C&R, Dottie and Records

Gone Fishin' reader Bill Crumrine has a few thoughts on Dottie, the world-record bass chase and catch and release, which he posted on the "Special Report" blog about the death of the mega-bass:

_I believe we have come to demagoging the black bass to a point that anglers could play into the hands of such freaks of nature as PETA, et.al. As Ray Scott, Bill Dance, and Dave Precht have even stated the fish is a renewable resource and was created for the pleasure of mankind. As a TOWA and OWAA member, I feel this catch and release has taken on a political and religious philosophy. I enjoy bass fishing to the nth degree, but I also keep some, yes even trophy size ones, for the skillet. Bass are good tasting if filleted correctly and eaten within a reasonable time frame. This obsession with the next world record has gone a little too far. I really have concluded some records need to remain standing and the largemouth black bass is one. Let's return to simpler times. This is certainly not to be misconstrued as being thoroughly against catch and release, especially during the primary spring spawning season. Let's allow common sense to rule our actions.
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Bill, you make some great points. While covering the state of Texas for a now-defunct regional mag, I would often have conversations with guides and even biologists about catch and release.

If you dared to bring a stringer of bass to the dock at Lake Fork, or many other bodies of water in the Lone Star State, you'd likely be the one filleted and not the fish. The idea of C&R; is a good one, but like any good idea taken to the extreme (call it zealotry, if you wish) is that the philosophy can sometimes do more harm than good. What can happen is that the age-class of the lake's bass population can be thrown out of whack and a lake can end up with an over abundance of smaller, younger fish that scarf up the majority of forage fish, leaving a depleted supply for up-and-coming fry and older, bigger bass.
While Mother Nature will eventually clean house and maintain equilibrium, she isn't always pleasant about it. Nature's way of fixing a problem isn't just unpleasant for the fish (disease, stress, starvation, etc); it can be equally unpleasant for the humans counting on the fish and lake as a resource (lost revenue by guides, bait shops, motels, restaurants, etc).

The bottom line is: if it's legal to keep bass from a given body of water, nobody should have a problem with it and any angler wishing to cook some up shouldn't feel intimidated to do so.

Where I differ with you is the fact that the record shouldn’t be pursued. Let's break that baby! Competition is good. Look at the advances in lures, rods and reels that have come about from the record chase. While it's a small group of guys gunning for the holy grail of freshwater fishing records, the advances they're spurring are a benefit to the rest of us who fish lakes, ponds and rivers that will never even sniff a double-digit bass, much less the record.

Brian Lynn, Senior Editor