The Balancing Act OF Selective Harvest A lot of discussion lately in the cat fishing community has been in the areas of Sport Fishing (catch and release), Commercial Fishing (catch and process), as well as Recreational Fishing (personal harvest). Sport fishers for the most part are trophy fishers and feel that the release of their catch will produce larger fish to be caught at a later date. Conservation is the argument that catch and release fishers applaud and stand behind to expand their way of fishing. Commercial fishers for the most part rarely release any fish that are legal to keep. Most commercial fisher will stay with in the regulations set by their local law makers , with it being to large a gamble to lose their rights the fish commercially. Long term commercial fishers all so applaud conservation as a means to secure a future for their resource. Recreational fishers rarely spend as much time on the water as Sport or Commercial fishers. Recreational fishers often target more than one species of fish through out each trip to the water and target fish seasonally. Personal harvest or enjoyment are the goals of the recreational fishers. Recreational fishers dont usually utilize the specialized tackle and fish saving tactics & technology that Sport Fishers depend on to preserve the health of their catch. Most recreational fishers prefer a fishing trip that produces higher numbers of fish caught over a few catches of larger fish. Conservation is a recreational fishers goal as well to guarantee enjoyment on his or her next outing on the water. Now if the larger number of catfish fishers stand behind and preach conversation, why do each of these three types of fishers give cross looks at each other. Some times two of these types of fishers ally against the remaining fisher. Commercial & Recreational fisher some times feel Sport fishers act like upper class know it alls that just want to control the public waters & the fish in them. Recreational & Sport fishers some times feel Commercial fishers take more than their fair share of a public resource with not much return. Sport & Commercial fishers some times feel Recreational fishers waist the resource of fish by not properly processing or releasing their fish just to show off in front of their peers. How can we straighten some of these cross feeling, well here is where Selective Harvest & the education of Selective Harvest comes into play. Each of the three types of fishers play an important roll in the conservation of the cat fish resource. The protection of the larger fish in the water ways maintain larger numbers of fish reproduction. While an over abundance of smaller fish will deplete the amount of forage foods for all fish and will stunt the size of fish inhabiting the water ways. If any species is over protected the over growing population can cause problems such as disease, abnormal features, and famine. Many of the natural predators of these fish have been depleted and some have even been wiped out completely by man. Some of these species of catfish have been introduced to non-native waters that dont even hold a natural predator of these fish. So fishers have to fill the gaps made by man over the centuries. Most predators target the mid-sized fish to keep the chain rotating. The larger fish are normally to hard to handle by natural predators & the smaller are normally to difficult to catch to be useful. With this fishers should be able fill in where natural predators fall short. I consider myself to fall into all three categories of cat fishers. As a Sport Fisher I catch & release all fish during tournaments. Also as a catch & release fisher I feel its a responsibility to keep some of the mid-sized fish even if I personally dont need the fish, I clean and give the kept fish to a needing family. Every Sport Fisher needs a receptor for his or her un-needed fish. As a Commercial Fisher I maintain a personal size limit set to ½ the size of the considered trophy for that water way and release all that go over that limit. To not be considered as a greedy Commercial fisher is easy, just dont be one and show others what you release. The stories will start and spread about the commercial fisher that releases at your location. As a Recreational Fisher the same ½ trophy size limit is followed and pass this on to my children as well as friends. As all three types of fisher I try help other fishers with their target whether it be trophies, numbers, or enjoyment of the trip. Make sure you let other fishers know why you do things the way you do. The more often these tactics work for you the more other fishers will listen to you. More times than not, when you come across a fisher with a boat or truck overloaded with fish, the fisher got lucky this time because he or she was definitely unprepared to handle what he or she caught. Set your Selective Harvest and stick to it and your reputation will follow with more help and assistance from other fisher in your area. Do your part in releasing the larger fish as well as harvesting the mid-size fish. There is no balance if you just do one and not the other.