The idea of catch and release fishing doesn’t sit well with a lot of fishermen. Many anglers don’t see the point of fishing at all if they can’t keep what they caught. However, catch and release fishing is something that all fishermen should support and be a part of. Without it, the future of our great sport is in jeopardy and the coming generations won’t be able to experience catching many of the awesome fish we catch today.
That said, I have no problem with people keeping a few fish legally to eat here and there, especially if they truly need food. I myself like to keep a handful from time to time, depending on the species, as I still love a good fish dinner.
However, I don’t see any point in the majority of anglers keeping their limit of fish every day or keeping big, breeder size fish, even if they are legal or in season. That simply isn’t being a good steward of the resource. Most fishermen don’t truly need it and it just damages our fisheries.
When we release the fish we catch, we’re preserving the resource and giving someone else, or even ourselves a chance to experience the thrill of catching those fish again.
Some anglers assume that the majority of fish that are released will die soon thereafter anyways, so they are better off keeping them. However, this is simply not the case. Catch an release if very effective and helps preserve the fish population.
For example, this past summer, I had the opportunity to catch two different large bull redfish multiple times. I identified them as the same fish because of the spots on their tails.
I landed one of these fish three times. It measured 32 inches and had two dots connected to one another on its tail. I caught the other fish twice. It measured 31 inches and had a very distinct spot on its tail.
I was able to experience a fun battle with both fish multiple times and watch them swim away unharmed each time. Although both of those redfish were out of the slot limit, it still shows that catch and release works and is what keeps our fisheries strong and abundant!
I hope this motivates anglers to become an advocate of catch and release fishing, if they haven’t already. Let’s all work together to help extend the life of the sport we all love and enjoy!