dead tarpon

Photo provided

Brett Molzen demonstrates the wrong way to handle a tarpon.

Due to some changes here at the office, I’ve been spending a little more time on Facebook lately. While there’s some good stuff on social media, there’s a whole lot more that is slowly driving me nutburgers — and it’s not just the politics. One in particular got my blood pumping. When you read it, you’ll probably think it’s a great conservation message. And it is — at least, the words are.

“Was blessed to be able to catch and safely release this fat girl! Hope to see her back next year with a couple more pounds on her! People ask me all the time, “why catch a fish you can’t keep?” I don’t fish for the food. To be honest I probably eat fish once a month. I do it because I love the fight I love the adrenaline rush! There’s no better feeling then pulling on a fish that is the size of you. They are so gorgeous and amazing to watch them jump out the water. 75% of fish caught and harvested gets freezer burnt and thrown away. Just because you catch a fish that is legal, doesn’t mean you have to harvest him.”

Sounds pretty solid, huh? No need to kill what we’re not going to use, catch and release when possible — something I can totally get behind, and I’ll bet you can too.

But. You are no doubt familiar with the old trope that actions speak louder than words. Do you see the photo printed here? Does it seem to go with the conservation-minded words above? And yet, there they were, side by side with no apparent self-awareness of the hypocritical dichotomy on display for the world

Many of you have caught tarpon and are aware of how worn-out one of these fish would have to be to allow itself to be dragged onto a dock for this photo. Tarpon are subject to considerable stress even in ethical catch and release, and some die. Limiting fight time, and therefore stress, is the most important factor in ensuring tarpon survive being caught.

Assuming that perhaps this individual was not aware of this, I pointed it out in a matter-of-fact way. He and his friends responded to this educational outreach, and those of a few others, by letting us know we were crybabies and assuring us it was OK because they had a tarpon tag on the boat and they knew what they were doing.

Two things: First, if they did in fact know what they were doing, then they knew they were breaking the law by removing a large tarpon from the water,and also that tarpon tags are only for IGFA record fish and have to be attached to the fish immediately.

Second, this fisherman is an excellent example of how social media has become a platform for people with more ego than sense to show off. What it comes down to is that for him, proof of the conquest was what mattered, not the life of this near-mature tarpon that probably took about 20 years to get to this size and was almost certainly killed by someone who wanted everybody to see how cool he is.

Well, here he is. He’s a charter captain. His name’s Brett Molzen. Isn’t he cool?


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