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MNdreaMN

Catch and Release

75 posts in this topic

Okay, so I know this post is going to draw some heat, but I have to state my opinion and get some responses. I have recently seen several large fish being taken out of area waters. For instance, I was fishing a smaller lake and saw a couple take four largemouth bass from the lake that weighed at least 3 lbs each, with the biggest probably being closer to 4. The fish were all packed with eggs. Heartbreaking, especially since the lake was small. How good could a 3+ lb bass taste anyway?!

The same goes for the local fishing contents. I love looking in the papers and seeing the big fish and hearing the good stories, but how many of those fish are being released?? I just think there needs to me more promotion of CPR.

I know I know, you should be able to keep what you catch as long as it is within the law. How about slot limits that limit to only one fish over a certain size? Many of you have probably seen how smaller lakes can be "fished out" when the bite gets going good. And it goes for all species ranging from panfish to bass to walleye.

I know many of you share the same practices as me and I'm sorry for the rant. I just had to vent with some of the big fish I have seen pulled from the lakes recently.

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I feel your pain MNdreaMN. In the last two years i have seen enough big 4 plus pounds bass taken out of very small lakes to make me sick. I understand it is their right to take those fish but that doesn't necessarily make it right. On bass opener i saw 3 gentlemen with a stringer of close to 20 bass between 3 and 4 lbs. All prespawn and stuffed with eggs. And i can guarantee you they caught several bass in the 12 inch range that they could've kept instead of those big females. On a different small lake i witnessed a gentleman keep several 3-5 lbs bass and throw back 12-13 inchers. Everytime i see this guy out on the same lake it makes me cringe, but what can you do. It definitely is tough to swallow. In my mind the only way to solve the problem and help promote selective harvest is to educate people more, or to have the DNR impose slot limits for bass. And it's not just bass. I have seen several bluegill spawning colonies get obliterated this year. Sorry for the rant, but this topic really gets my blood boiling. Im not against keeping some fish when you go out but do it in a smart manner. Only keep what you really need and think about the future of the fisheries before you go putting all those big fish in the grease.

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I guess I'm not too shy. I'll frequently approach those folks and suggest that if they enjoy catching the large fish, they should throw them back and keep the smaller ones to eat. Most of the time they look at me like I'm nuts but I figure if I can get one or two of those folks to think just a bit, then maybe they'll throw back the largest ones?

I think it's just important to be respectful even though it makes me angry when I see that level of selfishness.

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It is all our responsibility to practice common sense within the legal limits. I used to let EVERYTHING go, but I now understand more about what can be kept and what can easily grow back. It depends on the fishery. Those of us who believe this can do our best to make up for others choices that differ from ours. Nothing tastes better than a good decision.

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catch and release is a personal decision and as long as the law is being followed it is no one else's business.

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Glad the topic drew a little discussion and glad to see most had the same point of view that I did. Jake, I did notice you sent the pictures in and from reading your posts on here I figured those fish went back in the lake. I just wish the paper would have put more emphasis that you release those kind of fish. Might give some others a little more motivation to try and catch them another day.

KT, your post was right on. I believe we had the same discussion a couple weeks ago at a launch site. The same people catching and REMOVING these big fish (including panfish) will only be back time and time again to continue the same practice until the fishery is a has been. How has the bite been going for you?

And Duck, I knew somebody would give that argument about within the law is okay and should be nobody else's business. Apparently the DNR agrees somewhat with the rest of us as they have imposed size restrictions on certain bodies of water. I feel it should be a blanket approach for all the lakes. The DNR has recognized what such a small percentage of fisherman can do to destroy fishing on certain bodies of water.

Preach CPR! More education is needed.

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catch and release is a personal decision and as long as the law is being followed it is no one else's business.

Sorry, I disagree. Now I enjoy a good walleye meal or a jar of pickled pike as much as anyone and I'm far from a pure C&R fisherman (although I never keep bass). But people need to be smart about what fish they put in the fry pan or the salt/vinegar brine. People make a lot of bad decisions because they are uneducated about the ramifications of their decision. I've seen dozens of guys just this year alone that are at the lake once week a year and stumble upon a 25" walleye, 7lb+ northern, or 4lb+ bass and throw it on the stringer. They don't know the damage harvesting that kind of fish can cause. Sure to them they are just one person taking a few big fish so what's the big deal. The law says I can do it so I'm doing it. But what if everyone did that. How long until none of us were catching fish that size or even the smaller ones. When I was a kid limits of fish used to be the exception rather than the rule, in today's era of fishing with the GPS, Sonar units, 1 ft contour Lakemaster maps etc. anyone with a little training on presentation, ultra sensitive rods braided and fluorocarbon lines, and an arm full of electronics can go out and really hammer fish of some species or another. Combine those advancements with outdated laws written for an era when limits were not that easy to catch and our knowledge of the environment far more limited, and a very underfunded DNR so that less and less conservation officers are responsible for more and more territory and stockings programs are sure to eventually fall to budget cutting measures then its really up to us citizens and caretakers of our own resource to do something to protect that which we enjoy.

I'm not advocating you get in someone's face when you see a stringer of 4lb bass in the fish cleaning house because they haven't done anything illegal. It may be viewed as unethical maybe, but illegal no. So while its currently their legal right to do that sort of thing I'm hopeful that maybe at least a few people wouldn't do it if they knew the damage it does in the long run.

Instead of confronting those people have you thought about maybe doing something simple like making up a poster to post on the wall of a resort fish house to inform fisherman of how delicate the ecosystem of a lake can be and how much damage over harvest and keep anything we catch fishing actually does. Point out how the mature adults of each species are the most valuable breeding stock in the lake and that without healthy levels of natural reproduction in any lake, the fishing we currently enjoy can't be sustained.

I'm advocating that citizen fishermen not only work to get the state's legislature and DNR to reduce creel limits and impose statewide slot limits for every species so the "its legal so its none of your business" argument becomes invalid. But in addition to that if you feel strongly about this issue put some effort into educating sportsmen who haven't seen the problems that can result in lakes becoming fished out without self imposed restraint and take it upon yourself to put up some information on bulletin boards, fish cleaning stations, etc. It may only change the behavior of a small percentage of folks, but any difference you make benefits us all.

Thanks for the post.

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So far this thread has been very one-sided. I fully understand where you all are coming from but I think it's only fair to point out that there is another side. Those that promote C&R believe they are doing the resource a big favor. Maybe you are and maybe you're not. We have hired professional biologists for the purpose of managing our fishery and in all fairness to them and their efforts, we need to allow them to do the job we hired them to do. They impose restrictions when it is determined the restrictions are necessary. It has been biologically proven time and again that blanket restrictions are not the right course of action. Each lake, river, and stream is a different ecosystem and managing them is as diverse.

I agree with your philosophy of releasing the larger fish. That's what I do but to be perfectly honest, I must admit that I don't do it strictly to "protect the resource" as it were. I don't like to keep walleyes over 18" or northerns over 27" because the smaller ones are much more tasty in my opinion. I also release walleyes less than 15" and northerns less than 24" because I would prefer they grow a little more.

Maybe my reasons are not what you like but it is what it is. If the harvesting practices of we sportsmen and women is hurting the resource as you claim then I would question why the DNR has not imposed the restrictions that would meet with your preferences. We too often sit in our easy chairs and pass judgement on others for their practices whether we are qualified to do so or not.

With that said, I have to agree with the statement that if it's within the laws then it's okay. If it's not okay then the laws should be changed. That's what we hire biologists to do.

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MNdreaMN,

The bite has recently started to pick up. Some of the fish are starting to move to a later postspawn mode and are starting to feed up. I hit them really well a couple days ago on a good evening topwater bite, (lots of 2's and 3's) and a couple around 4. Also gettin some good numbers rippin cranks through clumps of weeds on the flats. Pretty soon they should start really grouping up on the weededge. The bigger females haven't quite turned on yet though. How did the rest of your time up in the area go? Did you make it back out to that lake any other times? Coincidently, that couple you and i saw at the access keeping those big fish, have been out on that same body of water no less that 6 times since that evening (yikes!!!)

Also to add to the discussion a little more. It is my belief that even though blanket regulations might not be necessary on all lakes, it is the best course of action to take, especially on the smaller lakes. First off, most of the smaller lakes only get surveyed by the dnr every 2 -3 years or so and some it is much longer. So it's tough to have a complete understanding of the fishery. Also, in that short period of time a hot bite on a small body of water that really gets exploited can destroy a population if people are careless with their harvest. For example, a lake that three years previous had an outstanding population of a certain species of fish, the next time it is surveyed can look completely different with regards to fish population and by then it is too late. I think this is especially crucial for smaller bodies of water. These lakes can't stand up to repeated limits of large fish taken out day after day, and one or two groups of people repeatedly returning to the same body of water to take these limits is really hard to swallow, especially when you know what caliber of fish the lake is capable of producing. Just my two cents worth.

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This, so far, is a good discussion and I hope it stays that way. I'm a die hard Walleye fisherman and have a "personal slot" that I follow on most lakes. Here is something to ponder for you guys and gals and I've thought of it myself many times. There are A LOT of lakes in Minnesota that Walleyes are stocked in. Why? Because there isn't any or very little natural reproduction in them. Now ask yourself this, does it hurt a lake with limited natural reproduction to take a bigger fish from them? Other than to put into the lake (which I do) to grow to trophy size, do they do anything for the fishery? If there isn't natural reproduction occuring in the lake, I have to think not. The DNR Lake Finder HSOforum normally notes in their surveys whether or not a certain lake has natural reproduction in them. If they do, it's extremely important for the future to put fish over 20" back into the lake. Those are the fish that will carry us into the future. Just my .02, but something to think about anyways!

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KT, we did fish it one other time. Still never got any big hogs. The biggest one we put in the boat was 3 lb 14 oz. We caught a couple others that were high 3's, but nothing over 4. A little discouraging. We did take a trip up to the other lake you told us about and did great. Nothing huge, but about everything we caught was in the 2 to 3 lb class. Keep me posted with how you are doing.

Bob, I understand what you are saying about letting the pros handle the lakes. They are pros and we should let them; however, as we all know, they are understaffed with too much work already on their plate. KT made a good point about how often the lakes are surveyed. Many of the smaller lakes are only done once every five years. It doesn't take near that long to destroy a lake.

Duck, wow! A little harsh, huh? I think many would tell you that you need common sense to know that there is no law that tells you you need to keep everything you catch...whether you are legal or not. Catch and release works. Proven over and over.

As for the length limit and slot limit restrictions...why would anyone oppose? Name one lake that the tactic has not worked on! I remember when Osakis went to the experimental 15" limit for Walleyes. I heard more complaining from people. Now look, more and bigger walleyes. Did I forget to mention...catch and release works.

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Quote:
I remember when Osakis went to the experimental 15" limit for Walleyes. I heard more complaining from people. Now look, more and bigger walleyes. Did I forget to mention...catch and release works.

That may not be quite accurate. A couple years ago when the 15" minimum was up for review, the DNR hosted a local town meeting to present the data they collected and discuss possible changes going forward. The 15" minimum was, I believe, an 8-year experiment aimed at improving the fishery overall. There was concern that the lake was being over-harvested and fish numbers were dropping.

During the meeting, the DNR presented their data collected from netting and creel surveys. The data showed that even though the 15" minimum was implemented, the fish population continued to decline during the test period. In fact, the evidence showed that the numbers of fish over 15" declined at an even faster pace.

Their theory was that Osakis walleyes grow faster than expected. The 15" measurement was chosen because walleyes in lakes typical of Osakis size and type are usually old enough to spawn at least once by the time they are 15" long. To their surprise, Osakis walleyes are not mature enough to spawn at 15" and so they theorized that the fish were being harvested before they had a chance to breed. Funny thing. There were no changes made to the law despite this evidence. I wonder why.

The evidence has shown that the 15" minimum has done nothing and maybe actually did more damage than good. I think there have been more done toward improving the fishery by local organizations' efforts to improve the spawning beds than there was by the 15" minimum and I believe a huge step in the right direction might be to protect those spawning beds by making them off limits to fishing.

There was a good point made in another post about the stocking efforts. What many fail to recognize is that walleyes are not indigenous to all that many lakes in MN. Most of the lakes that hold walleyes only do so because they have been stocked. Those smaller lakes that have been referred to as being at risk by not releasing larger fish are probably at just as much risk either way because they don't provide the necessary environment for the resident walleyes to procreate naturally. I suppose releasing the larger ones in these lakes maybe provides the opportunity for someone else to catch that same one another day. At the same time, a lake ecosystem can only support a certain number of fish at a certain size. Keeping those larger ones or a few limits just might give other fish the opportunity to grow that they don't have now.

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Verry nice bit of info BobT and an interesting perspective you put forth.

-

Its the meat eaters Vs the picture takers

_

My 2 cents: I lean on the side of what the guy does in own boat is legal he should not be judged or told he is wrong by doing so.

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Releasing fish does not always translate into larger fish and in some cases can actually be detrimental to the fishery as a whole.

Case in point:

About 10 miles from my home there is a small 297 acre lake that is over-populated with northern pike. There is a sign at the boat launch asking anglers to help reduce the population by harvesting pike less than 20 inches. Anyone that fishes pike knows that a 20" pike is hardly worth taking home. They are the "hammerhandles" that you hear about, long and skinny with very little meat to speak of.

From the DNR lakefinder survey, the lake contains about double the northern pike than the average lake of this size and type. Interestingly enough, the average size of the pike is about half the average size for pike typically found in lakes of this size and type.

There are too many to support a well balanced pike population and so they just don't grow. That's one of the unique characteristics of fish. Unlike most other animals, their size is highly dependent on their environment. We grow to a predestined body size but fish don't. Too many fish in a given body of water will typically result in stunted growth.

The lake has a maintained walleye population through stocking but the walleye numbers have been declining. It is suspected that the northern pike have upset the balance of perch, which in turn has upset the balance of bluegills in the lake, resulting in the decline of the walleye population.

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KT, Duck, wow! A little harsh, huh? I think many would tell you that you need common sense to know that there is no law that tells you you need to keep everything you catch...whether you are legal or not. Catch and release works. Proven over and over.

Not being harsh at all, being harsh is judging someone elses legal limit as if you owned the lake. I stand with every legal catch that someone chooses to eat or mount. Remember we are not talking about keeping everything a person catches, just the legal limit or a legal fish. Their reason's are their own not your's. As for your "many" that would tell me different I would tell them the same as I am telling you "quit bashing legal fishermen and their legal catches".

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I wish the DNR would let us have 3 "bonus" Northerns under 20" in our limit. Then maybe more folks would go to the lakes that have the stunted northerns. Then you might have enough for a batch of pickled pike or a little to eat if you were good with the fillet knife.

When Lac Qui Parle lake had the 15" minimum on it; it was a disaster. Some of the walleyes were dyeing of natural causes before they even made it to 15", according to the DNR.

Fishing should be about fun. Please do not question or confront people when they keep fish that you feel they should have released. You don't know their story. They are probably having a wonderful time and I hate to think that someone would come along and rain on their parade, just to make their personal opinion known on what fish should be kept. Outdoor publications, fishing websites, and signs at resorts/boat landings are good ways of educating people about selective harvest without getting on someones case in a personal manner. If you witness something illegal - call TIP.

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Bob, I had not heard of such DNR info about the experimental regulations. I was going with personal catches. It seemed before the limit was imposed, there were countless small walleye. Then, about two to three years after the regulations were imposed, it seemed we were catching more and larger walleye. If the regulation was such a failure, why does it remain in effect? I do understand your point about what difference does it make to keep a big walleye if they are not naturally reproducing. I fish for all species of fish and know that besides musky, the DNR doesn't often stock other species. I love bass fishing and to see these people removing 3, 4, and 5 lb bass bothers me. Bass do reproduce and that is how they keep their existence. And I would much rather catch big fish that small...maybe that is a weird practice.

Candiru, I don't understand your point on Lac Qui Parle. Did the fish know there was a length limit and therefore died early because of it? And I'm not one to confront someone about what they are keeping. I wish, in some cases, I had the you know whats to do so. It is all about education, right? You can speak to them in a polite way and maybe they will learn something. More power to those that will speak up.

CPR works!

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In LQP. Lake there ended up being alot of 13" walleyes. They were all competing for food so they did not grow. Some ended up starving.

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I was fishing a 50 acre lake last night and caught a 19 1/2" largie and a couple 12 - 13" ers. That's a huge bass for this lake, the largest I've pulled out by 1/2". We came across a canoe with a foreign family in it. She asked if we had caught anything. I held out my hands to show her the size of the bigun and she asked if I kept it. I said no. She was shocked. I told her I wanted the bass to turn into 20" or more by next year, so I could catch a bigger one. Hopefully, that's how it will work. You can't catch 5# bass if you keep all the 4# bass. wink

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I grew up fishing LQP and find it hard to believe that the 15" size limit hurt the walleye poulation. How does the dnr know that there was too much competition for food among smaller fish?

Lqp is connected to the chippewa, pomme de terre, and minnesota rivers, plus countless other streams that are full of all sorts of forage. What if certian age classes of fish moved into the rivers? or what if it iscoreof engineers constantly raising the water levels in the spring then dropping them drastically in the late spring throughout the summer. Or what if it is the explosion of white bass and drum in the lake. I just dont believe the dnr is taking into account all the variables.

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Quote:
If the regulation was such a failure, why does it remain in effect?

That was the question I was eluding to when I made this statement.

Quote:
There were no changes made to the law despite this evidence. I wonder why.

I sat in on that meeting and I'll try to give you some idea of what I can remember transpired.

After the state biologist presented his information and showed how the walleye population continued to decline he asked for public opinion and thoughts about what direction the public would like to take. There were many good ideas tossed around.

One idea was to reduce the walleye harvest limit to 4 instead of six. One even more aggressive approach was to lower it even further.

One was to raise the slot to 16" or perhaps even 17" since the walleye grow so fast and this way they would more likely be able to breed before giving in to an angler's lure.

One was a combination of the above along with lowering the upper limit so more of the larger breeding fish would be released. I believe it was suggested to allow only 1 over 20" if my memory is correct.

Which group of people do you suppose had the loudest voice in opposition to any changes in the limts? The resort owners. They were concerned that stricter limits would reduce their clients ability to harvest fish. Funny, their very livlihood is dependant on the fishery and yet they were the least concerned about maintaining it.

It was also pointed out in the meeting that some of the local clubs and other organizations had begun efforts to rebuild the spawning grounds by placing gravel on the ice in winter. Which group do you suppose was NOT listed as one that promoted and supported this effort? The resort owners.

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I believe this has been a very good discussion topic and i commend everyone for keeping it as civil as it has been. That says a lot about the type of people we have here on this site.

Just one comment to add. I consider myself a bass fishing addict. Which goes perfectly with my profession of being a teacher. (lots of time to fish bass in the summer) I release all bass that i catch unless im worried about them surviving due to a deep hook. That is simply my personal choice, I don't claim to be right or wrong. I don't "expect" everyone else to have the same opinion as me. However, I do take time to educate people as often as possible about the benefits of "selective harvest". And you would be surprised how many people, especially young people, seem to be very receptive to the practice. My point is just because some people keep everything, within the limit, including big fish doesn't mean that ultimately is their "choice." Sometimes people keep those big fish because "that is what they are supposed to do, or that is what someone in their family does" without thinking about the benefits of throwing them back. Often times a little education or even talking about how you release the big ones to fight another day can help them determine what their personal choice is going to be. I try to make it a point to let people know as much as possible that i let the big ones go, and that i don't always keep a limit. Whether that is at the access, online, at school, or in the community. Now does that mean i am imposing my will on them, heck no. I am simply showing them another option or a different idea--that maybe they haven't been exposed to--of how to do something, which is what education is all about.

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Thank you KT, you are spot on. A little education goes along way! My father has come around, it took him a while but he now sees the good in releasing the big fish, no matter the species, sunnies to northerns and everything in between.

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i have to say i love how civil this convo has been as well.

xtackleman- i have come across this alot as well. with amish, spanish, asian. and you have to look at it from their point of view as well. they are often poor, and they depend on the fish for food. so that does not bother me as much as when people who are working for a living, keep fish of such a big size.

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So what you're saying is that Amish, Spanish, and Asians don't work for a living? whistle

I may be poking a little fun here but your statement does seem to stereotype. I for one can't tell by looking at someone whether they have a job or are a bum.

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