GreenFish is a company that emphasizes fishing ethics in order to have a sustainable fishery. One cannot discuss a sustainable fishery without mentioning catch and release methods, and thus, here is a photo-prompt regarding this practice.
It has been done a thousand times before. The cast, action, hooking, fighting, landing, picture taking, and finally, the release, have been repeated over and over throughout my fishing career. It’s often done due to specific size limits, seasons, species, and even from laziness (cleaning fish -is- work). So why does the picture above really pound home the idea behind catch and release? And why is catch and release so important?
This picture is of me releasing the biggest Snook I’ve caught to date. It was landed during the summer of 2010 which was approximately six months after a major Snook kill. The kill was caused by record low temperatures in southern Florida and although many undesirable non-native species perished, thousands of Snook died as well. The impact of the freezing temperatures was so severe that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was forced to change the existing Snook season. With such a large percentage of the population gone, it was vitally important to ensure the survivability of the species’ primary breeders.
I knew this prior to going fishing in the Everglades that summer day. I didn’t have a permit to keep Snook and the season was closed anyway. But even if I had a permit…even if the season wasn’t closed…even if the Snook population -hadn’t- taken a huge hit…I still think I would have released this fish.
For me, it’s often not about the dinner table. Believe it or not, catch and release plays an enormous role in a sustainable fishery. Don’t get me wrong of course. I won’t hesitate to harvest fish for dinner fare. But I firmly believe in a sort of give-and-take relationship with a fishery. Allowing the bigger breeding fish to live will help ensure that there is a consistent, large scale recruitment into the population each year. If it weren’t for this, I, nor anyone else, would not be able to enjoy the freedom to fill the cooler from time to time.
This fish was special. It showed that the population was still persisting and it felt tremendous to allow a fish like this to return unharmed. Releasing it really made me feel like I was giving back to the species, and in turn, future generations. It’s our job to practice ethical and sustainable fishing. One cannot always rely solely on rules and regulations. It is these practices that must be passed on to future generations if we expect to have sustainable fisheries for everyone to enjoy in the future.
As usual, no one was around to snap a picture of me -with- this beautiful fish. I did my best to awkwardly snap pictures in my lap, and tried to return the fish quickly to the water to not only fight another day, but help contribute to the hurting population.