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#11483641 - 03/17/16 01:15 PM Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds?
Lloyd5 Online   content
Angler

Registered: 06/02/14
Posts: 327
Loc: Bosque County, Texas
It is that great time of year for fishermen, spring. Quite probably the absolute very best greatest time of the entire year for fishermen. The water is warming up, the air is warming up, things are turning green, the fish are warming up, and the fish are biting. Great stuff all around. Especially the fish are biting part.

This is also the time of year that presents some fishermen with one of the most exciting forms of fishing - spawn beds. It can also be a controversial type of fishing, with some being passionately against it. Here are some of the arguments I've heard (usually over a beer) from the two sides:

Against

The health and well being of the fishery relies in large part on the reproductive cycle of the fish. The odds of each fry living to be a big fish are incredibly small under the best of circumstances, and interfering with the spawn fish reduces those odds further. Removing a fish from the spawn bed can interfere with the laying and fertilizing of eggs and/or the parent fish's defense of the recently hatched fry from marauding fish.

Even with catch and release the stress placed on the fish by the fisherman harms the viability of the egg laying and fertilizing process. Perhaps even more dangerous to the fish is that with the parent fish gone from the bed the fry are defenseless against the marauding fish the parent fish was there to stop. An entire school of fry can be wiped out in the short time between catch and release.

With the parent fish "stuck" on the bed in defensive mode the act of catching one is less sportsman-like. This is a time when the fish is most vulnerable to fishermen, has little or no choice about being in the location it is at for several days, has a set of hard-wired reactions to anything that comes within its territory that makes catching one almost a lead pipe cinch. In other words, not much of a challenge for the fisherman.

It's a bad public image for fishermen and gives ammo to those that would ban the sport.

For

If fishing spawn beds was detrimental to fish populations we'd have seen a reduction in fish populations over the past decades. This has not been the case. Contrary to the decimation theory what we are seeing is better fishing than ever. When a theory is not backed up by observation, then the theory is wrong. Therefore fishing on spawn beds does not damage the fishery.

Catching a fish any time of the year puts some stress on it, yet nearly all catch and release fish survive the encounter. This is true during the spawn also. A caught and released fish retains its eggs or milt and does not stop the reproductive process.

The number of fry eaten by predator fish while the parent fish is off the nest will be made up for by survival of fry from nearby nests that didn't have a parent fish removed. In any given year there will be only so many fry that can survive, that the fishery can carry - and the large number of excess fry in the entire fishery more than makes up for any localized deficits caused by fishing. It's this system that fish have for species survival, an extremely high number of redundant fry, and it is a system that works well.

Catching fish off of beds isn't always as easy as some make it sound. There can be a great deal of persistence required to get a fish to strike. Many times they can't be made to strike. It is therefore as sportsman-like as any other fishing technique.

Spawn bed fishing is often sight fishing. Sight fishing doesn't happen much the rest of the year. Sight fishing is a rare treat, and spawn bed fishing is generally the best time to get to do it, for a lot of fishermen it's the only time they get to do it. There is something especially intriguing about casting to a fish you can see. There is also something most extraordinarily exciting about watching a fish take your presentation. Once experienced it becomes a type of fishing you want to do as much of as you can.
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Both sides can find statistics and theory to support their assertions. Like politics and religion, it sometimes may be more of a passion than a reasoned or logical position. One side wants to protect fish, the other side doesn't think the fish need that particular protection. It's a discussion that will likely never end and will sell a lot of beer in the local pub.

Which side do you fall on? I'm kind of partial to Corona myself.
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#11483862 - 03/17/16 02:54 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
texasflycaster Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 1400
Loc: Texas Water
Heck of a question. Let me ask one though. Why not just shoot them with bow&arrow? That's what they do to carp, and call it "bow fishing," and a "sport." Then, they pile up the carp at the ramp or I've seen piles of bones and rotting carp three feet high and ten feet around (just on Lake Ray Roberts). I say yes it is ethical to catch these bass - all things considered, when you really consider all things. Let's hear from the bow folks though. Let's hear about how they are "cleaning up" and "getting rid" of an "invasive that doesn't belong there anyway." Somebody yank me off the soap box!

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#11484861 - 03/17/16 10:12 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
pearow Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 12/15/02
Posts: 1773
Loc: Murchison, TX, USA
if its legal; its just fishing-p-

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#11484890 - 03/17/16 10:25 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
formula462 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 09/08/13
Posts: 1470
Loc: arlington, tx
Cops once invaded my space and yanked me out of my bed and I still reproduced

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#11485023 - 03/18/16 01:30 AM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
wwest Offline
Angler

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 462
Loc: San Antonio, TX, Midland, TX, ...
Good arguments, both sides. My vote: if it nags at your conscience to do it, don't do it and sleep well. If it bothers you naught, do it...catch and release and sleep well. If you do it and intentionally kill the fish and don't take it home for the table, shame on you, and sleep poorly scumbag lowlife trash. Just my $.02. cool
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#11485286 - 03/18/16 08:18 AM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
DainW Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 79
"If fishing spawn beds was detrimental to fish populations we'd have seen a reduction in fish populations over the past decades. This has not been the case. Contrary to the decimation theory what we are seeing is better fishing than ever. When a theory is not backed up by observation, then the theory is wrong. Therefore fishing on spawn beds does not damage the fishery."

I'm just wondering, do you have any data to support this? This seems anecdotal at best. I mean not to argue, I'm sure you've been fishing a lot longer than I have, but a lot of rivers that I go to, I hear people say all the time that the fishing isn't what it used to be. Not to say that people fishing for spawning fish is the only factor that affects that, obviously poaching, overfishing, pollution, rainfall (or lack thereof), global warming, etc all play into that somewhat, and I'm sure that varies on a river by river, probably even on a species by species basis.

All that being said, my preference on fishing for spawning fish is going to depend on the species. For example, if I'm chasing trout, especially in the midwest and it's spawning time, I'm going to be very careful to not fish to spawners. Trout seem to be more fragile than warm water species anyway, and if they are spawning in this part of the country, best to leave them alone IMO. Now on the other hand, if we're talking species that are much more prolific, like say crappie or white bass, then I have no issue with it. In some watersheds don't they actually encourage you to keep some species of fish because they're so prolific that the populations are stunted? As fas as black bass goes, I'm not really sure where I fall on that. I primarily chase smallmouth in the summer time and I usually get 4 months of great fishing and often times get to sight fish during that time, so I'm ok to let them do their thing before I start fishing to them.


Edited by DainW (03/18/16 08:29 AM)

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#11486105 - 03/18/16 03:09 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
robert hunter Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 06/14/10
Posts: 3353
90 percent of the bass on beds are out of site. So if you are on the side of don't catch bass on beds surfing the spawn you need to not fish for bass from February-may because you are catching fish on beds see them or not. As Long as they are handled right and quickly released ones you can see swim right back to the bed same for the ones you can't see. So go for it best shot at a double digit bass other than late winter.
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#11486317 - 03/18/16 04:41 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
2FlyFish4 Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/02/10
Posts: 1335
I have no problem with it. I would say that there should be no retention of bass during the spawn, strict catch and immediate release after a few photos if needed. Don't see it being beneficial to the the population to tournament fish. putting fish in a live well all day then releasing them after weigh in miles from their beds can't be all that beneficial.

Personally i don't think catch and release is as successful as one would think, nor do i think TP&W has the bag limits set correctly. My reasoning being if they were TPW would not have to stock the millions of fish they do every year.
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#11486445 - 03/18/16 05:50 PM Re: Is It Ethical To Fish On Spawning Beds? [Re: Lloyd5]
hook-line&sinker Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 8992
Loc: Bryan, Texas
This question would not even be asked if it weren't for catch and release fishing. When we have the option to release fish what we are really saying is that we are not hungry.

Catch and release fishing is pure recreation but is still part of what is understood as fisheries management.

In public water, the state or federal agencies sets size & creel limits based on data they have available to them through research and testing and in a lessor way the political climate.

The fact that we all are involved in managing the public resources to any degree makes the practice subject to criticism & ethical questioning.. this is what P3TA is all about.. if it were as simple as providing food for the table none of this would matter to the hungry..

So my personal opinion is that if you are hungry for fish then catch them any way possible.. if you are fishing for fun then act accordingly as to not damage the fish or the fishery..
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