Why We Need to Catch and Release the Monsters

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by Diego, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. Diego

    Diego New Member

    Messages:
    63
    State:
    California
    There are SO many reasons to let the big ones go.

    Let's say we have a lake. In this lake are 1,000 channel catfish of different ages, different sizes, and, most importantly, different size potentials. By size potential I mean the max size each individual catfish will reach before it dies of natural causes. This is determined by the individual's genetic make-up. Each individual's genes are different, and some are better able to grow and grow big in this lake because of the traits these genes are associated with. Traits like appetite and aggressiveness, disease and parasite resistance, and metabolism, just to name a few.

    Just like with every population of animals comprised of genetically different individuals, of these 1,000 lake-bound catfish, some are going to have the genes that give them a size advantage over other individuals. These would be the Shaqs, King Kong Bundys, or Kevin Gogans of the catfish population, depending on your sport :)

    Everyone likes to catch big fish, right? Well, the guys who started fishing this lake as children know nothing of the affect that selective pressure has on the genetic make-up of an isolated population (more on this later). They do, however, like to keep the biggest ones they catch. Male or female, the big forks (channels) find their way to the dinner table while the little guys go back in "to be caught another day."

    Sounds all good.

    But, what's really going on?

    First, both male and female cats play a crucial role in maintaining the population. Females lay the eggs, but its up to the males to fertilize, guard, and fan the eggs after doing so. Male cats often remain with the fry even after they hatch, offering further protection for their young. The larger the female, the larger and more numerous her eggs. Larger eggs mean bigger fry, and the bigger the fry, the less mouths there are for them to fit in. The larger the male, the better chance he has of guarding his clutch against the many predators that threaten the eggs and fry. Noodlers take advantage of this protective instinct when a large male cat attacks the various body parts noodlers invade their nests with.

    But most important, big cats in this lake have the genes to be big in their environment; the lake. Their genetic make-up gives them the size advantage here. Other, smaller cats don't have it. These Danny Devitos of the catfish population won't attain monster size no matter how long they live because their genetic make-up does not give them the size advantage. So, when big cats hook-up and paint the lake red, their "big genes" get passed on to their offspring. By the way, as was stated above the ones with the big genes produce more offspring than the smaller cats, and their young are more likely to survive.

    In a natural setting without fishing pressure, the biggest cats are also the ones most likely to survive predation. They produce more offspring that are more likely to survive predation, passing on more of their big genes than smaller cats are able to.

    But, the guys at this lake keep the big ones...

    ...uh oh...

    ...selective pressure.

    The Sumo wrestlers of the population are removed while the horse jockeys are thrown back. If you've read this far, you probably know where this is heading. Fishing pressure introduces a new variable into the overall size of the population and the size of its individuals.

    True, more food is available when less catfish are around to feed, but the heavy hitters of reproduction and size begin to dissapear. It takes decades for a channel cat to grow to trophy size (20+ pounds), and the demand for large cats begins to increase as fewer are caught. Instead of keeping everything over, say, 10-20 pounds, the guys who fish here begin keeping the 5-10 pounders because there simply aren't enough bigger cats being caught.

    Fewer eggs are deposited and fertilized, and these eggs are less likely to have big genes. The catfish protecting these eggs are less capable of guarding them before and after they hatch, because the guardians are smaller males that were thrown back. This means less fish reproduced, less fish surviving to reproductive age, with the ones that make it to reproductive age less likely to have big genes to pass on to future generations.

    Bad news for any fishery.

    Fifty years later, these guys are taking their grandkids and great-grandkids to the lake to fish. They tell the kids stories of huge monsters from the deep with mouths large enough to swallow 5 pound carp whole, of catches large enough to sink the boat, of spooled reels and broken line...

    But the kids just laugh at the gray beards as they put another 1 pound hatchery raised trout in the cooler, attributing all this old-fart nonsense to alzheimer's disease (no doubt caused by all the toxins ingested from years of eating big cats).

    I rarely keep the fish I catch. But when I do, I keep the smaller guys because I love to catch and release big fish, its better for the fishery, and cats 5 pounds and under usually contain safe amounts of heavy metals.

    Oh, and instead of ripping out that hook, just cut the line at the eye. It significantly increases the survival rate of the fish, and hooks are cheap. You'd be suprised how little time it takes for the hook to rust out or for it to get expelled by the fish.

    :0a36:
     
  2. ksutroubleii

    ksutroubleii New Member

    Messages:
    178
    State:
    New Philadelphia, OH
    After reading about the reproduction of channel catish I personally release all channels under 13 inches and over say 9-10 pounds. I CPR all flats. Blues are rare in my area, so all those go back as well.

    I encourage everyone I fish with to do the same.
     

  3. RIP

    RIP New Member

    Messages:
    1,298
    State:
    Somerville, Tennessee
    I release everything, maybe keep a few 3lbders to eat everything else goes back
     
  4. YeeHaw

    YeeHaw New Member

    Messages:
    446
    State:
    Quincy Illinois
    I release the big ones because i would like to see some other people catch them expectally kids, it gives them a confidence boost, and they learn to love the sport of fishing, and keep going back to see if they can ever catch "The big one." and I hear they just don't taste as good as the little ones.
     
  5. copycat

    copycat New Member

    Messages:
    1,841
    State:
    New Jersey
    I catch, photo and release most fish I catch. I will keep a small percentage but never more than I will eat before the next trip. I would imagine that releasing the larger fish would do nothing but help the gene pool.
     
  6. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Messages:
    4,644
    State:
    Wilmington, NC
    While I agree with releasing all the "Big" one's in most situtaion's, it's not alway's good to release every single catfish you catch like somepeople I know do. Or only keep the 2-3lber's.....well I guess I should add that it also depend's on what kind of catfish it is. I base it on how much fishing pressure there is, how good the population of catfish is doing in the particular body of water, etc. In the lake I fish in for Blue Cat's it is actually good to keep some of the smaller 3-10 lber's.

    But no matter what, it's almost alway's good to let the real big one's go.

    Zakk
     
  7. lawnman61

    lawnman61 New Member

    Messages:
    1,694
    State:
    Fort Worth, Tex
    Catch and release is the thing to do. I do keep some of the smaller ones to eat cause I love that taste of catfish but the bigguns go back in da water to catch another day, who knows, maybe someday that just might be a record catch. :)
    I think we all need to practice catch and release.

    AL
     
  8. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    This is a debate that has gone one for as long as I can remember.
    Personally I won't keep a fish over 10# and under 2#. There is a standing rule in my boat "There will be no fish kept in this boat over 10#" We will take a picture and release it unharmed, and if they don't like it they don't have to go!!!
     
  9. lawnman61

    lawnman61 New Member

    Messages:
    1,694
    State:
    Fort Worth, Tex
    Thats a good rule of thumb Dread. I LIKE IT !!!!

    AL
     
  10. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Messages:
    4,644
    State:
    Wilmington, NC
    Yeah that's not a bad idea. I do like that with my friend's but more like over 20....I still haven't even caught a big fish since I started CPR'ing cat's.....which was once I got on here and found out about CPR'ing. I really didn't even know about it before I came here. Sure am glad I know now.
     
  11. explayer

    explayer New Member

    Messages:
    372
    State:
    Tucson AZ
    I would say that probley 98% of the fish that catch at lakes other than the urban lakes that they stock I release
     
  12. silverbell

    silverbell New Member

    Messages:
    74
    State:
    AZ

    Man does that sentence make my eyes hurt LOL:p
     
  13. wishiwasfishin

    wishiwasfishin New Member

    Messages:
    776
    State:
    kentucky
    man this water gets to hot i don't know if i'm going to jump in this time.
     
  14. Pennsylvaniacatchaser

    Pennsylvaniacatchaser Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,360
    State:
    Sarver, Pa
    I CPR almost all fish I catch regardless of size. I do plan on keeping a few smaller Channel Cats this year for the fryer but all big un's go back.
     
  15. mcwrestler

    mcwrestler New Member

    Messages:
    444
    State:
    Tennessee
    Ikeep no flats or blues from my place of fishing. Channels are routinly stocked for a kids fishing derby, 2000 lbs or more for a 7 acre lake. Half are caught and die upon releasal due to bad handling. As for me keeping, only if the channel is between 2 and 6lbs. Most I ever took at once was 3 4lb fish. I am a cpr angler as well. Iwish the fishing derby would do more to protect the big fish. I have saw 20lb channels on a stringer for 3 hours untill the derby ended, then when they released them they were about to die. Stringers are not a good part of catch and release. It bothers me to see some anglers where I fish. They release the 8 3lb fish they catch then keep the 2 20lb flats and 15 lb channels.
     
  16. dwreel

    dwreel New Member

    Messages:
    554
    State:
    Southern Pines, NC
    On my boat all over 10# are photographed and released. No exceptions. I firmly believe the Big cats should be left to fight another day. They don't get big by being stuped. They add tremendously to the gene pool. If we don't catch and release the population and size will surely go down. Just look at what has happened to the bass population. Nuf said ???
     
  17. steve-o

    steve-o New Member

    Messages:
    214
    State:
    ohio
    I Cpr, But My Buddies And I, Use Thin Poly Stringers To Hold Them Until Photo Time. Instead Of Stringing Through The Gills, We Put The Point Down Through Their Bottom Lip, With The Ring To The Inside Of The Mouth. This Works Great! After Holding Hundreds Of Cats This Way, We Have Only Lost A Couple Of Weaker, Smaller Fish, Say 6-8 Pounders
     
  18. steve-o

    steve-o New Member

    Messages:
    214
    State:
    ohio
    Also, each fish should get a seperate stringer. Putting 2 on one stringer seems to usually drown at least 1 of them, if not both.
     
  19. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    If you are releasing them anyway why put them on a stringer in the first place. Any fish that is worthy of a picture should be worthy of your respect. I think unduely poking a hole in their lip for a pic later is wrong. The picture should be taken in a timely fashion and release the fish unharmed right then, not 10 miles from where it was caught. Cause it may just have young to protect and taking them off of the nest for a long period will only spell the demise of it's offspring!!!!
     
  20. H2O Mellon

    H2O Mellon New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    Ohio
    I agree w/ JW. I nev er have been a big fan of that lasso ring through the cats lip. The only reason its done is so that a pic can be taken w/ multiple fish. I say just take multiple pics, of you w/ each fish..... but thats just me