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Fly Fish Writing > Do Fish Feel Pain? - New book by Victoria Braithwaite

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message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments Interesting. Keep us posted, Scott. Who do you review for?


message 2: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments Btw, David Foster Wallace touches briefly on that sort of issue in his essay "Consider the Lobster". There's not hard science in his argument, but it's a nice reflective piece (and the whole essay is worth a read -- one of DFW's less idiosyncratic ones).


message 3: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments Ah, I should have realized that.

Yep, that's the same connection I was making to the DFW piece (and probably should have made it explicit). It's not just a matter of what neurons are or aren't firing, but how does that translate into experience. His openness in exploring the issue is very appealing (and is true for much of his other writing, too).


message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin | 19 comments He's a tough guy to recommend. I find his essays to be erratic. He's smart and writes well, but the endless tangents and footnoting can be either an irritation or a source of wandering pleasure (sometimes both in the same article).

His most acclaimed novel, Infinite Jest, is a 1000+ page po-mo sprawl that I love, but that I can't in good conscience suggest someone else invest in without really knowing their reading tastes.

If you like the Lobster article, the book of the same title is probably a good place to start, and plenty of it is available online, too.


message 5: by Cameron (new)

Cameron Scott | 10 comments Scott and Justin, keep me posted on how it reads... especially if there are any really well written/impacting bits. Thanks for this thread.

As a secondhand student of fish behavior: yes they feel pain, and yes, an observably psychologically broken fish (mostly found in tailwaters) weighs heavily on the heart, soul, and mind.

Almost even more than the fish/pain complex, I often mull over the impacts (and I'm not talking widening trails and footsteps crushing bugs) of fly fishing.

My role as a guide, retailer, and the seemingly ever increasing amount of traffic on rivers (I thought over in Gunnison/Crested Butte the amount of traffic on the Taylor was crazy, but upon arriving in the Roaring Fork Valley, the fishing traffic on the Frying Pan is obscene) gives me pause.

Ultimately for me, I've found the crux of fly fishing to be a quality of life issue that trumps the obvious impacts I have on the rivers I love. I can't live without it (or better put: I'd be in constant crisis and have a spinning compass without it).

There is another book out there I'm waiting on: "Sacred Fish: The quest for the mythic roots of catch and release" a memoir by Jon Lyman, that delves into the sociopolitical reasons behind the conception of catch and release and how/why it is currently rooted in our society.

I'm not the first fly fisherman to openly admit that I purposefully keep and eat fish now and then (particularly to smoke or cook up breadcrusted whitefish in milk then spread over crackers with cream cheese--and p.s. why do brook trout taste so good?),
or hold the belief that if you are practicing catch and release, barbless hooks and gentle handling of a fish are key.

But the fish/pain argument is one I hear from many non anglers. Perhaps the glamor days of "A River Runs Through It" are about to wear off and the mid 20s-50s generation is about to come head to head with the majority of society that has previously romanticized and overlooked our niche....


message 6: by Frank (new)

Frank Watson | 5 comments Not sure that I want to know what fish feel. It would only serve to make me sad when I catch them. I'm going to answer for myself...no, they don't feel pain. In fact, getting a hook through the lip for them is the equivalent of watching a really good episode of Seinfeld.

Wow, I suddenly feel pretty good about fishing!


message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe Perrone Jr (catsklgd1) | 17 comments I'm with you, Frank! First it was catch and release; then, barbless hooks; now no catch and release. Soon, it'll be treble hooks only. Where does it end?
I take great care to treat my trout with respect, and if I ever injure one badly, I harvest it and enjoy the gift.


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Watson | 5 comments So far, because of my poor fishing skills, the best way for anyone to encourage me to have a low to no impact on trout is to just let me fish for them.

Some days, I don't hurt one...even when I've fished all day.


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