Abstract Because of low fishing mortality that results from catch-and-release angling for carp, Cyprinius carpio L, it is counterintuitive that voluntary catch-and-release (vC&R) of this species induces conflicts within the angling community. Originally motivated by animal welfare concerns, vC&R is today probably as or more strongly criticised within the angling community itself than it is intersectorally. This study reviews the institutional treatment of C&R in Germany and explores within a sociological conflict model the conflicting views surrounding vC&R, specifically in specialised carp angling. It is argued that the intrasectoral (i.e. among angler groups) conflicts around vC&R fishing may divide the recreational angling community, which in turn may weaken the coherence of the entire angling sector. Restricting the opportunity to practice vC&R also can have important social and biological implications, which suggest a rethinking on the current treatment of vC&R recreational angling in Germany.