New Wave Fishing Academy
Catch & Release: An Anglers Duty
Updated: Feb 12
How often have you heard stories of "the good old days" when your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins could go down to the lake and take home as many trophy sized fish as they could carry?
The reason why we are no longer able to do this is simple. Over harvesting destroys fisheries. Now, I'm not talking about keeping a few fish every so often for a tasty dinner, or to teach others how to provide for themselves, I'm talking about keeping fish (and particularly the biggest fish you catch and your limit) every single time you go fishing.
Think about how many anglers fish your body of water every week. If each one keeps only 1 fish a week how many is that in a year? The legal limits are much higher than this as well. Most small bodies of water don't have huge populations of fish and can't support this amount of harvesting.
Fish only spawn once per year and they take a long time to grow! This is especially true in Canada when lakes are covered in ice for half the year and so the growing season is shrunk down to a few months of warm weather. If anglers are not conscious of this and harvesting large numbers of fish they can easily destroy their favourite fishery before they know it. In terms of growing a trophy fishery this becomes even more important. The table below shows the average age of trophy class fish species throughout Ontario.
Trophy fish are trophies for a reason! They take a long time to get that big. As anglers it is our moral duty to practice conservation efforts including catch and release as much as possible in order to ensure the health of these fisheries can be maintained for years to come.
Next time you're on the water be sure to think about practicing catch and release as much as you can. If you are keeping fish for a dinner try to think about how many fish you really need to keep to make this happen. If you typically fish small bodies of water consider gathering fish for this dinner from a few different bodies of water instead. There is nothing wrong with keeping fish but being able to think about the health and wellbeing of the fishery will be able to be enjoyed for future generations!