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Letter: Have you ever killed a salmon, Paul Smith?

['Salmon fishing season opens Sunday and anglers are getting ready to hit rivers such as the Exploits River. ']
The Exploits is a popular salmon river. — Telegram file photo

I am writing in reply to Paul Smith’s column published Saturday, Feb. 24th (“Hook and release — life or death.”)

He seems to be advocating for a catch-and-release salmon fishery only. He is careful not to state this specifically, but the impression fills his article.

His description of the perfect catch and release technique is quite correct. I often use it myself when I hook a fish I deem too small or large to keep for my pot.

That being said, I have watched many, many catch-and-release fishermen with much less respect for the fish. Fought a long time, yes. Dragged over the rocks, yes. Held chest high for photos, yes. And with the folks paying thousands to fish our rivers, even worse attitudes. I’ve even seen major politicians from home and away, U.S.A. included, fishing Long Harbour River, treating the fish with disrespect that I’m sure often caused the death of the fish.

In Mr. Smith’s column he says that he has seen only two dead salmon in a river in his life. I must say that I have seldom seen dead salmon on the shores as well. In my opinion, there is a reason for this. A dead fish in shallow water doesn’t usually float. They sink to the bottom and stay there. You see them if the gulls drag them ashore. A friend of mine — he is a diver with the RCMP — told me that when they are looking for people lost in the water they concentrate in the immediate area where the person went down. He says that even in the strongest, fast-flowing rivers, the body is usually within a couple hundred metres from where they were last seen, on the bottom where the current is severely diminished due to the friction of the river bottom. This is the case even in the mighty St. Laurence River, he says.

As for the argument that catch-and-release fishers are the only people who can guard the rivers, I say bullshit! I am a catch-and-keep fisher who would not hesitate reporting a poacher I witness breaking the rules.

My attitude is that catch and release and catch and keep kills fish. If the fishery needs to be closed, then so be it. Stop killing fish until conditions improve. Close the fishery or keep it open for all, with appropriate restrictions that protect the stocks. How can that not make sense? Really!

Ken Collis
Conception Bay South

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