Updated on 06.21.11

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Fishing Edition

Trent Hamm

This past weekend, my five year old son caught six fish. He hauled in more fish than his age.

The fish were small ones and we tossed them back into the water, but the sheer joy he had in catching them, the pride he took in his catch, and the seriousness he applied to things like unhooking the fish and returning them to the water were beautiful to watch.

He’s growing up.

How to Write Your Congressman This is the single most useful political action you can take as an individual. You’d be surprised how well it actually works, particularly when you’re addressing an issue that isn’t extremely “hot button” and you’re rational and calm with your reasoning. (@ art of manliness)

Big House, Little House It’s never a bad idea to look at the size of your home critically. Do you really need a home of that size? Will something smaller suffice? Our home is about the right size in terms of square footage, but I would someday like another bedroom. (@ get rich slowly)

Living with Chaos This is an interesting take on planning. However, if you truly take each day without planning, you’ll have no retirement savings and no backup when things don’t go well. And they inevitably won’t go well at some point. (@ zen habits)

Everyone Wants Better. No One Wants Change. “Better” means the same things you already have with a slight improvement in quality. Change means something different. Better is safe. Change is scary. (@ jonathan fields)

Correspondence from the Home Office When I worked outside the home, most of my “leaks” were money related. I always found ways to spend money poorly. At home, my “leaks” are all time related. I always find ways to spend time poorly at home. (@ debt reduction 101)

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  1. Johanna says:

    If fish could scream, fishing would be much less relaxing a way to spend an afternoon.

  2. Shannon says:

    Johanna – just a question – do you have nothing better to do than comment immediately as Trent posts an article here?

  3. Pat S. says:

    Great picks… but all from really well known writers. Ever check out the little guys? There’s some great work being done by less well known writers…

  4. Sergiogsr says:

    I know you’re proud and also that fishing is an activity that is common related to some philosophical meaning for some people.

    But why did you throw the fish back? If they were small ones, they are good as dead. Depending on the time they were out of the water, they might die after a few minutes because of asphyxia, or a few hours because they’re now unable to eat, or a few days, because they catch a microbial/fungal infection.

    Of course I do eat meat and fish products, but I think this was an opportunity missed to learn a lesson. But at the end, I’m not trying to teach your kids.

  5. I read that post by J.D. he most certainly has evolved as a person over the years and almost certainly has more house than he needs. However, his wife loves the house and they have no trouble affording it, so why not?
    That’s why they call it “personal” finance; everyone’s goals/abilities/wants are different.
    Some people choose to spend money and time on thier home because that is what they value. Others choose to go on vacations, or buy lavish kitchen utensils and expensive cheese.

  6. Johanna says:

    @Shannon: I replied to the article 21 minutes after Trent posted it. You replied to me within 8 minutes. If you’re going to criticize someone for commenting “immediately”…pot, meet kettle.

    And what’s wrong with replying “immediately,” anyway? Trent has this blog set up so that articles are (usually) posted at the same times each day. That’s not a secret. So yes, I will often read the articles as soon as they go up, and if I have something to say, I say it. Sometimes immediately. What’s your problem?

  7. Amy says:

    @Johanna: Since your comments are almost always negative, the fact that you post so quickly makes it appear that you are sitting there waiting to pounce on Trent. I sometimes wonder why you bother to read this blog since you seem to always disagree.

  8. Andrew says:

    Reading things you disagree with sharpens the mind. If Johanna doesn’t like what Trent is writing she has every right to say so.

    Also, the snark and negativity are a big part of what make the comments section of this blog so much fun. I’m sure Trent is aware that the discussions are useful in bringing people to his site. He can take it!

    On another topic, torturing little fish for amusement’s sake is either ignorant or cruel or both. If someone jammed a prong into your mouth and forced you underwater until you couldn’t breathe–and then released you at the last moment, I’m sure you would find it somewhat less than entertaining. It’s the same thing (in the air) for the fish.

  9. Johanna says:

    @Amy: I sometimes wonder why people like you bother to read my comments since you seem to hate them so much. I’m the only Johanna who comments here, and my name is at the top of every comment I write. If you don’t want to read my comments, then skip them.

    Or maybe you *don’t* bother to read my comments, because if you did, you’d know that I don’t always disagree (with Trent, anyway – I usually disagree with somebody, because I don’t think it’s all that interesting to participate in a conversation where everybody agrees). It was only yesterday that I posted a comment taking Trent’s side against what I saw as unreasonable criticism.

  10. Shannon says:

    Johanna – my point is that it seems that you have nothing better to do in your life than wait for Trent to post something and then immediately fire off a negative comment. Your reply to Amy does nothing to dispel that impression incidentally…

  11. Michelle says:

    Um… Have you ever written to your Representative or Senator Trent? I interned for one (several years ago), and when we would get constituent letters, we’d open them, scan them quickly, and send a form letter in response. I never once saw anyone actually take the time to write a decent response to one of those. Even worse for e-mails. Those didn’t even get read. All of this was on the direction of the Senator, so it wasn’t just interns gone wild.

    The best way to get your representative to listen to you? Donate to his/her campaign, then call and mention it. No one wants to piss off donors. Constituents, no one gives a crap, donors, everyone bends over backwards. Oh, and the more money you give, the more they’ll bend over backwards for you.

    Is it right? Hell no. Is it the way it is? Absolutely.

  12. Tracy says:

    The “nothing better to do” argument is just silly. We’re all reading the same posts and comments. I mean, do you have nothing better to do than criticize Johanna’s comment? Do *I* have nothing better to do than criticize your comment?

    Who is defining better here?

    Because if I get to define my own better, it’s ‘something I would rather do, that I have the resources to do at this second’ and the answer is no. Because otherwise I’d be doing it. Besides, debate and disagreements on the internet (as long as it doesn’t dissolve into profanity or real ugliness and hate) are FUN. I like fun, I rarely have anything ‘better’ to do than fun, in terms of quality of life.

  13. Vanessa says:

    I didn’t read where Leo said not to save for retirement. He didn’t talk about money at all. My takeaway was that sometimes planning keeps you from truly living in the moment. There are also experiences we could miss out on because of adhering so strictly to our plans.

  14. Steven says:

    Personally, I like the differing opinions of the readers on this blog. It’s why I come back. If all I ever read in the comment was “Oh, Trent, great article!” I’d be bored out of my mind. The difference of opinions makes me question my own beliefs about certain subjects, and challenges me to think differently or from another perspective that I might not have been aware of.

    It’s sad that people are so defensive of Trent. Like people need to be his protector or something. Reminds me of Justin Bieber fans…

  15. Johanna says:

    A bit more on fishing:

    People do all sorts of things, for all sorts of reasons, that inflict pain and suffering on other sentient creatures. (Including me – I don’t eat meat, but I do wear leather shoes.) I’m not interested in positioning myself as the arbiter of which reasons are good and which reasons are bad (because why is my opinion any more valid than anyone elses?)

    But I do think it’s important to be mindful of the pain and suffering involved when we make our own decisions about things like this. For people who are not sadists or psychopaths, that should be enough.

  16. Melanie says:

    #7 Amy +1

  17. maria says:

    #7 Amy +2

  18. Des says:

    #12 Tracy +1

  19. maria says:

    #18 Des -1 ( just to keep it fun!)

  20. getagrip says:

    The living with chaos article, I thought the whole point of “planning” was to draw some amount of order out of the chaos that is life.

    Gee, let’s all not plan anything. Doctors see patients if they’re “excited” about it. No, really, we got the surgeon, but the nurses decided they were more excited throwing a baby shower in the maternity ward today. Maybe we’ll get that agressive cancer out of you tomorrow. Your order for that new book you wanted? Gee, the guys in the shipping department were looking to get some work done, but then got more excited about having a quick game of flag football. Then Ben twisted his ankle really bad, and the chaos flow got everyone moving towards the emergency room, but a twisted ankle wasn’t a cool enough injury to excite the doctor on call, he’s waiting for a car crash or gunshot wound. We went ahead and took our own X-rays. Ben’s ankle, and a lot of his leg is kind or red now, kind of like a sunburn. But we didn’t see any crack in any bones, and we must have taken a hundred pictures. By then it was quiting time, we should be able to get your order out tomorrow.

  21. Katie says:

    I think this is willful misinterpretation of the planning article. Nobody says you shouldn’t plan anything; it’s silly to take this to the most extreme conclusion possible and then dismiss everything the guy actually says because of it.

  22. Adam P says:

    I do like to fish, but as I grow up and become a more mature person, I realize it’s a blood sport and not a humane thing to do. Consequently, I have stopped fishing.

    Somewhat of a dilemma, I love deep sea fishing, and love to eat red snapper and grouper that are fresh caught. I don’t see a problem with fishing if you’re going to eat the food (not a vegan). However, in deep sea fishing, as other kinds, I am likely to pull up a grunt or something that I don’t want to eat, or keep, but it’s cruel to catch and release if it traumatizes and kills the fish for no good reason. I hope the fish would end up in some sharks belly either way…

    Also…like Andrew…I come for the snark. Trent wants visitors to his site, not just the people who are sycophants, but also people that give constructive criticism.

  23. Shannon says:

    Maria +1

  24. Josh says:

    There is nothing inhumane about fishing, get a grip people.

  25. Shannon says:

    Josh, I agree. Like Ari Gold said – “Even broccoli screams when you rip it from the ground.”

  26. Riki says:

    Fishing for food doesn’t bother me . . . but fishing and throwing them back? Well, fish can feel pain and often they are thrown back with large rips in the jaw and operculum that can result in infections, trouble feeding, or trouble breathing.

    I’m not a fan of catch-and-release as a recreational activity.

  27. Sonja says:

    Living with Chaos – Wow, that was a different point of view. Interesting, but I could not even take the 1-hour challenge because I would end up drifting around and feeling like I blew an hour. I will choose structure over chaos every time because it makes me happier and brings me longer-term satisfaction.

    Regarding fishing (and hunting, for that matter): this is a skill that one learns by doing. You begin when you are young and with small fish. You eventually learn to catch large fish. Once you have mastered the skill you can decide if you want to keep doing it, but it is a good skill to have. In a survival situation that skill could mean the difference between life and death.

  28. Andrew says:

    There is plenty that is inhumane about fishing. And Ari Gold is a fictional character.

  29. Johanna says:

    I don’t know who Ari Gold is or what qualifications make him an authority on this matter, but no, broccoli and other plants cannot feel pain. (Or rather, there’s no good reason to conclude that broccoli can feel pain, and several good reasons to conclude that it can’t.)

    For one, as far as anyone knows, the ability to feel pain requires a central nervous system. Humans and fish have them; broccoli doesn’t.

    For another, pain serves a useful function in motile animals that it doesn’t (and can’t) serve in plants: It tells us to get away from whatever is causing the pain, and perhaps learn to avoid it in the future. That gives us a survival advantage. But plants can’t get away from what’s “causing the pain,” so there’s no reason why plants would have evolved (or been “designed” with, if that’s your thing) the capacity to feel pain.

    Finally, even if broccoli can feel pain, what does that mean for us? Maybe it means that there’s no point in being a vegetarian (since we’ve got to eat something, and eating fish is no more inhumane than eating broccoli). But it doesn’t mean it’s any less harmful to fish for sport (inflicting pain without even getting any food out of it). If anything, it just means that we shouldn’t torment broccoli for fun either.

  30. Nick says:

    1. You don’t always catch eatin’ fish, even if that’s what you’re trying to do.

    2. If fish could scream, fishing would probably attract a different sort of sportsman.

    3. I’ve only gone fishing once, and all I caught was weeds. And thank goodness I did, because so many people pointed out that a caught fish will literally die every single time it is caught back because fish are unable to heal. Think about it, have you ever seen a fish with a scar? No, you haven’t. If you have you’re not thinking hard enough. I don’t know if I could live with myself knowing that I had doomed a fish to death. Unless the fish was going to be eaten anyway. Or if it would have gone on to eat the eggs of a thousand other fish, in which case I would have been some sort of fish savior. Or if they were fish stocked by the park department that would have thrown the ecosystem out of whack if you didn’t catch them. But aside from those particular cases, catch-and-release is terrible.

  31. Vanessa says:

    “I don’t know who Ari Gold is or what qualifications make him an authority on this matter,…”

    I *love* Entourage, but this made me laugh. Not to mock you, I just found it cute for some reason. Thanks Johanna :-)

  32. Johanna says:

    (Imagine my tongue planted in my cheek for that line, Vanessa.)

  33. lynda grant says:

    I fished today. it was soooo good. done it before, did it today and going to do it again. but tomorrow will be time for a hunt. no release there either. may have to put more than one in them.

  34. Jon says:

    Nick, I’ve caught bunches of fish that had been caught before. The Missouri dnr has a study that shows most trout in lake tanneycomo are caught and released several tines before reaching the legal size to keep. Catch and release is not a horrible thing. Im sure it sucks a bit for the fish but they recover.

    Now what’s really fun is scuba spearfishing. No by catch, only the targeted species is speared. Fresh snapper, yum!!

  35. Vanessa says:

    Either way, it still making me laugh :)

  36. Josh says:

    Where are people getting that all released fish die? The vast majority go on to live just fine, even the small ones, science and studies have proven this. There are ways to handle them to minimize the impact, which should be taught to everyone who fishes.

    You really have to mishandle a fish to cause it to die.

  37. Tammy says:

    as far as the catch and release goes in most states fish have to be a certain size in order to legally keep them, if they are to small and you keep them and are caught by the DNR you will be fined

  38. Riki says:

    I think there’s a difference between releasing fish that don’t meet minimum size requirements (while intending to catch fish for food) and fishing recreationally with no intention of eating the fish you do catch.

    Tormenting living creatures purely for entertainment isn’t very humane.

  39. Dee says:

    Just jumping in to say that I love reading Johanna’s comments. I agree with Steven (hundredgoals) that it makes for better discussion.

  40. Des says:

    “If anything, it just means that we shouldn’t torment broccoli for fun either.”

    Dang, there goes my cheap weekend entertainment! :)

  41. George says:

    >Think about it, have you ever seen a fish with a scar?

    Yes, I have. Salmon, steelhead, & whitefish with scars on their backs from narrowly missing becoming a dinner for a hawk.

    I’ll post the underwater video to prove it, too.

  42. karishma says:

    I don’t think Trent and his son were deliberately catching small fish and releasing them for sport – they just happened to only catch small ones, and therefore couldn’t keep and eat them. If they’d caught one large enough, they would have eaten it. That was my initial understanding of what he wrote, and rereading doesn’t lead me to interpret it the way some of you are doing.

  43. David says:

    To extrapolate: perhaps when your son is 70 he will catch 71 fish and throw them back in the water. For myself, I would see no more in this than a perverse desire to torment fish. Your mileage, as a fully engaged nonagenarian, may of course vary. But well it was said by the bard:

    The hunter crouches in his blind
    ‘Neath camouflage of every kind,
    And conjures up a quacking noise
    To lend allure to his decoys.
    This grown-up man, with pluck and luck,
    Is hoping to outwit a duck.

  44. kristine says:

    I am definitely in the camp of OK to catch/ hunt it if you eat it. Traumatizing a living creature of any kind just for fun seems needlessly creating pain for entertainment. As instruction for a child to later fish for food, however, it is a gray area.

    I was always sad when I caught a fish too small, as I felt bad for hurting it. I did not feel bad for those I would eat, however, because it felt like the natural order of things. I would end the life quickly to be more humane.

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