About this time each year, the New Size Regulations or Number of Keeper Restrictions are issued. And each year it seems to create a controversy and argument. No matter how far they go it never seems to satisfy the environmentalists and for the fishermen; well they’re never happy.
Now what I’m going to say is going to be troubling for some fishermen out there and I am certain there are some excellent rebuttal responses, but in today’s day and age, “Does It Really Matter”?
I don’t think there are too many people, actually any people, who go fishing to put food on their table. I’m talking about the need to fish to survive; to eat. This may have been true 40, 60, 80 years ago, but not in 2018. So why do we have to keep so many fish? How many fish can a person eat? If someone is paying $40 for a head boat trip or $800 for a private charter trip, do you really think it’s about “eating the fish?” If you can spend money to keep a boat, maintain a boat, put gas in that boat, buy the bait, the lures, the rods and the reels, I’m sure you can go to your local fish store and buy your family enough fish to last a season (or two…LOL)
Charter Captains, how many times do you see people so excited about catching the fish, only to get back to the dock and truly don’t even want to keep the fish? How many tourists who charter boats really want to bring that fish back to their hotel room or rental house to now have to COOK DINNER, instead of going out for dinner? I don’t EVER recall my wife saying “Great catch, I can’t wait to go back to the hotel and cook/clean.” This is because fishing isn’t about FOOD, it has evolved into a Challenge, a Sport, a Skill and for most, just pure Entertainment and a great way to spend time away from the office.
The only area where I believe this can initially cause an adverse effect is your Tournament fishing. This would definitely put a hamper in participation and attract fewer boats. Take Mako Shark, for instance, the regulation went from 54 inches to 71 inches for a male and 83 inches for a female. I can see how people will become discouraged to compete in such tournaments and how this will initially hurt tournament participation. But this is also a great wake up call to start focusing on Catch & Release Techniques and how to incorporate them into competitive tournaments.
With all the Go-Pro style cameras out there, phone cameras, specialty cameras and let’s not forget the cool apps; I think Fishermen need to start making the change of creating better ways of documenting their catches and creating memories. If we can lean more towards a Catch & Release System there would be More Fish to Catch (which is good for everyone) and Bigger Fish to Catch (which is good for everyone). As for the environmentalists…well, they have to be happy about that.