Chasing Lunkers

Catching that trophy of a lifetime. Almost every blog, youtube channel, magazine or really anything associated with fishing, has one common theme, someone championing catching the largest fish possible. No matter what species, it seems no one is satisfied to catch average or even smaller size fish. If you post pictures or talk about catching small fish then you are ribbed and sometimes even ridiculed about catching bait. But is this mentality good for the sport of fishing, forget the sport of fishing, is this good for the fishery itself? The answer is absolutely not.

With just a tiny bit of research this becomes abundantly clear, and honestly if you think about it just a minute it is common sense. What fish are the most prolific breeding fish in any particular water, lake or river? The answer is the largest, more mature, genetically superior specimens, the exact fish that fishermen target. If we take these out of the gene pool then it stands to reason that the genetically inferior and smaller fish will breed and these inferior genes will be passed along. This is precisely what has been observed in heavily fished waters.

Sure everyone wants to catch that big trophy fish and I am no different. But if fishermen would start targeting the average to smaller size fish for the pan then everyone's chances of catching that fish of a lifetime would go up. The one in the picture at the beginning of the article is the size I target for eating. We are of course talking about the fish that you occasionally keep, Wal Mart and Harris Teeter sell fish everyday far cheaper than wild fish out of our streams.

Another point is that we live in a world where everyone carries around technologies that can capture pictures and videos at a moment's notice. There is no need to kill that big fish, you can capture irrefutable evidence in an instant without ever taking the fish out of the water. There is absolutely no doubt that I caught the fish in the pic to the right, there was no need at all for me to kill it just because I can. Hopefully this spring that fish will spawn and pass on it's genetics to thousands of fry.

With proper management practices there will be plenty of both large fish and fish for the table, with improper management there will be nothing but the state stocked fish that are very quickly caught and killed. It is not up to the state, the game warden or any new laws passed. It is up to us as the fishermen to change these practices.

Thanks for reading and see you on the creek, Chris


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