Friday, April 19, 2013
CATCH AND RELEASE
I’m really sticking my neck out on this one. Lately I’ve been watching some of the Spanish Fly fishing shows where they always catch and release ... even the big trophy fish. From reading many books on the history of Georgian Bay I’ve also come to the conclusion that fish resources have been depleted in a major way in comparison to a few generations ago. It maybe doesn’t seem too bad now, until you realize how good the fishing really was back in the old days when commercial fish camps thrived. In addition there is added pressure on fish stocks as the water levels recede, putting pressure on spawning beds and proper habitat for the fry nurseries - where little fish grow to be big fish. While there has never been an excuse for those that fish out of season or out a slot size - now in my opinion there really is no excuse not to practice catch and release.
It breaks my heart to see some of central south Ontario’s most productive fishing lakes now almost completely depleted to the point that even the resorts and lodges can't attract fishing tourism because there is nothing left to be caught. In fact some Kawartha resorts set their own fishing limits on resorts guests that go beyond the MNR requirements. This includes the banning of automatic fish scalers where even the smallest of fishes end up bagged for some kind of fish stew. Quite frankly without sounding racist there are some ethnic cultures in Canada where this is normal practice – take everything you can get at any cost. My neighbour on our cottage lake used to ice fish in front of our property every day several times per day and he filled a chest freezer with Lake Trout every season by practicing no limits in size or quantity in his quest to exploit the lake for his own gain just to save a few bucks at the grocery store. Needless to say Georgian Bay is a large body of water, but it is not immune to over fishing and environmental factors.
There is still some commercial fishing going on in Georgian Bay ... but not much. There are also some fish farms that run successfully, but not too many. Most of the fish pulled out of Georgian Bay are recreational fishermen like you or me. For me personally, what is most important is the thrill of the catch and not dinner. Yes it’s nice to have a shore lunch or a nice fish dinner once in a while, but I don’t need to use fishing as a way to manage my grocery bills. I accept the fact that there are those that need to fish to eat – and so they should ... within the limits of the law. But for the rest of us who just like to fish for fishing sake please consider catch and release as a way to ensure the thrill and preserving the fun for many generations to come. MNR is once again cutting back. There are less resources all the time to monitor fish stocks and enforce fishing regulations. It is up to all of us to fish responsibly. Fishing responsibly includes catch and release.