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?
He looks good from this angle. You touched on a good point LOFR. I prefer weight over length as an indicator of fish "size", or health. That's where the relative weight chart can be helpful. I understand though, that carrying a scale around can be problematic, while a tape or rule is much easier. It's probably easier also to envision a 10" BG as being a large fish, while a photo of a scale that just says "1 pound" may not provide the same visual "wow" factor to a lot of folks. Short but fat BG... got it!
I like that pic, L. I dont mind seeing it again!
Im on it Tony. Id go along with it, no problem. Dont tell me I can't own a gun - I'll nut up on you.
But I'd accept the restrictions you suggest if it means better fishing. Whats most important to me? Having decent places to pursue fish, with the hope of landing a nice one. All else is secondary.
LOL! David I would never dictate to anyone what they should, or should not, do or have. This thread is just me thinking out loud, and asking others to weigh in.... no hidden agenda, or ulterior motives here.
2lb is right - studies have already been done by multiple DNRs, dating back to 2001, that have found that larger bluegill can be fished nearly completely out in a public lake within a matter of weeks; these studies have also found that minimum length limits increased the number of larger-size bluegill caught by anglers. So it's not a matter of whether it would work - it's already been proven to.
It's just a matter, as Tony astutely notes, of getting anglers in states that don't presently have such progressive limits, to accept them; though I would go one step further and offer that probably we need to call for such limits, if we ever hope to have them, as I get the impression that right now the DNRs in these states use the notion that anglers won't go for it, as their rationale for not trying such regulations.
I know you're not trying to "dictate," Tony... and at the same time that IS what we're suggesting.
I have two words: Resource management.
Interesting topic. I love catching bluegills of all sizes, but if I were to honestly have my 'druthers, I would, in almost every case, seek lakes or waters where the fish average large and there might be potential for trophy class, 10 inch fish. Currently, I have four public lakes in my area that routinely produce 10 inch class fish. They are small, have limited access, and I find myself being very selective as to who I tell about them. I know this may seem selfish, but I see the 'bucket brigade' as a potential threat to these waters. I do not want to see them fished down. Like Walt and others said...quality waters sometimes never recover from overharvest of the top-end bluegills.
There are several other area lakes where top-end gills run smaller, perhaps 8 to 9 inch fish where we fish and keep a few for a meal. And yet some other lakes where you'll never see a gill over 7 inches. Although fun, I am not interested in high numbers of small fish. I would rather commit time, money, travel and effort into seeking the largest bluegills I can locate.
By comparison, I would far rather catch a dozen 9 inch class gills, with a couple of 10 inchers, as opposed to catching 50 gills that run 7 to 8 inches. To me, exceptional size fish spells a memorable day on the water. But if I am eating fish, then those 7 to 8 inchers are high on the list!
Ok - I will weigh-in (yes, pun intended).
Near me I catch about 98% catch-and release save the stocked farm trout season. I do this because of poor water quality and the general state of over-fished lakes.
You need a few things working in your favor:
1. A large local $$ cash fine - posted and enforced. With no teeth, you will only have people shaking heads at buckets and stringers. Local ordinance will provide the teeth but the price and ticket need to be acknowledge by the local towns/county or they will not work.
2. Bass - the fish I give so much grief for possessing "the industry" and 90% of its anglers. You need a predator to clear the weak and small to provide more habitat and food for the masses. Catch-and-release bass (with the big $$ fine enforced).
3. Why keep any larger fish? I would post that no 9" + fish leave the lake (ever)...
4. Slot limit might deter the same type of angler that might take more than would be wanted and the slot limit will be another big $$ that can be enforced.
The best lake in my region within :35 min. of my house - - very important since gas will go past $4.75 a gallon this summer - - is catch-and-release only. I have however seen buckets with fish leaving to the parking lot despite the regulation. It is also my belief that people sneak in and take fish. Despite these violators - the lake has phenomenal bluegill fishing and decent bank habitat.
5. Decent Bank Habitat - insect habitat...
6. Perhaps Sanctuary Areas.
Posted on shore no fishing - markers on the water no fishing create a safe zone for all fish...
I think that a fantastic venue has financial benefits when the water becomes a destination lake. When the local businesses are benefiting then you have buy-in and the enforcement can even go to funding more enforcement or lake improvement. I have not a single problem with people taking fish to eat. I do have a problem when what remains is a wrecked fishery. There can be balance to provide even better fish to harvest and even better fish for the sport angler in the same exact lake. Balance / Enforcement + Big $$ Fines!!!
I would continue to fish this lake. I had a farm pond that I fish, which was over populated with bluegill. The first 3 years I fished it I would catch nice hand size bluegills. My friend put in 100 channel cat, 100 hybrid blue gill, and 100 redear. The next year my friend died, and the big blue gill went away. he kept people from the near by town from fishing the pond. I think after he died people would icefish the pond and all the big blue gills were harvested. Another possiblity is the big blue gill died off. which I doubt. I really don't think the channel cat would kill of the bigger blue gill, they would go after the smaller blue gill. So I continue to fish this pond to see if the size of both the bluegill and the crappie will improve. To me the fish don't have to be big I just enjoy catching them. Then every now and then I will catch a nice crappie or a redear, and that makes your day.
Start catching those cats and weed them out...