You may have noticed, or maybe not, but throughout the entire month of July, Trout Unlimited didn’t publish a single photo of a fish that wasn’t at least partially submerged in the water. There were some caveats, and I’ll explain, but first to the bigger issue.
The #NoFishDryJuly effort started by Keep Fish Wet was a catalyst of sorts for those of who work in media and communications for Trout Unlimited. It was an opportunity–particularly as we endured a summer of prolonged heat and drought–to show that, as anglers and conservationists, keeping fish safe and healthy matters to us. It might matter more than the fishing to some of us, honestly.
So we’re doubling down. From here on out, only in very rare instances will you see a photo of a fish out of the water on the online pages of TROUT Magazine. The print product, our flagship TROUT Magazine, will likely follow suit, but I’ll let Editor-in-chief Kirk Deeter make that call when the time is right.
Gone are the hero shots and the grip-and-grins. You’ll see more up-close, macro-level photos of trout (and all fish, frankly), and we’re working to accomplish more and better underwater photography of fish and the craft of fishing. It’s ambitious, but as the media voice for the signature trout-and-salmon conservation organization on the planet, we must be innovative and lead the way when it comes ensuring a future for our fish … and our fishing.
The caveats? Yes, there are some. First, any fish destined for the grill or the smoker might very well be displayed in various stages of cooking preparation (yes, we do food writing here at TROUT!). Sometimes, as most thoughtful anglers know, keeping fish is the best choice. For example, brook trout encroaching on native cutthroat trout habitat are prime candidates for the frying pan. Stocked trout planted for the sole purpose of being harvested? It’s fine to keep a legal limit, and we’ll do more to show you how to prepare and cook them. Finally, when our on-the-ground biologists and members of our top-notch Science Team are working in the field, sometimes it’s necessary to remove trout from the water to collect data. You may see photos of fish fully emerged from the water while measurements are taken or PIT tags are inserted to allow us to learn more about our trout and salmon.
Beyond that, though, we will endeavor to show photographs of trout and salmon (and other fish, too!) that demonstrate proper handling and display them respectfully, in the water, and in a way that gives them the very best chance to survive their encounters with us.
And here’s the kicker. We challenge you to do the same. In the coming weeks, we’ll likely launch some social media events where we ask you to show fish in the water, and we’ve got some great swag to give away to those who do it best.
Stay tuned … our efforts to keep fish wet are just starting. We hope you’ll become part of those efforts.
Chris Hunt, CEO, Trout Unlimited