An Open Letter To PETA On Catch & Release Fishing

By: Joseph Simonds on August 14, 2016
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peta on catch and release fishing

Dear PETA,

First of all, shame on you for drowning actor Joaquin Phoenix…

He was a decent actor, and he didn’t deserve to drown like that on your dime.

(If you never saw the PETA “catch and release fishing video” where they compare a fish out of water to a human drowning using actor Joaquin Phoenix to promote “going vegan”, you can watch it here below)

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Secondly, shame on you for spreading misleading propaganda about catch and release fishing.

First, you came out with a pretty obnoxious catch and fishing campaign with Joaquin that lacked any fair and balanced comparisons that any well-respected and believable content would consist of.

But then you went even further with your more recent, “You’ll Never Go Fishing After Reading This” article that was so one-sided that you should be embarrassed to publish it.

For the record, I fully respect and support your overall cause to protect animals and to prevent animal cruelty. In my mind, PETA represents a passionate group of animal rights and cruelty prevention activists that do some amazing things in the world for animals.

But you have pushed it a bit too far on your misleading PETA catch and release fishing campaigns.

So in this open letter, I will be revealing THREE MAIN REASONS why your thoughts on ending catch and release fishing are dead wrong.

Including why kids, families, and MORE (not less) Americans should be fishing as much as possible.

While at the same time, I will also give you credit for hitting on two pretty serious issues in the fishing industry that need to be addressed and fixed. An issue that I believe PETA and the fishing industry can work together on, instead of butting heads on.

More on that in a moment.

First, let me tell you the story on how your PETA “Catch and Release” Article made me briefly rethink my career path recently…

“Did I Make A Mistake Starting A Fishing Company?”

peta fishing

Just a little over seven months ago, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life.

I walked away from the financial services industry that I had served (and it had served me well) for over 13 years to pursue my dream of working with my brother to start a saltwater fishing company called Salt Strong.

Our overall mission at Salt Strong:

“To help saltwater anglers catch more fish and create memories that matter through fishing.”

I say it was a big decision because the following things have occurred over the last 18 months:

  • My brother Luke and I quit our six-figure jobs, sold everything, and even burned our suits to pursue our missing of teaching the world to fish
  • I convinced my wife to quit her amazing job to help me pursue my dreams
  • We took our oldest daughter out of her amazing school in Atlanta
  • We had to let our beloved nanny go
  • We had to say goodbye to many of our closest friends
  • We packed up everything we owned and moved from Atlanta to Tampa
  • We are literally putting everything we have into this new venture to positively affect as many people as we can reach

And shortly after my big decision to “burn the ships” behind me and set forth on my new path, an old associate of my mine forwarded me your article on the harms of catch and release fishing.

Truth be told I completely ignored the article for a few days as I was crazy busy and I had other things on my mind besides hearing what PETA had to think about fishing.

However, a few days later things slowed down, I pulled up the PETA catch and release fishing article, and started reading away…

PETA catch and release fishing

Here is an excerpt from the article (this is how the PETA article begins):

Imagine that you’re a fish, darting around your watery home and finding tasty snacks to enjoy. Now, imagine that you bite into one of those snacks and suddenly feel searing pain as a sharp hook rips through your mouth. You fight against it, but the painful hook is pulling you up toward the surface of the water. You struggle until every last ounce of your strength is gone. You’re then hoisted into the air, away from the safety of the deep water, and that’s when you begin to suffocate.

Read more:

The wording and the vivid analogies definitely get your attention, regardless if you have fished your entire life, or if you have never wet a line before. And the article combined with the “fish suffocating video” definitely got me thinking…

Let me list for you the main points and takeaways from the PETA Catch and Release article that had my rethinking my new role as a fishing advocate. The PETA article made the following points:

  • The PETA article says fishing is harmful, and that it is not family fun
  • It said fish have nerves (just like humans and other sophisticated animals) so they can feel pain (like a hook going into their lip or mouth)
  • It said a hooked fish not only endures physical pain from the hook, but that it also experiences terror and stress from being caught
  • It said fish can have their protective coatings removed due to human hands touching them
  • It discusses the evils of putting pliers down a fish’s throat to try to get the hook out
  • Countless other animals like birds, turtles, and other wildlife choke or get entangled with discarded fishing tackle and fishing line
  • It said there have been studies that show some fish that were caught and then released had died of shock due to suffering from the severe psychological distress of being out of the water

All in all, they have a few valid arguments, but at the same time have a few misleading and exaggerated statements as well.

At either rate, this PETA article made me reflect on my decision to start a fishing company.

It made me reflect on why I enjoy fishing.

It made me reflect on how I fell in love with the sport of fishing.

It made me reflect on how fishing has impacted my family, how it has brought us closer together, how it has fed us and nourished us in numerous ways over the years.

Finally, it made me reflect back on why I want to help teach the world how to fish with my dream called Salt Strong.

Here is what I came to realize after many days of reflecting and talking to numerous anglers and animal lovers about the subject and catch and release fishing…

Related Post: “9 Amazing Reasons To Take Your Kids Fishing”

Click Here to read it now!

3 Reasons PETA Is Dead Wrong About Catch & Release Fishing

peta catch and release fishing

1) Fish Do NOT Feel Pain Like Humans

Yes, Fish feel changes to their body and they feel changes pertaining to their environment (just like Roaches, Wasps, and Spiders do when they are sprayed with bug spray).

However, they do NOT have emotions, and they do not have nerves that humans have.

In fact, not even remotely close.

peta catch and release fishing

To compare a fish going through severe psychological and emotional stress is like saying ants need to be protected and start seeing chiropractors because they are suffering from severe back problems from lifting too much weight.

It is what they were born to do!

And there is nothing that anybody can say or do that is going to even remotely eliminate the “stress” from a fish’s life. Fish were born to eat each other… they were born to withstand stress… they were born with the amazing ability to face death every single day and keep on ticking.

Can you imagine waking up every single day of your life knowing that someone close to you (perhaps even a parent or sibling) would die that very day? Perhaps they would die right in front of you while you sit there and watch your family member get eaten alive…

Sadly, that’s the life of a fish.

It is a life of stress, it is a life of eating each other (other fish and animals kill way more fish every year than humans ever could), and it is the ultimate “dog-eat-dog” world. To compare a fish’s life, or a fish’s stress, or a fish’s feelings to a human is like comparing the nutritional value of a fast food double bacon cheeseburger to broccoli… it just doesn’t hold any weight.

In fact, I could make a counter-argument to your catch & release theory that a fish’s happiest moment is when it is released. It certainly beats getting swallowed alive by a bigger fish, carried off by a bird, or thrown in a live well to get gutted and cleaned later.

Does this fish below look like it would have preferred to die over catch and release?

peta catch and release fishing

This fish would have rather been “caught and released…”

I can only imagine a fish is smiling ear to ear right after it gets released, knowing that it just escaped death. Heck, being out of the water for a fish means a shark or larger fish can’t eat them at that moment. It might just be the least amount of stress in a fish’s life for all we know…

It certainly beats the other two Stressful options that fish go through every single day:

  1. Get caught, killed, and eaten by humans
  2. Get chased down, killed, and eaten by a bigger fish, sharks, porpoises, birds, bears, wolves, and a slew of other animals that feed on fish every single day

It might sound harsh, but for the sake of being a repeater, that is the life of a fish EVERY SINGLE DAY. And fish have been living this way for thousands and thousands of years.

Fish do not wake up thinking about a job, or about the weather, or about the news, or about health care, or about checking their Facebook feed. Fish spend every waking hour only thinking about these two things:

  1. Where can I get my next meal?
  2. How do I avoid getting eaten by a larger fish, shark, bird, or some other land animal while looking for my next meal?

To compare a fish to a human in terms of pain, emotions, and stress is absurd.

Not to mention, there was an actual scientific study featured here in the Huffington Post that suggests a fish’s brain is nowhere big enough or sophisticated enough to process pain the way a human would. As you can read in the article (or the full abstract study on fish feeling pain here), the debate that animal activists like PETA keep bringing up revolve around the presence of (or lack thereof) nociceptors in fish.

What are nociceptors? Nociceptors are the sensory receptors that speak to the brain when they detect physical damage and feelings of pain. At least that is how nociceptors work in humans. No one has been able to prove they work similarly in fish yet.

Furthermore, many fish do not even show signs of having nociceptors at all.

Dr. James Rose from the University of Wyoming argues that any presence of nociceptors in fish does not necessarily mean they work the same as humans. Rather, when a fish fights back on an angler’s line and hook, it’s simply acting instinctively as it was born to do.

Instead of acting out of pain, the fish acts out of reflex. Just like a wasp reacts immediately getting sprayed with wasp spray. Just like a butterfly reacts when it loses a wing. Just like a spider or a roach reacts when it loses a leg trying to get away from shoe…

Another issue I had with your article and video is you keep inferring that fish are like humans. PETA infers that fish are incredibly sensitive, smart, and can even suffer extreme trauma when hooked or when taken out of the water (similar to a human drowning).

Well if that is true, how do you explain the countless instances where a fish bites a bait with a hook, gets hooked through the mouth, fights the angler so hard it breaks the line (so now it has a hook and line hanging from its mouth), yet it’s memory is short enough that it will get hooked and caught again within an hour’s time frame from the original “traumatic” experience.

There have even been countless instances where anglers catch (and take out of the water) the exact same fish in the same day. Sometimes within the same half hour!

This really happens, people!

Here is just one of many videos showing a Florida Snook being hooked and fought (eventually breaking the line with the hook in his mouth), and then minutes later bites a new bait and gets hooked again! So now it has two hooks in its mouth, and two lines hanging out of its mouth.

I tell you this not to glorify it, but to further prove that getting hooked cannot be as traumatic and terrifying for a fish as you think it is, or they would certainly not make the same mistake just minutes later (click here to watch the video. It is the second video and it happens around the 6:20 mark).

And here is a second video of a large Grouper that gets hooked, then puts so much pressure on the line that it snaps the heavy duty fishing line, only to get rehooked again minutes later with the old line and hook still in his mouth from the “traumatic fight” just minutes prior (click here to watch it).

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like the fish experienced terror or suffered from extreme trauma to me…

Because if getting hooked, pulled around, and potentially being held out of the water for any amount of time was as painful as you describe (to the point it can traumatize, stress out, and even kill a fish), wouldn’t you think the fish would be a bit cautious for days afterwards? Or at least an hour of that traumatic incident?

I know if it were a human that went through a traumatizing situation, they would stay free and clear of a similar incident for weeks, if not years.

The Oldest Fish In The World

peta catch and release fishing

The Goliath Grouper (Not the Oldest Fish In The World). For Illustrative Purposes Only.

As I pointed out earlier, many fish don’t last very long in their environments.

It truly is a dog eat dog world (regardless of any humans or commercial fisherman catching fish), and fish and other animals kill each other every single day for food in the millions.

It’s just part of nature.

And do you know which fish survive the longest? It’s actually the ones that have been in the most gnarly experiences. The ones that have faced death more times than any of their fish comrades. It’s the fish that have survived with the most scars that have lived the longest.

It is no different than the oldest person living in the world today (by the way, the oldest lady in the world is Jeralean Talley at 116 years of age. Ironically, she said the three things that she contributes her longevity to are God, fishing, and coffee. You can read her story here about how she still goes fishing at least once or twice per year as it keeps her in good spirits).

The oldest living people have experienced the most, they have faced death, they have seen countless friends and loved ones die, and they usually have more scars than anyone else.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger has never rung so true…

Now does all of this mean that we should manhandle fish, keep them out of the water so we can take obnoxious selfies for Instagram before we throw them back in?

NO! Heck no.

In fact, that is an issue that I want to address a little bit later in this open letter to PETA.

But what it all does mean is that we need to respect the fish while fishing, we need to ensure that the fish can swim away with no issues, and we need to limit the amount of time we keep a fish above water.

Of course, it also means that you should not believe false claims that fish are suffering from stress disorders and have feelings like humans…


2) Anglers Do More Than Anyone To Preserve The Ocean & The Conservation of Fishing

peta catch and release fishing

Quick question for PETA.

Would you be pleased to hear about a group that spends hundreds of millions of hard-earned dollars protecting and conserving the following?

  • 575 species of wildlife
  • Over 200 species of freshwater fish
  • Over 500 species of saltwater fish

I can only assume you would reply with an enthusiastic, “Yes

What do these numbers above represent?

These numbers represent the amount of wildlife and fish that my wonderful state of Florida protects and helps preserve through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (see all of the FWC details here).

Let me show you another number real quick:


What does that huge number represent?

That is the total amount of funding for the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission for the fiscal year 2014-2015.

And yes, the decimals are in the right place. That is over $300 million greenbacks that go towards wildlife, land, animal, and fish protection and conservation!

And do you know where that money comes from?

It comes from the same anglers and hunters that you are trying to eliminate and rub the wrong way. The same ones like me that are donating money, that are buying fishing and hunting licenses, and the ones that take immense pride in conservation of land, water, and all that lives in it.

And keep in mind, this incredible funding and conservation effort is just from ONE state! There are 49 more that have conservation commissions and hundreds of millions of dollars at work protecting fisheries and wildlife as well.

“What About The Irresponsible Anglers?”

Let’s address an objection many PETA fans are probably yelling at the computer right now as they read this.

“What about the irresponsible anglers that leave trash in the water? And the ones that leave old tackle and fishing line out for other animals to choke on and get tangled up in? And what about the irresponsible anglers that are holding fish out of the water to the point they die (when they aren’t eating them).

Yes, this is a serious issue.

But just like any occupation, just like any industry, just like any religion, and just like any organization, you are always going to have a handful of bad apples in a large group.

And the fishing industry is certainly not immune to that. But keep in mind, it is the same funding by anglers that helps employ wildlife officers and enforcement on the waterways to arrest and help eliminate the bozos out there that give fishing a bad name.

And I believe that with your help, we can all clean it up even more.

But first…

What Is PETA Currently Doing To Help Conserve The Land?

peta catch and release fishing letter

So the big question I have is, “What is PETA doing to protect and conserve the land, the fish, and the marine life besides trying to eliminate anglers and turn them into vegans?”

Through my lens, I see your attack on fishing as nothing more than trying to eliminate millions of jobs and making the world a worse place to live in.

Is that really the legacy you want your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to remember you by?

That you were responsible for killing millions of jobs, that you shut down a multi-billion dollar industry that does more for fisheries and coastal areas than any other group in the world, that you ruined an industry that feeds millions of families, that you helped destroy an industry that invents and invests in all kinds of new ways to save animals and fish… all because you “think” fish might have feelings like humans do?

And if you had your wish for fishing and hunting to end tomorrow, who would protect and conserve everything for the future generations to come? Who would raise the hundreds of millions of dollars to protect, nurture, and upkeep all of the public land when the main contributors and funders have been disposed of?

Is PETA going to strap on scuba gear and start spearing Lionfish like our friend Alex Fogg of the FWC does to help save other fish and entire underwater ecosystems from these invasive lionfish? (read more here on how Lionfish are creating massive amounts of destruction to coral reefs and fish)

Is PETA going to assemble an expansive army of Prius hybrids to start doing rounds in the forest to make sure public land and wildlife is safe? Is PETA going to hire marine biologists and a network of people around the world to protect all of the marine species?

I hope you see the irony here PETA.

You are trying to eliminate the one group of people that care for the future of the fish and the water more than you do. The one group that will do anything in its power to make sure their kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and so forth have the same opportunities to fish and to experience outdoor life like they did.

And let me repeat that if you eliminated fishing altogether (which is clearly your goal regardless if it is catch and release or caught and killed for eating), you also eliminate millions of jobs.

  • You eliminate state wildlife rangers across the country.
  • You eliminate many scientists, doctors, and marine biologists that dedicate their life to fish and wildlife.
  • You eliminate mom and pop fishing and tackle stores across America.
  • You eliminate entire boating and fishing industries that keep the economy going.
  • You eliminate billions of dollars of funding to keep up public property maintained.
  • And you eliminate the very people that are out there in the fields and streams ensuring that animals and wildlife do not go extinct.

All because you think that fish might have feelings and emotions.

PETA, you don’t go shooting the goose that is laying the golden conservation eggs for all of America.

Why do you think Ted Turner bought up every acre of land he could get his hands on? It wasn’t so he could go 4-wheeling in the mud and leave beer cans everywhere (I am guessing this is your false impression of a hunter). It was so he could do everything in his means to protect and conserve as much land as possible.

Why do you think people like Guy Harvey donate so much of their time and money to conservation? It isn’t like they need the publicity, and it certainly isn’t profitable. It’s because people like Ted and Guy who have a burning desire to protect the ocean and all of its inhabitants more than anyone at any organization I know.

Yet, it is these same “fish heroes” like Guy Harvey that you try to tear down.

It just doesn’t make any sense for you to attack fishing once you take a step back and look at the big picture. If anything, why not work with fishing and conservation leaders to improve the sport of fishing instead of spending so much time trying to tear it down…

Final note on the subject: Anglers and Hunters are America’s Top Conservationists for Wildlife!

3) The Fishing “Experience” Trumps Everything.

peta catch and release fishing

Let me tell you a quick story about a young kid that had his life changed by fishing.

A young boy went out fishing for the very first time with his father and grandfather in a small lake in central Florida many decades ago.

The three generations of men were armed with cane poles, a couple yards of old fishing line each, some small hooks, and a loaf of bread.

They sat on an old rickety dock and caught bluegill after bluegill, and the boy had never been so excited in his entire life. In fact, it is a memory he still treasures 30+ years later.

This boy quickly grew addicted to catching more fish… and bigger fish.

It kept him outside, it kept him out of trouble, it kept him engaged, and it kept him happy. So his parents loved it as much as he did.

And before you knew it, he was out on his own catching largemouth bass with his brother after school in their old, green canoe.

As he became a skilled fisherman through his senior year in high school, he looked back to realize that he had learned some incredibly valuable lessons while fishing:

  • Camaraderie
  • Knot tying
  • Engineering (testing the perfect lures for each circumstance, testing rod lengths and strengths, testing line strengths, testing knot strengths, and using ingenuity to fix fishing tackle and even holes in your canoe when you don’t have much money or resources)
  • Mechanics (taking a fishing reel apart and knowing how each piece works together)
  • Marine biology
  • The effects of pollution in our lakes and oceans
  • Love of nature
  • Failure (nothing can teach a kid about how the real world really works like fishing does. You can’t win em all every time, but if you stick with it and learn from your mistakes, you will find success)
  • Persistency
  • Respect for fish
  • Patience

In essence, this boy had learned some of life’s most valuable lessons from fishing.

Lessons that aren’t taught in school… lessons that many parent’s aren’t teaching their kids today… lessons that many kids today will never experience… lessons that are critical for survival in the real world.

Fast forward a bit, and this kid is graduating at the top of his class at a prestigious college.

This kid goes on to be an industry leader and even publishes two well-respected books on in the Financial Services and Insurance space.

He goes on to start and then sell his own company.

He then raises a family for himself and begins to teach his kid’s the critical life skills that come from fishing. But more importantly, he is creating experiences and memories that matter for his kids.

Memories and experiences that were so powerful and lasting for this guy when he was a kid, that he attributes much of his success and joy for the world today to fishing.

How do I know?

Because that kid was me.

And the experiences I had on the water of bonding with my dad, with my mom, with my grandparents, with my brothers, and now with my wife and daughters are some of the best memories I have.

So powerful that I walked away from a steady six-figure job and risked it all to teach the world how to fish and to put a smile on people’s faces through the act of fishing.

Today, I attribute my persistency, my love and respect for animals and the water, along with my passion to ensure this next round of kids get off their devices and put a fishing rod in their hands, to the amazing experiences I had while fishing.

I certainly don’t remember most of what I received for Christmas as a kid, I don’t remember scores of my little league games, and I don’t recall all of the Nintendo games I played… but I certainly remember my experiences out on the water.

And there are countless numbers of guys and gals just like me that were raised fishing, and they are doing everything in their power to make the world a better place by teaching fishing in the next generation.

Not to mention, releasing more fish than ever before to make sure the future generations can have the same experiences that I had.

I tell you all of this to let you know that the experiences kids, adults, families, spouses, co-workers, and friends have out on the water while fishing are irreplaceable. They are more powerful that you “fish-haters” ever give them credit for, and they can help shape kids and young adults into better people.

That is one of the many reasons I am such an advocate of showing America why we need “More Tackle boxes and Less Xboxes” in our homes today (you can read that article here).

Kids today are spending more time inside, they are horrible at communicating because they rely so much on text and social apps to speak to one another, and many of them lack any real world experiences. Fishing can solve all of those issues. And the thrill of feeling a fish on your line is one of the few things kids can do outdoors that truly trumps any video game.

And it will certainly create memories that matter, and experiences that will last a lifetime.

PETA catch and release fishing

The author (right) and his younger brother Luke (left) fishing on Indian Rocks Beach at a young age

Related Post: “9 Amazing Reasons To Take Your Kids Fishing”

Click Here to read it now!

The Day I Suffocated To Death… Literally

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention one eerily ironic story that happened to me when I was 16.

At the age of 16, I went it to the hospital for a “routine” surgery… getting my tonsils and adenoids removed.

To make a long story short, when the anesthesiologist put the bronchial tube down my throat (while putting me to sleep for surgery), I had my first ever (and only to this date) full-on asthma attack.

Instantly, my lungs expanded, collapsing on the bronchial tube and cutting off my airway.

As the doctors tried to pull the tube out of my throat, my body went into panic mode, and then it happened…

I suffocated to death…aka I felt what it is like to drown. And yes, I literally flatlined for a second on that hospital bed that day.

Fortunately for me the doctors injected me with some sort of steroid which helped get my body going again, they quickly released the tube from my collapsed lungs, and I finally started breathing again. I spent a few days in intensive care, but I came out with a smile on my face, and a new appreciation for life.

I tell you this to prove that even after I personally drowned to the point my heart stopped beating, and even after all of the trauma and stress it caused on my body, I still turned out pretty darn well.

And I came out smiling and lucky to be alive just like a fish being thrown back in the water.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

P.S. – I still have my tonsils and adenoids to this day, as my parents said they were never taking a risk losing their oldest son to tonsils again.

The Fishing Issues That PETA Was Correct On

peta catch and release fishing

1) Discarded fishing gear and fishing line left behind is hurting and even killing animals

This is a serious issue that is facing the fishing industry, and it is one that I give PETA full credit for recognizing and bringing to light. According to PETA’s article on catch and release fishing there are “millions of birds, turtles, and other animals that sustain debilitating injuries after they swallow hooks or become entangled in fishing lines. Wildlife rehabilitators say that discarded fishing tackle is one of the greatest threats to aquatic animals.”

And I concur. This is due to years and years of careless tossing of old plastic fishing lures in the water and left behind fishing line by negligent anglers.

The good news is that this issue is now mainstream and everyone out on the water is not only aware of it, but making a point to call people out, and even picking up after the small percentage of “spoilers” out there. As I mentioned, the vast majority of anglers are the nation’s ultimate conservationists, and they will be leading the charge on cleaning up the waters.

The other good news is that there are solid groups like Keep America Fishing that are spending lots of money and resources in their “Pledge to Pitch It” campaign (read about it here) where they are encouraging and incentivizing anglers to throw away and recycle all plastic fishing lures and all fishing line.

Of course, this doesn’t solve all of the problems overnight, but the fact that the entire fishing community is behind this to the point that it is now “very uncool” to just toss an old lure or fishing line into anything but a trash or recycling receptor is good news going forward.

2) There are some serious issues with incorrect handling of fish, keeping fish out of water way too long to get a picture, and there is an issue of holding large fish improperly when taking them out of the water before a release.

It all comes down to education.

Just like it used to be cool to smoke cigarettes on airplanes before people realized it was killing humans from second-hand smoke, it used to be cool to hold fish however you wanted, to keep them out of the water for as long as you need to, and casually throw them back in and hope they swam off.

However, just as we realized that smoking in restaurants and airplanes places isn’t good for mankind, the same can be said for anglers in regards to handling fish properly, releasing them to give them the maximum ability to thrive and survive, and to keep fish out of the water for as short of a period as possible.

But quite honestly, from the pictures I continue to see on social media outlets of people holding fish incorrectly, we still have a long way to go.

And I don’t want to turn this open letter into a catch and release tutorial, but please anglers, for the sake of protecting fish and your local fisheries, please read the article below and watch the video in the article when you are done reading this open letter to PETA.

Note: We recently published an article (with an awesome educational video) called “Must Know Catch and Release Fishing Tips for Saltwater Anglers” (you can see it here).


PETA catch and release fishing

PETA, you made some important points in your two different campaigns against catch and release fishing.

Issues such as fish being held out of the water for excessive amounts of time, fishing tackle being littered and left out to hurt or kill other wildlife, and inappropriate handling techniques of fish need to be brought to light.

But there is simply no reason to destroy and put an end to catch and release fishing (or catch and eat fishing) because you think that fish might feel some stress and trauma by being caught. These are the same fish that have lived with more stress and trauma than almost any other class of animals out there.

The same fish that are getting chased by larger fish, sharks, and other animals every day. A fish’s daily life is sadly made up of two things:

  1. Try to find food to eat for the day
  2. Try to avoid getting eaten by a larger fish, shark, bird, or any other long list of land animals that eat fish while looking for food

Regarding trying to end fishing, shame on you for attempting to brainwash the youth of America into thinking fishing is some evil activity.

Moreover, spreading negative fishing propaganda with a celebrity doesn’t convince a single angler that you are right and anglers are wrong.

In fact, it does just the opposite. It polarizes the opponent, which rarely does anybody any good. Just look at our own government if you want to see polarized views in action (aka nothing ever gets accomplished).

I’d love to see your next PETA fishing article be a little fair and balanced like most good (and believable) research is.

Finally, this open letter serves more of a challenge to PETA than anything else.

A challenge to help make fishing safer on the fish. To help protect the fish. To help educate anglers on acceptable catch and release practices instead of trying to end fishing altogether.

PETA, you have the ability to influence a lot of people. Please harness your influence into helping improve the fishing world instead of fighting a battle that no one wins by trying to tear it down.

You have plenty of fishing and ocean conservation groups (including Salt Strong) that would love to find a way to combine forces to ensure our oceans, our lakes, and our wildlife is protected so that future generations can enjoy it like we did…

And for the sake of celebrities everywhere, stop drowning actors…

salt strong pop quiz

P.S. – I would love any and all feedback from both sides of the argument. All I ask is that you keep it classy, leave the vulgar language out, and speak your mind without being condescending or negative.

P.P.S. – If you think your friends or network would find this open letter interesting, please Tag them or Share this with them. I really appreciate it.

Related Post: “9 Amazing Reasons To Take Your Kids Fishing”

Click Here to read it now!

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James Brochu
James Brochu

I am 15 years old (in 2019) and most of the kids I know are on the video games all day long, I’m not, I’m outside fishing everyday as much as I can. Fishing is a true hobby that has to live on forever. Like you said I as well respect 2 facts that peta is saying. But it’s wrong to “destroy” a great outdoor activity. I plan on joining the Marine Corps and I don’t know what could be coming, so I want to fish as much as possible until I head off. When I would come back I would go fishing as much as I could and teach the future generation. I always respect the fish with extreme care and always make sure there are no suspicious injuries to them. Thank you for posting this article cause my opinion is similar to this. Once again thank you!


I really enjoyed your article and I understand your point. Despite being a vegetarian of some sort, I hate PETA, because they are doing more harm than good. But mostly I hate their strictly one-sided view. You tried to look at it from both sides and I really appreciate these parts, but I think that to be really objective, you can’t be scared of self-critisism. Firstly – always work with facts and researches if you want to prove some point. The science behind fish and feeling pain is complicated and you can’t assume. For me, not knowing if something is harmful is good reason enough not to do that. There’s no research showing “fish don’t care” or even that it could be positive experience for them. We only know, that they do ‘feel’ in some sort of way. They know they are being hunted. Is that a bad thing? That’s arguable. What’s sure though, is that if you’re unexperienced, there’s a chance of harming the fish. If I understand it correctly, there’s even a chance of harming the fish by an experienced angler. Is that a bad thing? That’s a yes from me. Is the feeling of catching a fish really worth the risk of killing it? There are other ways of enjoying underwater life, you can love and support endangered fish even without catching them, you can teach kids to love nature without it, because they will. You can make awesome memories with family and friends without fishing. I started to love nature when I was about 4 and my older sister and I were visiting forests and building shelters, watching fish in the water, cleaning our countryside and volunteering in nearby animal shelters. We also learned about camaraderie, knot tying, engineering (building a tree house with little money and recources is quite a challenge), mechanics (using pulleys and levers, learning basics of physics), biology, the effects of pollution in our lakes and forests, love of nature, failure (shelter building, tent building and fire making can be really frustrating, you can’t get the fire running every time, but if you stick with it and learn from your mistakes, you will find succes), persistency, respect for all animals and plants and also patience. In essence, we had learned some of life’s most valuable lessons. We were also taught not to do things that could be harmful. It’s fun to throw knives at trees, it can be an usefull skill. It can also be harmful for the tree, even though it is really fun for me and I learn something new about trees. My parents told me not to. I asked why and they told me “imagine if someone threw knives at you, would you like it?”. I didn’t understand this argument, I’m not a tree. I didn’t want to be yelled at, so I made my own wooden target to throw at and it was fine. Years later, I can finally understand, why it’s not cool to throw knives at trees – it’s not necessary. I have no idea about what trees feel or don’t feel, it’s not me to judge. I just respect them. Yes, they can sustain damage from a bear or a woodpecker. So what? Is that a reason to do more damage? But trees maybe can’t feel at all. So what? Is that a reason to do it? I’m not saying this parable is perfect, I just want you to get my point – if there’s something that is fun but possibly does damage, avoid it or even better find a way that you can enjoy it without the risk.
Thank you for doing good things and always finding ways to do them even better.


i dont think you get the point.
so should i grab a stressed american for fun, just pierce him in the mouth show him to my friends then after a while release him to his enviroment?
you make the point that he lives in stress in the wild but if you are another predator there is more stress, the point is to take ourselfs out of the equation or to redeem our past and help restore the ecosistem that we’ve damage already.
you are right there is worst stuff in the fish industrie but that does not make this right.
there is a lot of ways to create memories, enjoy time and make friends, snorkling is one of them, be creative.


Have you ever caught a fish before? You should try it or go again! Better yet, I think you should try reading the entire article above …all of it. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion just like they are to their favorite hobbies. I don’t like to go golfing, but a lot of other people do. my point is if you don’t like to fish then don’t but if you’re going to be part of an argument or a debate you should have better information or at least read the article you’re debating on….. I’ve got an idea go golfing, that’s just more fish for us and the ones that love it!


I am a Vegan and like most of us growing up I was not informed of the lies about our ‘varied balanced diet’ until, through my lifelong obsession with pleasure angling, I met a very good vegan friend who enlightened me about the severe effects of our taste buds, if it wasn’t through meeting great friends through this amazing hobby we fisherman enjoy I would not have questioned the cruelty enforced on the wildlife of our planet the way I do now, I certainly wouldn’t have taken my own personal steps to further ensuring the preservation of our wildlife and their habitat. I have questioned myself so much thinking I was being cruel just because I had what i thought was a harmless and peaceful hobby, this article could not have been more correct, PETA and every other vegan or environmentalist out there needs to start educating our younger generations on fishing safely and how we can enjoy the preservation of wildlife on our planet, abolishing catch and release fishing and slandering us as fisherman is going to do nothing but make proud vegans like me to stop supporting PETA. but they are correct on some points, today i have never seen so many stupid, uneducated ‘fisherman’ casting out death traps, and it is our job to teach these people the same values my very own obsession was built on.

Ben Henderson
Ben Henderson

First of all I think you confused the words physiological and psychological secondly just eat the damn thing. Catch and release is for wusses, I was raised to not play with my food

Lois LatmanLlL
Lois LatmanLlL

Go ahead and catch fish for food, and kill it quickly and humanely as possible. Why is it fun to rip a hole in it’s mouth, start to suffocate it just for entertainment? Surely there are fun outdoor activities that don’t involve tormenting animals.

Dave Fitch

Well . . . Where should I start ?

( 1)

I am a fisherman. I have been a fisherman, since I was 6 years old, for over 50 years. My father and grandfather were fishermen. My children & grandchildren are all fisherman. Eventually, my great-children will become fishermen . . . Most of my friends are fishermen and I encourage everyone I can to become a fisherman and my family invites our friends and their kids to join us !


I am White. I am a Conservative. I am a strong Christian. I am a Republican. I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and will do so, again, in 2020. I support our Constitutional rights, freedom, and liberty. I do not smoke or drink and I have never done drugs. I oppose Socialism, Marxism, Communism, and Globalism. I oppose deviant lifestyles. I oppose Political Correctness. I oppose the indoctrination of our children in the Public “Schools”.


Liberals / Progressives always claim to be victims of “oppression”, victims of “discrimination”, victims of “racism / prejudice”, victims of “white privilege”, victims of anything that “offends” them . . . Essentially, they are only “victims”, who throw temper tantrums, anytime someone “disagrees” with them, tells them “No” ( Just like a spoiled brat ), or opposes their various “agendas”.

Their self-imposed “victim status” gives them a sense of “entitlement”, in that everything must be “given” to them, without having earned it or deserving it. The “Social Justice Warriors” use the very things that they claim they are “victims” of, in an effort to “force” their agenda upon the “people who pay the bills” and, unlike their “claim” of wanting everyone to be “un-offended” and “equal”, they do not care whom they insult, offend, or even injure in the process, as long as they get their “handouts” . . . They embrace Socialism, which leads to Marxism, which leads to Communism, because they only see the “free ride”, without ever considering what happens when you “run out of other people’s money” !

They run to the “Safe Spaces” on college campuses, whenever something “triggers” them . . . They are given cookies & milk, coloring books, and “counseling” . . . For the love of God, these people are “adults” or, at least, they are “supposed” to be ! The Real World does not have “Safe Spaces”, no one is going to let you “cry on their shoulder”, much less “pay your way” . . . These “Snowflakes” are in for a rude “defrosting” and they do not possess the “skills” necessary to “stand on their own” . . . Reality hurts, but it is the TRUTH !

(4) PETA . . . Global Warming / Climate Change . . . ANTIFA, etc, etc, etc . . . . You people are all of the same ilk and you deserve the “reckoning” that is coming !

(5) In closing, I felt that it was more critical to speak about the “important” things in life, rather than devote a long, ranting diatribe against the likes of PETA . . . I am my own “P.E.T.A.” – a Person Eating Tasty Animals !

Tight Lines and stay Salt Strong !


Only the first of your five points was valid. The others just show how brainwashed you really are, especially #2. Continue to be misled by a habitual liar who duped the masses into following him because of a deep seeded fear people that don’t look like you.


You have zero scientific or anecdotal evidence to show that fish have no negative effects when bashed around, hooked and thrown into a bucket head first.
Good for you. Make yourself feel better about your chosen job / hobby.

Honestly, I eat fish. I catch fish. I have no problem with fishing.
But I have a problem with people who flat out refuse to believe that what they’re doing is hurting something. Even frightening something.
They flee from you if they see you and they struggle and flip about in terror while they die.

I don’t mind if you go out fishing every day and earn bank from it and a few high fives with your bro but don’t make yourself feel better about what you’re doing by debasing an honest thought on animal safety.
You kill animals for a living.
It sounds like you really need to realise that’s what you’re doing.
Especially as I can tell you hate what you’re doing to the animals since you’re so quick to say they have no pain or fear.

It shows you want it to be true to ease your own guilt.
Just own it.
Own it without shouting it’s ok to treat them with disrespect to the world by saying there are no consequences as they feel no pain.

Fish like a man. Catch it and kill it fast then lay it down with the others.
Go to bed knowing you’re killing creatures that are frightened of you and get in with your life.
Fishing is natural.
Just do it while keeping in mind you’re killing and causing pain for your own survival. Or killing for fun whatever.
Just own it.


nice one.


This article is moronic, as are many of the comments. It’s it ok to hook a dog and drag it around fighting for its life because you release it afterwards? Would you do it to an elephant, tiger, what about a dolphin, or whale? You probably wouldn’t do it to a reptile or rodent. In fact, is there any species other than fish that are hunted for fun as people think it’s ok?


And don’t get me started on the disgusting people who hunt animals on land.

Animals are food – for each other as well as for humans. It is called the food chain – FOOD, not entertainment. I am neither vegan or vegetarian, but I am a scientist, I have a brain, as do you – use it. If you do eat animals of any kind, those animals should always be raised and killed in an humane way, without needless stress (the actual physiological state not emotion) or pain (on any level) as best as possibly be done.

Hunting and fishing for sport, recreation, fun, entertainment, family bonding, or whatever the hell lies you tell yourself IS CRUEL. Find another hobby.


Dear Virginia,
My name is Eddie, and I love fishing and being outside. I am a member of salt/ fish strong, and I came across your comment stating why catching fish and releasing them for sport is cruel. Your main argument seemed to focus on how catch and release makes a fish go through unnecessary pain for no point. First of all, please reread the letter. Joe specifically points out how fish feel little or no pain because their brains cannot process it. I would like to add to Joe’s argument by requesting you consider two fishes biology. The first fish is the well loved Redfish. This fish is easily the most chased fish on the southeast coast. It fights like a train and is excellent table fare. Now, you must want people to stop catching, hooking, and eating these beasts. What if I told you however that Redfish must go through a similar sensation of being hooked everyday, and if they want to eat, have to. Consider this fish’s diet. Redfish have a wide diet, but in every redfish I have filleted, one creature is present, 100% of the time. The prey- fiddler crabs. These little guys are everywhere in the creeks and if they get a claw on you, especially the males, a crab flying free over the water is usually the next site you will see. Redfish also eat many other things that have made me bleed, such as angry shrimp, blue crabs, and pinfish. And keep in mind, Redfish like most other fish, swallow their meals whole. So you might be asking me, how are these fish not weeping every time they eat. Simple, Redfish have hard plates in their mouths that allow them to eat a pincer/spiny tail/sharp fin without problem. With this in mind, a hook is not going to be giving this guy many problems. Our second fish, the Largemouth Bass, takes care of his dinners , such as crayfish and the spiny bluegill with a similar approach, they to have plates in their mouth. And with bass, I have first hand experience to tell you how hooks do not faze these guys. This past spring I was throwing a chatterbait in a pond, imitating a bluegill, and I caught a bass, dehooked him and threw him back. He swam off a few feet, but I could still see him. So I start fishing again and before you know it I hear some splashes and I look to where the bass was only to see him chasing bluegill. Also fish have to fight/ run/ swim away from things everyday, such as sharks/ herons/ pike/ dolphins etc. It is how they survive. I could go on and on about how fish have evolved to deal with pain, but that here it is, plain and simple: fish have evolved to either protect themselves or overcome other fishes protection so they can eat those other fish. Please think about this and maybe give fishing a shot. It is a lot of fun, especially with younger kids/ siblings. It is awesome to get someone interested in the outdoors.
Eddie (Keep Fishing, NEVER STOP)
P.S. Watch your language torwards the end please.


Eddie, firstly, fish do feel pain. You do not understand their physiology. Please don’t believe the “evidence ” that suits you. It is outdated. Fish feel pain and undergo stress when fished. This is scientific fact.

Secondly, because an animal is CAPABLE of fighting to survive, does not mean it enjoys it – I encourage you to think about that. What animal chooses to fight “for the fun of it” other than our own stupid species the homo sapien? Animals fight for food, territory and mating – ie to survive. I will use the domestic dog again as an example for you to consider – a dog can fight and can do it well just like the redfish and bass that you use in your example. A dog doesn’t “weep every time it eats” either but it chooses to be fed by its owner rather fight for its food. If we use your argument, then it should be ok to hook a dog for sport and family bonding too – they’re tough and can handle it. But we don’t do we? No. Because it’s barbaric and hideously cruel.

I grew up fishing, I did it for sport as a teenager. I have great family memories growing up fishing. But as I became educated and more aware of our impact on our earth and is creatures I had to update my beliefs and change my behaviour.

There are a lot of things we as a society used to think was ok that we now know are absolutely not. This is metely another one of them. As soon as you learn that what you thought was ok, actually is not ok, you have a moral responsibility to stop it.

As I said in my first post, just find another hobby.


Dear Virginia,
Well, I must say, I am disappointed in your argument against fishing. It contained little to no logic or sources to back up your argument. First off, to compare a fish feeling pain like any other animal such as a human or a dog is hilariously wrong. Prof. Dr. Robert Arlinghaus of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and of the Humboldt University in Berlin conducted a study with a team of neurobiologists, marine biologists, and ecologists in Berlin to see if fish felt pain. Sorry, to say, the answer will displease you greatly. They concluded that a fish lacks the conscious capacity to perceive pain. Your argument also stated falsely that fighting a fish makes it go under extreme stress. May I remind you that fish, if they want to live, must swim as hard as they can to escape preadators. Every. Single. Day. Also, you compared fighting a fish like fighting a dog. When I read that, I think I chuckled out loud. First of all let me point out that a dog is much more different then a fish. First off dogs, before they were domesticated, hunted in packs, so when they came across a deer or whatever in the woods, they would take it down and kill it. The dogs would then eat the deer’s meat and then be off. Fish, however, don’t hunt in packs. They may school up, but this is not to protect one another or to hunt together or to look out for each other. No! They school up because they have found plentiful food or warmer/ cooler water. Fish are used to going one on one with a preadator. Dogs are not, they travel and hunt in packs. Also, dogs can perceive pain, but fish cannot. What’s more, dogs are at the top of the food chain, fish aren’t. Fighting a fish is daily routine for those guys. They are used to having to swim away as fast and as hard as they can. Dogs are not, and you are honestly sick to think a 15 year old like myself would hook an animal that can feel pain, has no idea what to do, and drag it to me. Fish have grown used to one minute be feeding, the next, swimming away. It’s why they have survived for millions of years, and why they will continue to do so. One last note, the study I brought up earlier was taken to determine if catch and release fishing could qualify as animal abuse, and since they can’t perceive pain, it did not qualify. And one more question for you, what does PETA do to help fish? And don’t give me anything about raising awareness. I want something concrete. Because do you know what anglers do? We build artificial reefs, we help fund breeding projects to help fish rebound in some areas, we suggest stricter creel limits to save our fish, we catch/ spear/ net invasive species that are killing our do many of our native fish, we help scientists tag and track down tagged fish, and most importantly, every time we get a license, the DNR gets a boost. What does PETA do?
P.S. consider fishing again


you couldnt be more wrong


No on dogs….just fish. Lol. Do you think it’s not stressful for a cow to be brought into a stall as all of its heard one by one is hit in the head with a bang stick and drop to the floor well they’re just waiting their turn? Get over it.


As a former tournament bass fisherman, and present Vegan. I think that I can offer some insight that perhaps may be superior to any one side of the argument. I have lived both sides of the issue. To begin, I understand every reason why you and other so deeply enjoy fishing. At one time in my life, fishing was my greatest passion as a teenager and young adult. It was actually my dream to become a professional bass fisherman. I deeply understand all of the complexity and knowledge that goes behind fishing. I understand the rush of hooking a big fish, the thrill of figuring out a pattern on a lake, and how awesome it is to win money in tournaments. I’ve caught countless thousands of fish and have spent countless hours fishing. I know the feeling of not being able to sleep at night because you have a tournament or a fishing trip planned for the next morning. I know the feeling you get when you get to the lake before the sun rises and you throw a buzzbait down the bank, knowing that any second a fish is going to blast your bait.

Since that time, it’s safe to say that I’ve changed immensely as a person. I won’t go into everything behind why I’m a vegan, and have been for the past year and a half, but will stick to this specific topic for now. Firstly, to say that fish do not feel pain as humans do is something that you honestly shouldn’t be claiming as a fact one way or another. The scientific community doesn’t even have a full grasp as to what degree fish can feel pain, let alone someone like you or I. It’s still a subject that we don’t have a full understanding of yet, and thus it’s dishonest for any of us to make a definite claim one way or another. However, I will offer my own insight which may or may not be correct. Any anger knows that when we hook a fish, they nearly always shake their head violently to get the hook out of their mouth, very often even jumping out of the water multiple times in doing so. Obviously they know that something is in their mouth and it’s causing them discomfort, and perhaps even intense pain. When we look at nature, we’ll notice something interesting. Bait fish, such as blue gill or shad have sharp fins along their back, which are used to protect themselves against predator fish such as bass. Notice how bass nearly always eat their prey head first in order to avoid these fins. It seems logical to me that they do this in order to avoid these sharp fins, and also for the reason they when these fins are up, it’s nearly impossible for them to be swallowed. The fact that these fins are sharp, lens credibility to the idea that predator fish do indeed feel pain, or else it would be completely useless for them to be sharp.

As a former angler, I can attest to the fact that catch and release anglers do not have the intention of harming the fish, it’s basically just a “side effect” of sorts in the process of catching them, an unfortunately unavoidable result of fishing. I was the type of fisherman to ALWAYS put back the fish and I’d be infuriated when I saw people keeping fish to eat. I felt it to be really unnecessary and it honestly bothered me to see fish dying out of the water. I suspect that many people here can relate. However, the truth of the matter is that any angler knows how often fish can be hooked in the gills, in the eye, in the throat, around the tongue or other vital areas which often result in permanent damage or fatal injuries. It’s not something that we try to do or want to do, but it happens a lot. Additionally, I’ve seen countless times where a fish is hooked in a non vital area such as the roof of the mouth and quickly put back into the water and the fish lay paralyzed on the waters surface, almost as if it’s in complete shock. I’ve also seen fish die in this same fashion, without being hooked in a vital place and quickly put back into the water. The idea that they can die from shock or mental trauma might not be that unreasonable. ALL anglers have witness this same thing, and to deny this is being dishonest.

Lastly, yes I know that fisherman very often try to help conserve fisheries and wildlife. Tournament organizations very often raise money for these causes. However, doing some amount of good, doesn’t cancel out the fact that fisherman do harm fish and fisheries in the act of fishing. Though our intentions may be noble and innocent, we have to ask ourselves if we have the right to harm and often unintentionally kill fish due to the simple fact that we get pleasure out of fishing. From the victims perspective this certainly isn’t a justifiable reason. In saying that fish live a stressful life in their day to day lives and thus it’s not a bad thing for us to fish for them is an “Argument from futility”, which is a very basic fallacy in Ethics. You could use this same logic in any number of things. You could site the fact that many human beings live a horribly stressful life in certain parts of the world not knowing if they will have a meal that week or if they will be killed, yet this doesn’t condone someone killing or harming that person since it’s what that person is used to having to be stressed about. If anything, the logical response is to realize that since fish face a stressful life as it is, it’s the ethical thing to do, to not ADD to their already stressful lives. In our human experience, this is how we live. We try to take away stress from others, not add to it. Additionally, predator fish such as bass more than likely do not have this stress. In the vast majority of lakes, bass are the primary predator, and certainly are not prey after the reach about a year in age. Yet ironically these are the fish that most people fish for since they are bigger and usually more challenging to catch. Certainly salt water anglers and not fishing for sardines very often, they are fishing for redfish, tuna, and sometimes even sharks. If we really care about the environment and fisheries, the best thing for us to do is to simply leave them alone and not cause any harm to them. Whether you’ll admit it or not, the vast majority of fisheries conservation is not done for the benefit of the fish, it’s done so that fisherman don’t run out of fish to catch in coming generations. There’s a reason why non anglers are not all that interested in fisheries conservation, it’s because they don’t have anything to personally gain by it. Anglers on the other hand, do benefit by it. It’s not for the benefit of the fish, and all anglers should be honest enough to admit that. It’s because we enjoy fishing, and don’t want the sport to be compromised, and we also may want the sport to be enjoyed by coming generations. It’s not so that fish can live better or longer lives or for any benefit from them. We simply want them there to be exploited for our own pleasure, whether we consciously realize that or not.

As another example, when bass fisherman are fishing for bedding fish in the spring, what benefit does the bass gain from us catching them? Very often when caught, they no longer protect their nests for an extended period of time unless the female takes its place, leaving the eggs vulnerable to be eaten by blue gill of other forage fish. This goes against the “convervation” you speak of. Injuring, killing, and preventing fish from spawning and guarding their nests is completely contrary to this message of conservation that all sport fisherman claim to be in support of. It’s not much different than a deer hunter being in favor of preserving the deer species and then going out and killing a deer. One need not be a Rhodes Scholar to see the idiocy in this.

Going back to my opening paragraph. I do understand where you are coming from. At one time I thought those people from PETA were crazy, and while I don’t agree with everything peta says or does, even as a vegan. I had to eventually admit that they were right about most of what they say. Fish are not here on this earth for our mere enjoyment. From an Ethical point of view, catch and release fishing is perhaps in some ways even worse than fishing for food, simply because it is not done out of honest necessity, but out of enjoyment. I still from time to time lament on my fond memories of fishing, it was something that brought me a lot of joy and excitement and really kept me out of trouble as a young man. However, I eventually realized that even though my intentions were noble, that my own personal enjoyment was not enough of a reason to cause harm and quite often the death of living beings. I was so immersed in the sport, that I didn’t see the obvious ethical issues of it and the harm I was causing. It’s ironically a bit like a fish not knowing it’s wet because it’s always in water. The anglers mind it clouded because he is so focused on all of the other aspects of the sport which don’t involve pain and suffering of the fish. However, the only aspect of the sport that the fish experience is the pain and suffering. I can assure you, that it’s not an equal exchange, the fish get no benefit or pleasure from what humans do to them.

Best regards,


You’re an idiot. Right after I read ‘they don’t feel pain like humans’ as if just because it’s now the way humans feel pain it’s ok. Well they aren’t humans and no creature and therefore no creature feels pain exactly like a human. But pain is pain. Sport fishing is no different than dog fighting. It’s human beings getting off on watching a defenseless creature suffer as their hands for no reason besides personal enjoyment.

Teresa dowding
Teresa dowding

I find it amazing PETA would waste their energy going after recreational fishing. Not sure in US, but in australia there are so many regulations on bag limits, sizes etc that the overwhelming majority abide by. And releasing the undersized or female fish is an important part of conservation. Recreational fishers dont fish just for sport like revolting trophy hunters, they eat their catch. I find it far more ethical to eat the fish i catch than farmed meat thats been poorly treated. I also find my catch less conscience disturbing than if i ate tuna which is being commercially hunted to extinction. PETA should concentrate their efforts on the commercial industry vandals, not the recreational industry that contributes so much to conservation via their fees etc

Naume Nanuseski

I loved this article and was reading it with an open mind to try and see both points of view (naturally I’m never going to stop hunting or fishing responsibly). But the comment about PETA patrolling the woods with their hybrid Prius had me crying laughing. Well written and researched gents!


If you like fishing/hunting, there’s so many invasive species to remove. Catch them instead. You’ll do a lot for everybody. For native species, nature, yourself, society and even for PETA.
Problem solved.
But, if you fishing/hunting just for your own pleasure, for fun, please, don’t do that, that is sick.
Spread the word.
Sorry about my English, not my native language.


I just love how Chrissy admits to not reading the article but then spends the time to comment on everyone elses comment. Not to mention she expects the author to read her “essay”.

I remember a story in the bible about Jesus feeding a lot of people a lot of fish. I wonder if any vegans got mad at him?


What about those “tasty snacks” that these lovely fish are cruising around to find? Does PETA care about the pinfish, greenbacks, shrimp, and crustaceans that make up these “tasty snacks”? I like how they brush over that and vegans get the image of a fish with a bag of Cheetos. I think PETA needs to clean up its own act first and foremost, and if they feel the need to say anything about fishing, it should be about commercial fishing and conservation of overfished species. I myself worry about the populations of certain Tuna and other overfished species, however we cannot blame the responsible, recreational fisherman. These fine folks do more for fish and wildlife conservation than PETA would ever admit. As an avid fisherman I have not only an everyday incentive, but a DUTY to do everything I can to protect fish and their habitats. Unlike a vegan who just sees this as the “topic of the day”.

Randy Weakley
Randy Weakley

I will argue one point on fishermen being conservationists (with the caviat that fishing is one of, if not my top favorite activity). I have recently been researching bluefin tuna, and the result of my time has been to cease eating bluefin, as much as I love it. There are some efforts ongoing to farm them, but they are riddled with challenges. All the while the commercial fishing industry continues to round up these species (three I believe) toward extinction. One of the largest contributing factors being the harvesting of juveniles that haven’t had the chance to breed. My findings astounded me and I found it difficult to believe that so little has been done to protect these species.

This is obviously geared toward netting practices, not hook and line fishing, but still more effort needs to be made on the bluefins’ behalf.

Tommy Le
Tommy Le

I really enjoyed your article, it had many key points and reasoning because of this i was glad to know that i was on the right side of the argument.

Robert Jureit

Joe, really liked the article.because of your P.S. Request,I will keep it short and clean. I own and manage,with a couple friends of mine, several hundred acres for hunting(the above water,kind). I am pointing this out, as you did about fishing. We,spend thousands of dollars, on upkeep,food plots, water systems,and closed off forest for bedding, for deer, turkey, ducks,and other animals. We only harvest,a few (less than 8) animals a year,compared to the hundreds or thousands of animals we feed and keep alive, for conservation. And our harvest is for necessary food for families. (Humans) All I can say is PETA, has NO, idea how the real world works. As for Chrissy, we as humans do not have multiple stomachs,we are not grass eaters, we do have teeth for MEAT.

Benjamin Willis

I always ask a vegan “If you love animals so much why are you eating all their food?”

PETA is not in the business of saving animals its in the political lobbying business If they publicized how much of each dollar donated really goes to helping animals and what percentage goes to lobbyist they would loose their donors. I watched a tv show on it and it shocked me how much went where and the percentage of animals in their shelters are put down each month.

Katherine Burnett, DVM
Katherine Burnett, DVM

PETA is not an animal shelter, which means that they do not put animals down. Shelters that euthanize pets do not do so out of malice, but of necessity. Irresponsible breeding and pet keeping is what causes our overcrowded shelters.

Benjamin Willis

Umm your wrong….. I always wonder how anyone cannot recognize that there is a world of difference between painlessly euthanizing animals out of compassion—aged, injured, sick, and dying animals whose guardians can’t afford euthanasia, for instance—as PETA does, and causing them to suffer terror, pain, and a prolonged death while struggling to survive on the streets, at the hands of untrained and uncaring “technicians,” or animal abusers.
From peta website.
I understand the need to put animals down. I get it but I dont get organizations that try to be so high and mighty and then do what they preach about.
I hunt fish and garden and eat what I catch and kill. Not out of the pleasure of the act of killing (if that was so I would be happy when its mosquito season.) But out of accomplishment. We are consumers, everything on this planet consumes something. Things must die for the circle of life to continue.

Peta does put animals down In large numbers google peta kill dogs .


Although my english is very poor I have not had trouble understand you. Here we say “educate your children but not to other children”,you wanna go vegan? it,s ok but do not pretend that we are all vegan.
From Basque Country,thank you.


Enjoyed the letter but I hope readers/commenters also read your excellent article on handling/releasing fish. The fact that so many people don’t use those practices makes me not mind PETA bringing up this topic in their usual exaggerated way. Said people *do* prove some of PETA’s points. I’m glad there’s been an ever growing group of us that try and clean up after them. The amount of trash fishermen leave behind is incredible. And they’re the same ones complaining about not catching fish! But hook removal and release is a very important aspect that a large percentage of people pay no attention to. This is especially relevant for thousands of people now that it’s speckle trout season. If nothing else, at least this started a conversation. Also, “fish have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years”? Lol. I know you know what a coelacanth is.

Anyway tight lines everybody!


Guess I should say, speck season up here on the mid Atlantic. We don’t get em in size year round like you guys do!


Some fish do have the ability to learn from past experience. I experienced this in a local lake which has clear waters. Bass (especially the large ones) are so used to swim baits that they don’t go for it anymore. Only the small ones will go for it. They are even wary of cranks and senkos at times but they work better than swim baits. If you are fishing in brackish water where the fish depends more on smell and vibrations then I agree that they can and will go for the same bait/lure multiple times.

Dan Gregory

Great article! You could not have said it better about how much fishing affects lives and how anglers (the majority anyway) are the biggest advocates of conservation. Why would we want to destroy the thing that brings us so much joy ? PETA and their supporters should step back and take a look at the big picture and how they portray themselves in the public eye, perhaps as you said join forces to make the fishing industry a better place as opposed to vilifying those of us who enjoy nature and are able to sustain ourselves and our families by providing food and life experiences. I am all for the respect and proper treatment of animals and fighting to stop cruelty to animals. But as you said, what is PETA doing to make a difference on this matter besides pushing propaganda?


I have not read your entire article but I did read the first section. I was googling to try and see if anyone has talked about an issue I’m having. I have been vegan now for several months and my brother whom I love dearly is an avid fisherman. We have never discussed the issue and treat each other very respectfully but deep down its a struggle I have. I’m not able to be excited about what excited him most in life. And I do feel very badly about it but my feelings about fish cannot just be turned off for the sake of bonding with my brother. I very much keep it to myself and don’t talk about it with him but I also will never fish with him and neither will my daughter who he adores. Anyway, I came across your article while searching for others talking about how to cope with families with such differing beliefs.

So clearly I think you can see, my beliefs are for show, they aren’t over the top dramatic displays of opposition. I genuinely do not want to cause the suffering of another life if I do not need to do so for my health or survival. Fish do feel pain and they do feel it in the same way that humans do or any other creature with a central nervous system. The same way you wouldn’t say a dog feels more pain than a cat or a mouse or a monkey or an alligator. Pain is pain. I read only the beginning of your article and once I read the parts about fish supposedly not feeling pain as true pain the way we do, and the part about how it’s better for them to have been released and be free again than to have been eaten..I just couldn’t go on. I don’t say that to be condescending. It’s just that upsetting to see someone so passionately speaking about this issue so wrongly. My question for you is, why do you think they do not feel pain? And why just because they have other potential threats in their lives, why is does it somehow make us the good guy for scaring and hurting them by then releasing them again to be free. What if they just never experienced what we put them through by the catch and real ease AND they didn’t get eaten that day?

You mentioned how they have all these threats they live with daily..well so does everything else that’s alive including humans. That doesn’t mean it makes sense or somehow makes any living creature’s life better for someone else to interfere. For example, just because humans have constant threats to their lives like auto accidents, there’s accidents, disease, murder, etc, doesn’t mean that we would be thrilled to be in a miserable painful car wreck and look at it as a good day and think, well at least I wasn’t murdered! I understand that’s an extreme example but I it is only to make a point. Just because something else worse could happen doesn’t mean it’s right to inflict something painful and traumatizing and potentially life ending.

I wrote this quickly and with a lot of emotions running through me as this is all new for me to discuss with people and I do feel very passionately about it. I hope you realize I mean zero disrespect and I do plan to eventually read the rest of your article. I hope to hear back from you.

Brandon Becker

This is typical Peta released an article with out realising science is not on their side as far as pain goes. even when you link to studies done on this a vegan called you out and said you were wrong without even reading the whole article or looking in to the studies that will disprove them and peta. Then she proceeds to harass every other commenter. The irony made laugh a bit. Please Christy tell me what science backs you up that fish feel pain and process it in to emotion at humans do and furthermore who is going to spent the billions throughout the USA and world on keeping our oceans and waterways clean and free of invasive species if anglers didn’t exist. Hunters and anglers spend more on this natural world than any non profit ever has yet they feel that they can say what we are doing is wrong. Funny fact if all humans were vegetarian the earth would not have the space to grow half the food nesesary for humanity to survive so in my eyes the only thing vegans and peta accomplish is defunding natural programs to put more stress on an alread over stressed farming indusry whyle thinking they are in the right. The irony of these people amazes me. Thank God there has been a rebuttal to this peta article I read it when it came out and was instantly saddened but not suprised at the level peta stoops.

Benjamin Willis

“…………The bottom line: if you donate money to PETA because you think they care for and about animals, you need to think some more. PETA literally yells and screams about how others “kill animals” but this is how they operate? Pathetic.

And you know what I wonder? PETA’s official count of animals they kill is 86.3 percent. But if they’re going around picking up animals, killing them …….”

Tommy Le
Tommy Le

If you were to say that humans and fish are they same then wouldn’t some see the silver lining like how you mention “For example, just because humans have constant threats to their lives like auto accidents, there’s accidents, disease, murder, etc, doesn’t mean that we would be thrilled to be in a miserable painful car wreck and look at it as a good day and think, well at least I wasn’t murdered! ” I would want to see the good in that situation and think that way and others probably won’t so if we were to suggest that fish and humans are the same then wouldn’t some fish see the good and some will see the bad?

Brett Laws

PETA’s hypocrisy is amazing. They kill 90% of the pets that they get. Well written letter. I would be very surprised if they ever respond.


I DO have respect for PETA for rising awareness. There are A LOT of animal cruelty out there. But PETA’s act on the fish is just absurd:

“Imagine that you’re a fish, darting around your watery home and finding tasty snacks to enjoy.”

That’s just absurd. It seems like it is written by a 5 year old kid.

Captain Q

We are facing these challenges from PETA like minded people here as well. I believe if we can share more knowledge to clarify some common misconceptions of fishing, for e.g. fish feel pain, etc. anglers will less likely to be portrait as ruthless hunters by the general public. In fact anglers feel more for the animals and their natural environment. Joe, you have our support here from Singapore.

Chuck Latham

Well written! I hope for all of us your letter doesn’t fall on deaf ears. I wonder if all PETA members are vegetarians.


But I do respect the law


Fish is food not friends


Well said. I agree with you 100%. I have fished all my life and have been a wildlife officer for 26 years because of my love of fishing and hunting


Very well said, utmost respect.thank you

Christopher Hobby

PETA= People Eating Tasty Animals. Human life is way more important than animal life. Although I do respect wildlife and will go by the rules to a T. But PETA needs to stop compairing human life to animal life. Or thinking animals come first before humans. That’s what I get from them.


Because some people feel fish have the right to be left alone by humans does not mean they believe animals are more important than humans. PETA worded it this way to help you imagine what the fish go through. Which doesn’t seem to be something you or the author of this article are truly willing to do. You might imagine what you like to think they go through. But you aren’t imagining what research has proven that fish actually experience.


Way to go Chrissy, no factual evidence ONCE AGAIN. What research are you referring to? Please post this irrefutable research you claim to have and we will all gladly read it.

Ben Daniels

Really awesome article Joe!

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

Great article,I will be down in Tampa this winter I will try and hook up

Donna Clarke
Donna Clarke

Thank-you for a very well-written article. I lived and fished in the Florida Keys in the early 70’s and was appalled at the attitude of so many who killed everything they caught instead of releasing it.
Growing up in Western Canada we spent countless hours fishing and my Father taught us respect for all of Nature and wildlife. Most of our protein came from wild animals and fish and none was wasted or killed just for sport.
Kudos to you and the other fisherman who are teaching the values of Catch and Release and keeping our oceans free of harmful garbage.
Being a Rodeo and Ranching supporter, my disdain for PETA and the ignorance they promote can only be imagined. I admire the fair and unbiased opinion you portray in this article.
Respectfully submitted.

Leif Eriksson

You put it very well and I totally agree with your ideas. PETA gets a lot of things wrong and as you pinpointed; its a dog eat dog world in the sea. Its goes even further, truely a general aspect to the world we live in. This does not mean we should abuse and missuse our rights but treat all living things with respect. As I said before you hammered the nail correctly and your conlusions are more than valid. Thank you.

Johan Nilsson
Johan Nilsson

Very well said


The best article I ever read ! PETA scare tactics and lies are far away from reality. Thanks for writing and sharing !

Paul Mattke
Paul Mattke

Wow. Like it an thank you for Open up you so much ! Thank you ?➕?


Awesome article. I completly agree with you. I’m the type of angler that if i see garbage or junk in the area i fish, i clean it up to help protect the area…. some of the best memories i have it fishing. Thank you for writing that

Marlene Chang

Thank you so much for trying to educate angler’s and Peta they are really going too far on this we should all work together ! Peta would only hurt jobs in America .China would still do what they want they are the worst when it comes to destroying the oceans there the ones that need to being educated about are planet So PETA GO TO CHINA And protest there ! There the ones torturing animals ! I’m so FED up with the liberals trying to control everything in American especially fishing or hunting !