On the Fly: How to keep our fish photogenic | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly: How to keep our fish photogenic

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Kyle Holt and a gorgeous (and wet) rainbow trout.
Brian Bailey / Provided |

There is a new twist starting to develop in the fly fishing community relating to photography.

The classic “grip and grin” photo of anglers and their fish is starting to go by the wayside. There are many reasons for this, and the primary one is that we need to treat our trout better.

Trout have a protective slime that encompasses their body, protecting them from bacteria and disease, and when we unnecessarily overhandle them (especially with dry hands) this wipes out their protective barrier.

Taking fish out of the water is very stressful for them, especially when days are hot and the water is cold. I tell anglers to hold their breath when handling a fish, so they understand the urgency of getting it back to the water. If you’re starting to gasp, you might appreciate how that trout feels out of its natural environment.

The classic photo of fish lying on the grass or rocks next to the fly rod is especially bad, if you care about that fish and want to catch it again. This needs to stop!

I know many valley guides who catch tons of fish over the course of their day, and never touch any of them. Soft bag landing nets and a release tool that slides down to the tippet and pushes the barbless fly free makes this possible.

The best stewards of our bountiful waters realized this a while ago, and it’s time for everyone else to get with the program, too.

The answer for taking a quality picture these days is to keep them wet, in their natural environment. Trout look better in photographs when they’re wet, too. Taking a close-up while the fish is in the net highlighting bright gill plates or an interesting array of spots makes for a gorgeous shot.

You can still hold the fish in “keep ’em wet” shots, just hold it in the water. If we all resolve to treat trout better, maybe they’ll treat us better by eating our flies with reckless abandon!


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