In Part 1 of this blog series, we discuseed the advantages of catch and release fly fishing. While catch and release is most often associated with fly fishing, there are times when anglers need not feel guilty for keeping a few fish to enjoy for dinner. The first rule should always be make sure it is legal to keep fish and the second is never take more than you can use. There are actually some good reasons for taking some fish home with you.
When Is Catch and Keep Fly Fishing Acceptable?
Stock Fish Are Meant to Be Kept
Many state agencies stock fish, especially rainbow trout for the specific purpose of being kept by fishermen. These put and take fisheries are managed to allow people to catch and keep and they are encouraged to do so. They are often found in lakes or ponds lacking a native or wild trout population.
Self-Sustaining Fish Populations
Other wild fish populations sustain themselves in such numbers that keeping some will do no harm to the overall population. Think about bluegills in a farm pond or non-native brook trout in a Rocky Mountain beaver pond. From a management perspective, these fisheries will actually benefit from taking fish more often than not as they are prone to becoming overpopulated. So feel free to enjoy your meal of fried fish!
There are many examples of fish populations that can handle removing a certain percentage of individuals. Redfish and speckled trout on the Gulf Coast or salmon in Alaska are good examples. There are many other species across the country that also can be kept without guilt.
Non-Native Invasive Species
Sometimes keeping a non-native invasive species will help to preserve a wild fishery that is threatened by interlopers. Often these fish were mistakenly introduced as sportfish but sometimes they invaded on their own. Sometimes, these fish must be removed by law when caught and the good news is many are fine eating and should be kept. Here in Colorado for instance, Northern Pike caught in the Colorado River or Yampa River must be killed. They have flaky white flesh much like a perch or walleye and make for a good fish fry. Elsewhere, Lake Trout have put Yellowstone Lake’s exceptional native cutthroat fishery at risk and in other places in the Rockies, brook trout threaten small, isolated populations of cutthroat trout. Brook trout pan fried over a camp fire is hard to beat.
Catch and Keep Colorado Fly Fishing
Most of the time, catch and release is a commendable and necessary practice that benefits us and future generations. Without catch and release, some fisheries would simply not survive, so conscientious anglers strictly follow rules requiring the practice. In other cases a fly fisherman may actually be doing some good by keeping their catch.
Brody Henderson, Senior Guide and Web Content Writer