Eat that fish, or release it?

How often do you eat/release what you catch?


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karstopo

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I tend to keep some fish. My family loves a fresh fish dinner of redfish, speckled trout, croaker or flounder. My daughter likes bluefish, so I'll keep those sometimes. I'll keep enough for a meal and release any fish beyond my immediate needs.

I'll release any larger speckled trout unless it is badly hooked and bleeding. Prime eating size is 16-18". 20" plus fish just aren't as good, IMHO and they produce a lot more eggs than the littler ones.

Wild. cold water trout in rivers like browns and rainbows I release. I don't do a lot of that type of fishing. I have retained a few rainbow trout from a stocked pond for the table.

Almost any freshwater warmwater fish I let go, although a once in a great while I'll eat crappie, catfish or large bluegills.

In my opinion, Texas Parks and Wildlife does a fine job adjusting limits and regulations. I've been fishing for years and the size and numbers of fish have gotten better for the most part over the last few years, especially on flounder and speckled trout. The State lowered the limit on speckled trout from 10 to 5 in many places and have limited anglers to 1 speck 25" or over per day. The culture here now is to release that one too should you catch one.

Flounder have rebounded from the days when you could retain 5 fish during the fall flounder run. Now there is a limit of 2 fish from November 1 -December 15th and no gigging allowed during November. The number of flounder I come across is way up from the days when the limits were more permissive. And the fish are bigger.
 

nijimasu1

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trout are delicious, and warrant being beat over the head on occasion. But usually they go back in unless I'm backpacking and I'm looking for dinner. Legal steelhead always go in the smoker, but more often than not, I catch "wild" steelies and they get released promptly. Smolts are always released.
 

jfh245

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West Chester, Pennsylvania
Thankfully, there's no wrong answer to this question. As a dedicated trout fisher, I release with the idea that the next person derive as much enjoyment from the sport as I. Pennsylvania, fortunately, has many year round fly fishing catch-and-release dedicated stream sections. Most of my fishing is targeted to these areas so there's never a thought given to the practice. We both go back to our homes happy!
 

trout trekker

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When I lived over near the coast I'd keep a California Halibut or Pacific Rockfish from time to time because the only types of fish I care to eat are large flake white fleshed ocean fishes, with some exceptions, the smaller ( but mature ) Surf Perches, Starry Flounder, Dover Sole & Petrale Sole are always welcome on my plate when I'm in there home range. I ate so much chinook salmon growing up, I don't care to ever eat it or any pink fleshed fish again.
As for Trout specifically, in the past thirty or so years I haven't keep any of them regardless of their lineage, that being the culmination of several things. I noticed that on Facebook my non-angling followers sometimes ask about the larger Trout pics that we post, if we ate them. No ones ever asked if we ate the smaller fish we've posted pics of. A Bambi-esque ( don't eat the babies ) reaction or is it a bigger is better, deal? Dunno. Personally, I'd rather saute and serve my old worn out running shoes than a fillet from a 24" Brown.

Dave
 

huronfly

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There’s only one river that’s heavily stocked here, so if I catch a hatchery steelhead, it’s coming home with me-although I don't fish this river often, I prefer a wild catch so I fish elsewhere. All other rivers are made up of wild runs of fish, and those babies deserve to be released… Resident trout are too small and sparsely located, so keeping these fish is not an option for me. Pike are also quite tasty, so I’ll keep the odd one. Small coho's can be caught fly casting from the pier and they are also great for the smoker!
 

pnc

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Old thread.......
If I want to eat fish, I buy it down the block.
Not that big on freshwater but saltwater fish are hurting. Numbers are being depleted.
NE coast , strippers are dwindling. Netting practices in the Chesapeake are making money for a handfull of people that could put strippers on the endangered species list.
Here in Florida, Spotted & Sea trout have not made the comeback other fish have since the year 2000. That year there was a cold spell that killed many many fish. A red tide that cut off oxegen fron the water killing more fish. To make matters worse. Politicians raised the commercial limit the same year. Other fish have rebounded from that year NOT TROUT.
I know a lot of guides in the state. Or should say have met many. 4 are friends. There's a number belonging to club. My friends tell me guides are part of the problem. Seems most clients want to go home with fish. And trout are easier to find than reds or snook since the live their lives in a given area. Trout don't move far. Problem is they are talking big fish. Bigger breaders mean more babies.
Between this and the commercial part trout are hurting here. Hopefully guides figure it out before they put themselves out of business. There are groups working on commercial limits.

As long as things like this go on. I won't kill a fish on purpose.

........ pc
 

just4grins

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Lee Wulff convinced me a long time ago to preserve the resource. Since that time, and a lousy movie, the pressure levels in most accessible streams has increased, as evidenced by the uniforms we all wear. I've eaten lots of trout, and I mean lots up until the 80's. Most trout killed quickly, like with a "priest", cleaned and iced taste pretty good, but most taste like the water in which they were raised and smell like it too. So, I eat trout raised for eating, i.e. hatchery trout, pretty dumb, or go to a decent restaurant, with a glass of wine, no dishes to do and enjoy the meal. It's not trout we kill, it's the genealogy of natives, and smarter fish that present the challenge. Eat the dumb ones save the natives.
 

kevind62

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In the words of the wise, and sometimes opinionated, Yosemite Sam......If God woulda wanted us to be vegetarians He woudn'ta given us trigger fingers!!. Oh wait, we're talking about fish here. Sorry. My bad.
 

flytie09

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I personally catch and release everything. It's been 5 years or more since I last kept a fish. And it was a raggedy Gr8 Lake Salmon that I smoked to see if it would be edible. The cats ate more than I did. That was the last one I kept.

I grew up in a family with modest means... fishing supplemented our food source. My grandfather hunted, had a huge garden, raised chickens, and brought home 5 gallon bucket fulls of bullheads and stringers of trout for us. This is what was done and how one earned their keep.

I don't hunt any more and practice C&R exclusively. I'm fortunate that I now don't have to supplement table fare with wild game. For those that do, great. I'll eat a venison stick or steak when offered. As long as it's within the law.

For many non put-and-take species (steelhead, Salmon, etc)...... not practicing C&R, evaluating commercial harvest, dams, limiting native netting practices, fish farming, climate change, pollutants and recreational harvest rates is irresponsible. Some fish is yummy, I get it.... but we need to start looking at the long term implications of things.

50 years ago......natural resources were seen and treated as limitless.... we now know they are not.

ft09
 

JoJer

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When I got pretty good at catching trout with a spin rod, I used to keep a few all the time. Pretty much have to since bait fishing tends to kill fish. My family got tired of eating them and the last two I kept ended up as dog food. What a waste, even for stockers. That's part of why I went to the fly rod.
I will eat a mess of bluegill, perch, smallmouth, and crappie. I like a few whitefish for the smoker, too.
 

karstopo

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We may have a different system up here. Our licencing fees go to restocking lakes, not to mention that in Northern BC and Canada as a whole, we have hundreds of thousand lakes that probably have never seen a lure.
B.C. angling society hooks fish licence revenue - BC | Globalnews.ca
License fees here in Texas go to into managing the fish and game resource for perpetuity. Commercial harvests have been eliminated for most species in Texas waters. Recreational limits are adjusted up or down to ensure sustainability. This management model has been in place for as long as I can remember. Most fish and game here are in better shape these days in terms of quality and quantity than they were 40 years ago and that’s in spite of way more people enjoying the resource now than then.

I think it has helped our state to have a large, politically engaged population of hunters and fishermen and women that are very interested in passing on the traditions of hunting and fishing to their children. The evidence is very strong that each species can be studied and understood and then managed with adjustments to seasons, size limits, protected zones, etc. It’s all science based and the science keeps on improving. Actually, many species do better overall with being harvested at projected and allowed for rates.

A managed wildlife resource allowing for some harvest on a species by species case appears to be very sustainable. Here in Texas, keep the fish or release it, it’s your choice as long as you are within the law, but don’t feel guilty if you do retain some fish trusting that the resource has been mostly well managed by the people of Texas and their appointed agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife.
 

pnc

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Sounds like Texas, has a well run program.
The Florida, system is probably the biggest horn blower. While most projects or prorams help. The problem as seen here by recreational fishermen, guides, and commercial fishermen. Is the time it takes for things to happen. Popular consensus is programs are all 20 yrs late.
On Dec 14th the last club outing of the year. Will be to the.... Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Port Manatee, Fish Enhancement & Re-stocking facility. Fish farm with a lab.
Personally I'm curious if questions will be answered that are ignored by reps at regular funtions they speak at. Day starts with a tour of lab & a questions/answers period (we'll see). Before they turn us loose on the ponds. Why they have the club there is another question.

....... pc
 

fr8dog

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I have absolutely no problem keeping fish to eat. In moderation. Now, I'm not a trout guy, so bluegills, crappie, cats, and walleye are fair game. Not a big fan of bass, whites, or stripers. Just my preference. The keys are: Only take what you will eat. Care for them between unhooking and cleaning. I ice them down in a cooler on hot summer days and clean them ASAP. I only keep a few at a time. Crappie limit is 37 in OK. I rarely keep more than 10 unless I'm going to do a fish fry. Same with the others. I keep a few and let most go. I know where they live and I'll be back. I also limit sizes. I love fried catfish, but won't keep any over 3 pounds. Too hard to clean. Again, just my preference.
 

philly

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I release the majority of the fish I catch. The last time I kept a trout was before I took up fly fishing, twenty-five or so years ago. I don't trust the water quality of the local streams I fish, I live in Philly, so even pan fish aren't on the menu if I catch some. When I go up to Northern Ontario, I bring home walleye, smallmouth and usually a couple of small pike. This past spring, my buddies and I went up to a lake in the Poconos for a week. I discovered a new pan fish to add to the menu, Rock Bass. Never had kept them before. I kept a dozen or so in the 10-12 inch range, and my buddies and I had a fish fry at the end of the week. Minimum size for pan fish would be 7 or 8 inches.
 
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