“Catch and Release”

Here is an entertaining piece by Wallace Westfeldt on the explanation of catch and release:
Atrapar y Soltar

by Wallace Westfeldt 10-29-15

Recently I had the pleasure of explaining fly fishing to a small group of latinos in spanish. They had no previous encounters with this type of fishing so it was quite a discovery, particularly the small flies and small hooks. It was also quite amusing. It turns out that “Bellyache” (Rob Kolanda’s streamer) is very funny word in spanish; “Mal de Panza.”

The most difficult thing to explain in Spanish is  “Catch and Release” (Atrapar y Soltar). I had this problem before. Many years we had a trip of 7 young men from Kuwait studying English at CU. They didn’t get it either. They even had interesting questions like, “How many do I have to catch before I can keep one?” My favorite was from the best language student who caught the most fish, “Wallace, you realize that catch and release are opposite words, don’t you?”

It turns out that this non-understanding is cultural and language based. As far as cultures go, it’s not a latino problem, a kuwaiti problem, or a vietnamese problem. It is actually non-understood by most anglers in the world including white people from Colorado. To these folks ‘catch and release’ is as silly as shooting an Elk, removing the bullet, resuscitating the elk and watching him runaway. The most common question is, “¿Porque, no te gusta el sabor de pescado?” Curious language issue here … a fish in water is called “pez”; fish on your plate is called “pescado”. So naturally each pez caught are automatically pescado. As a child and young adult, I killed and ate every fish I caught. Catch and Release is comparatively new and isolated. Seems that only white fly fisherman, tournament Bass Fisherman, some TV Bass fisherman, and some tropical fly fisherman know about it and practice it. And except for the competitions, not everyone practices all the time. Even now, one or twice a year I go to high mountain lakes for Brookies for the table. Last spring in Padre Island, we landed a couple “dinner” Reds the first day and it was a perfect dinner for four.As 95% catch and releaser, it seems obvious. Since I fish for sport and not to survive why diminish the resource. It’s fun to watch the fish swim away from your hand. If I want good tasting fish from anywhere in the world, I can get it 365 days a year at my local fish market. And, by the way, it’s a cheaper way to get fish even if you do shop at Whole Foods. However, what seems obvious to me and many other fly fishing anglers, is considered, quirky, dumb, snobbish, or just silly by most of the angling world.

Does catch and release work? General opinion says it does. I don’t know what the fish surveys say. But I do know that in over 50 years of fishing what I see. These days, even though are a thousand times more anglers on the water, I see more and better quality fish than when I was a kid. So I have two proactive solutions to promote better resource management who take our plentiful fish resource for granted. The first one will actually help the fish takers have more fun and could be reprinted in DOW manuals. The second one is creative and plays loose with the truth.

In Colorado, if you intend to take fish and you use barbed hooks, treble hooks, worms, eggs, power bait, cheese balls, bread, etc., the first four fish you catch are the ones you take home and you are done for the day. The reason is the mortality rate of fish caught in this manner is extremely high, so releasing these fish is just a hollow gesture. On the other hand if you fish with a single barbless hook where there is very early detection of a strike (like fly fishing) you can fish all day and choose the ones you want to take home.

Now I’m going to creative solution in spanish, because it’s more fun. I will boldface the only sentence you have to remember:


“¡Hola Senora! Su niños son muy lindos.”


“¿Estás atrapando algo?”

“Si, mira.” She holds up stringer of fish.

“Dios mio. ¿Vas a comer los¿!”

“Claro que si!”

“Cuidado. Esos peces son tóxicos.”


“Si. Miras las casas. Todos usan fosas sépticas. Finalmente drena en el rio.”

“¿Es verdad?”

“Si, podriás enfarmese y morir. Adios, pasarlo, bien.”