Fishing ethics: responsible harvesting – Flylords Mag

Welcome back to the third installment of the Fishing Ethics Series brought to you by Fat tire… This time we are focusing on how to harvest fish responsibly.

The act of “fishing” means many different things to many different people. For some, fishing is the pursuit of time spent outdoors – where the catch is the only reward. For others, catching is the sole purpose of setting up a rod and getting out there. Regardless of what your “why” is, it’s essential to understand how to responsibly harvest a fish when the time comes.

For this installment of Fishing Ethics, we took a trip to the Chesapeake Bay in search of some tasty bites and fun times with our culinary expert, Kirk Marks.

Fish eyes
Fish of the day, White Perch.

Check the rules

Before the lines hit the water, you should familiarize yourself with the regulations. First of all, make sure your fishing license and stamps are up to date. Second, finding out what types and sizes are legal to harvest within that area. Before heading out to the Chesapeake, we checked the Maryland DNR website for all the information we needed.

Two people jumping into a boat
Andrew Braker and Kirk Marks attend the dawn.

Know your species

Having good identification skills is very important when it comes to deciding whether to harvest a fish. This is especially true for fish species that look very similar to each other. If you need to know the difference between a striper and a perch, or a brown trout and a brook trout, make sure your identification skills are called for. Depending on the species, your harvest may be illegal.

Fisherman catching a striped bass
Bycatch of striped bass

Size requirements

Some sizing requirements are more complex than others. For example, in Maryland, goldfish have a harvest limit. Only fish between 18 inches and 27 inches are allowed to be kept. When it comes to white perch, anglers can keep any size and any quantity as long as they are fishing with hook and line (as opposed to a cast net). Moral of the story: check the logs for your target species before you jump in the water because, as many of us find out one day, “I didn’t know” doesn’t go down well with your local law. implementation.

White perch fish
White mullet (American moron)

Aim for a stable population

The goal of harvesting a species is to harvest in a way that allows the species to continue to maintain its population over time. For example, if too many people are harvesting a certain species, the species may be at risk of becoming endangered in that area.

While regulations are usually tailored to guide the public towards harvesting the most sustainable species, sometimes the regulations are not as informed and time-sensitive as the local knowledge found in the fishing community.

For example, the population of striped bass is currently at a low level. Although anglers are technically allowed to keep bare bass, turning their attention to perch is a more sustainable option.

Someone holding two white perch
White perch – durable and perfect fillets with fish sticks

Consider the local culture

Sometimes there are situations where it may be legally appropriate to harvest a fish, but it is inappropriate according to the local fishing culture. For example, catching a 20-inch brown trout out of Madison is legal; however, that fish is in such high demand as a sport fish that people would not take kindly to throwing that fish on a line. The best way to appreciate this local knowledge is to go to the local flight shop.

Pearl boat at sunrise
Commercial fishing vessel Chesapeake collecting razor clams.

Native vs. Wild

“Native” species are those that have historically lived within a body of water without being introduced by humans. “Wild” fish are those that are born within a certain ecosystem, but their origin is not from that area. At some point that wild species was introduced into that environment. You could say we’re a little wilder…

The person who makes a cannonball out of a boat
An important reminder. When the fishing is slow, get wet – don’t sweat it.

Harvesting invasive species

There are many invasive fish populations that are invading ecosystems around the globe. In an effort to tame these populations, harvesting these invasive species can help. For example, when snakeheads began to populate exponentially around the Chesapeake, people and restaurants began asking for snakeheads. Check out this Flavor on the Fly recipe.

Where things get interesting is when invasive species are also great sport fishing species. Snakeheads are a fun species to catch, and people have caught it. When you have a species that is aggressive, hits high water and fights hard, people start to gain an appreciation for these fish beyond their potential ecological damage.

One thing to consider when considering invasive species is that not all of them look like the toothy, hideous creatures whose appearance alone is enough to inspire a low-budget cult horror film from 2004. For example , in some states, the favorite rainbow trout are so undesirable to the ecosystem that there is a real bounty on their head – and fish and game will pay a cash reward for the harvested fish. If that’s not an incentive to check local regulations, we don’t know what is.

Fly box, fat tire beer and fly rods in a truck bed
An impressive selection of flies brought to you by Jonathan Bland.

Use of whole fish

As any sportsman worth his salt can tell you, whenever you harvest your food, it’s best to use everything and not waste anything. Of course, everyone collects prime fillets, but finding creative ways to use other parts of the fish is more sustainable and leads to some fun opportunities. After filleting a few white perch, we made sure to dump the scraps into the crab pot in hopes of turning one man’s trash into another man’s treasure – or in this case, crab treasure.

Loading the crab trap

You could say it worked.

The person holding a blue crab
Chesapeake blue crab.

That’s all for this installment of the Flylords Fishing Ethics Series, brought to you by: Fat tire! Be sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming Beer Battered Fish recipe, using one of our favorite amberjacks. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the series, below. Cheers!

Person under water but holding a beer above water

Artwork design by: Sam Hawkins

Fishing Ethics: Navigation in National Parks

Fishing Ethics: Swim Fishing

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