When I was a kid in southern Ohio, I used to fish any water that was wet! There was a "pay lake” which had a native crappie and bluegill population. The bluegills were little squeaks . . . but I saved everyone, and froze them to use for bait on my winter trap line. I never saw or caught a bluegill of any memorable size there. Old Bill Dugan, my outdoor mentor, thought the bluegill population was probably improved by my youthful depredations.
On the other hand, a cattle and hog farmer named Lou let our family fish his ponds, which was stocked per government standards. I caught a huge bluegill on a pink flatfish (included in the 1,000 piece mail-order family fishing kit - with about 500 of the pieces being fish hooks, 2 cane poles and one marginal spinning rod). My brothers and I all were in the zone.. . catching one huge bluegill after another. We took them ALL home, and ate them. Old Lou the farmer was not pleased to see us dragging every fish away though, and we were (rightly in retrospect) ever permitted to fish there again. . .
The Little Miami River - which I believe was designated as a wild river, had a bunch of hungry little bluegills that fought like monsters! Every fish caught from those pools was a fantastic catch. . . (you had to hike down a steep incline before wading the knee deep water).
Over the years, I release nearly all fish caught. . . after taking maybe four or five fro my old mother-in-law's frying pan. Sometimes, I let every one go, and take a ribbing for never catching any fish!
Varied habitat, measured fishing pressure (lighter is better), and a catch-and-release philosophy for all fishing (the octopus hooks seem to help) are needed.
I take a camera - and that's the proof of the catch. Usually though, it’s just a great memory.
The next generation needs fishing sites and positive fishing experience to create an interest in maintaining and upgrading fishing for all. Local New Jersey - like Van Saun park for example (Paramus) has shallow water ponds which could benefit from a back hoe dredging some long, deep fish holding depths . . . and the local kids who flail these waters before learning that there’s nothin' left could benefit not only from the creation of fish holding habitat, but from some stocking beyond the ravages of the local cormorants.
Gotta go, enjoyed the site again, and ground hogs have said that we have either 6 weeks or a month and half left of winter. warm days are ahead!