Links: Safe Boating Guide
Sport Fisherman Choices
How NOT to Catch a Bass
• Many people remain uninformed about the damage of catch and release bass fishing before the official opening of bass season
• In early June male Smallmouth and Largemouth bass are the ‘fathers of the year’
• In spring male bass move into the shallows and dig nests, shallow bowl like depressions in the lake bottom which are easily seen
• Once the eggs are laid and fertilized the male will guard the nest until the eggs hatch and are free swimming. And they guard the nest ferociously making them easy target for lures – 15 casts over a nest resulted in 70% of the bass being hooked with half of that number being landed.
• Angling a fish off the nests opens the eggs and fry to predation.
• In 1990 a study was conducted when it was thought that up to 63% of anglers were intentionally going after bass during the closed season. A known spawning territory was divided into no-fishing and fishing permitted zones.
• In the fishing zone 23% of the bass had hook wounds while there was just 4% in the no fish zone
• In the fishing zone 44% of the nests in the unprotected area produced free swimming fry while the success rate hit 63% in the no-fishing zone.
• On average, if males took just two minutes to return to the nest from the moment they were caught, 49% of the nests were visited by predators and 24% of the sites were abandoned.
• Further, if they took ten minutes to return – very possible when you consider fighting time, unhooking time, recovery time, and boat drift – 72% of nests were raided, and 83 % were abandoned.
• To protect spawning fish, regulations state that it is illegal to harvest fish during the closed season.
• Further, it is also illegal to attempt to capture fish during the closed season, making pre-season catch-and-release illegal.
• And, there aren’t too many conservation officers around that will believe you are really going for walleye with a weighted spinner in three feet of water over a sandy, gravel bottom, adjacent to a swamp.
• The only ethical thing for anglers to do is to leave the shallow water alone until bass season is officially open.
Fish are Good Food
You can improve the taste and freshness of your catch by following a few simple steps:
• Quickly land and kill those fish you will keep as extended fighting adversely affects the flavor of the meat as lactic acid builds up in the muscle tissue.
• Don’t let your catch flop about on rocks or in the bottom of your boat.
• Bleed your catch immediately. This protects the flavor and increases storage life as it eliminates waste products, removes oxygen that leads to spoilage, and decreases the number of bacteria in the flesh.
• Remove the gills and all blood and viscera from the body cavity. The internal organs contain millions of bacteria and numerous enzymes. Cleaning should be done immediately after killing and bleeding.
• Ice your catch to preserve the quality of the meat by delaying deterioration. Pack ice inside the body cavity to lower the core temperature quickly. Pack your catch in ice until you can get it into long-term storage. Freezing inhibits the growth of bacteria. By glazing your fish with ice and using vacuum packing when freezing, your catch can still be very palatable after several months in the freezer.
Selective Harvest, Catch and Release
• Harvest only the fish you intend to use for food and releasing the rest of your catch unharmed
• Selective harvest depends upon using catch and release techniques to land your fish
• Catch and release fishing is gaining in popularity as more and more anglers are becoming concerned about state of some of our fisheries
• Sport fishing is so popular that demand often exceeds the capabilities of local waters to produce sufficient numbers of fish.
• This catch and release philosophy suggests that angling is valued as a high-quality recreational experience, rather than just a way to secure food
• If the fish is released in such poor condition that is is likely to die anyway, the whole point is defeated.
• How a fish is handled when the hook is removed can greatly affect its survival. If the fish is handled carefully and gently, it will have an excellent chance of survival. Barbless hooks make it easier to release fish. Taking a few precautions when releasing your fish will allow it to live, spawn and be caught again.
Catch and Release Techniques
• Bait caught fish typically suffer a much higher hooking mortality than fish caught on lures. At least 1 out of 3 fish caught with bait will die after release.
• Over 60% of deep hooked fish die. Cutting the line on deep hooked fish and not trying to remove the hook increases survival significantly.
• Most fish that are bleeding from being hooked will not survive.
• Keeping fish on stringers damages their gills and holding fish in live wells for long periods reduces survival.
• Generally 9 out of 10 fish caught on lures will survive after release.
• Use strong line to bring your catch in as quickly as possible.
• Use hooks appropriate to the size of the fish.
• Use barbless hooks or use pliers to pinch barbs down.
• Replacing treble hooks with single hooks also makes the release easier.
• Land your fish as carefully and quickly as possible.
• Avoid removing the fish from the water any longer than necessary.
• Use a pair of forceps or long needle nosed pliers to remove the hook.
• Cradle large fish gently with both hands: one under its belly, one at the tail.
• Keep your fingers out of and away from the gills and eyes.
• Use wet hands or wet cloth gloves to handle the fish.
• Never squeeze the fish.
• Fish can not remain healthy out of water for longer than you can hold your breath
• Use steel hooks that will rust out, avoid stainless steel hooks.
• If you want to take a photograph, support your fish in the water while the
photographer prepares to take your picture. Get ready, then lift the fish out of the water, take the picture and quickly return it to the water.
• If a released fish does not swim away, hold it in a normal swimming position and gently move it back and forth in the water to move water over the gills and allow more oxygen to enter its blood. Most fish recover in a minute or so and readily swim away. Larger fish may take more time
Weigh Your Fish with a Ruler
You can Quickly Measure and Release the fish as opposed to weighing it with portable scales which can cause injury.
To estimate the weight with a length measurement (in inches), use the following formulas:
• Walleye: Length x Length x Length divided by 2,700
Example: 18x18x18=5832 divided by 2700= 2.16lbs.
• Pike: Length x Length x Length divided by 3,500
Example: 18x18x18=5832 divided by 3500=1.66lbs.
• Sunfish: Length x Length x Length divided by1,200
• Bass: Length x Length x Girth (distance around the body) divided by1,200
• Trout: Length x Girth x Girth divided by 800
An 18-inch Walleye weighs approximately 2.16lbs.
[18″ x 18″ x 18″=5,832″ divided by 2,700=2.16lbs].
Average age and size of Walleye in Ontario
Age Av. Length Av. Weight
(years) (in) (lbs)
2 7.4 3 oz
3 10.6 10 oz
4 12.3 1 lb
6 15.3 2 lb. 3oz.
8 20.3 4 lb. 14oz.
12 24.1 8lb 14oz.
13 25.1 10lb 12oz.