Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Attitude Problem

Some readers of the Classical Angler may wonder from time to time why I seem to get my knickers all bunched up over what I perceive as an attitude problem among many of today's steelhead "Hot Sticks."

Here is a photo that will say it all. I am not going to say who it is, nor where it came from and have blacked out the faces, but even if it is a hatchery fish, it not only shows disrespect, but almost displays a kind of psychosis.

Pouring beer into a steelhead's mouth is beyond silly. It is childish. Childish behavior and unsporting. Especially as this was the 'last rights' before killing the fish.

Grow up.

And another from a different site. Yes, they are only hatchery fish, but should they be treated like this, much less photographed and posted on the web as if it were a badge of coolness?

Grow up.


Editors note: 1/21/10 - O.K. Boys, I think that is about enough for now. The guilty parties are aware that I called them out. Enough of a nest of hornets.
I have a few last thoughts before we put this to bed.
First, how all of us behave reflects on the sport as a whole. That goes for me as well as you. This was not a matter of a hatchery fish and whether or not to dispatch it. Far from it. To me, it simply showed a lack of respect for life, for our fellow creatures, other anglers, and displayed a maturity level on par with the denizens of a video arcade.
My hope is that I made people think. That is and has always been my goal in my writing. Perhaps we might take a moment and think before we post our latest exploits and conquests on facebrag. The world is watching, and I am on the same team as you are. PETA is not.
Secondly, it is interesting that with the variety of writing that I place on this little corner of the blogosphere, that controversy gets the most attention. If I had one wish, it would be that I could share humor and inspiration as successfully.
Erik Helm


  1. I found this photo today on his blog as well. Considering the state of the 'sport', and the source, this behavior is not surprising. It goes hand in hand with everything else this guy and his groupies mean to 'disrespect'. VBD lazer awesomenality at its sinister finest. Why not? It is only a hatchery fish?

    As an avid angler and hunter I find there is zero tolerance of this type of behavior. Stunts like these are all the fuel the 'antis' need. One bad apple can spoil it for everyone.

    Deplorable. We already walk a fine line with H&R angling. This crosses over into the psychotic.

    Serial killers in training???

  2. This is disgusting. Why not give the fish bong hits. Everything that Steelheading is supposed to be is disrespected and dishonored. Reprehensible behavior.


  3. dead hatchery fish. do what you want with it. What other people do with their fish aint our business beyond a value judgement. If you knew those guys you'd know they're both ardent advocates for wild fish. hatchery fish however get the rock shampoo.

    If you have a problem with it, thats your fishing aesthetic but morally/ legally I see no problem with it. Unbundle the panties boys

  4. Sorry Will. Cannot agree with you here. Disrespect is disrespect. I do know the individuals involved. Advocating for wild steelhead is a great thing, but this kind of attitude has no place on the river. Period. Rock shampoo for hatchery fish is fine. I ate one this last fall as well, but we thanked the fish for its gift of sustanance. We did not shove it into a PBR case or pour beer into its mouth and post the photos like we were all proud of ourselves for defiling the fish.

    Legally? There is no law to prevent people from acting like turds. Ethically? I cry FOUL.

    Come now, don't you see the difference? Bad taste. Period.

    Like a shot of a hunter with a doe he killed with him peeing in its mouth.
    Disrespect. Period.

  5. Yes Will it is only a hatchery steelhead but that is not the point. These "young gunzz" as they decribe themselves on various websites have no respect for fly fishing tradition. They are punks as far as I'm concerned

  6. My issue is the "It's just a......" Nothing that lives is just a (enter your own word). Everything has meaning and purpose. The attitude is carried over into every aspect of our life. It doesn't matter if I cheat them they're just a...., it doesn't matter if I am rude they're just a..., the list goes on and on. This was a living entity. If you can't even show a little respect for a hatchery fish, the question comes what do you show respect for? Where is the line you have decided to draw?

  7. Will,

    They (the beer drinking 'last rights' shot) crossed a line and you know it. Don't let your friendship cloud their behavior. Be a leader and call them on it.

    Legally? I can guarantee this stunt would not pass any 'normal behavior' standard.

    You are right this is a value judgement. Of their characters. Your character.

  8. I find it hard to believe that assholes like this are ardent supporters of anything but their overblown egos. As hunters and fishers we are increasingly under fire (bad pun) from the non-angling/ non-hunting segment of society. Those people are increasing in number
    and are becoming increasingly vocal. The last thing we need is a stupid deplorable publicity stunt like this. Yes I hunt, I fish and I kill. But I have respect for the animals I harvest. If you don't have respect for something that you kill, what on earth is LEFT? Unfortunately this type of behavior and the mentality that fosters it is growing. Once we are all kicked off the river I guess it's back to the terrain park with your snowboards eh? Wazzup dog!

  9. Well...that pretty much sums it up. I thought that most of why I became a flyfisher revolved around respect for the river, the fish, the environment and all connected with it.

    When I see "dudes" like those trying to act cool, showing off, it's kind of sad.

    Be an advocate for wild steelhead...that's great. But don't be a fucking idiot at the same time, because everyone touts the hatchery steelhead as "rats".

    I'm not trying to anthropomorphize the fish, but it IS a living thing. It deserves a little respect.

  10. Well, I think the fact that pabst blue ribbon is EVER purchased let alone a 12 pack shows you all you need to know. I bought a sixer of that stuff when I was 21 and believe me.... the beast light is a better beer. It all seems to go hand in hand with the trendy viral nature of products aimed at consumers. The only people that drink that beer are guys at the vfw hall and kids using it as a prop. It might as well have been colt 45.

  11. "my character"? lets get serious guys. Its ok if you think that the photos are disrespectful, frankly I wouldn't have taken a photo like that. Still your responses are hardly proportionate to the offense. "serial killers,"? come on

    You guys get worked up so easily. Shane you seem to have it out for these alleged, "young gunz". Do I sense some envy in your words?

  12. Yes Will I envy that they can get up and down hills better than me. I envy that they can wade stretches of rivers that I can no longer wade.
    I envy that they can tie on a fly without having to use 10X magnification.
    Their fish catching ability? Not really. I've had my day and have been cured of the testosterone poisoning these young guys are afflicted with.

  13. Here's the deal gentlemen.....

    Please let me know the protocol for handling hatchery fish that WE ARE SUPPOSED TO TAKE from the system

    Shane...the PBR box fish is mine...and mine along. Maybe it's not your cup of tea, but shit...if you don't want hatchery brats...you can thank me later

    Wouldn't the most appropriate response be to CALL ME or the other dude in the picture for an articulated response. Holy shit you are on you're thrown. Let me know what it takes to get up there

  14. Millsy,

    This isn't about displaying a dead hatchery fish. It is HOW you are displaying that dead hatchery fish.

    I realize these fish are for harvest. But to treat them like garbage for a photo opp? For the entire world to see?

    If you don't like criticism them don't post controversial material. If you can't see why this is controversial you have a long way to mature as a man.

  15. I see no problem with it. We have reached a point in our fisheries where the agenda of the meat hunting masses has dwindled the native fish into am extremely dire position. I think that the disrespect shown towards these hatchery fish is a perfect example of the attitude towards the management of our fisheries as seen by a younger more irreverent generations. Sitting on your soap box and bitching about it worked so well for the senior steelheaders still amongs.

    Jihad against hatchery fish.

  16. Hatchery fish are a curse. The system is a curse as well. Replace wild fish with hatchery pelletheads as the resource is raped. Sad.

    However, The jihad is coming from a different source as well. The anti-fishing and hunting lobby does not need more ammunition to help them lob misguided PETA bombs at us. It is not about age, it is about behavior. All of our behavior.

  17. Metalhead,

    All nice excuses. How does that make it 'right' for somebody to piss in the mouth of a fish they are going to kill?

    If this is all about saving the fish then don't buy a fishing license. Nearly every penny you pay for that license is spent on hatcheries. Instead spend the time normally used for fishing to be 100% involved in conservation. Then maybe you will understand how difficult it is to influence the powers that be.

    Your comment on blaming the older generation for this problem? Shows how truly ignorant you are.

  18. Anonymous, if that's even your real name, I'm not blaming the older generation. But it is quite obvious that the elitist attitude of that generation has not help the situation.


  19. Robbin a Bobbin bent his bow
    He shot at ba pigeon and killed a crow.

    Obviously I am a bad archer.

    Please read my last comment. It is not about age, gear, them vs. us, divisions, groups, sub-groups, etc.
    It is about behaviour. All of our behavior, whatever our ages. It all reflects on us as a whole.

    Peace guys.

  20. Metalhead,

    Why continue to dodge around the 'last rights' beer stunt? Which is front and center to this argument?

    Do you condone such behavior? Do you too lack maturity to understand why such behavior is bad for fishing/hunting in general?

    It plays right into the hands of non/antis belief that all of us are wife beating beer swilling thugs who are out of control and have no business doing what we do.

    Looking at those photos who can argue?

  21. Art.

    Pure and simple.

    I applaud the raw art and statement a shot like that makes, whether the shooter intended it or not. Discontent and protest isn't always pretty, happy, happy or feel good.

    Why not discuss why some of the younger generation you continue to divide yourselves from might feel little or no connection to a hatchery fish? isn't that more productive than a war over tweed or goretex?

    Hatchery fish have no value and are among the worst scourges our wild, native fisheries face. That the younger generation should decide to make such a blatant statement, regardless of the repercussions, gives me hope that the fire lives on.

    Tradition, tweed and esoteric typing isn't going to save your fisheries, friends. Science and the willingness to make statements—though sometimes offensive to some—can and will.

  22. Hey Anonymous..or anyone else

    Here's my email

    Email me I will give you my phone number. And we can talk. One on one

    Stop being an internet tough guy.

    I am remorse about posting the pic, because I do understand the division it has now caused. That fish in particular was dispatched in the most humainly possible way. Quick rock shampoo, quickly bled and gutted. Smoked within the day, and enjoyed by my family.

    Fishing is a blood sport. If you were to actually READ my blog, which I encourage you to do, you will understand my fishing ethic.

    Beyond that, I am done with this. Expect nothing more than grip and grin shots of hatchery fish...wild fish will be immediately broken off once I see a adipose.

    Get out and go fishing...yeesh

  23. All right folks, this has spun all out of control. What I have written is now being taken as a generational angst and obviously the original subject has been almost entirely missed. I never made any tweed vs. Goretex assertion nor intended to.
    I simply spoke my mind regarding rude behaviour. Wherever it comes from. Sad that it missed the mark.
    This post is locked.