A reader of this blog, let’s call him Bill, wrote an e-mail about deep hooking a nice bass last year during the catch and release period for the fish. The fish was injured and when he put it back in the water, it did not swim away. He said he could not look as the fish just sat there and moved only its tail, so he just walked away. He wanted to know if he should have just kept it.
Lake Erie and tributaries fall under special rules, which are similar, yet a little different, from other lakes and streams in Pennsylvania. The out-of-season dates are the same, but Lake Erie regulations allow ONE 20-inch or over bass to be harvested in the out-of-season period, which is from April 14 to June 15.
Now back to Bill’s question. Simple answer is, you did right. You should always release the fish. The deep hooking is unfortunate, and I have done the same thing. I know just looking away is hard; however, that fish may have been fine in an hour or so. You and I have no way of judging that.
Bill, maybe you should take a minute and reflect. Fishing, by its very nature, is a predatory act. This is true whether your catch ends up in a frying pan or back in the water. We sometimes are faced with a real quandary. Should we do what we, at the time, think makes sense and following what we know is our legal duty? In this case, there is no reason to “look away” in guilt or shame. You did do the right thing.
The catch and release rules have proven to be an effective conservation practice for many years. I know that many anglers do not like the program, but the alternatives are not really any better. Accepting and understanding your personal impact on the environment and natural world is a first step toward taking full advantage of minimizing your impact on it and the issues that threaten it.
In the waters on and near Presque Isle, anglers have 44 weeks to freely fish for bass, and only eight weeks to catch and release. I, for one, think that is just fine. These rules can help make for great fishing for years to come.
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Good Fishing!! Seeyou on the patk!!
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