In a short while rivers, lakes, and ponds will warm enough to trigger the annual fish spawning season. We’ll see bass and panfish move into the shallows and create redds with their tails. After awhile, momma fish will guard her redd from egg snatchers, and the circle of life begins again. The adult fish will be visible, they’ll be hungry, and they’ll be aggressive. If a lure enters their zone during this time they may strike out of protection… or maybe they just want an easy meal.
Should you even make that cast? Well that depends on what to do for today and what to do for tomorrow. This issue is as hot as fish grease.
Proponents say it’s ok to cast right now. “I spot ‘em, I got ‘em” goes the rhyme, and their fish buckets get filled to the brim. A day of easy-to-catch fish makes up for the low catching days, it’s part of the concept of fair chase.
Opponents say absolutely no way. To take a fish from a redd could mean a loss of that year-class of fish. Another fish like a carp or a sucker could slide in and easily vacuum up all the eggs. Catching a single fish means hundreds of new fish won’t hatch and therefore they won’t fill up the watershed. And even if the caught fish is released there still is time when it’s off the redd… and predators can clean up the eggs.
The temptation to catch easy fish, particularly if your fishing has been difficult, is natural. Just as we appreciate a sunny day that follows a rainy one, the easy catching days make up for the hard ones. But my two cents worth is to hold off on that cast. Let the fish stay on their redds until all the eggs have hatched. There might be a few fish on the grill in the short run, but in the long run you’ll have more fish to catch. There will be bigger ones, too.
What do you think is the right answer?
Photo Credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife