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A Note About Catch and Release Fishing/Selective Harvest


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Most of you probably already understand what I'm about to explain. This is a pretty educated community, but it can't hurt to throw this out there, even if it means reaching one person. Knowledge is, in my opinion, the best chance our fisheries have at sustainability. I've bolded the main idea for those not interested in details.

I have heard people brag about cleaning 30" walleye, and other large fish at some of the spots I frequent in St. Cloud. I don't think it's arrogance, but rather a lack of education, that drives this culture. Many times I've gotten dirty looks or comments for keeping a fish that people think is too small. It's a "give them a chance to grow" mentality that isn't entirely logical when you think about the ecosystem as a whole.

I'm trained in genetics and molecular techniques. I have been researching the aquatic toxicology of endocrine disruption in stream and lake fish for about a year now, and will be starting my thesis in the spring. I am not trying to boast, but to verify that I am at least a halfway credible source...

What I am building up to is this: If you care to improve the fish population of a particular species, in a specific location, release the big fish, and keep the dinks. The large fish are genetically predisposed to spawn more large fish. They also generate a higher quantity of offspring.

A secondary factor is contamination. Large fish contain an exponential increase in heavy metals like Mercury, and other toxins (dioxins, PCBS, and PFOS), over smaller, younger fish. You can read about these chemicals on any DNR lake information page.

A long rant, but I hope this can drive forth the notion that having a pile of smaller fish on the ice is not un-masculine. It is rather a show of consideration for the ecosystem and other anglers, including those anglers that haven't been born yet!

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only thing big fish are good for are trophies and even then all you need are accurate measurements and photos and have a graphite mount made, no need to kill a breeder anymore with the tech the taxidermist uses these days, if they swallow the hook i lose a bait ooh well, but at least i get a chance to catch it again.

id rather eat those small 15" walleye then an old monster

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I agree. It is fun to catch the big ones and it is even better letting them go. I was raised with keeping fish in a select slot limit even on lakes that did not have them. It was planted in my mind at an early age that the big ones get taken care of and released because they are the breeders and that big fish make big fish. I have never forgotten those lessons from my grandfather and plan on passing them down someday to my future children and grandchildren.

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