We are stewards, we practice catch
There are times, though, when we want to keep a fish or two. We
might be tempted by the flavor of a freshly cooked fish or we could
be looking to help the fishery by selectively harvesting a fish
of a particular size.
The decision is never easy, especially for those of us who have
been brought up to follow a catch and release ethic.
Gene Wilde and Keven Pope, researchers at Texas Tech University
and the University of Nebraska, provide us with guidelines that
can help us decide, if we are inclined to harvest a fish.
Wilde and Pope observed that the "two most important factors
influencing survival of largemouth bass that are captured and released
are the anatomical hooking location and water temperature."
They add that "survival is high among largemouth bass hooked
in the oral cavity." They also note that "survival is
substantially lower among bass hooked in the esophagus." In
esophagus-hooked fish, survival was greater for those who were hooked
dorsally (hook pointing up) as oppossed to those hooked ventrally
(hook pointing down). Wilde and Pope speculated that the higher
mortaility amongst this group was due to the heart's proximity to
the ventral portion of the espophagus.
This research would indicate that if we do want to take a fish home
with us, we might want to select a fish that we have hooked in the
espohagus. If that hook is pointing down, moreover, we might want
to select that fish for harvest.
Of course, the decision may have already been made for us. If the
regulations require that you release the fish, you are obligated.
However, if the regulations allow and you do hook a fish in the
esophagus with the hook pointing down, that fish might be a good
candidate for the stringer.
For more Stewardship Tips visit www.RecycledFish.org