the fish care

The fish care debate…

It’s a weekly, if not daily occurrence… a social angler posts a picture of the catch of his life on social media, looking forward to the positive feedback and congratulations, only to be met with criticism from fellow anglers, mostly specimen carp anglers, for not using an unhooking mat, for having a keep net in the background of the photograph, or for not holding the fish correctly. There have been some nasty debates on public forums in this regard and it has become a very contentious issue.

Bank anglers (“papgooiers”) feel that the specimen anglers are nitpicking, looking for every opportunity to complain about fish care and really taking things too far, while the specimen anglers feel that the bank anglers have no respect for the fish.

Is it not a matter of finding a middle ground? Both sides have some valid points and in some cases social anglers do need some education in terms of how the fish is handled, especially large carp. But do we really need to handle a 750g carp the same as a 15kg carp? It is a debate that will definitely not be solved in this article.

In competitive bank angling the fish are kept in keep nets until the weigh-in. That is the nature of the sport and this will not be changed overnight. During the weigh-in care is taken that the fish is not out of water for too long and handled with care. It is up to each club’s officials to ensure their weighing process is efficient, neat and shows respect for the fish.

Bank angling is also about quantity and tempo as opposed to targeting large fish, so the majority of fish caught is smaller and easier to handle.

On the other hand (Darren) specimen carp anglers obviously target large carp. The sheer weight and strength of the fish makes it more difficult to handle and the fish could harm itself if it jumps from your hands while posing for a photograph for example. It is understandable that there are guidelines for landing, weighing and handling larger fish.

So in the interest of better understanding the principles behind fish care and perhaps instilling some better habits among bank anglers and social anglers, feel free to read the following article on the South African Carp Society’s website:

In the end we should all maintain respect for nature and remember that we are handling a living being. Even if you are not catching large fish, take reasonable care to ensure the fish has the best possible chance of surviving its time out of the water. No need to rush out and buy unhooking mats and new landing nets, but there certainly are a quite a few principles of fish care we can apply as bank anglers and social anglers.

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