Maciulis: Take care of fish now, and there will be fishing later
By Bob Maciulis For Sun-Times Media April 18, 2014 10:30PM
SmallieRelease - There are a lot of smallmouth bass at LaSalle Lake. The large numbers of these fish at this lake can be attributed to catch and release. - Photo submitted by Don Dziedzina
Updated: April 19, 2014 4:39PM
Today’s anglers are more sophisticated, better educated and more well-equipped than our parents ever could imagine. All of that helps us catch more and bigger fish.
At the same time, we put more pressure on our natural resources.
Some years ago, the Minnesota DNR suggested that practicing catch-and-release is among the many ways we can minimize that impact while still enjoying our time on the water.
With a new generation of anglers out there, I thought we should review how we can minimize the effect on the resources that their newfound passion can inflict.
It’s important to teach these young anglers to understand that keeping every fish they catch all too quickly will burn out the fishery.
Ron and Al Lindner, as they did time and again in their remarkable In-Fisherman magazine and pioneering television shows, introduced the concept of “Selective Harvest”; that is keep a few fish for the table and put the others back.
In an effort to help anglers fine-tune their catch-and-release methods, the Minnesota DNR suggested the following:
If a hook is deeply imbedded, don’t tear it out. Use needle-nose pliers or hook disgorgers to remove the hook. If it is imbedded too deep, snip off the fishing line and release the fish.
Always wet your hands before handling fish. Dry hands will remove the protective slime coating on the fish, thereby increasing the chances of infection.
Land a fish as quickly as possible. Use equipment that enables you to do that.
Don’t pull fish you plan on releasing quickly from deep water.
Never puncture a fish’s air bladder to deflate it. This was a practice that swept through the tournament circuits a few years ago. There is nothing worse than people who don’t know what they are doing.
If you must release a fish taken from deep water, support it with your hands or in a net until it regains its equilibrium, can remain swimming upright and can adjust to being in shallow water. It will expel gases naturally and swim off when it is ready.
Don’t keep fish in a livewell or on a stringer if you plan on releasing them. Take a quick photo then release them.
Be prepared to take photos of the fish rather than hold it in the net or on the hot floor of the boat (which you never should do) while you are looking for the camera, for a towel, a comb, whatever.
Do not lift the fish by the eye sockets or the gills; hold it by the lower lip (not pike or muskies!) or by the gill plate while supporting the body with the other hand. Handle the soft midsection carefully or you can inadvertently bruise internal organs.
Try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible. If you plan on releasing the fish, unhook it with pliers or some other appropriate tool without lifting it out of the water. Hooks that are imbedded in the body or head should be snipped.
There are times, of course, when fish are badly hurt or are bleeding profusely and should be kept, if legal and in season.
It’s important that we promote the ethics that are critical in ensuring that the resource can be sustained. It isn’t ours to abuse. It belongs to future generations and should be treated with respect.