For many people who fish there are few things as rewarding as a fresh fish meal after a successful day on the water. Sometimes releasing caught fish is the law and sometimes it’s a choice. If it’s a choice, why would anyone give up that tasty treat?
When it comes to deciding whether or not to catch and release fish, there are many things to consider. As a first place to start, it’s important to know something about the water you’re fishing. When fishing somewhere new, be sure to read and understand the regulations before you go. Just because you’re fishing in an area you’re familiar with or that contains species of fish you catch all the time, doesn’t mean that the regulations are the same for every body of water. A little research in advance can help you make an educated choice. If you’re ever unsure if it’s legal to keep a fish, the safest bet is to put it back. Not only will you be conserving the resource but you could avoid a nasty fine!
Something else to consider is the ethics of keeping fish. Ask yourself why you’re keeping a fish you’ve caught. Many of us grew up fishing with our grandparents and in their generation catch and release was not well practiced if practiced at all. Go out and “get your limit” was a common thought and as a result many of our fisheries suffered population reduction, and in some cases, were taken to the brink of extinction. One way to meet in the middle on this is to keep one or two fish for you and your family to enjoy even though the limit might be five.
We all like to catch fish. And we all like to catch BIG fish! Big fish cannot exist without small fish being put back so they can grow. Did you know that the ten-inch fish you release in early spring can be as large as thirteen or fourteen inches by late fall? In fisheries where there is plenty of food and good water conditions it is not uncommon for fish to put on several inches and a pound or more in weight in a season. Think about how large that fish could become if it had three or four seasons to grow! Releasing a fish now could mean landing a real trophy down the road.
With all the factors affecting water, and consequently fish as well, it is everyone’s responsibility to look ahead. Think of all the great memories you’ve had fishing with parents or grandparents. Conserving fisheries for future generations to enjoy is the responsibility of every angler. Take a child fishing and show them how much fun it is to catch a fish. And show them how good it feels to hold that fish in the water and watch it swim away. It’s something all of you will never forget.
Jana Superstein is President of Superfly International. For the love of fly check: http://www.simplysuperfly.com/