, and Ed Anderson for lending us some real estate. We also debuted our new principles cards, which we will make available to a wider audience soon.
Tom Enderlin is a traveling waterman with a passion for environmental conservation and innovative adventure. He is based in Costa Rica, where he runs a boutique fly fishing outfitter called Release Fly Travel. Programs around the country include pelagics in the Pacific, rainbow trout in the highlands, exotic species like machaca and guapote in various lowland rivers, and the stand-out program, the Jungle Tarpon Reserve.
At the Jungle Tarpon Reserve, Tom has worked extensively with the local community to help create a community-based fly fishing tourism initiative. Tom has led training workshops in guiding and hosting travelers, collaborated in scientific research projects, influenced local regulations pertaining to tarpon fishing, held tree plantings and river cleanups, amongst other projects. One of the most impactful components of the new regulations Tom helped bring into fruition was that angler’s are not allowed to remove more then 30% of a captured tarpon’s body from the water. This means no dragging fish onto the boat for hero shots, and many a client from around the world has taken the “jungle plunge” in order hold a big silver king prior to release. Tom and his local team truly care about these tarpon, and they are constantly looking for ways to make a positive impact in the region in order to keep the destination sustainable both environmentally and culturally. Check out Castaway Films’ 2018 release of Atlanticus to see the Jungle Tarpon Reserve’s natural beauty and the raw power of the area’s tarpon for yourself.
To compliment whats being done, Tom founded Conservación Bosque del Sábalo, or Jungle Tarpon Conservation, a Costa Rican non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve a globally unique freshwater tarpon habitat in the Caribbean watersheds of Northern Costa Rica by implementing environmental stewardship, community awareness and education, enhanced scientific understanding, and the creation of sustainable economic opportunities.
When not traveling Tom calls a small organic farm in the mountains of Costa Rica home, where he lives with his wife, son, dogs, a flock of unruly chickens, and an extensive tropical garden.
The Branding of Catch-and-Release
The rise of social media and smartphones has made the days of anglers telling tales and exaggerating the size of their catch all but obsolete. While this might mean that anglers are now more honest people, what does it mean for fish intended for release? Does it matter what fish photos ‘look’ like? Is it time to reevaluate the traditional hero shot? What role does the industry play?
Please join us for a discussion at IFTD on Thursday, July 12 from 1:30 - 2:30
Join panel members Brian O’Keefe, Jako Lucas, Jennifer Lavigne, Mark Harbaugh, Dr. Aaron Adams, Capt. Tony DiGiulian, Dr. Jake Brownscombe, Sascha Clark Danylchuk, Dr. Andy Danylchuk, and Bryan Huskey as we discuss the branding of catch-and-release.
Feel free to pass this invitation along to others attending IFTD/ICAST who may be interested in joining the conversation.
German Daniel Göz was born and raised in France. He has a base in Frankfurt/Germany, but resides in both countries.
Daniel is an experienced and successful outdoor filmmaker, a seasoned cinematographer, director of photography, director, producer, editor, cameraman, multi award-winning for human-led as well as wildlife-led outdoor and documentary work producing small scale to large scale content.
He has worked in very remote locations and harsh conditions such as the strenuous climates of the Central American jungle to freezing climates of the North producing rare images in all these adverse conditions.
He is capable to produce iconic and stunning visuals through technically innovative approaches. His fortes are challenging underwater works be it oceanic or riverine, shooting and filming rare billfish species, incl. large free-swimming blue marlin and yellowfin tuna. His has further filmed the entire spawning act of Atlantic salmon and European lake trout underwater. His underwater photography spans well over a decade.
Some of his film works are the legendary flyfishing film "Tapâm" produced with Danish Jan Bach Kristensen, where both venture off the beaten path to catch giant tarpon from their float tubes. Other works include stills and film work on the Gaula River in Norway. Daniel was also involved in one of Animal Planet's most successful River Monster episode with presenter Jeremy Wade, in which Jeremy chases giant tarpon.
Beside his film and still work, Daniel holds an M.Sc. in geography/hydrology. He does camera based monitoring on rare trout species, using the trout's spots as bio markers to identify trout individually. His monitoring work is totally stress-free to the fish.
Fun fact: Daniel is president of the fishery's guild in Frankfurt which was founded 945 ad. He takes care of all fish ecological aspects of the large Main River in Frankfurt.
Daniel is often amazed how anglers react to his images; many say they didn't know how beautiful fish look underwater. Daniel, being an angler, fish conservationist and environmentalist, is super proud to support the keepemwet movement with his knowledge and stunning visuals.
Our longtime friends at Catch Magazine have consistently produced the highest quality digital publication for many years now. And when it comes to representations of best case handling of fish that are released, they absolutely get it!
It's awesome to have our own feature article "A MOBILE VIEW" which can be found in the April/May 2018 issue. If you don't already subscribe to Catch Magazine but can't get enough of the greatest fishing adventures on the planet, you're missing out!
Enjoy this excerpt from issue #56 with photo and C&R handling tips from our own Keepemwet Fishing staff and Ambassadors!
Keepemwet Fishing is about releasing fish in the best condition possible. We believe that recreational anglers are a key component of fish conservation, and that science-based approaches can help create healthier fisheries. Our education campaign provides anglers with easy to use principles and tips that help create the best outcomes for fish that are caught-and-released.
“The grants we have received from the AFFTA Fisheries Fund have allowed us to reach a greater audience through our education campaign on the best handling practices for catch-and-release. We couldn’t have done it without the help of AFFTA.” Sascha Clark Danylchuk, Operations at Keepemwet Fishing.
We thank AFFTA and the Fisheries Fund for another year of support for our work!
Congratulations Connor R! The folks at Loon Outdoors have selected your image as winner for this round of It's Not Just the Catch. Get stoked for the assembly of prize items that will be heading your way and thanks to all who have taken time to describe and share what they love and appreciate about clean water and healthy fisheries.
We are stoked to continue our photo contest that deemphasizes photographing and posting every fish that's landed. Instead, we want to see the greatest parts of your time on the water that wasn't the catch.
For the rest of June, show us your best images of what clean water provides for you. It could be quenching your thirst right from a New Zealand stream, an epic hatch on your favorite trout stream, or simply gazing deep into the waters you love to fish. Show us what you love and appreciate about clean water.
To enter, email your photos along with a short description of what clean water means to you to email@example.com. The winner will be announced via our "In the Loop" newsletter early July. We'll begin posting entries to a slide show here at the bottom of this post. Have fun out there and be grateful!
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. STAY TUNED FOR WINNERS ANNOUNCED IN OUR NEWSLETTER AND UPCOMING CRITERIA AND PRIZES FOR MAY.
We are stoked to continue our photo contest that de-emphasizes the urgency to photograph and share every fish that's landed. Instead, we want to see the greatest parts of your time on the water that wasn't the catch.
For the rest of April, we want to see what made you smile or laugh. Show us your best friends, the incredible view, that one funny shaped rock, or the bowl of chili dumped down your waders! Whatever brought smiles and laughter to your day on the water.
The April contest is sponsored by our friends at SMITH OPTICS who've generously provided a pair of sun glasses for both men and women winners. The selected winners will be announced via our "In the Loop" newsletter April 30th. To enter, email your photos along with a short description of what made you smile or laugh out on the water *to firstname.lastname@example.org. Limit of 3 photos per person please. We'll begin posting entries to a slide show here at the bottom of this post. Pursue your thrill, have fun out there and be grateful!
*By entering my photo(s), I consent to receive email communications from Keepemwet Fishing based on the information collected.
Keepemwet Fishing is a movement built on the basis of how catch-and-release fish are presented in photos. Originally, in the early days of social media this caught our attention as what seemed like frantic competition of who could post the most fish photos.
So it's no surprise that we suggest considering if photographing C&R fish should always be routine. Or at least de-emphasizing the urgency to photograph every fish that's caught and instead shift the focus to other elements that draw us outside to toss lines in the water. There are after all, so many reasons we love to fish.
Lets celebrate and explore those other reasons, and in the process take our collective eyes off glorification of the catch and give our nod to the overall holistic experience of fishing. With this in mind, we present "It's not just the Catch", a series of photo contests featuring various criteria besides the obvious. And hey it's a great way to pull off a win on those days you end up skunked! We hope you'll join us.
AND THE MARCH WINNER IS....
From the Fishpond USA judges:
We have chosen a winner. Joseph R and his amazing hat of shame!
Our selection process - each staff member picked a photo for the final round of voting and we picked a random winner out of a hat to make the final selection. Joseph was our winner! There were too many good options to do it any other way. Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo and shared their story.
"So we fish a medium sized lake in the Adirondacks for some really decent sized pike; the average fish is in the 30” range. I know this isn’t record breaking but the remoteness of the water and the journey to and fro are what really add to the pervasive spirit of adventure when we go for a multi day trip with the boys. This photo was taken on the last day and around the journey out of camp. I am donning with pride the hat of shame. It’s an adaptation of a photo we had seen from the flying fish journal about a group of guys better than annual Alaskan steelhead trip and brought along with him a banana suit costume. The idea of the costume was a humility check for the guy who had caught the most steelhead or the biggest fish on the previous day. We decided to take it a step further and just simply award the hat to the person who caught the fewest fish, the smallest fish, or no fish at all. I am thankful he avoided the trifecta by hooking into a small hammer handle Pike on the second to last day of the trip to stave off the goose egg but still won the hat for lack of numbers and size."Joseph Russell, April contest winner.
Adrian Gray's passion for fishing is clearly evident in his artwork and his photography.
The man is a perfectionist, and you won't see his artwork unless it passes a very stringent quality test. Every detail must be perfect. If every finlet, color and use of light is not absolutely without flaw, the piece won't leave the artist's easel.
With that kind of attention to detail, it takes more time to produce a final painting, but the end results are incredibly lifelike scenes that depict a magical moment of the watery hunt. While the artist may never be 100 percent happy with the final piece, the public must be because demand for Adrian's artwork and photos continues to grow.
Born on the southeast coast of South Africa, Adrian took to surf casting for local species such as kob and “pig-nose grunters” as a kid. He credits his mother and grandfather for getting him into fishing. When his grandfather passed away, Adrian inherited his fishing rods. Those rods led to a lifelong passion for angling.
At 11, he and his family moved to New York, where the fishing was much different than South Africa. He started targeting salmon and steelhead in the New York watershed and Great Lakes. At 14 his father bought a cuddy cabin boat and Adrian took it on fishing adventures throughout Long Island Sound. He caught bluefish, fluke and striped bass.
His love of fish and the ocean led him to the University of Miami, where he studied marine biology. “I wanted to do something with fish,” he says, but he had no idea that he’d move into art and photography.
“I would sketch and play around with pencils,” he says. “I took general art classes in high school and excelled at it, but I kind of left it and it didn’t hit again till I was 24 or 25. We caught a big swordfish and I wanted to paint it.”
Using a friend’s easel and leftover paints, Adrian put his swordfish memory on canvas. His swordfish painting quickly caught the attention of the fishing world. The Big Game Fishing Journal ran the painting on its cover and Lindgren-Pitman bought the rights to it and used it as a catalog cover. Adrian began going to tournaments and selling prints. Demand for his art began to grow. He painted when he wasn’t fishing or working, which means he didn’t paint a whole lot, but he made time for it. Then he got a camera and that took his talents in yet another direction.
“In 2004 I started working at the IGFA and I wanted to make the magazine and newsletter better, but I had no photos,” Adrian recalls. “Whenever I approached a photographer, I hit a wall when they said, ‘What will you pay me?’ So I invested in a camera got an underwater housing.”
He taught himself the intricacies that go along with taking tack-sharp photos of fish in their natural element, whether that was below the water or jumping behind a boat. Adrian traveled and attended fishing tournaments and fished as much as he could, always toting waterproof boxes with his camera gear. He is now considered one of the premiere photographers in the recreational fishing industry, with many magazine covers to his credit. He has a gigantic photo library with everything from freshwater species to blue marlin, but he says he does not paint photos. He only uses them for reference to help him create the scenes he conjures up in his mind.
His artistic style continues to evolve: “I have this perfectionist personality so I’m never satisfied,” he says. “I don’t want to show old works. They’re not an example of what my strengths are. The art develops through experimentation, growth and how you perceive things.”
With about 30 completed paintings to his credit, he is not about pumping out new paintings as fast as possible. He prefers to focus on the details rather than the end result. He started with acrylics but now paints in oils. “I like the way the oils blend,” Adrian says. “It takes longer to do. The mixing is more tedious but oils have a natural look.”
"The art develops through experimentation, growth and how you perceive things."
He’s currently working on a bluefin tuna piece inspired by a 2014 trip to Nova Scotia. “We only had two days and on the first day we went out it was unusually calm. Each of us caught our first bluefin in the 750- to 1,000-pound range,” Adrian says. “We started hand-feeding them and I jumped in. The water was cold but it was one of the best experiences of my life, swimming with something that big. They move so much water but they’re so graceful at the same time.”
Adrian, who turns 38 this year, still works for the IGFA, laying out their publications and posting on the organization’s website and social media. His phone usually goes to voicemail because he’s traveling, fishing, photographing something or in the studio painting. And lately he’s experimenting more with video. “I’m intrigued by slow-motion and and working with that type of video,” he says. “I’ll probably get more into that.” Fishing is his passion. The art and photography are his way of expressing this love of all things fishing.
“My favorite thing is to jump in the water and take photos of fish.”
Note this contest is now closed. Stay tuned for April contest.
UPDATE: WE'VE HAD SO MANY ENTRIES THERE IS NOW A SECOND PAGE AND GALLERY IN THE BLOG LOCATED HERE.
We are introducing a new photo contest that de-emphasizes the urgency to photograph and share every fish that's landed. Instead, we want to see the greatest part of your time on the water that wasn't the catch.
For the month of March, we want to see where you fish. Show us your favorite water. No need to name names or give away secrets, there are still places the internet just doesn't need to know about! But give us a peek at the waters that draw you back.
The March contest is sponsored by our friends at Fishpond USA who are generously providing a worthy prize package. The winner will be announced via our "In the Loop" newsletter near the end of March. To enter, email your photos along with a short description of what you love about your favorite water to email@example.com. We'll begin posting entries to a slide show here at the bottom of this post. Have fun out there and be grateful!
What #keepemwet means to me.
by David Lisi
It’s what you do when nobody’s looking. This used to be the standard to live by, but what you do when everyone is looking that matters in today’s world. Our posts on social media say a lot about the kind of anglers we are or better yet, want to be. With the boom of fly fishing on social media platforms, proper fish handling is trending, but is it all just for the photos?
The #keepemwet movement to me is more than just keeping fish wet for sexy pics. It is about adopting a fish handling practice that is fish and resource-centric which starts long before we trek to our favorite waterways.
#Keepemwet begins with conscious choices about how you to pursue, catch, land and release fish. For me, this change in thinking has evolved over many years on the water and is an ever-evolving process. It has led me to fishing by my own set of “laws” or “self-regulation.” I believe #keepemwet is about adopting a personal set of standards that goes above the baseline regulations that guide our fishing journeys and angling practices.
I can remember crude beginnings on salmon and steelhead streams in the Great Lakes, carelessly dragging salmon ashore to later harvest or toss them back in the water. This was how everyone was fishing, I can honestly say that I didn’t know any better. The put-and-take stocking programs of the world tend to make anglers less aware of the fragility of wild and native fish.
It was not until I learned about the wild salmon, steelhead and trout of the pacific northwest that I became enamored by fish and their remarkable life cycles. The life cycles of salmon and steelhead are nothing short of a miracle. Whether potamodromous or anadromous, salmon and steelhead endure a life of seemingly impossible hardships.
Once I learned more about special fish like the wild salmon, steelhead and trout of the PNW, I wanted to pursue them with passion but protect them in the process. This led to a love for all fish species which has developed into my personal set of “standards” and fishing practices.
My passion for fishing led me to Alaska to pursue a career as a fishing guide. Since moving here and guiding these w