This question may not be as thought provoking as Shakespeare's, but I think it's one of the main reasons that I love fishing so much. The fact that I can hook a fish, battle said fish for 20 minutes, then release it unharmed, back into the water. The entire act just appeals to me for some reason. If I could do the same thing with an animal, I'd probably hunt, but I can't. But is there anything wrong with catching a few Rainbow Trout or Stripers and keeping them for dinner? Absolutely not. To catch a few fish for dinner is another reason many people fish. In fact this reason is probably just as important to some people as mine is to me. So there you have it. I suppose there is no right answer. Other than following a few tips so that if you do decide to release that fish, it doesn't get harmed.
1) Always wet your hands before handling the fish.
2) Try to keep the fish in the water as you remove the hook.
3) If you take the fish out of the water, get it back in as quickly as possible.
4) If you're fishing in current, face the fish into the current until it swims out of your hands. If you're in a boat or lake fishing, gently rock the fish back and forth to get water flowing through its gills.
These tips should help that fish that you just caught live to fight another day. And even if you're keeping a few for dinner, I'm sure that you would prefer the ones that you do release will be there for the next time you fish. And don't forget, only keep there amount of fish that you and your family are going to eat. Having a bunch of frozen fish sit in your freezer for a couple of years, only to eventually be thrown away doesn't make much sense. And who among us hasn't done just that?
Trevor has 20+ years of fishing expierience, secializing in ultralight trout fishing.