Eat that fish, or release it?

How often do you eat/release what you catch?


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plland

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My friends often question me after a fishing trip, when I show them a picture of a pretty little brookie or a big lunker brown trout: So did you eat that one? They are often amazed or confused when I say that I released it. But those trout are tasty, they'll offer. My only response is, it's more fun to catch them than to gut and cook them. There's also conservation issues in some small streams that aren't regularly stocked, but in which the trout population survives through natural reproduction. However, in other streams, the trout do no reproduce naturally and the local Game and Fish might want people to remove the non-native trout from the ecosystem. But, I'm not really sure if I'm qualified to talk about trout conservation, so I'll leave it at that.

So what do you do? Do you release most fish, but keep and eat one every once in a while? Do you pull your daily limit early in the day and then start fishing catch and release? Or do you always release? Or does it depend on where you're fishing? Please explain below...
 

MrEsox

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Biggest thing here is what am I after, where am I, what did I catch, and how big it was. Larger fish tend to not tast as well as smaller fish do. Then again some fish just are not that good eating. When it comes to trout and bass I dont keep. Pike every now and again when we are up in Canada fishing we will keep some. The colder water can make pike tasty...but in the summer they can be like eating mush and tast like a carp. There are also a few lakes around here that if by chance I do fish it, I dont keep since the water gives the fish a very nasty tast. There are other small factors that I keep in the back of my mind if I keep them or not. But I'd rather put back and go eat a cow.
 

todd r

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I fish in an area that is stocked weekly and I keep fish most of the time. As I think back over the years of fish fries with my family and friends, it's always a good time with families getting together, fish stories being told, and fellowship. If I'm in an area that isn't stocked on a regular basis then I don't keep many fish. I know people who don't keep fish, I say to each his own. I like to fish, and my family likes to eat fish. It doesn't make much sense for me to catch and release and buy fish at the grocery store. I'm sure my opinion will not be the most popular one here.
 

Doubletap

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I haven't intentionally killed a sport caught fish in 15 or so years. For myself, the release is as much a part of the experience as the hook set. I have to admit that my years as a Salmon fishing guide burned me out on the killing, a bit - but its more than that for me, these days.

Once upon a time, I was quite content to say "to each his own" and look the other way, but these days when there are very nearly as many fishermen as fish in some of the easier to access waters (especially where I have seen a real decline in the quantity and the quality of the fishing), I'm not so inclined to turn that blind eye - and I've often found myself attempting to educate in some small way, those taking what I feel is more than their share.

I fully realise that those folks had every right to keep their fish, and as long as the limit is adhered to I don't have much of a leg to stand on - but I'm definitely well on my way to becoming a grumpy old man (at 39!) and don't hold back my tongue much. So please be a little patient with me should I approach you after a fish bonking, on my home waters. I may come off like a holier than thou purist - but honestly, my heart is in the right place. Just nod and smile and I'll soon go away.
 

plland

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One thing I forgot to ask in the OP is about lakes or rivers and fish species.

For instance, many urban lakes in some regions are stocked with rainbow trout in the winter, but they all die off in the summer, so it wouldn't make conservation sense to release those fish, but some trout parks might feed into a river where the trout can reproduce naturally, though some don't.

For the species aspect, I personally tend to have more "respect", for trout in streams, which I have to outsmart with my entomology skills (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating), than for something like panfish, which I used to always catch on a hook and worm in a lake where I couldn't see them until I got them to hand. I haven't cleaned a fish since I started fly fishing, which is why I answered "always release", but if I'm at a lake with decent water quality and I'm catching a bunch of panfish, I can't see why not eat them. Entirely subjective, of course...
 

Frank Whiton

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Hi to all,

When we talk Pan fish there is nothing wrong with keeping all that you want to eat. In some lakes it is a mistake to release the pan fish if there are a lot of them and they are all small.

Trout is a different situation. I don't think that any wild Trout should be killed. This is especially true with any trophy fish. I don't think any trophy fish (trout, bass or what ever) should be killed. With modern day Taxidermy you don't need the fish to get a super wall mount if you are into that short of thing. It doesn't make sense to kill the biggest, strongest and probably the smartest fish in the water.

Frank
 

MBWCC

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I fully realise that those folks had every right to keep their fish, and as long as the limit is adhered to I don't have much of a leg to stand on - but I'm definitely well on my way to becoming a grumpy old man (at 39!) and don't hold back my tongue much. So please be a little patient with me should I approach you after a fish bonking, on my home waters. I may come off like a holier than thou purist - but honestly, my heart is in the right place. Just nod and smile and I'll soon go away.
Thank you.

I believe it was Lefty Kreh who commented that state fish & game departments should "stop managing rivers & streams like they are grocery shelves". My apologies to Lefty if the quote isn't exactly correct, but you understand the point.

Every time someone takes a game fish (trout or other) out of a river, whether it be a stocked fish or a wild fish, there is one less opportunity for everyone to catch a fish. Game fish are too precious to waste in this manner--they should be left behind for the next fisherman, fisherwoman, etc.
 

Frank Whiton

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Thank you.

I believe it was Lefty Kreh who commented that state fish & game departments should "stop managing rivers & streams like they are grocery shelves". My apologies to Lefty if the quote isn't exactly correct, but you understand the point.

Every time someone takes a game fish (trout or other) out of a river, whether it be a stocked fish or a wild fish, there is one less opportunity for everyone to catch a fish. Game fish are too precious to waste in this manner--they should be left behind for the next fisherman, fisherwoman, etc.
Hi MBCC,

I like your thinking. Game fish is the key here and I may change my perspective on taking planters.

Frank
 

Wyatt

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We release in all rivers and areas that have natural fish, the only time we keep any it is from one of the stocked lakes that end up nearly dry by end of summer where most of the stocked fish die by then anyway, then its only a couple of fish for supper, last year that was a total of 6 fish.
Wyatt
 

kinderfly

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hey folks,
I personally love the taste of trout but where i fish is stocked and the only ones i keep are the stockies. If i do catch one that has been there for two or more years "you can tell by the size" than i always try to release unless of course I accidentally kill it and then well you know it's chow time. the big ones don't taste that good anyway but there are a ton of recipes for trout and if you mix bacon with just about anything its eatable to me anyway.

I can't stand it when i see the DEC truck pull up to the stocking spots and within 30 seconds there are 10 cars right behind it. Where is the sport in that. That makes me a little crazy... I know a few guys who do that and i torment them regularly for it.

Other times i like to keep fish is when i go on my yearly camping trip up north to the cedar river flow and there is nothing better than trout cooked over an open fire... OH MAN I'M HUNGRY.... Memorial day weekend this i can not wait.....

talk to you all later...

Aaron
 

Davo

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I've never been big on keeping fish. I've kept a couple for dinner on back country outings. When guiding on the local water we do nothing but catch and release. The Snake River fishing is a large part of the local economy here in Jackson Hole. There is no stocking done here either. It is a natural self sustaining population and needs to be treated with care. The majority of people here do not take fish. Those that do adhere to the slot limits.

That being said I do understand folks taking fish from stocked waters that will not sustain the fish over time. A lot of the streams I fished in PA were that way. In late summer they were too warm to support trout. The fish would die anyway.
 

HuronRiverDan

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I release most fish I take in streams. I take the occasional steelhead, I think I have kept four so far this year. Smallmouth Bass I never keep, and will preach to other anglers I meet on the stream to Please Please Please release them...I still cringe about a conversation I had with a lady who had just dropped her husband and son off for a float on my local Bass river...She was telling me how much her son liked fishing, and that he was quite successful at it. She then told me about the 22" Smallie he had caught earlier in the summer...:icon_cry: You guessed it; it went home and off to the taxidermist... I was speechless!

Now when it comes to bluegills, I'm taking some home to eat! I also eat the occasional Brookie...In my wayward youth when I was a poor college student I was fortunate to live in an area that had an abundance of small feeder streams that flowed through a very large cedar swamp. About the time My freezer was empty, trout season would open. I would go catch a couple of fish for dinner, a couple of times a week. Please forgive my sins; that was a very long time ago!

Now when I want fish I go for walleyes and perch for the most part.

Dan
 

Flyfisher for men

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I release a lot of fish that I'm simply too lazy to clean. I have no problems with keeping fish, but am careful about hauling out a huge stringer. If I want fish, I try to fish waters like private farm ponds that benefit from taking some out. I limit the take in public waters.

Trout are a fish I mostly release though my opportunity to fish for them is limited (If it weren't for camping trips in Missouri's trout parks, I wouldn't do much at all). There isn't much trout fishing in my region, and I like to think that leaving most of the fish helps out the next guy who also drove four hours to catch a trout. I'll keep a fish or two for lunch back at camp, but that's about it. They stock the parks on a per angler basis and that catch rate still leaves more trout in the water than I took out.
 

MBWCC

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Hi MBCC,

I like your thinking. Game fish is the key here and I may change my perspective on taking planters.

Frank
Thanks, Frank, you made my day.

I just about cry every time I pass someone coming out of a stocked stream with a stringer full of stockers. Without fail, a week or so after stocking I'll pass someone coming out empty handed. When I ask them how the fishing went they will comment that the fish are all gone and that their day has been a disappointment. Yet, near as I can tell, they never make a connection between that day and the 4-5 days prior when they walked out each day with a stringer of trout. Were the 4-5 prior days worth ending the season today? Or would they have been happier catching fish today and tomorrow and the day after and the day after...
 

mikesalmon

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I would have to say that 95% of the fish I catch I Release.

I am not a fish eater but I do enjoy fishing.

I have many family members that enjoy a few fish on their plates so I will OCCASIONALLY keep a few fish for them.

Tight Lines Mike
 

GeorgeMcFly

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I catch and releasealways on the river.. no need for taxidermy here . a picture is worth a thousand words! I just take my camera and its a memory forever! I have caught lake erie perch tho and ate it before. with gas the price it is I will be fly fishing all year tho instead!
 

mcnerney

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I practice catch and release for trout. When fishing for salmon in Alaska I keep the fish until I limit out then its catch and release!
 

FlyRichardFly

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I catch and release everything now. A few days after opening trout day I kept 4 stockers for tablefare, but I never will again!
You have to carry a creel and fillet the fish, get rid of the remains, and the fillets really aren't that good anyway.
I see all the bait chuckers with a treble hook and some power bait taking 90% of all the stockies in the creek and I guess it went to my head! LOL
Never again......... I love to catch fish in the beautiful creeks and love to release them just as much.
Just think? if everyone was a catch and releaser, all the fishing would be a wonderful paradise.
Something that gives us so much pleasure, how could you destroy it?
A McDonalds fish sandwich is much better to eat........ and you don't have to clean the fish!
Even catfish..... everyone says they are so wonderful to eat. I filleted one and they are cat food!! The soft mushey stinkin' flesh is enough to make me sick!! Now every time I flyfish my favorite river spots, I always catch a few big channel cats. They love woolybuggers and fight like a big bass. A very hearty fish, so I release them all and I have some wonderful fun with my flyrod the next time I visit the area when the sun goes down.
IMHO, I think all fishing fresh and salt should be "no harvest" "catch and release" only for the next ten years.
And all fly fishing with barbless hooks! If you are too stupid to cast a flyrod, then hire a guide or a trainer to learn how!
And anyone caught tossing trash in the water will get 5 years in prison!
Poachers would get 20 years in prison!
I think fishing licenses should be at least $500! The money should be spent to stock and restock and watch the fish populations very closely. If the fish biologists see a problem, it should be fixed immediately.
And no more "rich guys" buying the good streams and posting them. All the wonderful "God given" waters in our wonderful country are for all to enjoy....... especially us C&R fly fishermen. This makes me sick when I see a rich guy buy a stream and won't let anyone trespass. This would never stop me! You may not see the property owner anymore, but I will still be fishing our American Heritage!
With these couple changes, the fishing should improve drastically!
Fishing could be great like it once was fifty years ago!
Scuze me while I tie a fly!
 

liv2fish

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I release fish 99.9% of the time. The only time I keep them is if I happen to catch a striper that doesn't look like it would survive if I released it (poor hookset and of legal side). If I am on a trip/guide and give them the fish as part of the tip (places like mexico). I am a big supporter of catch and release but more importantly of how fish (specifically more sensitive fish like trout) should be handled. Grabbing a trout with a dry hand and taking pictures then dropping them into a fast moving current will likely kill them.
 
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