We've all seen the articles promoting catch and release as the best way to further conservation and that's true, but what about the times when you want to catch for keeps?
This is your ultimate guide to understanding catch and keep, catch and release's frowned-upon cousin. However, there are a few times when it's totally acceptable to catch and keep, especially when you're planning a shore lunch or panfish dinner!
When fishing in a pond, is it okay to catch and keep?
Yes! As long as you remember you are doing it for the benefit of the pond. And as long as the owners of the pond you are fishing allows you to keep your catch. It is substantially beneficial to catch and not release as long as it is done in the right manner.
So when and why should you catch and keep?
When there are too many of one species in the pond, that species tends to take over, causing an unbalance. Ponds where smaller fish, like bluegill and sunfish, are in plentiful amounts, this is the time to definitely catch and keep.
With an unbalance like this in a pond, it can cause great distress to other fish populations and make the pond itself useless and you may even have to start over. This could mean killing of all fish, with chemicals or catching all fish, and having the burden to have to restock.
Even if there is a balance amongst the fish population, too many fish in a pond isn't usually the best thing. Now for some you may think that the more fish there are the more fun you are going to have. Wrong.
More than likely if there are too many fish per pond, this can cause developmental issues in the fish species and instead of catching one monster fish, you are just frustrated by the small fish who steal your bait and can't seem to stay on your hook.
So as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes the fish are injured during the whole catch and reeling in. You may lose a hook inside or really rip a lip clean off, so should you really put it back in the water for it to just float to the top and become ruined? You may as well string it up or bucket it and make use of what you can.
When shouldn't you catch and keep?
When keeping your catch you also want to make sure that the specific species of fish you are planning to catch has had enough time to develop and mature.
Spawning is also something to keep in mind. You don't want to not release a species of fish that is in the midst of spawning to ensure that the number of population maintains a perfect balance. Also, if the species seems to be in the correct range of numbers you wouldn't want to catch and not release
You need to know when it is best to keep your catch. There is a major difference between being a greedy fisherman and a fisherman prepared for the future. Just remember to keep the benefit of the pond at the top of your list of importance.