I know that a lot of fishermen and women don't keep what they catch to eat. I am one that normally does. I enjoy eating fish, and I like to think that I have a reason to fish other than just hooking an animal and looking at it thinking how cool was that. It's something my father instilled into me as a kid. I can remember him saying "If you pull them out and they're legal, you take them home and eat them. Otherwise it's like tying tin cans to a dogs tail and laughing at him as he is struggling to walk down the street." I have always held true to this. Now it's not like hunting, because there, you can see what what you're shooting at and can choose to not to shoot at something that you feel is too small. With fishing it's not that simple unless you're sight casting.
Today I found myself catching five Large mouth Bass that were not legal. I of course threw them back. I did however, catch four Crappie that were 11-13 inches. Now the legal limit at the lake that I was at was, keep up to 15 with no size limit. The state wide limit is nine inches. I have adopted this limit for everywhere I fish now though. Since these fish were legal I thought at first I would keep them. Then the radio show popped into my head and I thought about it being spawn season. I felt as though if I kept these fish, I maybe keeping them from procreating the species in that lake. The population of large Crappie is currently abundant. I have not caught ANYTHING from this lake under 10 inches thus far. So at what point do I make the decision to keep the fish or release them? I came to the conclusion that I would release them until next month and at that point.
I guess what my point is here is that I am making new decisions in my fishing that are more along the point of conservation of the places I fish so that I can go back at a later time and take what I need, when I really need it, and thus continue to make the lake a great place to harvest in the future.
I will take the next step in this process and do much more research from this day on to realize spawn patterns, conservation tips, and the health of the lakes I fish. I haven't paid much attention to these things up till now. I just went and wet a line to catch my dinner and that was it.
I hope that this blog may help some people realize that fishing is more than just relaxing on an afternoon to see what you get and take some cool pictures. It's more than deciding what line, what reel, what jig, what presentation, and what species to target that day, as I finally have today!