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Published By: Thomas Steele
For naturally reproducing streams and waters, releasing the fish will help to improve future fishing.
What is Catch And Release Fishing?
Catch and release fishing is as the name implies, catching the fish and then releasing the fish after capture.
Why Is It Important To Release A Fish?
By releasing the fish anglers are helping to guarantee the fish completes it's life cycle. For naturally reproducing streams and waters, releasing the fish will help to improve future fishing. By completing it's life cycle, the fish will pass on it's genetic code as a survivor to it's offspring... future fishing depends on the fishes capability to reproduce.
When fishing to spawning fish that are on gravel and going through the motions of spawning, it is vital to practice catch and release methods. Activity on the river, and prime time fishing occurs when both the males and female are present on the river. Presenting a fly to paired fish will often bring hard hits and violent runs after hooking the fish. If you take one of the fish out of the equation, the natural instinct to protect the redd is not as strong.
Spawning fish are a prime target for snaggers. Catch and release methods aren't in the mentality of snaggers, so when they sweep the river clean of fish, the quality of the fishing and the ability of other anglers to find and fairly hook fish is greatly reduced or non-existent.
What Do I Get Out Of Releasing A Fish?
The possibility that you will catch the same fish again. I have on more than one occasion caught the same fish twice on the same pattern in less than 20 minutes. The most recent time was spring Steelheading in 1996. I caught a beautiful hen that had a distinctive marking on the top of the fish's head. Using the same pattern, the same drift, in the same location, I caught that same hen 20 minutes later.
Here is another example, When fishing with my oldest boy on Lake Chautauqua in New York State, my son caught his first largemouth bass under my inlaws dock. We released that fish. The following year, in same location, using the same rig, my son caught the same fish and it had almost doubled in size. How did we know it was the same fish? In this case the fish had a very distinctive marking on it's head and when we saw that fish a year later we knew it was the same fish. I can guarantee you my son had more fun to catching the bigger fish one year later.
The greatest benefit of catch and release methods is the knowledge that you the angler are not hurting the quality of fishery, be it a small farm pond or blue ribbon trout water. A lifetime goal for us all should be respecting the resources our environment has to offer and doing all we can to protect and preserve those resources. By practicing catch and release methods we know that fishing will be there for future anglers.
By Thomas Steele
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