trout fishing. How can we truly connect to nature if we do not understand it? The macroinvertebrate food sources for trout and salmon are often highlighted because this provides useful information for catching fish on artificial flies and lures. Conversely, the role of trout as competition with other similar species is usually glossed over. The author’s occasional effort of simply pointing out the fact that other animals sometimes eat or ‘destroy’ trout, does not enlighten the reader that trout are just one part of the bigger ecological picture. Furthermore, describing a predator of trout as an enemy also sets up a judgment with a clear bias, especially when it comes from a writer who has already proclaimed a deep admiration for trout. If, in contrast, people who fish are first and foremost lovers of nature, then anglers should be outraged by the perpetual stocking of non-native game species that ultimately compete with native non-game species. The books I found never talked about reducing the range of trout for ecological or philosophical reasons. In contrast, the wide distribution of non-native trout was not questioned unless they directly competed with native trout. Perhaps it is time to begin to question the faith and rely more on evidence. Environmentalists and anglers alike who value nature need to understand not just worship the home of the trout.
In a book by John Bailey there is the preferential treatment given to game fish relative to other species. Less than twenty-five pages into the manuscript, the author talks about the difficulty of separating a lamprey from a wounded pike. Perhaps because lamprey are not classified as fish in the strictest sense, the author figures he does not need to consider the welfare of this particular aquatic animal. In fact, the author was just continuing a long tradition of trying to eradicate species that prey on trout. John McPhee also mentions leaving a sea lamprey he caught on a rock to bake in the sun, partly because he was understandably afraid to remove the hook from what is perhaps the ugliest
looking mouth in the animal kingdom.
Bailey lays out his hierarchy of species when he describes several small non-game species of fish as uninteresting. This comment is made despite a quote on the same page that “the fish here may be small, but the wise angler knows that setting, not the size, is what counts most.” (Bailey, 1998 p. 30). The difference is that he was talking about small game fish versus non-game fish. I certainly would hope that the wise angler would know that without the small fish and macroinvertebrates
the whole aquatic system breaks down. In fairness, the author was probably simply stating that small fish were not worth catching. Still, the idea that the non-game fish would not interest someone who views game fish as majestic and glorious is puzzling, if not disturbing. When game fish become our focus in nature, the rest of the ecosystem simply becomes a support network for game
fish. In reality, all species are interdependent on each other in a healthy ecosystem and manipulating the population size of one species can ultimately hurt all species.