Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
November 26, 2012

Andy Whitcomb

Thankful for a Return Policy

Fishing offers the possibility of a unique connection with a wild underwater creature that cannot be experienced with any other outdoor activity.  That next cast could be met with a nerve-rattling strike. With a successful hook set, a connection via a barely visible line transfers the fish’s determined pull and energy of powerful runs and acrobatic leaps. And then, if you want, the fish can be returned for another angler to experience someday.

Fishing is part hunting.   However, living vicariously as a small, unsuspecting lure that is suddenly smashed with a ferocious strike, the hunter is also the hunted.  Unfortunately, real hunting lacks a return policy.  “You break it, you buy it.”

Perhaps another outdoor activity that could be compared to fishing is walking a dog.  That is, walking a huge, energetic, untrained puppy that is trying to chase a cat that just darted in front of you.  They even make a reel-in type leash, which I suspect was invented by an angler.

We can’t all be like Turtle Man and catch by hand a wild animal like a raccoon, admire it, then release it without a trip to the hospital. But the catch and release practices of fishing rarely result in an injury to either party. (Though some fish like sharks or gar are trickier than others.)

If the fish is destined for the skillet, fine.  But if the angler wants to return the fish, by using barbless hooks, lures instead of bait, and fighting/handling the fish with care there is a high probability of a successful release. Often anglers just want to earn a little Bass Thumb, and then release the fish, perhaps to meet again someday in a bigger battle. And for fishings’ practical return policy, I am truly grateful.

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at

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Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”. One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”... To the point it could be classified as borderline illness. Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie." Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up. Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US. He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well... And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.                                                                                Find out about the rest of Take Me Fishing Blog Authors.

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