How do people feel about catch and release?
Response by Bob La Londe - Dated 4/19/03
Editor's note: Question was raised about need for a FAQ regarding positions both for and against catch and release. This article itself seems to convey the thoughts behind both sides.
I think a FAQ regarding catch and release would be in order. I'm not sure who should write it as the extremes on this viewpoint are way out of whack from both perspectives.
C&R "only" is not proper game management, nor will it satisfy the fisherman who likes the taste of fish. On the flip side if every bass tournament fisherman kept every fish he caught there soon wouldn't be many bass left in the country. I have certainly had my days when I caught hundreds (literally) of fish.
One very good example of C & R not being good resource management is in Lake Powell. Stripers have become so prolific that they have removed all limits on the taking of striper. A boatload of fisherman could take a hundred fish each for a year and never put a dent in the population.
Another point to bear in mind is that the bulk of wildlife management funds comes from the sale of licenses and gear to meat fishermen. I would have to say the vast bulk of fishermen do not fish tournaments and could not put a substantial dent in fish populations if they fish within limits and follow fishing regulations. If they could then wildlife regulations should be modified by proper wildlife management agencies.
In favor of C & R, I certainly think nobody should keep fish they do not intend to eat or have eaten within their immediate family. In some cases it may even be illegal to distribute fish you catch further than immediate family.
Catch and Release allows for tournament fisherman to enjoy a sport on a more than casual basis without depleting a natural resource. It also allows the avid fisherman to go out every day and not harm the local populations.
Catch and Release in limited or over pressured fisheries can be the only solution to maintaining the fishery. Those areas should be properly regulated by the appropriate agency.
Slot limits are one compromise between the extremist eat everything and the extremist release everything viewpoints. It allows survivable fish to grow to competitive sizes and also allows the meat fisherman to have a tasty dinner.
C & R and slot limits are valuable management tools. Often they are implemented to recover a damaged fishery, but when the fishery recovers then these limits should be adjusted to allow maximum fishing pleasure to all parties at a good maintenance level.
C& R all fish and you will lose valuable management resources. Take the time to understand what pressure your fishing puts on the resource and you will understand how many fish you could keep without damaging the fishing experience in the future for yourself and others. Learn about your sport and the things that impact it. Stay attuned to changes in regulation, population, weather, and other fishing pressures. Work with your local game and fish management agency when possible.
As with many things, extremism is not the answer. Proper management and personal responsibility paired with education and constant vigilance are the only things that work.