Catch & Release
I don't think there's a visitor to this board, no matter how casual or occasional, who has not wrestled with this question. Each of us eventually works it out for him or herself -- I can only offer an opinion after many years of thinking about this.
I blieve the question of whether to catch and release or catch and kill is situational. The first thing that needs to be considered when deciding which way to go is the sustainability of the fishery. Many fisheries cannot support the killing of fish, even when very restrictive limits are imposed by the regulating agencies. Some fragile fisheries are even regulated as no-kill, and many lodges enforce a no-kill policy in an effort to maintain a quality sports fishery for their guests.
Nevertheless, there are times and places where killing fish may be in the best interests of the resource. Seldom visited cirque lakes supporting large populations of stunted brook trout are one such example. Farm ponds overcrowded with bluegill may be another. Non-native fish that are crowding out more desireable native species may be targeted for slaugher, and so forth. In short, catch and release depends on the situation.
Some anglers practice catch and release under all conditions. This is their personal ethic and choice, and I don't quarrel with it. I do quarrel with their proselytising this ethic to situations where it doesn't reasonably apply or for castigating other anglers who don't share their "no exceptions" ethic.
Personally, about the only fish I keep are Chinook and Coho salmon, with the occasional bright hatchery steelhead. The stocks I fish are abundant ones, and I limit myself to what myself and family consume. Fish are good food, and, if the fishery can stand it, bonk what you need and bring 'em home to the barby.
As to whether fish are particularly injured or distressed by being caught, I don't think their distress is a big thing for them. I think all of us who regularly release fish have caught the same fish twice, often with hours of the initial hookup. As a boy, I kept "pet" fish in my bedroom aquariums that I'd taken on hook and line and transported home in a bucket on my bike. To no obvious ill effect. These are critters that eat hornets and wasps with relish and are always sampling drifting and swimming things by biting at them. Fish that are to be released, though, should be landed quickly to avoid lactic acid build-up, and handled as gently as possible during the landing and recovery periods. Barbless hooks are a very good thing if you are intending to release your catch.
Anyway, this is one person's opinion. Maybe worth two cents. Who knows. Bottom line, with C&R, it depends.
Join the Palindromes for Dyslexics Society Today