Creel and size limits are always a hot topic of conversation among fishermen. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about limits imposed by state wildlife agencies, limits set by tournaments, or even self-imposed “catch & release” rules individual anglers set for themselves – opinions are widely varied and often controversial.
In this issue of CrappieNOW, outdoor writer Bernard Williams takes on the controversial subject of creel limits for crappie fishing tournaments.
These days most crappie tournaments allow anglers to weigh in seven crappie. Williams thinks it should be lowered to five fish, primarily due to impact on fisheries by highly-advanced electronics.
Most tournaments – crappie or bass – pride themselves on releasing all fish following weigh-ins. Research proves that the mortality rate of released tournament fish is often high, especially in hot summer months. But still, a reasonable percentage of fish survive to be caught another day.
My opinion does NOT represent anyone else associated with CrappieNOW. It is my opinion and mine alone. But I subscribe to the theory that, “Biologists know best.”
In Tennessee, for instance, biologists allow crappie anglers on most lakes to keep 15 crappie per day (10-inch minimum). And we all know that, except for tournament anglers, none of those fish are released – except into the grease.
Biologists set that limit based upon research that shows it is fine to remove that many crappie from the ecosystem, yet the population will NOT be harmed and will replenish itself from year-to-year. That is the basis behind virtually every creel limit set in every state. And biologists I’ve spoken with say so far there is no evidence to indicate advanced electronics are having any significant impact.
Of course, bass anglers have taken the “catch & release” craze to the highest level, most insisting that keeping even a single bass to eat is sacrilege. In Tennessee, however, the biologists say every angler could keep, and eat, five bass a day (over 15 inches long) without hurting the overall population.
So, read between those lines and you have my opinion – if the biologists’ scientific studies indicate anglers can catch, and kill, X number of fish per day, ANY tournament creel limit set lower than the state-imposed limit should be okay, in my humble opinion. That should be true especially if those fish are being properly cared for and released following tournament weigh-ins.
Do you disagree with me, or agree with Williams?
Richard Simms, Editor
“The outdoors is not a place, it’s a state of mind.”