Do you love big bluegill?
I have given a lot of thought this week to the discussion regarding catch and release, as I'm sure many of you have also. A few days ago I was contacted by a member of another forum, regarding a related issue. This individual posed questions regarding harvest strategies of Bluegills, and their effects on the general population.
This angler lives in Northern Indiana, and he implied to me that the lake in question has no limits on sizes or quantities of Bluegill taken daily. He has fished this lake for years, and in his opinion the average size of the Bluegills are dropping. He mentioned that he intended to contact the regional fisheries biologist for his area, (excellent idea), but wanted some additional information first. Bear in mind that this lake has produced some very nice sized BG in the past.
Let's assume that a protected slot, as well as a daily bag limit, was initiated for BG's on this BOW. All BG between 9 and 11 inches are to be released, with a daily limit of 25 BG total per angler. One fish over 11" may be kept per day, per angler.
Would you, as an angler who has previously had unlimited access to the BG in this lake, continue to spend your time and money to travel here to fish?
I know that some of you may already fish areas where a limit is in place, but I would like to get your thoughts on this, too.
As always, this is not an attack on anyone's fishing or harvest strategies, there are no definitively right or wrong answers. I wouldn't dare ask such a question on very many forums, but with the quality of members we have here at BBG, I know we can discuss this with the same level of respect and courtesy that has been exhibited here many times before.
So what would you do?
On second thought, perhaps a better question would be:
If the lake you regularly fished had no limits, and produced BG's that were 8-9" in length, would you be willing to live with a 25 BG per day limit, with all fish between 9-11" protected, if it meant that there was a possibility of this lake producing BG that were 11" plus? Remember, IF it does start producing such large fish, you are still allowed only 1 per day.......
My thought is that the slot needs to start at 8" at a minimum, perhaps even 7" in your area, in order to do any good. If anglers clean out all of the 7" bluegill before they can reach 8", the slot won't have much affect. Perhaps I'm underestimating the average size of the 'gills in your area, since I haven't fished there? But I would think the lower end of the slot should not be above 8" or it won't make much of a difference. Also, I personally feel 25 is too many fish for one person to keep in a day - if there are dozens or hundreds of anglers fishing a body of water per month, unless it's a large reservoir of thousands of acres, I just think the 'gills are going to get fished down so that the large ones never materialize.
Good points, Walt. There are so many variables in play that it's hard to get a handle on everything. Keep in mind that Indiana has no limits on numbers of BG, or size of BG that can be kept, at least on most lakes. I was questioning whether or not an angler who has fished under no constraints, would be willing to endure a limit in the hopes of having a shot at a trophy (11" or over) BG. Would an angler be willing to trade quantity for quality, where BG are concerned?
Is it possible to produce a trophy BG fishery in a public BOW?
Good questions Tony.......I already function great with 30 fish limits in North Carolina & South Carolina.....I live 90 miles from locations within North Carolina with no size or creel limits, that would be west of Interstate 95 and I can count on one hand how many times I've fished there (higher limits do not draw me there).....I'm just 40 miles from 50 sunfish limits in the state of Virginia and I do maintain an annual non-resident license to fish a couple destinations there maybe 10x a year total..... I have adjusted to Bluegill limits despite growing up in a state without any, Louisiana.....We even have a tighter restriction on redbreast sunfish in N.C., no more than 12 a day out of a total creel of 30 (like this move). I could support 25 and probably as low as 15 if it would increase my chances of catching that trophy, especially if it was select locations attempting to grow and promote trophy bluegill..........Allowing one a day over 11" would allow you to keep that fish of a lifetime! I'm not a fan of catch and release only locations because I have learned and believe that some of the fish have to be harvested for correct management thus providing the angler that enjoys the table fare his/her share......I'm a fan of the slot because I do believe it will work and has worked on other species..........I personally seek and target good numbers of quality fish as the norm but I'm never disappointed when I catch at least one bluegill over 10"on a particular trip...........I personally like the fact that North Carolina is a combination of all sunfish for the daily creel limit.......I set individual goals for shellcracker, fliers and warmouth sometimes as well, which can be another important aspect of responsible harvesting. But I realize these other sunfish have to be present to make a difference.......
Yes, those numbers would work for me. I'm not aware of any California BoW that has a slot limit, but a 9-11 slot limit, and one fish per day larger than the slot limit wouldn't bother me.
WRT the number limit, California introduced a 25 sunfish + crappie limit a couple years ago and it hasn't really affected me because it's been a long time since I've caught 25 BG in a day in California. 25 is a enough to get a couple of meals out of them for my family, so that limit works for me in any case.
I get uncomfortable when anyone - even a well meaning person - presumes to tell others how to live their lives. We have politicians now telling us how much someone should be allowed to earn.
If I fished every day or several times per week, I doubt if I would keep very many fish - of any kind - per trip. My work / life circumstances currently dictate that I can only get out once - at the most - twice per month. When I do get a chance to fish and if the fish are "biting" and if I am successful, I like to get a couple meals per month. The amount of fish necessary for a meal is my decision - it could be a couple walleye or pike, one salmon or a legal "quantity" of panfish.
I don't need someone to tell me that keeping "X" number of panfish is wrong but "Y" is ok. If in your particular circumstances you feel that keeping any fish is wrong, then please follow your conscience.
I have my own conscience and my own code of conduct. I do not personally care for going fishing with the intent of only harrasing fish. I love to catch fish but always stop when I have caught what I intend to keep.
Every year we plant a small vegetable garden. We only plant enough for our own use. We don't dig in the ground mindlessly, we work with a purpose. The resulting vegetables that we consume are a source of both nurishment and pride because we created the bounty. The fish or wild game that I bring home are an equal source of nurishment & pride. I know for a fact that I can buy fish and meat - probably vegetables also - much cheaper in a supermarket. The supermarket food does not come with pride.
Badgerloader, I completely understand. Here at BBG there are many philosophies regarding harvests, and all are respected equally. It is my belief that we are here to share, and help one another, not to judge. If an angler abides by the laws of their state or province, then by all means they should harvest as they see fit. I for one love to see anglers catching fish, and I enjoy reading about their successes, and viewing their photos. Post away, and thanks for your insights on this question! :)
Instead of just HLX, " hypothetical Lake X, we can have Lake Y and Lake Z , in HLX do the slot limit thing, In HLY have a season that protects the breeding cycle and no fishing would be allowed while the bluegill are on the nest, In HLZ have a lottery and only fisherman that win the lottery would be allowed to fish that year, The Game and Fish in my state control the Turkey population on state owned lands, this would be another way to control the harvest. This is the problem G&F has, let everyone catch fish and keep fish or establish a Trophy Program, then they would probally put a slot limit in that everything under 12 inches would have to be thrown back. It looks like everything else , if you want consistant big bluegill your going to have to raise them yourself or pay to play where someone is raising them for you. I chose to go to places that are so difficult to get to the fishing pressure is reduced from the average fisherman and therefor the fish have time to get some size on them, the only other things that the bluegill need is nutrition , and genetics, and when it comes to genetics when bluegill have to fight the world to compete with other bluegill they are going to get larger. These areas I speaking of are oxbow lakes off larger rivers, or swamps . I understand your problem with smaller ponds, to get bluegill to grow to trophy size you will have to feed them like hogs, then when you get them to trophy size do you catch them or let them died of old age , you cant have your cake and eat it too. I guess "THE HOLY GRAIL" of bluegill management is having a sustainable population that produces Trophy FISH year after year in a controlled enviroment, a renewable Trophy Resource. I dont mean to ruffle any feathers these are just my observations. LOFR
That's my thinking also, a trial effort on one body of water, not statewide. One public BOW where your chances are greater to catch one for the wall...... would it be worth the trade-off in numbers for a shot at a really big BG, on one lake?
I'm not as curious as to whether or not this system would produce trophy Bluegills, as I am over whether or not how many anglers would be willing to risk trading quantity for a shot at quality, on one public BOW...
what a tough question. I suppose if fisheries biologists performed a study of a particular body of water and determined that overfishing was the source of a trend in decreasing size rather than inadequate food sources for the bream, poor fertility, excess weeds, competing undesirable fish and so on then I would comply. I could learn to be happy with a limit of 8 3/4 inch bream and one 13 inch fish and it would be plenty to eat even though it would be a little harder to fillet.
Tony I'll answer your question the way I'm understanding it. Personally I don't care much about size limits or creel limits I don't need them because as a rule I generally throw 95% of my fish back. I go for the enjoyment so all that stuff don't affect me in that way. Now down the road it will by that I mean if we didn't have rules such as (size limit and creel limits) every body don't go just for the enjoyment of the catch well I guess they do it's the release part they have the problem with then I can see the lake being over fished and eventually stunted. I think in today's society we need the states to impose rules on our fishing waters with creel limits and slot limits because of all the fishing pressure the the lakes receive today. I think if we want our fisheries to remain productive it's the state's responsibility to get on board and do what has to be done to rectify it before it become's a problem or a worst problem that they have at the moment. As far as what has to be done I wouldn't have the slightest, that is something that needs to be figured out by more educated people in such matters. Interesting stuff Tony sounds like you already got some good stuff.
Awesome info guys!
Let's break it down further: When it comes to catching BG, what do you put more emphasis on, the size of the individual fish, or being able to catch a legal mess of decent, average fish?
And yes, I would rather catch my limit of 10-12" BG also!