Part of the fun of the Flyathlon is that everyone has to document what they caught, and do so on the race bib to ensure that no cheating occurred…  For some, this task was fairly straight forward and yielded impressive results.  Take, for example, the fish picture taken by 2014 Flyathlon champion (and professional fisheries biologist) Kort Kirkeby (a.k.a. “The Salmonid Whisperer”)…


This picture has all of the desirable elements of a good Flyathlon fish photo, including a cooperative cutthroat, a good view of the entire race ruler, the event logo prominently displayed, and the participant’s name in the photo.  Well done.

On to some other fish photos from the event.  This next photo, while nearly perfect, gives fish judges everywhere a little heartburn because of the folded race bib effect…


The paper folding and resultant shadows creates the illusion of a slightly larger brook trout, and the extraneous hairy knee in the corner is very distracting…

The next series of race photos highlight the age-old struggle of what to do with your hands in a fish picture.  In this first picture, we see the “I lost my fish last year, so there’s no way I am letting this bastard get away” death grip…

Klobie 2

Hey, at least we can quickly discern that it is a brook trout, can hazard a reasonable guess as to its overall length (assuming that it doesn’t have a freakishly long tail), and we know who caught it (2014 Female Champion Dr. Klobuchar).  The same cannot be said for this next race fish photo…


Right away, both by the ruler and the massive hand in the picture, we can conclude that this is a really small brook trout.  But who’s massive hand is that next to that scared little fish?  It is almost as if the flyathlete is masking their true identity in that brief but powerful moment of  instinctual shame when catching a tiny trout with a big fly…  Oh, but the Flyathlon celebrates big and small fish alike, and so Flyathlete #10 Nate Nelson (“The Alleghanian”) ultimately claimed this fish, and his drinkable Elevation trophy for the 2014 Smallest Fish…

Which brings us to the opposite end of the size spectrum, and one of the 2014 Flyathlon’s most intensely contested decisions post-race, the Biggest Fish award.   Mind you, Middle Creek is a smallish mountain stream, so temper your expectations of what the next picture reveals.


After detailed inspection and discussion by a committee of over-served and mostly unbiased judges, this beautiful Rio Grande cutthroat trout caught by Flyathlete #17, Nick Gianoutsos, was awarded the prestigious Elevation drinkable trophy for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Flyathlon’s Biggest Fish…

Of course, our responsibility as good stewards of the resource is to do all that we can to minimize injury to the fish that we catch.  The following additional tips are intended to assist flyathletes in minimizing stress to fish while documenting their catch.  Please be mindful of these issues whenever you fish, not just in the Flyathlon:

Guidance for Photographing Your Catch (adapted from a National Park Service brochure on catch and release fishing):

  • Photographing your catch should be preplanned and accomplished quickly to prevent the injury or death of the fish.
  • Keep your fish wet and calm until you are ready for the photograph.
  • Set your race bib near the water surface to avoid lifting the fish far from the water (the bib is Rite-in-the-Rain paper, so don’t be afraid to get it wet).
  • Pre-position and focus the camera before lifting your fish.
  • When all is ready, wet both hands and then hold your fish firmly by the tail while placing the other hand under its belly (avoid touching the gill area).
  • Wait for the fish to become accustomed to your touch. When the fish has calmed, set it gently on the race bib and quickly capture the image.
  • Gently return the fish to the water.  If the fish doesn’t immediately swim away, run water over its gills by slowly moving the fish forward and backward in the water.
  • Release the fish when it is ready to go.
  • Watch and make sure that the fish safely returns to its habitat.

run. fish. (responsibly photograph). beer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *