|Note the pan bottomed big landing net, another carry-over from coarse fishing|
I'm sure it is a fish I caught a year ago at this same place. It was in a bad way with a dirty great big hole just in front of its dorsal fin. At just under ten inches long it was a (lucky) victim of an assault by a heron. Nevertheless it was feeding well on spinners or else it wouldn't have been caught. Nature has endowed fish with the ability to recover from injury but it is by no means a foregone conclusion that recovery and survival is a certainty. Here's where an ethical question rears its ugly head...
What to do with a naturally injured fish?
1 ~ Do we say to ourselves "Oh it is likely to suffer and die slowly so put it out of its misery" and then kill it cleanly?
2 ~ Or, do we simply release it to let Nature take its course, on the very noble principle of don't intervene?
3 ~ Or, do we intervene? Do we try to give that fish a slightly better chance of full recovery by a little rapid, riverside, First Aid?
The answer to the first question, for me, has to be a resounding "No!" when fishing Catch & Release. Even a bleeding fish gets released under the principle that it might make it if you let it go and we can be sure it won't make it if we hit it on the head!
But what about options 2 and 3?
Confession time, I'm too soft hearted to not intervene. I'm one of the daft beggars that rescues flies from raindrop bombing, gets bitten and kicked when pulling a sheep out of a bog it has sunken into, puts food out for the birds, grows plants that butterflies can feed on. I intervene.
Maybe our lucky brownie would have recovered fully anyway, but now a good three inches longer than at our last meeting, I like to think that the intervention helped a little in the trout's efforts to regain lost energy and time spent in repairs rather than growth.
Is intervention a good thing? Is it even acceptable? Don't shoot me if I've got it wrong though...