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Kathryn Maroun’s ‘What A Catch’: The evolution of an angler, on hookless fishing and high hopes

Hookless fishing is here to stay

Before you read my rant, I would like you to start humming the rubber tree plant song.

You know the one: “High Hopes.” In case you need a little reminder, here is the soundtrack sung by Doris Day. Sing along if you like. I did.


Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

You are probably cursing me at this point because you will be singing that song all day long, and it will be as hard to shake as a barbed hook. My perpetual optimism is also a hard-to-shake curse for the most part.

I guess that same blind faith and can-do attitude keeps the ant—and me—thinking that we can do anything we set our minds to. I keep venturing down the path of greatest resistance as I try to bring attention to things that don’t sit well with me.

Apparently asking “why” is not a good idea. “Don’t even bother trying,” some people would say to me.

But I’ve got high hopes

I’ve got high hopes

I’ve got high apple pie in the sky hopes


So any time I’m gettin’ low

’Stead of lettin’ go,

Just remember that ant

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant!

A few days ago, I launched my new film called “The Evolution of An Angler,” and then I took cover, waiting for the fallout. You see, the film is the story of my journey from childhood to present. I revisit how my view of the world evolves over time with experience and with the need to ask myself hard questions.


When you get older you realize that there are no answers, just stories. That realization is a shocker for sure. I loved being right.

Kathryn relaxing in Mexico.

Using anonymity as a veil, some people take advantage of public forums and post the cruelest things. Humming is one way to disarm the affront.

Next time you’re found

With your chin on the ground

There’s a lot to be learned,

So look around.

Just what makes that little old ant

Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant?

Anyone knows an ant, can’t

Move a rubber tree plant.


Kathryn in Iceland.

No need to be sheepish. I would soon find out that there was only one naysayer in the ranks. Bob said something to this effect: “Good luck trying to get people to try hookless fishing.” He went on to say that he will never do it and it will never catch on!

Again, I hum …


When troubles call

And your back’s to the wall

There a lot to be learned

That wall could fall


Once there was a silly old ram

Thought he’d punch a hole in a dam

No one could make that ram, scram

He kept buttin’ that dam


’Cause he had high hopes

He had high hopes

He had high apple pie in the sky hopes


So any time you’re feelin’ bad

’Stead of feelin’ sad, just remember that ram

Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam

Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam

Oops, there goes a billion kilowatt dam.

In flowed the uplifting “can-do” and “please-do” comments from around the world … and they just kept coming.


Kathryn in Argentina

Craig said that he went through a similar process with hunting. He progressed from enjoying the kill to not wanting to take a shot at any endangered species, to taking only plentiful impalas, to taking mammals off his hunting list, to not shooting unless he planned to eat it within 48 hours.

Alan said, “Everyone who fishes thinks it’s all about who catches the biggest fish and the most fish, including varieties of fish, without consideration for what is really important: survival of the fish in general till the end of time. I saw many people heading in to the woods this weekend to make memories, maybe merely to post pics on Facebook, but what good is a memory if that fish isn’t able to survive this predation? We are the biggest predators of fish. We just can’t seem to get around to admitting it. You have the intestinal fortitude for letting every blind eye out there know what it takes to really enjoy fishing. Most people do not know the proper way to do catch-and-release. I agree, the fish are under pressure. I have never heard of this method of fishing before, but I think it is very cool. I am with you on this journey of yours.”

Harsh said, “Here in India, our religions have always taught us that all life is sacrosanct. Fifty percent of the population is vegetarian. In fact, as much as I was hooked the first time I caught a fish, I also felt bad for the fish. Empathy is a great human emotion.”

fireside_Kathryn-MarounPhilip said, “You see, I have been fishing for nearly 60 years, 40 as a fly fisherman. I fished many countries and guided in three. As I get older, I care less about catching fish and like you I want to be able to deceive fish into taking my fly. I, like you, have reached a stage where I question whether I actually want to land a fish.”

Fanny said, “I will confess that Mel often said that he wanted to fish without a hook, very similar to your conclusion after all this time spent suffering yourself.”

Les said, “It would be nice to develop this idea further as a possibility for people who would like to fly fish but have concerns for the fish. If it were made a possibility and an accepted practice then we may gather more people toward the sport.

Brian said, “I agree wholeheartedly. When I take my great-nephew and great-niece fishing they enjoy the strike more. They haven’t been brainwashed with antiquated philosophies. I admire them for that!”

Trevor said, “Carol, like myself, had tears in her eyes. On the fishing without hooks, she said, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ Couldn’t answer that, but tomorrow is the start of a new dawn for me Kathryn. Thank you.”

Peggy said, “I Just watched your film. It was lovely to watch from your childhood to where you are today. I remember at the Casting For Recovery Canada event, Geri didn’t fish with the hook either. I believe I told you about when we were children. We used to go fishing by our house. Mom used to put cup/mug hooks on our poles. We never caught anything but still considered it fishing.”

Rique said, “I love the way you love them. Some people will understand, others won’t, but your words and actions matter and the ripples of what you do, especially .I can’t believe that we don’t feel the same way about fish as we do about mammals and birds. I do know that by seeing the way you love fish has forever changed the way I will look at a fish for the rest of my life.”


Bahamas. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

And on and on …

 All problems just a toy balloon

They’ll be bursted soon

They’re just bound to go pop.

Oops, there goes another problem kerplop

Oops, there goes another problem kerplop

Oops, there goes another problem kerplop.


Tuckered out after landing a giant trevally. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

Hookless fishing is here to stay. I know this because my husband took a break from packing for his fishing trip next week to take a call from his buddy Mike. Mike called to say that he was sitting at the airport on his way fishing when someone told him that he should watch my aforementioned film.

He said that he felt it was such a coincidence to see the film because he had the intention to fish in a similar fashion this season. He went on to say that he had opened up his hook last season and that he was doing long-line release. More than a coincidence that he was thinking about this at the same time that my film was talking about hookless fishing.

I was thrilled that Mike had watched my film and that he supported my decision to fish hookless. I would have never imagined that he was going to make this a part of his way of fishing. If you read Mike’s book on Atlantic salmon fishing, you would understand why this is such a huge departure. This guy is a fishing machine. I started to think that if he could take this much-needed step, then anyone could, and should. That is when the words came out of my husband’s mouth that I never thought I would hear: “OK, Kath, I’m going to do your laundry.”


Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

No, I’m kidding, he didn’t say that. But he did say that he was going to fish hookless next week! OMG.

The sting of a fly can be deadly, for people and for fish. Worth trying to avoid whenever possible. The payoff is substantial on a number of levels.

Tight lines,


Visit Kathryn Maroun at What A Catch!

  • About Kathryn Maroun

    Kathryn Maroun is one of a handful of Canadian women to be certified as an FFF casting instructor. She is the award winning executive producer of What A Catch Productions. The 52 show series highlights Kathryn's fishing adventures from around the world. Kathryn exposes never talked about hazards of the sport, conservation, culture, as well as showcasing exotic game fish in her series. Her show first aired in the US before being internationally distributed. Kathryn is featured in the collection of two prominent museums for her significant contribution to the sport of fly fishing. Kathryn Maroun is the president and founder of Casting for Recovery Canada, past director of Trout Unlimited Canada and past member of the Canadian World Fly Fishing team. Along with creating a line of clothing for women at work in the outdoors, Kathryn has fished around the world and has a number of world record fish to her name. Today she dedicates her time to writing about her miss-adventures and enjoys telling her stories through keynote speaking opportunities. Kathryn is campaigning to create a more balanced playing field for women in the sport.


The Conversation

  • Pat says: November 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Hookless fly fishing, and air rifles, safe archery – can’t understand why the joys of these target games have become so violent, and why they’ve not been preserved safely for growing and impressionable kids. Have Americans lost their flair for innovation?

  • Altan says: May 19, 2013 at 12:33 am

    love that Kathryn’s hookless fishing attitude. I use to fishing without hook but using wool fly. It works very well, I don’t have chance to evaluate this idea from long time ago. I hope somebody evaluate this idea and changes hook to wool.

  • Bill Bowers says: May 7, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Thank you, Kathryn Maroun, for another thought-provoking and fun-to-read post. Please keep them coming!

    • kathryn Maroun says: May 7, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Bill. Is the song still in your head?
      My guess that it is…..

  • Fergie Graham says: May 7, 2013 at 4:44 am

    I hope a lot more people think like Kathryn I have looked for a long time for a hook that does less damage to the fish . Maybe this is the answer .

    • kathryn Maroun says: May 7, 2013 at 7:08 am

      Hey Fergie,much more study needs to be done. Until then we must do our part to do better. Fish are not plastic toys, they are living breathing creatures with blood, eyes, hearing and will.
      Necessity is the mother of invention. Let’s invent this mother. lol