Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Have you ever been made to feel like a criminal for keeping your catch?

 There are a number of fishing forums and Facebook pages that I read and participate in. Today I've dropped all of them except this one and one other.

I've noticed a growing trend on vilifying those of us that eat fish. I don't keep many the last few years, mainly 'cause I'm just too lazy to want to clean 'em after all day or night on the water.

I read a posting this morning on a catfishing Facebook page labeling keeping fish for the table as 'disrespectful' , 'outdated', 'ruining the fishery', and several other negative labels.

Am I just getting old? Or does this give ammo to the Anti-fishing crowd? It looks to me to be causing divisions among fishermen in general when we should be united in our sport.

What are your opinions and/or experiences in this?  

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What next?  People for the ethical treatment of red wigglers????   I do not participate in FB or any other such forums,as that is my personal choice. As for myself, I do not keep as many fish as I use to when I was much younger. I remember the days of cleaning over 100 gills and crappies then putting them in the freezer to finally finish eating them many months later. I prefer to keep enough for a few meals, then keep some more after these are eaten, just because they taste better to me this way.Practicing Selective Harvest  is the key. A body of water can get over fished by everyone keeping their limit of the largest fish they catch each time they go, leaving only small ones for those coming behind them. On the other hand never keeping any fish from a body of water can result in a overpopulation of fish, all fighting for what natural food is available. Earl, you made me hungry for a mess of fish tonight for supper!!!!

I believe that one would be hard-pressed to find a more controversial subject matter. I know that my experience has shown me that this one issue is responsible for much discord and animosity, wherever and however anglers gather to discuss fishing in general. That's precisely why that here at BBG, we advocate for respect for ALL legal means of taking fish, whether it's an angler's personal decision to catch and release, or to take some home for a meal.

In my opinion, eating the fish that you catch can be both time-honored AND respectful to the resource. That's why we talk a great deal about selective harvest, just as Vince commented on. Harvest is an integral, fundamental, and usually necessary part of fisheries management.

To me the key is moderation, or another way to phrase it would be consideration for others.  There are few fish that make better table fare than bluegill, and I keep a few each year for this purpose.  My only complaint is when people get greedy and keep large stringers.  There are many anglers out there who would never think of keeping a limit of large bass, but they don't hesitate to take home a cooler full of big bluegill; and great fisheries can be fished out in a very short time span this way.  I personally have seen it happen multiple times just on public waters within thirty minutes of my hometown.  Biologists now know that harvesting too many of the largest males from a bluegill population can permanently skew the genetics of the entire population toward stunting - this is why that, more often than not, once a great bluegill fishery gets overfished for the big ones, it never recovers.  I know of two forty-acre lakes near me that, for short periods of time, a couple years in one instance and less than a year in the other, had outstanding populations of bluegill in the 9-10" range, and some fish bigger than that; but in both cases the word got out, and anglers hammered the big ones and took out bucketfuls of them, and the bluegill fishing in both of those lakes is now mediocre at best. 

I personally feel that keeping more than what is required for one meal is inconsiderate of other anglers.  But expecting people never to keep any fish at all is extreme and unreasonable, in my opinion.  I do think that it makes more sense from a consideration standpoint to not keep trophy-sized fish, but rather medium-sized ones for the table; in the case of bluegill, for instance, 8" bluegill can be filleted just fine, and removing a few that size from a fishery that also has 10" fish will not do a number on the genetics of the population like removing the 10"'s would.

walt lots of water by me is over run with stunted fish.i encourage people to keep them.i will even show them where they are.i ask them what they do with them and they eat em.fry em whole or make fish patties.will it help the fishery,i doubt it but they are culling it a bit and making use of the runts

I agree with Walt and have seen bg factories reduced to 7/8 in. max by the over harvesting pigs.Selective harvest is important in maintaining our sport,If dnr.has determined stunting is a problem thinning is very helpful along with habitat improvement.

i would think it could be the ANTIS starting trouble.they join forums just to cause trouble.i would call em out on this and see what the site does .i know people who would give me grief if i keep bass,i dont unless i belly hook em and their bleeding bad.the most disrespectful thing you can do is kill something and waste it.the people who give crap about keeping fish are the same ones who fish for money and keep over the LEGAL limit in their possession in a livewell.the fish bounce around,their slime coat gets messed up,but they release them after more trauma of being weighed and handled more.but you or i DISRESPECT a fish by eating it?maybe we should start hunting with tranquilizer darts?

I like to eat the fish I catch.  I usually keep as many as it takes to make a meal for me that's about five gills in the eight inch class. If I were having a fish fry for my friends I would keep a 50 bream limit.  Right now I am kind of wishing I had stocked up the freezer a little. Leaving room in there for other harvested game was a consideration also. What's funny some of those who release their catch go buy fish from the supermarket LOL.  I think it's up to the fish and game folks to set limits and up to us to respect the limits.  If any thing irks me it's poaching, this area has a limit of two stripers per day I witnessed people going to their vehicle put the fish in the cooler and go out for another limit!  Also I've heard of some keeping more than a limit of bream or bass.   Each of us has to decide what is ethical for us if you get to fish once every other week you probably keep more fish than me but I fish three+ days a week when I'm not wimping out due the weather so I don't have to maintain a big stock.  I appreciate the advice on this site about not fishing out a body of water but not sure sometimes is it fished out or have the fish become super wary due the fishing pressure?

best way I can give my answer--- about 5 or 10 years ago; some anti;s were at a bass pro shop; giving hunters; fishermen; their;; state of mind you might say. well;; when the anti;s turn their attention to me; giving me the run down;  I just calmly asked;; so none of you like anybody that ;; hunts;; fishes or traps game?/  I got a astounding NO!!!  well I just calmly answered;; I hate that for you!!  because I can guarantee you that somebody in your family WAS a hunter; fisherman trapper as well as a farmer!!  so that alone tells me you hate your own family!!  all the hunters and fishermen around laughed them silly!!  its how you choose your words-  that you can make others stop and think!!

just read the other comments-there are sane people here.i myself would love to see a trophy bluegill limit.like a slot limit i guess.people do get greedy with panfish at times.i have done so myself.they sell catfish trout salmon perch walleyes and ocean fish at the grocery store.most of these fish are stocked to some extent in public waters.if you legally catch and can keep any fish you should eat it if you want to.but in my state we have conservation POLICE now instead of officers.the distinction being they now enforce all criminal and traffic codes instead of just of hunting and fishing boating.more likely to get a parking ticket than keeping undersized fish or being over the limit.not blaming the officers,they just got way too much to do so further rules are kind of a moot point.

I like to practice Selective Harvest.  Or, as was already mentioned, "moderation".  I will keep some fish for the table.  My favorites are Catfish and White Bass, but LMBs, Spotted Bass, Striped Bass, Saugers/Saugeye, Crappie, will also find their way home with me.

Many of the folks on my local fishing board could care less about those "Green Carp", but if someone starts posting pics of lots of big Stripers on a stringer, they get all up in arms.  I can understant; Striped Bass are no longer being stocked here in OK, the population is breeding in the wild, but their spawning grounds keep shrinking....

As long as people are legal, I usually don't have a problem.

We do have a situation in a spot I used to fish.  A family has moved into a housing edition on the river.  There are three men in that house that each have a limit of juglines (20).  They will set their jugs in a spot on the river, a rather popular fishing hole.  They aren't doing anything illegal, but 60 jugs in a small area basically blocks access to the river from anyone else that wants to fish there.  They also keep all the big fish.  In the past two years, that particular spot has been greatly fished out.  It's even affecting the fishing in other spots nearby, as the fish will move up and down the river.  Again, they aren't doing anything illegal, but their greed has pretty much killed the fishing in that stretch of the river.

wow allan,they should make them get a commercial license  most public fishing here is pole and line only.i believe in stamps for specific fish.we have trout and salmon stamps here.2 kinds.1 for lake michigan and one for inland stocked trout.you want to harvest either you pay an extra tax for restocking.this system has worked well for many years.yet people complain when the fishing license goes up a dollar.i probably caught 200 dollars worth of lake perch last year.maybe buy a tag for trophy fish would work.kinda like with deer hunting;a license her is 15.00.less than going to a movie and people still wont buy one

This is a very touchy subject according to who you talk too!!!! Not keeping enough fish is just as harmful to a lakes well being as overharvesting!! I for one do keep quite a few for two reasons!!! One reason is im the only one fishing a fifty acre lake and im trying to manage fish populations to grow 16" crappie and 10 or 11" gills to be plentiful!!! Reason two is that i like to have fish frys for my family and friends who enjoy eating them but dont have the axcess or the ability to get there own fish!!!!

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