When I tell people that I enjoy fishing, chances are the first question I’ll get is Have you ever caught a Marlin? I will usually say, No because it doesn’t taste good. Right there lies the difference between what I think of as fishing, and what fishing means to many others.
To clarify, I sense no conflict between these two “camps” of fishing because they’re often interchangeable. For example, fishing for tuna is almost always done for both sport and food at the same time. The sensation you get from fighting any fish is the same whether you’re ultimately going to release it or eat it. It’s what happens after the fight that matters.
Ultimately, the reason I don’t fish for sport is that I don’t see the need to exhaust, injure or possibly kill fish when I have no intention of eating it. For me it has to do with respect for the animal, and don’t feel that sportfishing is inherently a respectful activity. If the police started arresting people on the streets with the only intention of releasing them, you probably wouldn’t feel any gratitude when being released.
I don’t eat every fish I’m legally and morally entitled to keep. I’ve released quite a few for many reasons, stemming from already having enough all the way to not preferring that fish’s flavor. However, I’ve rarely fished days without hope of catching something delicious.
The merits of fishing are debatable either way, but at the end of the day everybody has to eat something. I feel that I’ve treated my body and the environment better by eating a fish caught myself, rather than something snagged in a gillnet with tons of bycatch. Or something worse like the abomination that is your average hamburger.