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Catch and release in the heat?

August 13, 2008 at 02:42 PM

How ethical is catch-and-release fishing in the heat of the summer? That’s an excellent question broached by Chicago Sun-Times outdoor writer Dale Bowman in his latest column.

Reporting on a fishing trip to LaSalle Lake, Bowman ponders, “What do you do with a hot bite when the water is hot?”

For some muskie anglers, the answer is to stop fishing in the summer for fear of catching a fish that will not be able to survive even if you release it to swim again. Others can’t resist getting out and trying, yet still fear they might kill a big fish. Still others catch fish in the summer knowing they run a risk of killing their catch due to stress.

Writes Bowman:

I have an ethical problem fishing when the water is hot. The problem is not the high water temperatures, but lower dissolved oxygen levels in hot water. Even if you release fish, they’re stressed. However, my ethics didn’t stop me from going fishing with him.

My reasoning was we’ve had a relatively cool summer, so water on the cool side of LaSalle peaked around 89 on the hottest days. When we fished it Sunday, after a couple cool nights, it was down in the mid-80s on the cool side.

He goes on to discuss this issue with a biologist. All in all a good read and a good topic to ponder, even in this unusually mild Illinois summer.





Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I know a few guys down in Texas who fish their private ponds throughout the hottest months of the year. They regularly hook into their Hybrid Striped Bass and quickly found out as the fish grew bigger that they would die when they would release them. They still want to keep fishing so they actually have pure oxygen tanks that they revive their trophy fish with before releasing them back into the water. Needless to say the big boys are getting bigger now.

Even if the big fish doesnt die immediately after releasing him, she is stressed and worn out so much by the battle, she cannot fight off the disease and bacteria that are present in the water. Keep in mind that most BIG fish are senior citizens, they regularly die of just old age. Actually they mostly die when they can no longer fight off disease any more. Being caught by an angler during the summer weakens the fish tremendously.

In the cool months the water is saturated with dissolved oxygen, in the warm months some of the water in the lake will not hold any dissolved oxygen.

If you want to trophy fish in the summer, oversize your gear to land the fish quickly, do not take her out of the water for any period of time, and do not touch the fish with your hands at all! or just plan on eating or putting your catch on the wall. I wouldnt go so far as to say that fishing during the heat of summer is unethical, mainly because I am not a member of the catch and release bandwagon. (I am very biased and actually rarely fish public water) Catch and release is essential to public fisheries,
BUT Catch and Release fishing has done more to hurt private fisheries than pretty much any other philosophy. Overpopulation is one of the biggest problems private lake owners face and yet they will not harvest any bass? You got to kill most of the bass if you want to grow BIG bass!!

Posted by Nate Herman on 08/13 at 06:31 PM

Bowman is 100% correct, when we have a real hot summer and the water is hot, the fish don’t have a good chance to live after being released. I know some musky fisherpersons who will not fish if the water is to warm.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/14 at 10:19 AM

This crap is getting ridiculous. What ever happened to catch and eat? Muskie, by the way, are fine eating. Just like northern only better. People who want all fish to lead long and happy lives should take up a sport other than fishing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/14 at 11:47 AM

Muskies do not reproduce in Illinois.

Being a good steward of your land and water is actually a very important part of being an outdoorsman. Having knowledge about the fish and how it reacts to its environment along with selectively harvesting fish leads to dramatically improved fisheries. Catching and eating is just as important as catching and releasing.

Posted by Nate Herman on 08/14 at 04:19 PM

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