Originally Posted by Saint Vitus
Originally Posted by Dictator Tot
dang man, really? this?
Are you gonna participate and give logical points? I just gave you a big soapbox platform to launch your weapons of mass logic and reason.
OK. I will play.
As others have mentioned, there is a balance that must be achieved in any effort to maximize the potential of a fishery, be it a stock tank or a canyon impoundment. It is a topic that is for the most part beyond the understanding of anglers, despite what they may think, or more accurately "feel" is the best way to manage a system. They read an article in a magazine, and now are the proud owner of a doctorate in limnology.
The problem is that most people have no background in biology, and limited data from which to draw their conclusions.
Now, having said that, I will admit that there are scenarios where management solutions are obvious. In the majority of these cases, the fishery will be a small, closed system, such as... a pond. Scyry brings up a good point. In a pond without adequate forage, growth of gamefish will suffer. As anyone who has kept fish in aquariums should know, any given volume of water will only support so much biomass. If stunted fish are abundant, there are simple things we can do to address that. Notably, removal of the stunted fish and supplementation of forage. The first is easy, the latter more problematic, and beyond the scope of what I am interested in writing about.
The real issue at question is not what should be done with a lake full of runty fish; it is how many big "trophy" fish can a lake or pond give up. Well, it is true that a big fish removed may in time be replaced. Then again, conditions in the pond may change, and production of trophy fish could become impossible in that case. A big fish will eventually decline, but that is irrelevant. If the better fish in a system are removed, it diminishes experience of fishing at that location.
As for my "weapons of mass logic and reason" as you put it, a large number of people are not well equipped to think logically and refuse to be reasonable. What can be said to these people that will sway them? Nothing. Most large fish are not caught by skilled and competent anglers, they are caught by people that fish a few times a year. That may sound counter-intuitive, but the sheer numbers of fair-weather anglers outweigh the die-hards by an order of magnitude. So when one of these people catches a toad, what do you think they will do with it? Hell, most anglers, even decent ones, never bother to carry a camera!
Like it or not, with a few exceptions, the people on the "throw everything you catch back, no exceptions!" side of the line are snobby self righteous avid anglers, and the people on the "I paid for my license, I am going to kill anything I catch, it is my right!" side of the line are willfully ignorant people that fish a few times a year and have little-to-no idea what they are doing. There is a lot of distance between those two extremes, but you know how it is, Americans love polarizing dichotomy, and the opportunity to tell someone that they are an idiot.
I donít want to do that. I have tried, and found it to be a tactic that is worse than useless.
So I will say what I have always said, I would rather see someone poaching five short fish than keeping a legal trophy. There are a lot of shorts, but not nearly as many trophies. The simple fact of the matter is that puts me in an odd place, as keeping sub-legal fish is, well, illegal. But why should I care to see five 12Ē bass in a bucket? As long as it is not rampant and the water will sustain it, I am not put out by it.
This is where the intent of the law comes into conflict with the letter of the law. Fisheries managers have an impossible task, they are trying to keep everyone happy. It would make me happy if there were more big fish around, but like I said, I am in the minority. I can go fish for two weeks and not catch sh!t, and be fine with that, no problem at all. Most people are not like that. They want to catch fish every time they go. Because they do not have the knowledge and experience I possess, they are handicapped from the word go. So the laws are set up to push the odds a little more their way and a little further from me. The regulations tend to favor an abundance of smaller fish with few large fish. If one of those weekend anglers gets a big fish, to them it is gravy, the cherry on top. To me it is what I live for. My entire life is a series of banal and tedious moments between pictures of big fish. When I can get a picture of a big fish, I am very happy. When I canít get a picture, I am somewhere on a sliding scale between mildly sad to downright hostile. That is a gross exaggeration for the purposes of humor, but there is a kernel of truth to it. Fisheries biologists could not give a damn about me.
Honestly, the way that fisheries are managed in Colorado will have to change out of necessity. Water will be getting scarcer and hotter, and endless trout plants will be less and less a viable option. So we will see what the future holds, but I for one am optimistic that the groundswell of Colorado anglers who predominantly target warmwater species will continue, and the state will be forced to adapt.