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Monday, April 21, 2008

Catch and Release, do it right !

Catch and Release ???In todays angling world, the philosophy and practice of catching a fish and then releasing it to hopefully live and fight another day is as popular as good ole Oprah and the Double Whopper. It is simply the in thing to do. While I agree that catch and release is a fine idea, I am not in tune with those who seem to have elevated the practice to some sort of mystical, uplifting experience. Some even have the audacity to say that you are not a true sportsman until you become a follower or should I say a releaser. To this I say baloney, bull dung, and horse poop.

Catch and release is an acceptable practice and so is catch, keep, and eat, especially when utilizing a put, grow, and take fishery such as that on Lake Ontario. The heart healthy practice of eating fish is plain and simply good for you. It is equally okay to adhere to the catch and release philosophy, provided proper release methods are employed. Believe me when I tell you that release procedures are crucial to catch and release mortality reduction. Oh yeah folks, be advised that many released fish die, perhaps we feel great when we see the fish swim away but in some cases that fish dies several hours after its release.

On our Lake Ontario charter boat the Dixie Dandy, I discuss this topic with my clients prior to the start of fishing for the day. I explain that if they are going to eat the fish they are legally entitled to keep their limit. On the other hand if they wish to release their fish we are happy to comply. We suggest that perhaps a mixture of the two practices might be best. Keep a few and release a few. On the keep side we suggest keeping the smaller fish for table fare, and of course they can keep a trophy. On the release side we explain that in order to maximize release survival we need to land the fish quickly, release the fish while it is still in the water if possible, no netting and please no posed photos. Heres why: The longer it takes to land a fish increases the build up of lactic acid which can have serious negative results when it comes to release survival with the odds for mortality further increasing the longer the fish is out of the water. Hence, no posed photos such as that often used pose of the dude angler, holding his rod between his teeth and displaying his catch. It is better to take an action photo such as just before landing the critter. Goggle catch and release and you will see that almost every article promoting C and R stresses this. There is a paradox here as many anglers favor light tackle which results in a longer stress filled fight and the likelihood of high acid buildup. Experts recommend use of heavier tackle to land the fish quickly.

One more point, since there is a degree of mortality associated with catch and release the more you catch to be released the greater the mortality rate becomes. If you catch 30 and release 30 you are almost certainly killing some. Perhaps it would be better to adhere to standard limit regulations whether you are keeping them or releasing them. This might be tough to police, however, from what I hear from catch and release disciples they would police themselves. Ya think?

In any event, I totally agree that both choices are ok and on the Dixie Dandy the choice is up to my customers with a little bit of advice from the Captain. Remember this, whatever method you choose, you are a sportsman and don't let anyone tell you different!

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 9:37:29 PM


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