Keep Em' Wet

Photos By: Matt Bornhorst     

Fad (noun)

Something (such as an interest or fashion) that is very popular for a short time

Believe it or not I actually saw an advertisement for a stick that attaches to your phone in order to take selfies of your butt. It’s called a Belfie stick. I cannot make this shit up! The Belfie stick, I imagine, will join countless other fads that come and go like the changing of the seasons. Fads encompass all things in life and fly fishing definitely sees its fair share of them as well. The latest being a movement to “Keep ’Em Wet”. With all of the major brands and companies throwing around this new slogan it got me to thinking… fad or worth permanent adoption.

So I did a little research and according to the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in an article published on The Physiological Effects of Brief Air Exposure in Exhaustively Exercised Rainbow Trout, air exposure does play a significant factor in whether a fish survives after being released. The abstract from the study says:

“Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) which were air exposed for 60 seconds after exhaustive exercise initially had a much larger extracellular acidosis than trout which were only exercised. In both groups, however, plasma pH returned to normal by 4 hours. Blood lactate concentrations were also greater in the air-exposed fish and continued to increase throughout the experiment. During air exposure, there was retention of carbon dioxide in the blood, and oxygen tension (Po2) and hemoglobin:oxygen carriage (Hb:O2) both fell by over 80%. After 30 min of recovery, however, blood gases resembled those in fish which were only exercised. Finally, survival after 12 hours was 100% in control fish and 88% in the exercised fish but fell to 62% and 28% in fish which were air exposed for 30 and 60 seconds, respectively, after exercise. These results indicate that the brief period of air exposure which occurs in many "catch and release" fisheries is a significant additional stress which may ultimately influence whether a released fish survives.”

I have to admit after reading this I was a bit shocked myself to know that 30 seconds of air exposure would decrease survival rates that significantly. Typically I would estimate that a fish is out of the water for more than 60 seconds during a typical catch, photo, and release session and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of it. The hero shot or grip and grip, has been around since people first considered fishing for the sport of it. But is there enough cause for concern to start a global movement geared toward keeping fish in the water during a typical catch and release situation?

Armed with this new information I started to consider the need for the famed hero shot. Is it to stroke our own egos or is it purely to capture an image of that fish of a lifetime? Even further with camera technology advancing leaps and bounds especially in the waterproof department is there honestly a need to remove the fish from the water to capture its true beauty? I know there are proponents for each side of the Keep ‘Em Wet movement and whether or not it is another fad or a flop has yet to be seen. Personally I fully intend to wear out the knees on my waders and give this whole Keep ‘Em Wet thing a go. While I’m no extremist I am all for preserving and protecting our resources so that they are around for future generations to enjoy. Drop us a comment and let us know if you plan on Keeping ‘Em Wet or if you think this is another marketing fad that will be gone before next seasons equipment is released.