This happened to me a few weeks ago. I wasn't going to post about it at first, but I figured I'd get everyone else's opinion.
I hit the stream for an afternoon of fishing. It was relatively quiet with only one other angler working the upper part of the run I wanted to fish. As I walked by him, he said hi. I said hello back, and asked how he was doing. He said he hit 13 fish so far in the past two hours a little downstream. My initial thought was that he was full of it. It's 30 degrees out and you had to work for the fish here. He then said it's been on fire and he was at "Stream X" yesterday and caught 26 fish. Again, I knew he was full of it, especially since that stream is really tough to fish in the winter.
I looked where he was casting and I said "Oh, I see some there." I counted seven and he responded, with "yep, just got to this run, and I'm going to hit all 7 of them." The next cast he hooked into a small brown trout, brought him to the net, and quickly released him. "Soft hackle pheasant tail" he said.
I congratulated him on his fish and walked about 50 yards downstream and started working 3 trout holding behind a big rock. Three minutes later I hear him whoop and holler and sure enough, he's connected again. This time he yells "Size 26 WD40!".
I keep fishing for about 15 minutes and finally pick up a fish on a baetis nymph. In that time, he's caught 3 more fish. My frustration (and maybe jealousy sets in) and I keep at it. Boom. He connects again. I then notice that after every fish, he's adjusting his leader, switching flies, moving to smaller tippet, and then fooling another fish. This man was fishing like it was a contest to catch the most fish in the least amount of time.
Another 15 minutes pass and I'm with 2 fish landed to his 6. Every time he hooks a fish, he makes a big scene, yells out the fly he used, then releases the fish.
Then I saw a 13 inch wild brown trout floating belly up past me and I got pissed off. As that happened, he hooked the 7th and final fish in the hole and yelled "size 22 orange scud!". He walked past me and said "well, this run is wiped out, good luck" and chuckled as he lit a cigarette and walked off.
This got me thinking. This guy was technically doing nothing wrong. He wasn't posing for a picture with each fish, and was releasing them as soon as he could (even though one inevitably got gut hooked) but was what he was doing totally ethical? As fly fisherman, we all go out there with our rod, reel, and box of secret flies hoping for a 10 fish day. This guy was obviously a great fly fisherman, but is pulling every single fish out of a hole really the right thing to do?
To me, fly fishing is calming time on the water that gets you away from the kids, wife, job, stress, etc, and constantly changing your rig and trying to nail every last living creature in a run just isn't right. Personally, I would have stopped at maybe 3 fish and moved on downstream.
My personal opinion (and I know opinions are like assholes..everyone has one) is that if this guy does this everywhere he goes, it's actually hurting our streams. As anglers, we should be working to protect our streams and the fish that thrive in them. Pulling every single fish out of a hole just isn't the right thing to do. Or again, am I just sounding jealous right now? I'm curious to see what everyone else thinks. Thoughts?