News & Updates

Fish Guts

Leave No Trace - July 21, 2009
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My son caught the fever. He caught a little rainbow trout in Wyoming last week, and now he just wants to go fishing. He was shown how to gut the fish, held its still-twitching stomach in his hand, got grossed out and then ate it for his dinner. I know PETA might be appalled, but I am glad that my son is beginning to understand where his food is coming from.

So speaking of fish guts, I mentioned in an earlier blog, that I reread Leave No Trace’s Fishing booklet on the way to Wyoming for this trip. Recalling a Leave No Trace Educational Review Committee’s long and involved discussion about the proper disposal of fish entrails several years back, I thought I would recite a little of what was finally agreed upon from the scientists, educators and land managers that make up our committee:

Special care needs to be taken when dealing with fish entrails. Many anglers follow the tradition of scattering entrails in the woods or out on rocks for wildlife, but this practice is no longer recommended. Today, the best disposal methods are determined by a number of factors including how long you will be out fishing, whether bears live in the area, if whirling disease is a concern, and what the local regulations dictate.

When entrails are tossed into the woods, they attract wildlife. Animals and birds have been observed following both hunters and anglers in hopes of obtaining a free lunch of guts. These animals lose their natural wariness of people and can become a nuisance or worse. Entrails that are not eaten by wildlife will rot and smell and make the area undesirable for those who visit after you, so please do not leave fish guts dangling in the bushes or sitting out on a rock. The best possible way to dispose of fish entrails—as with any kind of waste—is to pack them out…if you can’t pack out your fish entrails, you have a number of other options such as burial, deep water deposition or moving water deposition.”

For more detail on these techniques and other Leave No Trace fishing skills and ethics visit our store and buy the Fishing Skills & Ethics for $2.95.

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