Podcast: Catch and Release: Always or Sometimes? And How C&R Changes Things — S5, Ep5

by | Oct 30, 2022 | 4 comments

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Is catch and release a good idea all the time or just some of the time? In this episode, we consider the ways that the practice of catch and release changes the experience of fishing for us — how our approach shifts when the goals are different.

A lot has changed in the last fifty years. Releasing the trout we catch has become commonplace, especially in the world of fly fishing. In many regions, on many rivers, C&R has become the expected norm. We’ve come a long way. And it’s fair to say that the average fly angler for trout doesn’t fish for meat as much as they do for the sport — for the challenge of fooling a fish.

Catch and release often takes hold in the ethos of an angler because they are forced into it. Because specially regulated sections of a river might require it. And for many anglers new to the sport, or those coming from another fishing background, releasing a trout first feels comfortable because there’s no other option. After a couple of dozen fish are returned, and maybe after a few return trips to the same water, the effectiveness of catch and release becomes obvious, and it eventually feels more natural to let the fish go than to put them on a stringer.

We release trout to catch them again — so that our friends might catch them again, and so the next stranger to the river, hoping for the same experience that we were chasing, might catch that same trout that we just put back.

Catch and release works. There’s no doubt. But is it always the best choice? Is there also a place for catch and keep? And if we do decide to kill a few trout, how does that experience change the way we fish?

That’s our discussion here. . .

We Cover the Following
  • When is it okay to keep a trout?
  • Mandatory killing of invasive species
  • Does killing trout allow room for growing bigger trout?
  • Kill wild trout or stocked trout?
  • The hunter’s mindset applied to catch and release
  • Put and take streams
  • How keeping trout impacts your own waters

READ: Troutbitten | Are We Taking the Safety of Trout too Far?
READ: Troutbitten | If You Have to Revive a Trout, It’s Probably Too Late
READ: Troutbitten | Podcast | How to Handle a Trout
READ: Troutbitten | How to Hold a Trout

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Next Time

Season Five of the Troubitten Podcast continues next week with episode six. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. Truckee River,where I fish,has population of 400 to 500 fish per mile,according to schock surveys. Personally probably average 5 fish a day,usually 4 days a week. Doesn’t take Carl Sagan to do the math if decided to start keeping limits. But absolutely does drive me nuts when observed spinning guys keeping everything they catch. It’s a retention fishery,so definitely their right,but have noticed marked decrease in big fish over 6 years been fishing,especially browns.

  2. Thanks for putting out such great content in a fun way with your fellow anglers and friends. I couldn’t help but agree with the commentary that if one could only catch a certain number of trout before their season ended, then they would be doing catch and release all the time. Having grown up in Alaska as a hunter and fisherman, this is exactly what happens when fishing King Salmon. There is a limit to how many you can catch and keep. And if you happen to land a jack, you throw it back (er… gently cradle it into the soft undercurrent) so as not to end your King Salmon season on a smaller fish. Thanks again!

  3. I’m surprised there aren’t more comments on this topic. Here in Australia, trout are an introduced fish that are managed like natives. Many of our rivers are highly modified and/or degraded by agriculture, mining, electricity generation and deforestation. In some parts of Australia trout are a massively important tourist drawcard, particularly in states where native fish are not of interest to anglers (due to size). I’ve never felt guilty about taking a fish or two to eat, regardless of whether they’re wild or stocked (usually as fingerlings), but I do catch and release most of the time depending on how practical it is to get an edible sized fish home in good condition.

    Broader than trout, I think it’s important for people to understand and appreciate where their food comes from, and what goes into a resource that provides both recreation and food to the public. My educational and professional background is in marine ecology, and while fishing can reduce populations, it’s virtually impossible to wipe out a population from fishing pressure alone. That doesn’t mean to say keeping fish can’t affect the quality of the fishing experience for individual anglers, but for every fish we see and/or catch there are many more that are uncatchable (for a wide range of reasons) that replenish and sustain the population.

    Something that’s not discussed often enough any more is the old saying that 10% of fishers catch 90% of the fish. There are a lot of anglers out there, but few of them have the dedication, skill or drive to hone their craft and figure out their waters well enough to put numbers on the clicker (or stringer). Sure, I know my son and I could take our bag limit most trips if we wanted to, but most anglers I see on the water count one fish per day a success. Understanding the art well enough to regularly catch large numbers of fish begets an understanding of the ecology and value of each fish we either keep or catch and release.

    PS Smoked trout are delicious!

  4. Dom in a recent podcast you mentioned your preference for a double taper fly line. Which brand and model do you prefer on your 4 weight?


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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