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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives
Baetis

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen appears to be of the same species as this one collected in the same spot two months earlier. The identification of both is tentative. This one suffered some physical damage before being photographed, too, so the colors aren't totally natural. I was mostly photographing it to test out some new camera setting idea, which worked really well for a couple of closeups.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

CaseyP
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Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Nov 21, 2011November 21st, 2011, 8:38 am EST
One development person, wringing her hands, asked if the fly-fishing would hurt the fish. (post by PaulRoberts)


not to hijack Paul's thread, but i'm interested in other's experiences, especially our fishery experts.

some of my lady friends at church asked me this same question and i told them no, it's the confinement the fish don't like. if you hook a very large fish, often nothing happens until you tug the line. how many of us have a story that begins, "The largest fish I ever hooked I thought was a log or snag or something."

when a fish disappears under a cut bank, if you gently follow the line to the fish with your fingers, you can tease the fish out of there without it wiggling. when the sun hits its eyes, and it wants to go back under, then it feels the confinement of the line and wiggles again.

there are the awful, inevitable times when they swallow the hook too far, and then, frankly, i think it's got to hurt!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Nov 21, 2011November 21st, 2011, 9:46 am EST
I once set the hook into a 10-pound carp (biggest fly rod fish of my life, I'm almost embarrased to say!) and it barely flinched, only becoming alarmed when I put some pressure on it - sadly, it fought like a snag, i.e., hardly at all. When I unhooked it, I found it was actually bleeding from where I had set the hook (not bad, but noticeable). So, Casey, I'd have to agree with you. After all, fish eat some pretty spiny, hard critters (crayfish for example). If sharp things hurt a fish's mouth all that much, I would think crayfish would be completely safe!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Keystoner
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Eugene, OR - formerly Eastern PA

Posts: 145
Keystoner on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 6:22 am EST
No, in my humble and most un-scientific opinion, I think that if you hook them in the mouth, then most likely it does not "hurt" them in pain sense. (Wasted energy being an entirely different aspect.) Trout mouths seem to be pretty tough, and I wouldn't imagine a lot of nerve activity. Plus it's thier main tool/weapon, so again probably not very sensitive. I mean, imagine if our hands were as sensitive as our ears. We would never get anything done. However, I believe that a foul hooked fish is experiencing pain. The reason I think this is because when you get one in the mouth, you almost always get the wiggle first and then the run. It's more of a confused reaction, at first. But when you set a hook in a fishes belly or side by accident, they seem to just take off like a bat out of hell, which I believe is a reaction to sudden pain. Again, completely unscientific, just my own hypothesis.
"Out into the cool of the evening, strolls the Pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams, begin and end there." -JB
Wbranch
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York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 3:15 pm EST
Will any one on this forum stop fishing if it can be proved, with some sort of subtanstiated evidence, that a trout experiences pain in the same sense that we define pain?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Keystoner
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Eugene, OR - formerly Eastern PA

Posts: 145
Keystoner on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 4:00 pm EST
That's an important question. Thank you for asking it. First, would you?

For my part, I suppose not. I have already postured that I do believe that trout experienece pain in certain angling situations, and I'm still fishing. However, this is when things go wrong, and I don't think it hurts them when things go "right". If it was proven that a hook in the mouth caused serious pain in the same way we feel it, I would have to review that report myself, and it would give me serious pause.

"Out into the cool of the evening, strolls the Pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams, begin and end there." -JB
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 5:59 pm EST
The perception of pain is a function of an organism's nervous system, of which the brain is an important part in the process. Evidence is overwhelming that trout lack this capability. In short, they don't have the necessary brain structure. There is not a scintilla of credible evidence to the contrary I'm aware of, not that it would matter to me anyway.

There are certain misguided groups that insist on anthropomorphizing everything in a desperate attempt to confuse the public so as to further their agenda of outlawing our field sports. This has been going on for a long time in our culture. Disney didn't like hunting. Remember Bambi?
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 8:18 pm EST
Will any one on this forum stop fishing if it can be proved, with some sort of subtanstiated evidence, that a trout experiences pain in the same sense that we define pain?


It has already been proven that they do not experience pain in the same sense that we understand it. We experience the emotion of pain in the highly developed neocortex in our brains. Fish don't have a neocortex, so they cannot possibly experience what we know as pain. There is even a rare genetic disease that makes otherwise normal humans incapable of feeling pain due to a very small change in brain chemistry.

It is possible that fish experience something we might call "pain" in a very different sense. They have the receptors (called nociceptors) to deliver news of harmful stimuli to their brains, provoking an evolutionary advantageous flight response. People sometimes point to this flight response to suggest that fish feel pain, but in a very different way unfamiliar to us. However, the ability to react to a harmful stimulus is present in almost all living things, even some bacteria and plants, and nobody would argue that they feel pain in an ethically meaningful sense. So the argument that fish feel pain because they respond to harm is no more compelling than the argument that some bacteria feel pain.

I think there is a compelling case to be made that whatever fish feel in place of pain is not very much like what humans experience, because fish routinely function while experiencing stimuli that would be overwhelmingly, debilitatingly painful to humans. Look at those who find themselves prey to large lampreys, yet live as though nothing is wrong. And look at the spawning salmon whose bodies rot away while they're still alive and performing the most important task of their lives. It would have been evolutionarily disastrous for these fish to feel pain in the acute, emotional way that humans do, so they surely feel no such thing.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 8:40 pm EST
They have the receptors (called nociceptors) to deliver news of harmful stimuli to their brains, provoking an evolutionary advantageous flight response.
In other words, they do have the sense of touch and will flee from any unwanted or unsuspected contact?:)

Perhaps Tony will see this and comment, but I believe there have also been medical cases where people have had brain damage and cannot feel pain while retaining their sense of touch. As to the emotional element, reminds me of a laymen's description of how morphine works, "Oh, you know you're in pain, you just don't give a @#$%!"
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Jesse
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Posts: 378
Jesse on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 9:20 pm EST
Some really good points and interesting reads here! Although i can't get into the scientific anatomy of fish and their inner most receptors, some things would change if it was proven that they do indeed feel pain. Mainly, i couldn't stop fishing, so i would just have to punch myself in the face every time i hooked up!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 12, 2011December 12th, 2011, 10:24 pm EST
LOL:):)

Judging by all your photos, Jess... You're gonna be pretty disfigured if they ever do!:):) We're talkin' Edward Norton in Fight Club! :):)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Oldredbarn
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Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 11:22 am EST
Mainly, i couldn't stop fishing, so i would just have to punch myself in the face every time i hooked up!


Jess,

Have you ever seen the movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy"? It is a nice flick. All you need to do to "justify" hurting or whacking fish is to do as the Bushmen and hold them in your arms and apologize to them and thank them for feeding the family...:)

Why do you think the old Brits used to call their bludgeons a "priest"? It is a euphemism to soften the blow...so-to-speak.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 12:15 pm EST

I doubt they feel any pain at all, or they wouldn't kiss me the way they do before being released.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 12:45 pm EST
There ya go Jesse! You don't want the poor fish to have to kiss a bludgeoned face now do you? Have a heart...
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Wbranch
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York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 1:23 pm EST
Keystoner wrote;

"That's an important question. Thank you for asking it. First, would you?"

No, I wouldn't stop fishing. Any type of hook and line sport fishing is a blood sport, I never thought differently, if anyone thinks it isn't they are quite naive.

Now that Jason has weighed in on this topic with more than just seat-of-the- pants layman comments I feel satisfied that I can spend my twilight years pestering all those big fish without having any pangs of conscience.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
CaseyP
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Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 4:13 pm EST
gee, thanks for all the neat input. i would hate to have been caught lying in church!

it is true that things you can identify as painful and therefore anticipate with dread are very painful. a long discussion with my dentist ended with him giving me a large set of headphones and a radio. i couldn't hear the noise of all his tools, so no fear, and no pain (well, there was Novocaine, but that had never worked in the past!)

meanwhile, my sister was worried about the poor fish; she has recently stocked her pond and i was looking forward to teaching her to fly fish. i will quote all of this so she doesn't make me cut the hook off the fly!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Oldredbarn
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Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 13, 2011December 13th, 2011, 5:15 pm EST
meanwhile, my sister was worried about the poor fish; she has recently stocked her pond and i was looking forward to teaching her to fly fish. i will quote all of this so she doesn't make me cut the hook off the fly!


Casey,

What's she going to do when she wakes up one morning to find a satisfied, well fed, Great Blue Heron stalking the edges of her pond? :) Like you, I, and her he won't be so concerned for the fishy...

Spence

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
TNEAL
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 278
TNEAL on Dec 14, 2011December 14th, 2011, 3:03 am EST
Is anyone concerned about the good bacteria killed by the antibiotics>
Jesse
Jesse's profile picture
Posts: 378
Jesse on Dec 14, 2011December 14th, 2011, 4:10 am EST
Haha thats funny stuff.
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 14, 2011December 14th, 2011, 7:50 am EST
Is anyone concerned about the good bacteria killed by the antibiotics>


Tim...They are in my prayers every evening...:)

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
PaulRoberts
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Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Dec 14, 2011December 14th, 2011, 8:50 am EST
My response to the mentioned development person was that no, fish mouths are very different than ours. We have sensitive mouths great for kissing and such. Fish have mouths used for capturing, crushing, killing other often spiny and bony creatures.

Now...that said, I believe there are more sensitive places in a fish's mouth than the mandibles. I've had fish react violently to hook-ups that appeared to create a greater reaction than I expected. This always entails a large hook driven through the snout or nostrils. Sometimes a hook impales an eye. I've responded by limiting hook sizes in accordance with the fish I might catch in a given water. A #2 streamer hook is rather likely to impale a 13inch trout through the eye. A #6 can do the same to a 7incher. I do not want to damage the fish I catch, especially if it induces pain, whether it is akin to our pain or not. In waters fished so often the fish develop mutilated jaws, I fish elsewhere. I choose not to participate in that. This is partly an aesthetic, as well as an emotional, sensitivity.

But emotional sensitivity I see as having become particularly skewed in our culture. Few of us have day to day experiences with death, or nature. We protect ourselves and our children from anything harsh. We are able to do so. Lucky us. I see a lot of this as pure inexperience, resulting in an immature, even stunted, understanding of the nature of life. When my son was three, If I were to have dropped one of his plush toys, he'd have exploded into tears. He even hated to throw ANYTHING away in the trash, feeling sorry for the scrap of paper! I see that development person mentioned above as greatly underexposed to reality. She's still protecting herself. And she was eating a chicken sandwich while we talked.

When we first got chickens my wife had a hard time eating eggs she saw squeezed from the cloaca of a bird! She had to get used to it. She's an old hand now. She actually helped me dismember a deer in the woods this fall. And she said, "You know, it didn't gross me out at all now. I was actually excited to get home and get those tenderloins in an iron skillet. Of course, experience can repulse too, and my wife explains that knowledge, her interest and reading on the subject, opened the door and saw her through the "disgust" inherent in the reality that we are animals too.

As to WB's question: I'd stop if every, or most, fish I hooked shed tears and squalled like a mammalian baby, obviously in need of good old comforting. But that hasn't been my experience with fish. And it hasn't been my experience with hunting either, as I've taken seriously my skills and judgment. That too is an aesthetic and emotional sensitivity. Call me human.

Then again, I regularly feed baby mice to the snake in my wife's elementary school classroom. The little mice are cute, and they squeak when they get grabbed by the snake. I feel for them, but will not allow such feelings to interfere. I don't believe that snakes are evil, and know when I let the snake go, it'll do the same thing to wild mice.

The children are not in the classroom when the snake is fed mice. Although they are there to watch it devour goldfish -a good introductory lesson in the way nature works -one of the reasons my wife has a snake in classroom to begin with. Few urbanized children get to see such things and it is quite a shock, at first. If feeding the snake was left up to them, it wouldn't happen. And that isn't right. Confusing? I hope not so far as to cause the eyes and mind to clamp shut.

Being human we are sensitive to others and this is a reality, and a "good" thing for such obligately social animals. Projecting this to other animals makes sense, provides good lessons, and feels right. And I do it too. But, to be intellectually honest, I cannot deny the nature of life. I have gotten over much of the squeamishness, and gained real experience with nature, and in the process been given the opportunity to better know my place in it.

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