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Wolf74
09-21-2005, 08:24 PM
After reading a bunch of threads now I've seen a few people encouraging guys to release the big fish that they catch and keep the little ones. I've been trying to figure out the logic in this. I always thought that you kept the big ones and threw back the little ones so that they would get big. Not the other way around. So can someone please enlighten me as to why I should throw back the big ones and keep the little ones? Doesn't make sense to me.

joe_tomlinson
09-21-2005, 08:46 PM
I know with stripers the big ones are the breeders., and they lay massive amounts more of eggs. with other fish im sure its some of that too. Somtimes smaller ones taste better. Or maybe you just want to let it go because it is a beautiful fish and you dont want to kill it.

drstressor
09-21-2005, 10:43 PM
The rate of survival for smaller fish is much lower than for the larger ones for many different reasons. So taking smaller fish has less of an effect on a typical population than taking the larger ones since more or going to die anyway. The larger ones contribute much more to naturally reproducing populations because they produce more offspring than the smaller ones. The big ones also contain more toxins. And finally, releasing a big one gives somebody else a chance to catch a trophy.

fish4fun
09-21-2005, 11:41 PM
I agree.. release the big ones and keep the smaller ones for the table. I like to keep 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 lb black bass for the table. At Eagle Lake I like to let the larger fish over 4 lb go when it's safe to release them and keep the smaller 2 to 3 lb fish for the table. The only exception is kokanee. At Pyramid I'll keep the smaller 18 to 19 inch fish and release the bigger ones. Kokanee are the exception. I'll keep the large ones because they're going to die in fall when they go through an unsuccessful spawning ritual on most lakes.. Larry

The_Big_Sinus
09-22-2005, 08:14 AM
In relation to browns in the Sierra, where there are spawning populations (and there are in some areas- Ice House, for example, has a solid reach of good water above it)- even where they are supplemented by stocks- I try to release browns between 18-24". Those fish are 1st time spawners waiting for their chance. In other lakes, like Silver Lake, I keep as many browns as I need for a full plate or two- there isn't a spawning tributary.

I almost always release river resident browns, because they basically aren't stocked in streams. You find those mostly in the 1000-6000 elevation range on the West slope.

If you are concerned, then look at topo map before fishing a given lake, and figure out (a) does it have year-round tributaries? And, (b) how far is it to the next migratory barrier?

Diego916
09-22-2005, 01:43 PM
There are SO many reasons to let the big ones go.

Everyone here has made some really great points. As usual, the Doc has his head on straight ;)

However, he probably just didn't want to bore anyone with what follows, but I know he was thinking it. I have no such reservations, but I do have a meager education and a couple of hours to kill ;D

Let's say we have a lake. In this lake are 1,000 channel catfish of different ages, different sizes, and, most importantly, different size potentials. By size potential I mean the max size each individual catfish will reach before it dies of natural causes. This is determined by the individual's genetic make-up. Each individual's genes are different, and some are better able to grow and grow big in this lake because of the traits these genes are associated with. Traits like appetite and aggressiveness, disease and parasite resistance, and metabolism, just to name a few.

Just like with every population of animals comprised of genetically different individuals, of these 1,000 lake-bound catfish, some are going to have the genes that give them a size advantage over other individuals. These would be the Shaqs, King Kong Bundys, or Kevin Gogans of the catfish population, depending on your sport ;)

Everyone likes to catch big fish, right? Well, the guys who started fishing this lake as children know nothing of the affect that selective pressure has on the genetic make-up of an isolated population (more on this later). They do, however, like to keep the biggest ones they catch. Male or female, the big forks (channels) find their way to the dinner table while the little guys go back in to be caught another day.

Sounds all good.

But, what's really going on?

First, both male and female cats play a crucial role in maintaining the population. Females lay the eggs, but its up to the males to fertilize, guard, and fan the eggs after doing so. Male cats often remain with the fry even after they hatch, offering further protection. The larger the female, the larger and more numerous her eggs. Larger eggs mean bigger fry, and the bigger the fry, the less mouths there are for them to fit in ;). The larger the male, the better chance he has of guarding his clutch against the many predators that threaten the eggs and fry. Noodlers take advantage of this protective instinct when a large male cat attacks the various body parts noodlers invade their nests with :o

But most important, big cats in this lake have the genes to be big in their environment; the lake. Their genetic make-up gives them the size advantage here. Other, smaller cats don't have it. These Danny Devitos of the catfish population won't attain monster size no matter how long they live because their genetic make-up does not give them the size advantage. So, when big cats hook-up and paint the lake red ;D, their "big genes" get passed on to their offspring. By the way, as was stated above the ones with the big genes produce more offspring than the smaller cats, and their young are more likely to survive.

In a natural setting without fishing pressure, the biggest cats are also the ones most likely to survive predation. They produce more offspring that are more likely to survive predation, passing on more of their big genes than smaller cats are able to.

But, the guys at this lake keep the big ones...

...uh oh...

...selective pressure.

The Sumo wrestlers of the population are removed while the horse jockeys are thrown back. If you've read this far, you probably know where this is heading. Fishing pressure introduces a new variable into the overall size of the population and the size of its individuals.

True, more food is available when less catfish are around to feed, but the heavy hitters of reproduction and size begin to dissapear. It takes decades for a channel cat to grow to trophy size (20+ pounds), and the demand for large cats begins to increase as fewer are caught. Instead of keeping everything over, say, 10-20 pounds, the guys who fish here begin keeping the 5-10 pounders because there simply aren't enough bigger cats being caught.

Fewer eggs are deposited and fertilized, and these eggs are less likely to have big genes. The catfish protecting these eggs are less capable of guarding them before and after they hatch, because the guardians are smaller males that were thrown back. This means less fish reproduced, less fish surviving to reproductive age, with the ones that make it to reproductive age less likely to have big genes to pass on to future generations.

Bad news for any fishery.

Fifty years later, these guys are taking their grandkids and great-grandkids to the lake to fish. They tell the kids stories of huge monsters from the deep with mouths large enough to swallow 5 pound carp whole, of catches large enough to sink the boat, of spooled reels and broken line...

But the kids just laugh at the gray beards as they put another 1 pound hatchery raised trout in the cooler, attributing all this old-fart nonsense to alzheimer's disease (no doubt caused by all the toxins ingested from years of eating big cats) ;D ;D ;D

I rarely keep the fish I catch. But when I do, I keep the smaller guys because I love to catch and release big fish!

I hope you all will at least consider doing the same :)

Flipper266
09-22-2005, 03:12 PM
Diego that was nicely written. Good points!

ratss427
09-22-2005, 03:20 PM
this is a great topic.and very informative.i too try to release everything(with the exception of kokes).but i do enjoy a nice batch every now and then.i will keep only the smaller fish.they eat better.cause less harm to populations.big fish are great .but we need to put em back to give others a chance to get em.as well as keep the fisheries healthy.the only temptation i can see for keeping big fish is for a trophy.but today,a great mount can be made from a few fics and some simple measurements.i always keep a small throw away camera with me.and lastly,there is nothing better than seing an old ,healthy fish swim away to breed and possibly be caught another day. ;)

The_Big_Sinus
09-22-2005, 05:01 PM
Well, if the fish is a likely goner, anyway (ever seen a 20" brown with three trebles in its mouth?), I keep them. I give them no chance for survival. Sometimes, they aren't healthy. I also try very hard not to net fish I'm letting go, or even take them out of the water to weigh them...

If you are dealing with a population that spawns more than once, and it's fairly stable, it should be possible to manage the fishery for selective take. In other words, take the stugeon reg's... there's a reason why they are the way they are. They want fish to reach a spawning age, and for the most productive spawners to go free. In lakes with "slot limits" for bass, there may be too many spawners, leading to stunting (slot is a "take" slot). Or, if there's a "no take" slot, you may be trying to get fish that reach a certain size, but spawn multiple times, the chance to spawn once.

Remember that if a fish that eventually is taken at a "trophy" size has spawned once or twice before getting that large, it has already passed on it's genetic potential. In such cases, a "no take" slot is ideal. If there is an overabundance of fish for a given system, then the opposite is needed- a "take" slot.

catfished
09-23-2005, 12:54 PM
Well, if the fish is a likely goner, anyway (ever seen a 20" brown with three trebles in its mouth?), I keep them. *I give them no chance for survival. *Sometimes, they aren't healthy. *I also try very hard not to net fish I'm letting go, or even take them out of the water to weigh them... *

If you are dealing with a population that spawns more than once, and it's fairly stable, it should be possible to manage the fishery for selective take. *In other words, take the stugeon reg's... *there's a reason why they are the way they are. *They want fish to reach a spawning age, and for the most productive spawners to go free. *In lakes with "slot limits" for bass, there may be too many spawners, leading to stunting (slot is a "take" slot). *Or, if there's a "no take" slot, you may be trying to get fish that reach a certain size, but spawn multiple times, the chance to spawn once. *

Remember that if a fish that eventually is taken at a "trophy" size has spawned once or twice before getting that large, it has already passed on it's genetic potential. *In such cases, a "no take" slot is ideal. *If there is an overabundance of fish for a given system, then the opposite is needed- a "take" slot.

Hi The Big Sinus, I remember you from the old FS message boards.

Well said, your post really clarifies the issue.

GCinGV
09-27-2005, 07:39 AM
Good topic, lots of good points. With all of the hatchery closures this is becoming an even more important issue.

One thing that I think is often over looked when it comes to catch and release fishing, especially with large Trout is the use of light line. The lighter the line, the longer the fight, the more lactic acid build up in the fish and the higher the mortality rate. Granted a big fish on light line is a lot of fun but itís not good for a fish that you plan to release.
The same logic applies when trolling for trout. If you stop the boat to retrieve a fish and donít have to play them as long, the survival rate will be higher.
GC