For many of us, this whole #keepemwet thing is just a no-brainer. We've long had an awareness that the fish we plan to release need to be handled carefully and wet. We get it. We're familiar with the science about different species in different conditions and how the scale moves relative to those factors. Awesome.
Here's another take on why keepemwet matters, my take, and the largest root of the movement: It's all about how we represent fishing via the examples we set on social media. We all know that todays youngsters are born & raised by what they see on screens. They still latch on to certain activities- such as fishing, and consume the respective content we feed them. They follow social media of companies, groups or individuals they think are cool and want to emulate. You've seen the trendiness of certain poses with fish right? Those all start with one picture then multiply. Everyone copies everyone else, it's just the nature of things.
Since its inception, my sincere hope for #keepemwet is to set examples that others want to copy. It's great to share the science, encourage a moral obligation, promote stewardship of resources yada yada. But in the end, if we can just make better and wetter fish handling the standard practice, simply "the way to do it if you're anybody" and not try to force it- I think it will have the best chance of taking root and moving the needle of what C&R fishing looks like on social media.
Activities all have their own culture that has developed over time by crusty old veterans leading up & comers. Processes and general etiquette's are formed then passed down. Think of popular boat ramps or surfers in the swell lining up for their turn. It feels to me like fly fishing is experiencing a merging of two generations- those who've been at it for decades and those who've picked it up in the last few years because of the juicy images they've seen on a screen. So in a way there has not been as much in-person mentoring taking place. I believe we have an opportunity to influence the "standard practice" of catch & release by keeping fish in the water or visibly dripping in practice and in photos. All I've intended with the keepemwet hashtag and subsequent movement is to promote that. It's not my nature to cruise social media commenting on posts of wild steelhead laying in the dry dirt and tagged #catchandrelease, so this has been my way to take action passively, to chill out a bit and just say "Hey it's all good, but this is how I like to take photos of fish".
The support from conservation organizations, companies and individuals have enabled this phrase to evolve into something of a movement, and an opportunity to go one step further in explaining and defining the keepemwet concept via Keepemwet Fishing and Keepemwet.org. In the big picture, this concept affects every person around the globe that tosses a line in the water. And in practice has the opportunity to benefit everyone without a single drawback. I think that's something worth promoting, and I hope you agree!