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Jim Uran

Sustainability

68 posts in this topic

Going above and beyond to maintain our fisheries is our responsibility as anglers/stewards.

 

How many fish do we need to take home? Our predecessors thought it was ok to get them while the getting is good, hot bites came and went and there was no thoughts on sustainability. Not only for numbers, but size structure also. They wanted the biggest fish and as many as they could fit in the pail to carry back to the landing. 

 

Nowadays we know that that type of mindset is a lake killer. This is true for many species, heck, all species. We've seen populations disrupted, we've seen once hot spots disappear. Think of the swings in size structure in species like perch, bluegill, and northern pike. Lakes like Winnie once known for real jumbo perch are now sorting through buckets of 8' fish to keep a 10' fish. Spots that once had a good number of trophy bluegills can get wiped out in one winter.

 

What local lakes have you seen change over the years? What are you doing to create a sustainable fishery? 

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I've lived in the area I do now for 15 years and I've fished here for maybe 18 or 19.  On the lake I fish most often I've seen to population of pike be really high then more manageable for a good number of years then go back up to really high the past few years.  The largemouth bass population steadily increased and then exploded with fantastic fishing in 2013 and 2014.  My numbers of bass caught per outing the past couple of years is down significantly from 13 and 14.  I pretty much only fish crappie in the Spring before gamefish open up.  Fishing for them is hit and miss from year to year.  Fishing pressure for crappie was at an all time low last year as fishing was more miss for the second year in a row.  I did catch my personal best crappie last year, which I released as I do with all crappies over 12.5."   Being primarily a bass fisherman catching walleye isn't something I figured out until a few years ago and that was mostly by accident.  Last year was my best year for eyeballs.  Just like with crappie I let the small one's and big one's go, not that I caught very many over 21" last year out of my main lake. 

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I agree that what you say about lakes getting hammered during a hot bite. I rarely keep fish because I see the pressure brought on them and don't want to add to that.

 

Imho a good solution would be to have each person buy tags for the fish. Each fish that goes on the stringer or bucket gets a tag. You get a specific number of tags per species and if you want extra tags,set a price and purchase them if you want more fish. 

Not that it would stop overfishing or cross tagging but it would certainly make people think about every fish they catch and whether it's worth keeping them. 

IMO the limits on panfish are too high. 

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I cringe every time I see the name of a lake posted on any of the Facebook pages I follow.  A few years ago a lake near me was kicking out 8-9" crappies as fast you could get your line down.  Once it hit Facebook, the entire metro area was on that lake, and now there are very few crappies left.  Of course, the guys keeping over their limits, and keeping allowed limits every single day didn't help things any.  There were plenty of both types of people.

 

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I should add, my first post is pertinent to the sustainability conversation, because even though a fishery may have acceptable pressure and fish populations for many years, all it takes is a couple posts to throw things completely out of whack.  I'm sure we can all give plenty of examples.  

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If it's not the internet it's people driving by and seeing a burgeoning shantytown and thinking they need to get in the mix too.

 

I think the recent explosion of ice fishing associated with all the creature comforts that allow for fishing in t shirts has killed a lot of lakes, especially around the metro.  Little lakes that have two fishing boats on it in the open water have 500 houses on it on any given weekend and fish removed by the 5 gallon bucket.

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When I started ice fishing anyone who had a shelter fished like a king.  Today it's just the diehards that bare ice it all day.  

 

I think we all know technology is has given us a MASSIVE edge in finding and catching fish and our expectations have risen with our abilities.  Efficient fishers don't have to wait for the hot bite to happen in their preferred spots; now we go find it.  The transportation not only on the lakes has improved but our range of travel has expanded incredibly, making pretty much everyplace a viable target.

 

The days of fishing 3-1/2 arm lengths down over the local crappie hole with just a bucket of minnows is over, in concept.  

 

Now we can all go find our own crappie hole, or edge, or flat and actually see the fish.  What I hope changes is the mentality of sitting on the same fish and milking them for all they're worth.  If success is solely determined by what's in the bucket, it won't.  I like catching too but the game of hide and seek is exciting too.  And the days that I win fill me up as much as a pile of fillets; just in a different way.

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50 minutes ago, bobbymalone said:

If it's not the internet it's people driving by and seeing a burgeoning shantytown and thinking they need to get in the mix too.

 

I think the recent explosion of ice fishing associated with all the creature comforts that allow for fishing in t shirts has killed a lot of lakes, especially around the metro.  Little lakes that have two fishing boats on it in the open water have 500 houses on it on any given weekend and fish removed by the 5 gallon bucket.

 

It's both but yeah, I agree with this.

 

It's getting so easy to fish and find fish now days that the fish don't stand a chance. Boats are easier to load and unload and are more comfortable and reliable. Electronics basically do everything but drive you to the hot spot. Then they make it easier to see if you are on fish and what kind/size of fish. Fish houses are warmer and more comfortable than my own house. Easy to set up and take down. Augers drill 8 holes in a matter of minutes. Fishing poles and modern line make catching fish quickly during hot bite times easy.

 

Contrast all of this to back when you had to pull start your 14' Lund with the 15 hp motor, use a rope in several spots to gauge the depth, then put out a bobber, hook and worm and hope there are fish there. Or walk out on the ice with just a bucket to sit on, drill a hole with a hand auger, put down your giggle stick and wait to see if there are fish in the area. 

 

Fishing, at least in the metro area, will probably never again be what it once was and there are lots of reasons why.

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6 minutes ago, Wanderer said:

 What I hope changes is the mentality of sitting on the same fish and milking them for all they're worth.  If success is solely determined by what's in the bucket, it won't.  I like catching too but the game of hide and seek is exciting too.  And the days that I win fill me up as much as a pile of fillets; just in a different way.

 

I understand what you are getting at but my question is, what should determine success? Fishing, like hunting, is a sport of harvesting food IMO. If I'm not planning to harvest and eat anything, for me I don't see a reason to do it. For me it would be like tending a garden all summer long and then throwing away all the food come harvest time. I'm not saying I should harvest limits every day, and that's probably the biggest problem here but when I am on a hot bite, I don't see a problem with taking a limit. I don't fish very often so I know I won't over-harvest but there are probably a lot of people who say the exact same thing.

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I'm not a trophy fisherman.  I fish to feed my family.  I paid for my license, I'm going to keep what I'm allowed to keep.  And If they're still biting, I'm going to go get the rest of my family so they can take a limit too.  If there was an actual problem with the pressure on lakes, I'm sure the DNR will head it off before anything bad happens.  Until then, keep throwing 'em back guys.  That's less food I have to buy at the store.  

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A larger portion of people just cannot see the bigger picture. A whisper of putting slots or a new bag on pan fish and you got pitch forks and sand pounding.

 

The whole idea is preservation and sustainability for years to come and that requires some sacrifice.

 

With fishing forums/media and new technology, harvesting is made so much easier. While some will say you have to still catch them, it is far easier knowing where they're at.

 

You can have a harvesting compound, tech'd out to the max, livable for months on a spot down to the foot. You don't like it, in an hour flat you're and setup on another location.

 

My girly girl of a woman could even go out and fish and catch and she has no business on the water.

 

And at some point, they will have a piece of equipment that you drop down that will give you a full 3d layout.

 

Some sort of under water drone that navigates to the bottom and sits there transmitting back to you.

 

My view on laws, limits and slots is a variant of Louis C.K. as I do not have faith in people making the right call consistently.

 

 

       - The number 1 reason preventing over harvest is the law against over harvest. Cause it really sucks getting caught.

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I'd rather sit in a lawn chair and watch the river flow by getting skunked than sit on the couch and watch the Netflix flow by.  If I catch something that's a bonus.  Keeping a fish is at the bottom of the list. 

 

Different strokes for different folks.

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12 minutes ago, Paradice said:

  I fish to feed my family.  I paid for my license, I'm going to keep what I'm allowed to keep.  And If they're still biting, I'm going to go get the rest of my family so they can take a limit too. 

 

 

I do not fault this gentleman for his way of doing things. Not at all.

However, the fault and problem lies with one letter in the post, "I". 

 

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I think there are also some lakes that just won't produce large fish or large numbers of fish. There's a lake up north that I know of that's about 600 acres and a max depth of 30 ft. No one fishes it at all. there is no good access to the lake. It takes a lot of doing you could get to it in the winter time but no one does. There is zero fishing pressure and there never has been. There was a DNR lake survey done for the first time that I'm aware of recently and it said that fish numbers of all species were low and so were fish sizes. You would think this lake would be filled to the brim with large fish but it just isn't so.

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All you need to know about how the outdoorsman on the other side of fence think, is when they liberalized Pelican a few years ago.

 

While the outcome was terminal for the fish in lake no matter how it happened, at the drop of a hat, the armada came over the hills and took care of business in short order. Leaving a wake of flesh over the ice.

 

It was not the penny loafers and white collars doing it, but the outdoorsman.

 

While we could argue on the percentage of individuals that retain that type of mentality, truth be told you don't need a majority to cause serious problems.

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I got a little burned out on fishing, so I've toned it down over the last few years. Still get out over 30 days a year, but it was 85+ days a year for a decade or so. I have 18 years of stats now. Fun looking back on them.........fished 35 different bodies of water one year.

 

Unless I'm camping, bringing home fish is an afterthought. Still enjoy a meal of crappies, walleyes, or trout and salmon. But I would prefer a ribeye, or even a tasty burger.

 

Done my share of damage when the bite is on, but always within the law. I've been around long enough to see the effects of the bucket brigades and watched the boom/bust cycles of lakes. Lakes can repair themselves, problem is, in today's world we never give them the time to do so. Yes, the technology has made it easier for everyone. But the old timers who always seemed to keep everything are dying off, and the kids of today are not replacing them.......not much interest in the outdoors. We'll see how that affects fish populations moving forward.

 

Always had my personal slot limits. And I never did care if someone wanted to keep a trophy of a lifetime because when it came down to it........it's just one fish. To each his own. 

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48 minutes ago, JigSawJimmy said:

 

My girly girl of a woman could even go out and fish and catch and she has no business on the water.

 

 Best thing I've ever read on the internet, ever. 

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37 minutes ago, JigSawJimmy said:

The whole idea is preservation and sustainability for years to come and that requires some sacrifice

My way of helping is keeping smaller fish. I don't keep fewer fish, I just treat small fish as eaters and large fish as breeders. 

 

When I catch big fish, they'll be handled carefully, released gently and are free to make babies. Babies with the genes to grow large. I rarely keep a large fish that wasn't injured (gill hooked, bleeding badly, etc).

 

I eat sunfish 8" and smaller, crappies 9" and smaller, bass 14" and smaller (in summer, they all go back) and have tuned my y-bone removal abilities to get meat off little pike.

 

I've also figured out ways to make good meals of underappreciated fish. In 2016, I made meals of smoked carp, redhorse, and even smelt-fried creek chubs and shiners. 

 

Makes me sick when I see fishermen wreck a population size structure, but I can't say I blame any one of the people who contribute to the problem. I've been guilty of contributing to this myself. We've been conditioned backward by minimum-size regulations- learning to view larger fish as food when that approach results in a population of smaller peak-sized and average-sized fish.

 

So my "sacrifice" is the time and convenience of filleting fewer, larger fish. I instead take the time to fillet more, smaller fish and send the big guys back out there to reproduce. 

 

Then, one of my fellow fishermen probably catches and kills that big fish. No one person can solve this problem. It requires a cultural change which probably also requires regulations to change.

 

I'm going to keep doing my part conscientiously and will keep respecting my fellow fishermen who abide by the laws. Even when they apply different standards than I do.

 

My kids are used to hearing, "That fish is too big to keep!"

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2 hours ago, bobbymalone said:

If it's not the internet it's people driving by and seeing a burgeoning shantytown and thinking they need to get in the mix too.

 

I think the recent explosion of ice fishing associated with all the creature comforts that allow for fishing in t shirts has killed a lot of lakes, especially around the metro.  Little lakes that have two fishing boats on it in the open water have 500 houses on it on any given weekend and fish removed by the 5 gallon bucket.

 

The availability and affordability of ice fishing electronics also did an incredible amount of damage to the fish populations of these lakes.

 

When's the last time you saw an semi-serious angler fishing without a graph and putting lures or bait right on a fish's nose?

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8 hours ago, PurpleFloyd said:

I agree that what you say about lakes getting hammered during a hot bite. I rarely keep fish because I see the pressure brought on them and don't want to add to that.

 

IMO the limits on panfish are too high. 

 

I totally agree.

 

I just had some sunnies for the first time of 2017 last evening. I fried up 5 bluegill in the 8-9" range in my new FryDaddy deep fryer, which I really like for $20. I ate 6 fillets for dinner and another 4 today in a delicious fish sandwich. That's 2 nice, reasonably filling meals from 5 bluegills. There's absolutely no need, other than gluttony, to keep 20 sunfish in a single trip, unless one rarely goes fishing.

Edited by BassThumb.
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Know doubt it is easier and more comfortable to fish with today's technology and it's is only going to get better from that standpoint...IMO the only way to save the resource is decreasing limits and put tighter slots on all fish...not just eyes.  I see it first hand in my back yard...we have a lake with 11" slot on crappies...everything under goes back.  Very well monitored...CO on the lake all the time checking on people and I will say the crappie population of all sizes (small to trophy) is very healthy. 

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I don't go out to bring fish home. I'll keep a few fish in a whole year so for me lower limits stricter slots fine do it.  Of course to enforce those changes requires the DNR to make contact with even more people. I don't mind interacting with them since I know I'm doing everything legally and they are just doing there jobs. 

 

I don't unserstand why people need to fill a limit of eyes or crappies or any other species of fish everyday and for some multiple times per day. I enjoy some fish but I wouldn't want that much. Keeping some fish for eating and not just sticking in the freezer to throw away later is fine but some keep for the sake of keeping. 

 

I think electronics especially as well as well as other equipment has made it way too easy to catch fish which makes it way too easy for some to fill out every time they go out. Personally the sharing of lake names shouldn't be a big deal-people should be able to use their common sense as far as keeping the fishery viable for tomorrow. 

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1 hour ago, BassThumb. said:

 

There's absolutely no need, other than gluttony, to keep 20 sunfish in a single trip, unless one rarely goes fishing.

 

Or unless you have more than one mouth to feed.

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You're right, 20 sunfish is way too many per head. No limits on tullibees and whitefish? Heck, this has become a resource, a natural resource that has become dang near unsafe to eat! Crazy!

 

How safe are my fishballs?

 

This me, my, mine poop needs to end, who cares if you bought the darn license, it doesn't give you the right to be a game hog. Taking a limit of eater sized fish on occasion should be considered sustainable, right? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BassThumb., DLD24, gunner55 and 2 others like this

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1 hour ago, bbfenatic said:

  I see it first hand in my back yard

 Mine also. Family, friends, neighbors.

 

Nobody breaks the law. They just always keep. Bring blondy and the kids. Double double.

That doesn't get my goat, I don't judge however the math rattles around in my head.

 

Neighbor upnorth to Unk's cabin. 7 people show up to hunt, 6 deer harvested legally, but then then, meh, I don't need meat. Off to the donation shelter.

 

I have a belief that men who spend time on and specifically,  part take in these outdoor forums are ones that do ration out their meat harvesting.

 

1 hour ago, lawnbuilder said:

Of course to enforce those changes requires the DNR to make contact with even more people. I don't mind interacting with them since I know I'm doing everything legally and they are just doing there jobs. 

 

Me neither. I enjoy their company and the boys in blue and have too, nothing to hide.

It's been a quite a few cycles since I had to cover one eye at 1 in the morning leaving the lake.

 

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