On the Fly: Capturing the magical moment but in a more sustainable way for fish | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Capturing the magical moment but in a more sustainable way for fish

Christian Hill
On the Fly
Author Christian Hill and a Colorado rainbow trout.
Colin Hill/Courtesy photo

As flyfishing continues to boom in the great state of Colorado, so do the number of fish pictures being taken. I am not one to add to the gripes over the “hero shot” or complain about how social media has negatively affected the state of our fisheries. Lord knows I’ve taken my share over the years. However, I think that it is important to consider proper ways to capture the moment in a sustainable way.

Trout are a very delicate species, and it is imperative to handle them with care. The slimy layer on the fish acts as their natural immune system, and, when that is jeopardized, the fish is far more likely to fall victim to illness or death. The best way to minimize adverse effects is to handle the fish as little as possible. Many other guides in the valley and I use a utensil known as the “chucky no touchy.” This device is essentially a “Ketchum Release” tool, and, when used properly, the fish never gets touched. Some of us go through an entire guiding day without touching a single fish. Another device is a wet, soft-rubber net. While the fish is in my net, I always keep it facing into the current to allow the fish to breathe easy.

So, now that you’ve landed the fish, removed the hook, and kept it in the water as best you can, you’re ready to get your picture. Make sure your buddy is ready with the camera, and assume the “hero position.” While holding the net in the water, remove your gloves, get your hands completely soaked and gently grasp the tail and rest the head of the fish in your other hand. When the fish relaxes, lift the fish out of the water just long enough to snap the photo and lower it back into the water. Boom — you’re a social-media sensation! The moral of the story is to be ready, do it quick, and keep the fish wet.

Having the proper tools and knowledge is great, but implementation is everything. Together, as a community of passionate fly fishers, we can get the shot without putting strain on our beloved fish. Tight lines!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.