Catch and Release

Sample image

                      Catch and Release is the single greatest personal contribution an angler can make to the                                               fishery he or  she cherishes most! By releasing that big bass, muskie,             

                                        walleye or even perch you are doing your part to help ensure                                                        future generations of fish will exist for future generations of anglers.

Of course no one is suggesting that the conservation minded angler always release his/her catch or that eating fish are not part of their agenda. Some would argue such an extremist view is counterproductive and that eating some of the fish you catch is not only part of a healthy lifestyle but also connects you to the resource more intimately then if you were to release everything you caught.

Fish are a renewable resource and if taken care of wisely by both angler and fisheries managers then, barring any detrimental environmental impacts, then those fish should be present in healthy numbers for ever. But think about all the environmental changes that have happened in the last decade or two that have influenced your favorite fishery.
Invasive species like Zebra and Quagga mussels have filtered waterbodies across southern Ontario making them clearer with more aquatic plant growth than ever before. Gobies have entered many lakes and rivers and are only beginning to show us that their propensity to devour eggs and young fish could impact future generations of young bass, perch and walleye.

Whether you accept that climate change is entirely man-made or not, the evidence is clear that mean water temperatures are increasing and winters are shorter. This greatly impacts some fish communities. Cormorants another significant change to the southern Ontario landscape, can eat a pound of fish per day. Many of our waterbodies play host to these birds that congregate by the hundreds eating tons of fish and destroying terrestrial habitats wherever they roost.

All of these deterrents to a healthy sport fishery which are seemingly beyond our control, may contribute to the complacency too many anglers suffer from today. They do not understand that government agencies like the Ministry of Natural Resources or Department of Fisheries and Oceans, are not the only ones responsible for taking care of our lakes. Truth be told anglers are the ones with the most to lose. We are the stewards of the resource whether we like it or not and that makes us responsible!

This season why not make your personal contribution by voluntarily live releasing all those above-average sized fish. They are the ones that will produce more and larger fish and contribute the most to the fishery. Let's not feel entitled to keeping our limit - just because we have the legal authority to do so if everyone felt that way imagine the state our fisheries would be in!

In 2010 joining a fishing related club that is actively engaged in habitat restoration, research or other conservation initiatives to improve our fishery could bring you personal satisfaction you never knew possible.  There are so many great clubs from those within the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (www.ofah.org)  to those among the Ontario BASS Federation Nation (OBFN) (www.ontariobass.com) that will be eager to have you. Don't feel like joining- but would still like to help? Consider becoming part of the Angler Conservation Team - at www.bassmaster.com and you can be notified of conservation projects in your area that need volunteers.

With over ¼ million lakes in Ontario we have many of the finest fishing opportunities on the planet. We are all responsible to help keep them that way one lake and one fish at a time. 

The future of fishing is in your hands!

Wil Wegman