Do you love big bluegill?
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I read a posting this morning on a catfishing Facebook page labeling keeping fish for the table as 'disrespectful' , 'outdated', 'ruining the fishery', and several other negative labels.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?
Well Andy you are right and I'll just make folk on here mad so I won't put my two cents in on this one !!!! I will say this however. Illinois , against it's conservation managers approval , put a size limit on bluegills caught at Lake Bloomington . THis was so that the fish would get bigger . What happened was after the first few years of the size limit the State Officials noticed the limit of 8" had just the opposite effect and most of the fish caught were around 7 " . Well turns out that the size limit meant only mature fish were being harvested and left the more immature fish to spawn , which resulted in smaller fish..... Go figure ...........
I"ve already mentioned in other blogs that this year and the near future I won't keep aaaaaaaany fish from the ponds I fish . The draught here last year or year before really hurt the fish poplulations and I'll monitor the fish size closely this year at those three ponds.... Now Great pond that Andy is refering too was never hit by the draught that I know of and the water level seems to always be constant there , luckily . We will keep some fish outta there of course because there seems to be an abundance of crappie in the 12-14" range and the red ears are huge when ya get em ........
OOPS ALMOST FORGOT GOING TO JEFFREYS THIS YEAR AND WILL KEEP SOME FROM THERE TOO ........
your right tooty-a size limit should be in place but to protect breeding stock.like they have for walleyes some places.only so many OVER a certain size,like you i could go on and on about the incompetence that goes on here.the drought was bad but the thick ice with snow cover can be just as bad.have a couple ponds a few blocks away that are nothing special but they are close .the place i find those giant snapping turtles.usually the first place i fish in the spring.10 years ago ther was a winter kill.never knew there were so many fish until they were all dead.some really big gills included.it was horrific .1000s of fish,even the carp died.i'm afraid it is gonna be worse this year for shallow water.last week the ice was 15 inches on local lakes
Keep in mind also that no two bodies of water are the same. I've seen lakes that were panfish factories, churning out numbers of quality fish year after year, while other lakes struggled after a few seasons of intensive harvests. In my opinion, and speaking with a prejudice towards Bluegills, I think that fishing the spawn, as well as ice fishing, has the capacity to do the most damage, if the particular BOW in question is subject to being damaged in this regard.....not all are.
As an example, here in Indiana there is no daily limit on Bluegills, with the exception of a particular lake or two. It's nothing for me to visit a popular ice fishing site and see and hear anglers talking about 100 fish days, sometimes even multiple times a week. And once again, these anglers are completely legal in doing so. But is this a case where self-moderation should come into play, or are we to place all of our eggs into the DNR's basket, and hope that they are indeed, on top of the situation? Many anglers are of the mindset that once they have paid their fees, (license, boat registration, etc), that they are now free to harvest the public water bounty, without repercussion. And speaking from a legal standpoint, in many cases this is correct! Does legal make it "right", by our standards? And who am I, to impose my views on someone who is fishing entirely within the published rules and regulations?
Once again, I think it depends greatly upon the water.....if the lake can support those kind of harvests with no ill effects, then is harm being done? How far into the future are we to look, before deciding that something may need to be changed?
This topic is especially interesting to me right now. The Indiana DNR is currently accepting the public's input and commentary on several proposed new regs......one of which is a 25 fish daily limit on Bluegills, (sunfish in aggregate, actually), I weighed in on their website with my thoughts, and I am happy to report that the public concensus appears to be in favor of additional regulation. That's not to say that I agree with everything they are proposing.....I don't like "blanket" regulations for the reason I touched on earlier......too much variance from one BOW to another, for a one-size-fits-all solution. But, I recognize the fact that the state is underfunded and understaffed, and consider the proposal to be a cautious step in the right direction. I would like to see this proposal implemented on a trial basis, on a few lakes, to gauge the results.
I appreciate reading everyone's thoughts on the matter, and I'm proud to be a member of a site where such a controversial subject can be discussed calmly and rationally. We can all learn from one another, no matter which side of the fence we're on.
Big Bluegill Rocks!!!
correct as usual tony,certain lakes get pounded and still give up lots of fish.one i fish is resevoir and has had fish kills during droughts .2 years later the fish numbers are back.maybe a class ,like to get a hunting license.i don't know.i see a lot of disrespect and almost cruelty at times.and usually not the people keeping fish as they want to keep them fish fresh and edible.it is a can of worms for sure.i have shared spots with people i trust just to have them overharvest and trash the place.and when you find some isolated populations of fish where i live its like finding treasure,seen a lot of friendships end over fishing spots.i am a freedom loving guy but we need more rules and game wardens,if they have to double the fees its our own fault
I think Tony touched on a key to this issue. Most states in this country presently have generous, to put it mildly, limits on bluegill; many have no limits at all. This does not necessarily mean this is what is best for the fishery. There are actually a small handful of states - Illinois and Missouri are a couple - who have set stricter limits on bluegill on some water bodies in an attempt to improve the populations of large bluegill in those waters. Illinois has done extensive research into growing bigger bluegill in public waters.
It was once believed by most fisheries biologists that bluegill could not be overfished, and that the presence of mostly small ones in a water body indicated overpopulation. While this is sometimes the case, multiple studies in the past thirty-odd years have shown that large bluegill - not the runts - are as subject to overfishing as any other species, and that bluegill can be more strongly impacted by overfishing than most other species due to the genetic skewing toward smaller fish - this is due to the "sneaker male" phenomenon discovered by the Illinois study, whereby the population permanently is pushed toward smaller adult sizes by the absence of large males during spawning season. So oftentimes when you find a lake loaded with small bluegill, the truth is that you could remove small ones from that lake until you see runt bluegill in your sleep and you won't make a bit of difference for the lake, because it's the genetic code of the population that's ruining it rather than the numbers. The fish are genetically predisposed to topping out at a small size, because the large fish got removed by overfishing and the fish with inferior genes have over a few or several seasons ruined the genetic pool.
Here's a study from the late eighties that mentions a public lake in Wisconsin in which 35% of the bluegill over six inches were removed within one month of the lake being opened to angling; within three years all of the larger bluegill had been caught out such that the lake's size structure was identical to nearby lakes that had been open to the public all the years Mid Lake was closed:
Here's an article about the Illinois study:
Can We Build A Bigger Bluegill?
Outsized bluegill almost always come from water bodies that get little to no fishing pressure. Think for instance of the Indiana state record fish that was the subject of Tony's excellent blog post a few days ago. It came from a well-known public wildlife area - but from a pond that was hard to access and unaesthetic compared to the others, and which most anglers likely had been ignoring. All of those giants we have seen photos of from Richmond Mill are coming from a lake that is 100% catch-and-release, and which undoubtedly gets a tiny fraction of the fishing pressure of any public lake. One of the most respected outdoor writers who focuses on big bluegill as his primary quarry, Dave Genz, has for years been spreading the word that overharvest is the main factor in declining fishing for trophy bluegill in public waters; he's even written articles in which he lists as his primary criterion for selecting a lake to fish, how remote and inaccessible/unknown it is.
There was a time when limits of big largemouth bass were routinely kept by anglers, from public waters. Eventually, through education and increased angler awareness, we progressed through the opposite extreme (all bass released, which is generally bad for growing big bass) to a more scientific and productive approach to managing the species on most public waters. I personally hope that someday the regulations on bluegill will catch up with the current science, allowing waters like those lakes near my hometown that once had banner trophy bluegill fishing a chance to have that kind of fishing again.
Maybe I'm wrong in my thinking, but I always thought that the genes of the parents were passed on to the off spring...Generally speaking, if your parents were very tall then most likely you would be too. Then there is the skip in generations. You might collectively be more like your grandparents, or great grand parents. Would not at least part of that years, or prviouse years fish have the genes to grow large like the parents did? And surely that great big gill did not grow that big in one year, so the genes should have been passed on to multiple years of fish. I would think it has a bit of food supply to the number of fish available as well as the genes of the fish to determine the size they would grow to. Just an other look on the matter. Ifyou took two off spring from the same parents, placed one in a lake with only large fish with ample food supply for all of them, and the other one one in a lake that had too many fish for the amount of fish it had, would not the fish in the less crowded lake with ample food grow larger, even though they had the same genes? Something to ponder....
My feelings on this are simple: If you are legal and want to keep them, do it.
Now, personally, I would rather leave the biggest fish behind, to breed. And I mention that when the matter comes up. People usually grasp that idea when you explain it, instead of coming on like an eco-terrorist. We know fisheries can be fished out of the largest fish in just a few short seasons. Studies prove this.
This isn't to say the fish will all be gone. But the fishery needs time and the raw materials to replenish - it is not infinite. If you want to catch big fish, you need to leave some behind to breed.
My dad always said. "Take what you can eat in a few sittings and leave the rest."
I still go by that.
Everyone has touched base on all the best point in the valid arguments. Unless one has a fishery, work in as a biologist, or carefully monitor and maintain the water body as a caretaker, an angler must take heeds of all the provided concerns and vital clues on how to promote the water's sustainability, but at the same time, the regulates the quality before quantity. Arguments about "eat all the fishes you catch" vs "letting it all go" is primarily bias on a person's view points. However, as BBG members here have clearly presented the facts, we MUST keep the water body balanced. For those who want to release all the fishes they caught for the sport, we have to maintain the balance with the remaining populus who care to keep the catches and consume. However, strict enforcement and angler's honored self-regulation to promote the vital health outcome of the water body for generations of enjoyment to come (an idealist dream of course, but doable). If an angler are not self-honored to do what is right, and the laws can't be everywhere to enforce, then, we, as humble anglers, must educate those who just sneer at self-control because they believe they're above the laws, or, everyone owes them everything.
You are not getting old, nor your idea. My family is taught strictly, and lovingly, about the care and balance of any water body we're at, in, or on. When it comes to catching fishes, we will catch, keep, and feed on our catches based on regulation. Even when there's no regulation on the species, like the sunfish family (aside from 25 total per day), we self-enforce ourselves to keep those that are between 6" to 9", if the fishes appear to be edible according to body mass. Anything larger/smaller, we release so the species will thrive as the top percentage of growth, or allowing other species to enjoy the chase follow by a meal.
As stewards of a water body, we all need to do what is right. If we caught a fish by mistake, which happens to perish, which we do not want to eat, at least offer the fish to those who want to eat it, or use it as fertilizer for your land. We shouldn't be just tossing it into the trash. Don't waste the fish by purposely kill it, and let it float in the water, such as the grass carps. At least take the kill(s) home, use it/them as fertilizer. For us, we don't have such waste. Either release, eat, or honor the catches as we return them back to the soil for greater purposes.
I will dare to step into the anti-eating fish crowd, and say this: If you have no available "convenient" foods that we have today, I dare you to say "I will release all my catches". We have so much abundant food sources from the local stores that we've forgotten how truly blessed we are to catch something and enjoy the meal it brings. Even as a sport, honor the catches by holding onto one during each of our outing, and celebrate its life as nourishment for our bodies for the efforts we've placed forth to hunt for it. For the waters that are literally infested with the species, which required reduction in large number, find those who are willing to accept your catches, enjoy the sport at your own leisure, and bring home prize for all those around you to enjoy, no matter the sizes of the catches.
In every aspect of life, under any subject, there's always a division, and from the divisions, there are subsets of subdivisions. It will never end. However, it all boils down to what needs to be done to keep the water body healthy, prolific, and aimed for the true balance as nature intended. Sorry..I rambled on too much and being too repetitive.
GOOD ONE LEO !!!!!!!!
Let me see, Have I ever been made to feel like a criminal for keeping fish ,My answer is " Hell No " , as long as I follow the laws of the State I'm in it is none of their damn business what I do. My State has a possession limit that is twice the daily limit , example if I have 100 fish in the freezer , I would be over the possession limit if I kept another fish. I practice " catch and Keep ", and yes I eat bluegill, and I eat big bluegill, it is a renewable resource , you would not want them to die of old age would you ? Now I have had bass fishermen look down their nose at me because I was "just bream fishing " That's when I show them how many four letter words I can string together talking about their education and heritage . I dont really do any "Sport Fishing" just catching fish for fun , playing them to exhaustion , and then releasing them , I feel like that is borderline harassing of wildlife . If you see anyone breaking the laws about fishing do everyone a favor and report it because they are not just stealing from you they are stealing from everyone, and anyone that tries to make you feel bad about not following their management style and your following the law tell them they can build their own pond, feed the fish the way they want, practice catch and release, limit fishing access, and practice aquaculture. LOFR
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