My buddy caught three. I caught zero.
We talked about how the ethics of "playing fish" changed in our lifetime.
As young men, "noodle rods" and ultralights were all the rage. Catching bigger and bigger fish on lighter and lighter line. Epic struggles of 45 minutes or an hour to land a fish were not uncommon.
The problem was that even if you released the fish, the fish was exhausted and survival rates were not that impressive.
Bass tournaments penalized dead fish in the fish well. To avoid penalties, pro-bass fisherman used heavy lines (twenty pound breaking strength and more being common) and winched the fish in will little fanfare and dramatics. Techniques for handling the fish while unhooking them also took a quantum leap. Pro-bass fisherman also taught us that heavy line had less stretch and was more sensitive, leading to more hook-ups and fewer swallowed hooks.
Same deal for shorter casts. More sensitivity. Less time to drag them to the boat.
I remember reading a story by Jim Kjelgaard (author of the book Big Red, a story about an Irish Setter). In the story, the protagonist saw a buck that was bedded down and deliberately snapped a twig with the toe of his boot. The deer jumped up and started running whereupon the protagonist shot it. The reason our hero snapped the twig was to give the buck "a sporting chance".
Today the ethic is to take the most humane, quickest kill shot. Today it is unthinkable to contrive a running shot where you are far more likely to hit the animal too far back. That dooms the animal to many days of agony before dying of sepsis.
Far better, in today's thinking, to shoot a calm, standing animal with a double-lung/heart shot. Given a modern, expanding bullet the animal will lose consciousness in ten-to-thirty seconds.
"Slot" size limits
My buddy is a huge proponent of "slot" size limits.
The thinking behind slot size limits is that some people fish to put food on the table and other people fish for trophies.
Slot limits can be rigged to allow anglers to keep a modest number of smaller fish for the table. Smaller fish tend to be lower in contaminants like mercury and PCB and make fine table-fare.
Then there is a class of fish that are of prime breeder size. Bigger females produce far more eggs than smaller ones. These fish are off-limits and MUST be released.
Finally, the fish of gargantuan size are legal. That is justified on the basis of their rarity. There are so few of them that even though each one lays prodigious numbers of eggs the far greater number of mature-but-not-enormous females lay many more eggs in aggregate.
Slot limits are smart. They serve the guy trying to feed his family. The serve the guy who strives for a trophy to hang on his wall. They serve the population dynamics of the species of fish being sought. They serve the ecosystem where the savaging of apex predators has grave implications for all other species.
It is just the kinds of things guys talk about when the fish are not biting...when we are not talking about girls, that is.