Debbie Hanson 4/28/2014 Maybe you’ve seen your friends posting largemouth bass pictures on Instagram or were inspired by your cousin who recently reeled in a 150-pound tarpon on a trip to the Florida Keys. Regardless, all of the fishing talk, television shows, photos and stories […]
Month: April 2014
A bunch of my fishing buddies and I got into a hot debate last week. It began when one read a report about a game warden who watched a father and a son catch 10 trout. The regulations call for a 5-trout limit per angler, so the total number of fish was fine. The length requirements were met, too. So what’s the problem? Well, the warden watched the father catch six fish while the son caught 4, and that meant the father was over his limit.
One of my pals said the father should be considered a hero. He got his son on the water, taught him how to rig a rod, tie on a lure, read the structure, and hook and land a fish. The son was not in front of a phone or Ipad screen but instead was out in nature. He was not hanging out on the corner doing anything else that was illegal.
A second friend agreed with the father’s efforts but said the punishment was just. Rules exist to maintain the fishery, and the father over-harvested. If everyone overharvests by one fish and there are a lot of anglers in that fishery, the stocks could be wiped out or really impacted. Rules are in place so anglers can enjoy the fruits of their labor while maintain enough stocks for other anglers or for another day.
Another buddy said the entire program was hog wash, and that the government should be focused on catching folks who devastate the fish population. He cited several examples that were far worse.
I thought about all of their views and decided that every pal has a point. Agreed on the massive quantities of bootleg fish, that should be addressed. But when I look at a recently overfished species like striped bass, I see that many anglers who take a bunch of fish can destroy a population as easily as a trawler. If it’s a delicious tasting fish that is fun to catch, like the striped bass, it is no wonder that an unregulated species got wiped out.
Strong regulations increased the striped bass population to the point where it was restored. Now looser regulations are threatening their numbers once again. Length and creel limits are in place for two reasons. Length limits mean we don’t harvest as many juvenile fish that haven’t spawned. And creel limits mean we leave some fish for our kids or grandkids. It’s a balance where we can put fish on the table without wiping out a species.
In the instance of the father and son, I think 9 fish between the two of ‘em was more than enough. But there was something far worse than one fish. What bothered me the most was that a son had to watch his father get in trouble. To me, that’s far worse than a fish for it hurts a son’s view of his dad and of fishing. Game wardens are not in place to discourage fishing, they are simply there to ensure we have fish for the future. And it’s our job as anglers to abide by the rules and to teach our younger ones and friends that importance of following the rules to help make sure that our kids after us can fish too. It’s something that could have been easily avoided, particularly since the father did so many good things.
Andy Whitcomb 4/21/2014 Q: What could be better than Opening Day of Trout? A: Not Opening Day of Trout. Opening Day of Trout in Pennsylvania seemed a huge success. There was a heavy turnout. Vehicles were packed into every possible pull off near stocked streams, […]
Though officially called “northern pike,” cool water anglers on familiar terms with this fish frequently refer to them as simply, “northerns.” However, there are no “southern” pike, so I prefer just “PIKE!” with all caps and the exclamation point that these toothy, ferocious fish deserve.
It is the impressive set of teeth that force you to play by their rules. They commonly cut standard fishing line so wire leaders are recommended. Teeth also mean that landing and unhooking can be a bit tricky too. Many anglers net pike and leave in the water to unhook with tools such as long-nosed pliers. These long bodied fish usually require two hands to hold, grasped at the tail and behind the head or just inside the gill cover, careful to avoid the sensitive gills.
Just after “ice out,” when the lakes no longer have that annoyingly hard surface, can be a great time to catch pike. In North Dakota, early season pike anglers may use frozen smelt for bait, resting on the bottom, rigged with a large hook. In Michigan and Iowa, various spoons drew strikes all year. White spinnerbaits or small white jigs also are good initially in Pennsylvania. As the water warms, it will hit almost any lure that dares cross its path.
Patrick Sebile, fisherman, designer, author and TV host also loves pike.
“I grew up fishing for this fish in all lakes and ponds nearby my house, and I developed great memories of this amazing predator. Love the surprising attacks as much as the brutality he can get into!” Fishing for pike makes him “feel happy.”
Me too, Patrick. That is, after I quit shaking from that startling strike. There are no pike in Oklahoma so now that I’m up north, I’ll be chasing them every chance I get.
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Andy Whitcomb 4/8/2014 Successful anglers are puzzle solvers. They take cues from nature for lure selection, such as fly fishermen “matching the hatch” during an aquatic insect emergence. For locating fish many anglers watch for bird activity, such as seagulls feeding on large baitfish schools. […]
Sometimes anglers get a bit overzealous in the quest for a trophy catch or food for the dinner table. We don’t always “stop for a break, before we take” like we should. Most of the time this has nothing to do with anyone meaning any harm, but rather comes from a lack of information. This is especially true when anglers leave their home waters to take a destination fishing trip. Here’s a good example:
In 2010, a deep freeze in the shallow Gulf waters of South Florida took a major toll on fish populations in the area. The unusually cold weather affected snook in particular since they are a species that is highly temperature sensitive. To give you some specific numbers, a snook’s comfort range is between 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 60 degrees cause snook to become inactive and may result in death. Water temperatures during January 2010 dipped well below 58 degrees into the low 50s.
Now, keep in mind that most sport anglers (including out-of-state visitors) love to catch snook because of the species spectacular fighting ability and high food quality. However, not everyone understood the full impact of the freeze and why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) kept snook seasons closed on Florida’s Gulf coast for nearly three years. During this time, anglers could still practice catch and release of the species.
Thankfully, many anglers started to ask themselves questions, read the online research and then helped to educate others. Although we are entitled to our individual opinions, we should always educate ourselves on why state regulations are put into place, and then “take a break, before we take.”
It’s important to follow fishing rules and regulations, but beyond following the rules, certain actions (such as keeping a specific species or handing a fish in a certain manner) may not always be in alignment with our personal values as anglers. It’s never going to hurt for us to know more and do better. Keep in mind that regulations are put into effect to promote conservation efforts so that we have healthy fisheries, not to prevent us from catching fish.
Whether we are targeting snook in Florida or bass in Illinois, here are a few questions we can ask resident anglers and ourselves about a particular fishery:
Has anything out of ordinary occurred weather-wise or environmentally that may have caused an impact on fish populations in a particular waterway where I plan to fish?
If something out of the ordinary has happened, have I reported it or talked to state fish and wildlife officials about the situation?
If fish populations are down significantly for any reason, what are the best ways to help ensure a high survival rate for the fish I do catch? Barbless hooks? Circle hooks? Best way to handle and revive the fish?
What other questions would you ask before catching, keeping or handling a fish if you knew the fishery or habitat had been compromised somehow? Comment on this post with your questions and feedback.