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Why Selective Harvest Will Ensure Future Fishing Success

by: Shane Dubois , Wyoming 2/3/2013

You hear the debate all the time, whether it be on this forum, or in the fishing community, catch and release vs take it home to eat or mount. A newer version of this debate has been gaining strength over the years called Selective Harvest.

What is Selective Harvest? Selective Harvest is keeping the smaller to mid sized fish to eat, and releasing the larger and really smaller fish to continue to grow. This helps free up food sources in lakes for more fish to be able to grow and continue to a healthy balance in the lake. I personally am more about selective harvest than straight Catch and Release, or keeping all fish I catch to eat.

Each species of fish obviously will have different guidelines on what to keep, and what to throw back, so I will throw some fish species out there, and give some lengths that I personally use to decide when keeping or releasing a fish.

Let's start with trout (lake trout is in a separate category) such as rainbows, browns etc. I will typically release anything over 21 inches. Also I generally don't keep anything under 16 inches, so 16-21 Inches is my rule of thumb for great eating fish.

Pike obviously grow pretty large, so you have some great room to work with here. At Spinney and Eleven Mile Reservoirs, Colorado Parks and Wildlife want any pike under 24 inches to be harvested. Pike are probably one of the best tasting fish there is to eat. I generally keep any pike from 20-30 inches.

Walleye are another great tasting fish, and most lakes here in Colorado Require that walleye be 18 inches or bigger to keep. With that in mind 18-23 inches is the range with Colorado walleye.

Lake trout are another species of fish that get quite large, but unlike the fish mentioned above take an extremely long amount of time to reach just 24 inches. A typical 24 inch fish is around 7 years old.  As they get older lake trout tend to gain amounts of mercury in their system and the older/bigger the lake trout, the more mercury will be in their system. Mercury is harmful to human consumption so keep that in mind. Typically anything under 21 inches is a good bet to eat with lake trout!  This link here is a great read for how to handle a trophy Lake Trout, and why it is important to throw the giants back, as most fish over 30 inches are 30 years old or older! 

Wipers I do not personally keep or eat, but with talking to a few people they say anything under 23 inches, and with catfish anything under 25 inches.

In today's day and age you do not need to keep a giant fish to get a good mount. Get some great length and girth measurements, a few great pictures, and get a replica mount done. With new mounting techniques and technology these reproduction mounts, they are generally cheaper to get done, and last longer than the traditional skin mount.

I'll leave this blog with comment.

When you catch a monster fish, no matter the specie there is a great sense of joy and excitement in you when you realize you caught the big one! Why not take some pictures, and throw it back knowing that your son, daughter, friend or fellow angler will have that same chance at a great fish, and experience that same joy and excitement as you.

Blog content © Shane Dubois
Member comments
FISHRANGLER, CO   2/3/2013 5:55:04 PM
How does one know if selctive harvest is needed on any given lake? By releaseing many of the same size fish you can cause stunting and the fish will not grow. If you catch to many of one size fish then there is a chance of stunting. those are the ones you want to harvest.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/3/2013 6:28:54 PM
Valid points. each lake can be different yes, I was trying to cover the majority of hard hit/larger bodies of water in Colorado with general guidelines. Would you suggest keeping large fish in any body of water? Keeping only small ones...or non at all? Knowing what an average fish at any lake is vital in selective harvest. Most anglers have an idea what an average fish at their favorite lake is, and what is a large fish.
FISHRANGLER, CO   2/3/2013 6:52:15 PM
I think there should be more regulation to protect larger lake trout. But at the same time we dont need to protect that one large trout that was stocked in a pond 5 yrs ago. Way to many differences between lakes and rivers and species that selctive harvest is difficult for some to figure out. The guild lines you put out I agree with.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/3/2013 6:59:54 PM
Cool thanks, yea I'm with you 100% on the lakers. This was my main focus of this post, but decided to broaden it out to other species.
bassneyes, CO   2/3/2013 7:20:22 PM
good read Shane. I agree with you on all of this. I hope you dont mind me adding that each lake is different. The sizes should be a starting point, but some bodies of water may not have the population like others.
esoxrocks, CO   2/3/2013 7:38:52 PM
I think that most of the people who matter know the “species situation” on a given lake. By “people who matter” I mean the guys who know what they are doing and who usually catch the majority of the fish (90/10 rule). Luckily the majority of these folks take time to understand the fishery and are invested in maintaining its productivity. Not always, as there are still “meat at any cost” guys left who don’t really care…but fewer and fewer all the time (humm, maybe they are eating those older lakers and self correcting the problem).
smalliefan, CO   2/3/2013 8:28:53 PM
Good comments. I would add that fish condition is an important factor. Fat fish with small heads are getting enough food so if they are smaller than your desired size, let them go. skinny fish with big heads for size are not getting enough food to reach their growth potential, are likely stockpiled, and the ones that remain will benefit if some are thinned.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/3/2013 8:39:05 PM
Agreed with the comments being posted...Thank you guys so much for being civil, and bring up awesome points I missed!! Awesome!
MathGeek, CO   2/3/2013 8:56:38 PM
Catch and release has a non-zero mortality. Visit the fish hatcheries and you will see why trout will not run out in Colorado.
elkinthebag, CO   2/3/2013 9:49:17 PM
Good practice catch and release has a very low mortality. Where catch and keep has 100 percent kill rate. Look at the hatcheries Colorado will never run out of trout. You claim to be a math geek figure on average of about a buck an inch to stock. Then figure in 35 bucks a licence. If you have to keep stocking to keep trout in a lake doesn't leave much money for other species conservation or informant. I personally would rather catch big fish eat less and have a varity of places to fish and fish to fish for. It makes it a hard day of fishing to go out and catch stockers. Infact my 11 year old was out doing it to day with a bare hook
tatonka, CO   2/3/2013 9:59:40 PM
Which is why I think the DOW/City management should place slot limits on individual species & waters on a year to year basis as needed or adjusted from year to year.
MathGeek, CO   2/3/2013 11:42:50 PM
When you say "good practice catch and release has very low mortality: you'll probably have to ban fishing with nightcrawlers and power bait which is very popular among shore anglers at many reservoirs because many of their catches are deeply hooked and deeply hooked trout are unlikely to survive release. Or maybe you'll just drive the cost of fishing up by mandating cricle hooks. You may also have to ban fishing in the reservoirs in the warmer months because trout released when the surface water is above 60 deg F have a much lower chance of survival. And are you planning to ban trolling also? We see a lot of trolled trout with marks from the propeller having dashed in back of the boat while being reeled in. I'm all for "selective catch and release" but I would hope the anglers have the liberty to decide which to release so that they also have the liberty to keep fish that are unlikely to survive release.
ZZZ, CO   2/4/2013 12:20:58 AM
I think Tatonka has a very valid point. The CPW needs to have a more active management plan for our waters. Pretty much any lake that has a size limit for walleye is 18 inches and if bass have a size limit it's 15 inches. Blanket size limits aren't the answer. If they were actually managing our waters there would be slot limits based on what needs to be taken out of a particular body of water to ensure the remaining fish have enough forage to actually grow.
Catcherman, CO   2/4/2013 5:04:21 AM
Nice read shane. I have a question for you guys, Does how many times the fish has been caught change there chances of survival? And what exactly defines "slot limits", how many fish you can catch and release? It would be very hard to enforce a catch and release limit but I think there should be some kind of rule for it. The angled that caught and kept his 4 trout 100% killed for trout, but for a better purpose. The angler that caught and released all day long and reeled 100 fish in probably killed atleast 4 fish and stunted many more all for fun, no one benefited from it. Another question I have is what if you fought that fish for 20 or 30 minutes before you landed him... Does exhaustion become a factor for selective harvest?
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/4/2013 7:51:13 AM
Not sure why we would have to ban fishing in the summer? I didn't mention strictly Catch and Release only be implemented. There's a huge difference between C n R and SH. Of course there will be situations where a big fish will ultimately fight itself to death, or die on the attempted release, it happens. I agree with Pat that there should be Slot Limits instead of blanked size limits to improve fisheries. That is ultimately up to us anglers to attend DOW public meetings and share our concerns and questions..
Coyute, CO   2/4/2013 9:36:20 AM
I agree that if practiced properly, SH is a great way to go. However, the selective rational that goes along with it leaves a lot of room for problems. The only thing we can do outside of more regulations (which the half-wits won't follow anyway) is to have the guys that do it the right way, continue to teach the guys that don't and the ones that don't know any better. Many won't listen, but a few might.
spicyhombre, CO   2/4/2013 9:53:00 PM
I agree with your article as well as many of the comments made. I will echo some of the most important aspects as I see it. Slot Limits (allowable bag limits within specific size ranges. i.e. Minimum keep size for Walleye 18" with only 1 per day for sizes 21" and greater) is a great way to balance the protecting the best breeder sizes while still allowing for keeping fish. Ideally this should be done on a water by water basis but this is difficult with available funding. Keeping fish sizes most commonly and easily caught on a specific water. If you are catching large quantities of a specific size fish then they most likely can handle some thinning to avoid stunting of the population. I also feel it is my responsibility as an angler to try and educate people I see harvesting anything they can catch with reasons this is harmful. I know that this is most often in vain but if you get through to any of them it is a small victory. Think about how many people you talk to that say something like "my dad kept everything he ever caught". We have come a long way from this thinking and education is key.
spicyhombre, CO   2/4/2013 9:58:03 PM
Oh yeah, I also feel we should keep and eat anything we feel (within legal limits) that has a low probability of survival. Deep hooked or worn out fish that won't revive should be respected by utilization. Of course we should make every effort to avoid it from happening in the first place.
Catcherman, CO   2/4/2013 10:39:00 PM
Thanks spicey for actually answering some of my questions, I am young and am trying to take in information so that I can do my best to educate others and do my part of improving our fisheries, like coyute says
Catcherman, CO   2/4/2013 11:01:05 PM
Honest questions people. Again does the number of times 1 fish has been caught change its chances of surviving? Now that I know the term slot limits I think it is a great idea on a water to water basis. There are a lot of people that follow the rules probably more then not. Ofcourse there will always be some that don't just like murderers and thiefs. Unfortunately they are a lot harder to catch then murderers and thiefs. What are the basic signs to look for if a fish is over worked in the landing process and probability of survival is low. How about fish that are hooked through an eye ball or gill? One more question, is blood loss a big or small factor.
ZZZ, CO   2/4/2013 11:26:46 PM
How and where the fish was hooked has more of an effect on their survival than number of times released. A fish that is deeply hooked or gut hooked once is more likely to die than a fish that was lip hooked and quickly released several times. I have caught plenty of one eyed fish and fish that had multiple scars around their mouths Some species of fish handle being caught and released better than others. Trout are much more likely to die after being released than say bass or walleye.
Dangly, CO   2/5/2013 7:20:59 AM
@spicey, very thoughtful, and i agree. @zzz-your first point is why I am all for circle hooks for bait fishing, I use them and my hook up rait has not dropped a bit. Our states stance of blanket size limits instead of slot limits makes realistic selective harvest next to impossible.
JKaboom, CO   2/5/2013 3:49:06 PM
Good read Shane with a lot of good points. I think that things could be managed a lot better with slot limits and seasons. The fact of the matter is that we don't have the money and resources to manage the way "it should be done" and lack of funds for enforement is a real bummer too. I wish smaller snelled circle hooks were easier to find as well for when I do use bait but at those times I am usually after a limit of eater sized fish.
marabou, CO   2/5/2013 6:57:51 PM
I think that the first and foremost concern should be following the rules set by the cdow. If you are doing this it is none of my business what you keep or don't keep. It is always fun to catch and keep a big fish if you think it will be good to eat. Unless a big trout is in spawning mode I haven't caught one that was not good to eat. Do you think a big trout is better off dying of old age or being consumed at the dinner table? If we really cared about the fish we would cut the hook off at the bend and count strikes.
Kolorado KingFisher, CO   2/5/2013 7:07:08 PM
While revolutionary, there is nothing new about the term "Selective Harvest"...Doug Stange (In-Fisherman), brought this approach to the mainstream of angling circles a decade or better ago as an effective compromise between strictly catch & release and catch & take.
Steelhead, CO   2/5/2013 7:10:04 PM
STOP! Hasnt the recent politics in Washington taught us all anything. New and more regs is not now and never will be the answer. Lets just adopt the *KISS method. There are only 2 types of fisherpeople. Those that kill and those that dont. So let there be just 2 types of fisheries. Kill zones & catch n release zones. Kill zones - 2 fish any size. Problem solved. * Keep It Simple Stupid
marabou, CO   2/5/2013 7:14:40 PM
That sounds good but I like 4 fish. Also the quality lakes like those in south and north park need to be split right down the middle. 1/2 harass and release and half keep or release.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/5/2013 7:16:20 PM
This post has nothing to do with the politics in Washington, nor making more regulations on fisherman. I would like to see a big fish that is not mortally hooked or exhausted released so another angler has that chance. It is up to the angler to do what they want within the regs. I shared my personal feelings and practice on this subject because slot limits are based off Selective harvest already in certain regions in the United States. I appreciate the comments opposing my view as you have the right to express yours!
marabou, CO   2/5/2013 8:26:19 PM
I just worry about the catch and release crowd trying to take away too many of the quality trout lakes. Just because a lake produces trophy fish does not mean it has to be restricted. Everybody should have an opportunity to catch and keep a trophy fish in a body of water that can produce it. I think the regs are good the way they are now.
Reifer, CO   2/6/2013 12:18:23 PM
Great article and I think it should be emailed to every new member when they register. I have seen first hand how length limits and slot limits play together. When my grandpa fist took me walleye fishing SD had just started the size limit. That first year was terrible. Couldn't buy a 14" walleye. By the third year, if you had to measure a fish, we threw it back...unless it was a rough day of fishing. Today the min size is 15" and one over 20" a day. Some lakes had a population that allows for catching 8 walleye a day. There is no problem finding fish in the 15" range, but sometimes there is an issue with to many fish over 20" From this experience, min size is a starting point working to slot limits for better quality and numbers of fish. I loved the article. I have started to keep the small pan fish out of Monument. After two years fishing there and not seeing the size increase, I believe they are stunted due to populations. I never see anything of size in there for panfish and this leads me to believe they should be thinned out.
Kolorado KingFisher, CO   2/6/2013 7:05:34 PM
Steelhead...Your stauch enthusiasm is admirable, however in the real world there are many issues that have too many working elements of which a simple blanket addage does not satisfy a practical or resonable solution, both politics and wildlife management well qualify. Perhaps if the "KISS" methoud helps you to better understand issues such as politics or wildlife management, than that is your perogotive, however I might suggest the game of chess, for example, as a much more aptly suited means to which you can pursue and apply such an overused, oversimplistic, and overgeneralized acronym....oh yeah, what does STOP! stand for? You never explained that acronym.
cookster, CO   2/6/2013 7:17:58 PM
STOP = Spin Tires On Payment?
redleader, CO   2/7/2013 5:41:58 AM
24" lake trout from high elevation reservoirs are much older then 7, through tagging and recaptures at Granby we have found that many 21"ers took 15 years to grow from 16"s when they were tagged, a 24" laker can easily be over 20 years old and a tagged 34"er I caught grew 4"s in 23 years. Most high altitude lakes have few 24"+ fish due to the simple fact most get caught and kept long before reaching that size. Good post but many anglers will never get it no matter how much you try to educate them.
marabou, CO   2/7/2013 6:06:49 AM
Selective harvest is deciding what to do when you already have 3 trout and have to decide if you are going to release the 14" and fish on for a larger fish.
Curtis, CO   2/7/2013 3:37:56 PM
Some people have talked about not wanting more regulations. I think the point of the article is that if the majority will educate themselves and practice selective harvest, and encourage kids and others willing to listen to do the same, there won't be a need for a lot of regulation. We don't need laws to dictate everything we do or don't do. Most have enough common sense to determine right/wrong without a politician helping us.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/8/2013 9:26:31 AM
Redleader that is amazing info! Thank you for sharing! Curtis your spit on! Reifer great points also! Thanks again everyone for sharing your thoughts and views in a civil manner it is greatly appreciated!
ccr, CO   2/8/2013 12:29:17 PM
Excellent Blog...After reading the responding posts, I cannot believe the ways some people take a simple idea and spin it several times until the original thoughts purveyed by the author are no longer even close to being present. How tough is it to grasp these thoughts? As I read the blog, I saw that he was not trying to convince me to grasp these ideas to the letter or, if I did not agree, force me to follow his examples. That said, I intend to "tweak" some of his outline to make it a little more in line with my thoughts on this issue and pass it on to the guys I fish with. My personal philosophy is all catch and release simply because I don't like the taste of fish. LOTS of good ideas!! I would WELCOME some more of your thoughts and ideas in the future.
Catcherman, CO   2/8/2013 1:22:01 PM
If any of you guys had the chance to kill a trophy bull elk or selectively harvest its not so trophy partner behind it, what would you choose? Survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten, that trophy fish decides his own fate. After 30 years of being caught n released he should know the difference between bait and food. Haha Oh yea STOP = Slight Tap On Pedal (no clarification of which pedal so pick one.) Been practicing sh my whole life I always only harvest the ones I select. Fish on coloradians, n tell them flat landers to fish off!...... Jk...... but really
catchn, CO   2/8/2013 3:52:55 PM
My .02, I agree that more regs is not the answer, education is (wich I think was the original point of the Blog). I have seen slot limits fail miserably. Some people point to Texas and there big bass and slot limits, but they fail to look at the agressive stockings, enforcement, creel surveys and everything else that goes into making slot limits work. I personally would rather see more $ going into inforcement than trying to make slot limits work. Updated yearly,...???? you got to be kidding me,... There is so much that needs to be done to effectively manage slot limits, and we can't even enforce the laws we have now. Slot limits also only work if they are used by the anglers, too many won't follow the rules or just release everything causing stunted fish anyway. Lets spend our limited resources where they are most benneficial... Just my humble opinoins and I am glad people are passionate about protecting our resources, I just think we need to be careful about regulating because you can regulate yourself right out of fishing all together. For the record I harvest 3 or 4 fish a year MAX,... some years not even that.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/8/2013 3:57:44 PM
Catchn, Yes my main point of the blog was about educating more so than making more rules on fishing. It is up to us anglers to ensure the future of the sport we love so much. The link in my blog will take you to a place that is all about educating all fisherman on a variety of topics. Helping other fisherman also helps you become a better angler, as we all learn from each other.
Neyet Stalker, CO   2/8/2013 4:32:47 PM
Nice work Shane!
marabou, CO   2/8/2013 8:33:41 PM
The word educating other fisherman keeps coming up and I guess I'm not picking up on what I'm supposed to be learning. How is the cdow failing in the management of fish in Colorado to the point we think we can do a better job? Don't they do creel survey's , gill netting and such. Don't the regs reflect the needs of the fish and the fishermen? Why does any fisherman who obeys the rules set forth by the fish and game need to be educated? I don't understand.
Curtis, CO   2/8/2013 9:44:52 PM
marabou, here is an example of what I think some people need to learn. A lot of people like to C&R fish for bass. There are many examples of small ponds that were great bass fisheries until word got out about them and people who are either selfish and don't care, or just don't understand, begin to keep all the "legal" bass that they catch. These small ponds are not actively managed and can not support much harvesting. I don't know if we can do anything about the selfish, uncaring types, except hopefully shame them into respecting the resource. But for those that just don't understand that bass are not heavily stocked and don't have a very long growing season here in Colorado, hopefully some education will help them make good selective harvest decisions and we can all enjoy catching and returning several nice, chunky large mouth.
ZZZ, CO   2/8/2013 9:46:54 PM
The regs don't necessarily reflect the needs of the fish or fishermen. If the CPW was effectively using the info from creel and gill net surveys there wouldn't be blanket size or bag limits. Chatfield is a perfect example. You can go there and catch 8-12 inch smallies all day long but the minimum size limit is 15 inches. It's been like that for years and the smaller fish aren't growing because there's too many mouths to feed with the available forage. Protecting all of those smaller fish and allowing people to remove the bigger fish definitely doesn't reflect the needs of the fish in that lake.
marabou, CO   2/8/2013 10:53:49 PM
I understand what you are saying but that still falls under the responsibility of the division of wildlife. Why would you get upset about someone catching a fish that is perfectly legal? There are plenty of catch and release warmwater fisheries. People like to eat fish. One of the benefits of fishing is eating extremely fresh fish. If there are no fish to catch then the keeping has to back off .You are asking for a lot of frustration if you think people are going to back off without Regs. You cannot expect someone who just caught and kept a large legal fish to be thrilled with your view. I think the cdow does a pretty good job trying to keep everyone happy. I guess neither side is very happy though. I feel like you are trying to take away my ability to catch and eat a large fish. You feel like I'm taking away your chance to catch and release more large fish..
Catcherman, CO   2/9/2013 11:11:40 AM
If we take a look at the record books, new record breaking size fish are still being pulled out of lakes. Most of the current records are in the 90's and 2000's. I'm pretty sure fishing didn't just start so we must be doing something right. Also take in the fact that fishing is an ever growing sport. More people fish more often. Back in "the day" (which was a Wednesday) everyone caught and kept. I disagree with more regs and more fees. Education is always good but some people just don't want to learn. Cpw and cdow could try to find different ways to enforce the regs already in place but like everything else our economy is in the hole and it is hard to come up with necessary about more fundraisers? Fishing tournaments that you don't get a cash prize at if you place top 3 instead you get a box of lures or a fishing pole that businesses donate is an idea...I would fish a tournament for a ribbon if I knew all the proceeds were going to help maintain Colorado waters... the people of Colorado should be more involved in going to meetings to express there concerns not just expecting the cpw or cdow to know by osmosis. Then again it just turns into a political type battle. Everyone cannot have everything their way, but "fair enough" should be pleasing.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 11:54:51 AM
It sounds to me like we all have an authority problem. We don't want regs. We don't want fees. We don't trust the cpw to do their job. We are all expert fish bioligists. We all want to educate someone else because they aren't thinking straight like me.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/9/2013 12:07:16 PM
Maribou you couldnt be further from the truth of what I was geting at. We need more enforcement in my opinion here in colorado but the funding just isnt there like j said before we all have our opinions on things and theres no need to try to twist my words or mKe something out of notbing. Nowhere did I say I was a biologist check your facts and dont make assumptions or say what you think im trying to do. I was cool with your previous comments and opinions but now your warping words and turning this into something its not
ZZZ, CO   2/9/2013 12:44:56 PM
Nobody has said they don't want regs or fees. In fact, I think most of us would be willing to pay a little extra for our licenses if that money went towards actually improving the fishing in Colorado. If you look at it from a purely financial standpoint, the CPW is horribly mismanaged. They spend millions of dollars stocking fish that can't reproduce in the waters they are stocked. It costs a lot of money to raise rainbows to stocker size and they put them in reservoirs where they have no chance of natural reproduction.
ZZZ, CO   2/9/2013 12:53:19 PM
Oops, hit submit before I was done typing. Colorado has two vastly different types of waters but they are all managed in the same general way. Tons of put and take rainbows everywhere with little emphasis put on other species. IMO, they should be managing the higher elevation waters as cold water fisheries, and the lower elevation waters as warm water fisheries. If they stopped dumping tons of expensive rainbows in the lower elevation lakes and replaced them with warm water species that could actually reproduce on their own and maintain their own populations they could save a lot of money and have better fishing opportunities for everybody.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 12:58:21 PM
I apologize. Your column is thought provoking. I was not just responding to you. The biologist comment was made in light of people shaming or trying to educate people that want to keep and eat big fish into thinking they might be doing something wrong. I guess I trust the cpw more than you guys. When it comes to funding, I would say the majority of it comes from the so called uneducated.
ZZZ, CO   2/9/2013 1:21:22 PM
Marabou..Why are you so obsessed with keeping and eating big fish? In most cases, the bigger fish have higher the levels of mercury and other contaminants that are bad for you. Why keep a 30 inch fish with higher levels of mercury when you could keep a couple of 15 inch fish that will be safer for you to eat. It's a win/win situation. You get your fresh fish dinner, others get a chance at a fish of a lifetime, and in cases where the fish actually reproduce, that big old fish gets to pass on those big fish genes to possibly create more 30 inch fish.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 2:14:23 PM
ZZZ, I think it is very satisfying to catch, keep, fillet and eat a big fish. As far as contaminants, I think I can stay under the recommended consumption guidelines provided by the state for eating large fish. I also think someone should eat that fish before it dies of old age if they wish.
Catcherman, CO   2/9/2013 4:41:45 PM
I agree that it is more satisfying to catch keep and eat the 30 incher and a heck of a lot easier to get a good solid fillet, split it up between your peeps if your worried about the mercury or contaminants, whose to say those 2 15 inchers didn't have the same big fish genes and you didn't give them a chance to get bigger? If that's the case you just took 100 % more big fish genes out of the water then me.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/9/2013 5:00:26 PM
With the mercury comment I would say the biologists 5hat say the fish that are bigger are obviously older and the mercury builds up over time. A 30 inch laker is 30 plus years old and a 15 incher is idk 3 to 4 years old I would bet that 30 yr old fish has 10 tjmes the mercury that 4 15 inchers
ZZZ, CO   2/9/2013 5:16:40 PM
Catcherman...That's a pretty poor argument. Sure there's a chance that those 15 inchers could have the same big fish genes but the odds are against it. The fish that is already 30 inches is a proven commodity, why not let it pass those proven genes onto the next generation.
Catcherman, CO   2/9/2013 5:47:24 PM
According to the Colorado department of health fish consumption guidelines for lake trout over 30in are 1 meal per week (general population) so mercury levels even at 10 times higher are pretty miniscule. Zzz, it has also had 30 years of passing it genes on, your also taking the risk that it won't survive on release. If you keep all the fish that it has reproduced what is the point of releasing it?
elkinthebag, CO   2/9/2013 6:02:21 PM
The point of selective harvest is to save breeding size fish for bigger stronger populations. If you thin out more medium sized fish non sucsessfull breeders there is more biomass left in the lake. Less predators to compete and eat the younger fish. Over all it makes for a healthier water shed. If you take trout for example a 12" trout will lay about 200 eggs with a 2% survival rate. A 20" trout only 8" bigger will lay over a thousand eggs with the same survival rate. If you had a private lake and had to manage it pay for stocking out of pocket what size would you rather have laying eggs for you. Another good point to remember is not make fish are smaller and will breed with multiple partners. One male walleye are trout and breed 3 to 4 larger females. Besides bass and gills where the make takes all response ability to raising the eggs.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 8:09:33 PM
I guess if a species of fish is successful spawning in a body of water it might not be a bad idea to have a slot limit. You would not harvest fish that were in their reproductive prime. Sort of like the old Granby slots back in the day. If I remember right the slot was 22" to 34". You could not keep a fish in the slot. In body's of water where fish do not reproduce such as most of the trout lakes in this state, reproduction is not an issue. In a lake like Antero you put them in there and grow them for harvest. They are suppose to live 7 to 9 years. Most places that have successful reproduction such as streams , rivers and lakes like Trappers the dpw restricts catching. Imagine that.
elkinthebag, CO   2/9/2013 8:19:51 PM
So basically what you are saying is you have Been to lazy to walk over by the inlet at antero and see the trout that run up it in the spring. All ing with eleven mile, spinny and many more lake in Colorado that have inlets and fish runs every spring and fall. May be a put and take lake like st Vrain or other front range lakes with no spawning habitat for trout. Trappers lake only has restrictions on cutthroat trout a native and endangered species you can keep all the brookies you want. Read up educate learn and succeed.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 9:47:15 PM
There are lakes all over this state that will not support reproducing trout.You can bet if there was any significant reproduction taking place at an inlet at Antero they would restrict it. I suppose it is. Just like Elevenmile. Catch and release only in the platte. How about Lake John. How about lakes all over the Grand Mesa. No stock. No fish. There are countless lakes that don't have running water to support reproduction but have the feed to produce large trout. St. Vrain is a poor example. Forgive me for not knowing about the natural reproduction of trout at Antero. I would say most high country lakes would not have fish without stocking. I know there are exceptions but for the most part without fingerling stockings there would be many quality waters void of fish.
marabou, CO   2/9/2013 10:55:51 PM
I had no idea you could walk over to the inlet at Antero. I thought it was private property or just plain off limits. Have to get off my lazy butt and check that out some time.
Catcherman, CO   2/9/2013 11:14:19 PM
So all medium sized fish are non successful breeders? A fish has to become medium sized before it becomes "breeder sized" right?do bigger fish eat more then smaller fish? I understand there is an over population of lake trout in lakes such as grand by and blue Mesa, stunting there growth, but by taking out a big fish you are still providing more food for less I took 3 medium sized and1big fish.mission accomplished. The hatcheries are using good breeder fish to hatch more fish are they not? Thus entailing that the stocked fish have those hereditary traits of a good breeder fish? If I had my own private pond then I wouldn't let it get over populated to stunt growth. Nor would I over fish it to make me have to pay more to stock it. Rainbows and brooks don't live very long lives from what I've heard so why take the chance of letting it go to waste instead of letting it go to somebody's health? The fish were put in the lake for us to catch and harvest from day 1 (excluding some fish like tiger muskie which were put in the lake to control population of other fish). Why is it deemed "selfish" to keep a linked now a days? I think its more of a jealousy issue. There is more then 1 big fish in the pond and by harvesting 1 we might just give another 1 a chance to grow even bigger.
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 7:28:07 AM
According to Carlander's Handbook of Freshwater Fisheries Biology, the typical lake trout in North American waters reaches 30 inches in length by age 12. According to Colorado fisheries scientists, lake trout in Blue Mesa grow faster than typical in North America and reach 30 inches in length before age 10. So the "facts" in the original blog are just plain in error asserting tht most lake trout over 30 inches in length are over 30 years old. Another errant suggestion is the idea that saving the breeders is always a good idea. Lake trout in Blue Mesa are currently overpopulated and we need to harvest more, not less. The bigger lake trout especially need to be harvested because of the devestating impact they are having on salmonids. Once the lake trout are over 20" long, over 80% of their diets are kokanee salmon and rainbow trout! Harvesting lake trout is protecting the species that really need protecting!
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 7:33:05 AM
Selective harvest doesn't always mean that throwing the big ones back is the best choice. At Blue Mesa, as discussed above, keeping all the lake trout is the best choice. Likewise, at Elevenmile, keeping all the pike is the best choice, because of pike predation on salmonids . Similarly, at Pueblo, throwing back common carp and white suckers are doing no favors to the fishery, because these species are overpopulated and other species in the reservoir would benefit greatly by having their breeding stock reduced.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 10:21:33 AM
According to that same report lake trout in granby that are 30 inches or above are over 30 years of age That is why they stress to keep your limit of fish under 20 inches to return the fishery to what it was.. You guys can make this out to be whatever you want just to argue and bicker. This same nonsense goes on on the open forum and many new members see this and do not wish to post because of getting blasted. As i stated before I was cool with the healthy debate but there's no need to find any bit of information that does not pertain to this blog to try to prove points...both sides included. Yes there are some lakes where this may not be as productive as others...but keeping the genes of bigger fish in a lake is important too. The DOW has "brood" fish for a reason right? Letting another angler have a chance to catch that big fish by releasing it, even though it is within your right to keep it is sportsmanship. At least in my eyes. I keep a lot of fish every year to eat just like anyone on FXR as it is also a right to keep fish within the regs. If a big fish dies in the fight or due to a fatal hook set there are exceptions to everything. Aurora is one of the best enforced lakes in the state, and it produces trophy and state record fish almost every year.
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 10:36:22 AM
Good points Math Geek. Maybe it is not about the general well being of a species or several species in a body of water. Maybe with some anglers the highest priority is catching trophy fish, many and often. I think most fisherman think about healthy big fish and desire them all the time. If I did not eat fish I probably would tend to put a lot more energy into whatever it took to keep the most and largest fish in the water.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 10:39:13 AM
I would disagree with you that keeping all the pike at 11 mile is the best choice...but thats a debate for another time.
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 10:46:17 AM
Sorry Shane. I did not see your post before I posted mine.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 10:48:42 AM
Its all good it was a long reply I understand topics like this can get us fired up and we all let our emotioms go
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 10:56:25 AM
I think it is unsportsmen like to not congratulate any fisherman who catches a large legal fish whether they keep it or not.
Catcherman, CO   2/10/2013 10:56:52 AM
I don't think anyone has been "blasted" I see a great arguable debate in every comment. New comers welcome to comment on there opinions and express points/facts that haven't been pointed out yet whether it pertains directly to the blog or directly to another members comment. If you think your getting "blasted" then think about and understand that you cannot and should not perceive somones tone of voice through text unless the wrote what tone of voice they are using... I don't see any of that or cuss words or anything just anglers expressing there views on the general topic. Great debate guys...... Aurora has the blanket Limit on bass and walleye correct? Along with the one eye over 21 inches per day right? Putting special regs like that on granby probably won't work as well in my mind because I've never seen one person catch 2, 30" plus lakers in one day. But if I did catch them myself.. heck yea I should have to put one back. I wonder why we can't have a live well on the ice ? Can anyone answer that for me?
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 10:57:46 AM
Dang . You got me again.
Catcherman, CO   2/10/2013 11:17:26 AM
Is keeping all the pike at stage coach a good idea? I recently heard they were trying to get people to keep all of them even if they weren't going to eat them... just hear say no factual documents to back it up...maybe someone else heard that same thing perhaps?
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 11:20:25 AM
Not sure on the stagecoach thing..i know spinney and 11 mile they encourage everyone to keep any pike under 24 inches which i agree with. To answer your question on why there isn't an ice fishing livewell...well you're in luck because there is one! Used it last week and it worked awesome!
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 11:33:15 AM
The CDPW studies I've seen show that lake trout reach 30" at Granby 12 to 14 years, which is slower growth than at Blue Mesa, but still far short of 30 years. And the lake trout at Granby are generally in poor condition because they do not have enough to eat. It would be best to thin the herd and let those that remain have a bigger share of the available food. And you are free to disagree with the CDPW view on pike at Elevenmile, which is why the selection in "selective harvest" should be left up to the angler and not mandated through regulation. If the CDPW view on selective harvest of pike at Elevenmile were codified, you would be forced to harvest all the pike you caught!
Catcherman, CO   2/10/2013 11:50:04 AM
Awesome Shane! I will be acquiring one of those for next year hopefully! Thank you very much for the info and link!
nodak kid, CO   2/10/2013 1:03:46 PM
I usually follow the thought of keep a couple in the freezer. I like to have a couple of meals in the food saver bags. If I catch a larger fish I cut it into two meals, or three if I land a large pike. I try hard to not waste anything. Years I fill my archery tags I don't eat as many fish. Years I don't fill my big game tags out I chow fish with abandon. Wild game is much better than buying fish or slaughter house beef. A lot of it is personal preference. Only those who catch a lot of fish know the difference. It's the guys who don't fish much that practice only catch and keep.
redleader, CO   2/10/2013 6:57:10 PM
Like I said, some anglers will never get it MG where are you getting your info? It is totally wrong. We have been studying Granby fish populations for over 30 years. We have tagged and released thousands of lake trout and have hundreds of pages of recapture information, Blue mesa and Granby are completely different lakes with very different conditions. a 12-14 year old laker in Granby is not even 20"s. If an angler killed 2- 30"ers there he just took out over 50 years of growth, over 25 for each fish. The under 19" lakers at Granby are by far the highest population base and are a renewable resource. If you guys want to continue to have large fish there you need to let them go, its that simple. There is much more ice fishing pressure there rthen ever before and many anglers have learned how to catch them in recent years. The dow is not encouraging the keeping of large fish at Granby, for several years we were encouraging harvesting more of the sub 20" ers due to the extended high water conditions that creates successful lake trout recruitment and poor kokanee conditions but that is not the case with the lower water now. The misinformation on this thread is ridiculous.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 7:40:01 PM
Redleader, I agree with you and was trying to preach the same tone as you with the Lake Trout.
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 8:11:50 PM
I'm not sure what the regs are these days at Granby but personally I think It's kind of creepy catching and keeping fish that are as old as lake trout can get. I believe I read once that in Canada they can grow to 60 years old. I wouldn't hold it against someone for legally taking one but if I took it I'd be afraid of it messing with my Karma. That's from someone who has no problem keeping fish.
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 8:21:36 PM
My info is rock solid and originates in publications of Colorado fisheries biologists: Martinez, P. J. 1995. Coldwater reservoir ecology. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration, Project F-242R–2, Progress Report, Fort Collins. This report shows that the average 12 year old lake trout from Granby reservoir weighs 7.5 kg and has a length of around 850 mm, that's close to 34 inches. Another source is Carlander's Handbook of Freshwater Fishery Biology, Volume One. On page 287, it lists the typical length of a 14 year old lake trout at Granby Lake, CO as 853mm, close to 34 inches. At ages 15 and 16, the mean lengths are 889mm (35.5 inches) and 912mm ( 36 inches and change). For his source, Carlander cites a paper entitled "Granby Reservoir Studies" by L.M. Finnell with the Colo. Dept. of Game, Fish, and Parks. So my sources are two different studies conducted by Colorado fish and game officials at Granby Reservoir. Your turn to provide published support for the assertion that a 30" lake trout at Granby is 30 years old.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 8:28:02 PM
@ MARIBOU that is funny! Had a guy tell me last week that he felt that killing a big laker would be like telling his dad it was time...Math Geek, don't you think information from 1995 is a bit dated?
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 8:47:23 PM
If a 12 year old lake trout in Granby was 34" long in 1995 (18 years ago) how can that same lake trout (now 30 years old) possibly be 30" long now? It is not possible that in the 18 years since 1995 the cohort of lake trout that were 12 years old then averaging 34" can be 30 years old now averaging 30". The same fish could not possibly have gotten shorter. If the lake trout are really growing that slow now, there is a serious food shortage feeding the number of trout in the lake and the herd needs thinning.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 8:49:23 PM
So your saying that Redleader and everyone else that has been tagging Lakers the past 10 years and doing NEW research are all wrong and the 1995 information is 100% correct? Just wondering...
MathGeek, CO   2/10/2013 9:10:21 PM
It is hard to comment on a study without a chance to review and consider the published results, which I cannot do without a reference. It is possible that the lake trout are now growing much more slowly than they were in past studies. If it is the case that recent studies show much slower growth in Granby than the lake was able to historically support, then that suggests an overpopulation of lake trout relative to the food supply and a need to thin the herd. The 1995 study by Martinez was later cited by Brett Johnson. In addition, it is based on otolith analysis which is more reliable for length at age than tagging studies. Tagging studies are more accurate for growth in a given time interval, but you won't really know the age of the tagged fish without sampling otoliths.
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 9:12:10 PM
Boy, redleader seems a little harsh for a CPW employee. Or does he volunteer to tag fish? Kinda cool having someone from the CPW on here.
Shane Dubois (reconfisher), WY   2/10/2013 9:14:34 PM
Redleader and many others are deeply involved to helping and protection the fishery at granby with CPW. This knowledge is one of the reasons why they made the three lakes tournament under 19" for lake trout, to thin out the large population of smaller fish so they can grow better.
marabou, CO   2/10/2013 9:19:34 PM
Very good. Thanks.
MathGeek, CO   2/11/2013 7:58:13 AM
From: :Slot-limit regulations at Lake Granby, intended to produce and preserve a trophy lake trout fishery, contributed to the demise of the reservoir's kokanee fishery and egg production in the 1990s. Overprotecting lake trout while kokanee numbers plummeted resulted in the stunting of lake trout, which was reflected in the dramatic loss of body condition of larger lake trout since the mid-1980, and in the stalling of growth of all lake trout over 20 inches since the mid-1990s. A large lake trout from Blue Mesa Reservoir will weigh from 12 to 20 pounds more than a lake trout of the same length from Granby, attesting to the presently poor body condition of lake trout in Granby and the effects of too many predators and too little prey.
Catcherman, CO   2/11/2013 8:40:54 AM
If the lake trout in grandby grew that fast in the 90s and are now so slow because it is over populated with them, shouldn't there be a no bag limit in effect? No matter the size, obviously its not the genes of the fish that are reproducing its the fact that they are reproducing at all. If we get the lake back to its suitable conditions like in the 90s then we will have plenty more bigger fish and it won't take 50 years to grow a 30inch fish. Blue mesa and granby may be completely different fisheries but if we tried some of the successful techniques they are using such as no bag limit 1 being over 38" per day we might have similar results. Thinning of the herd completely but not limited to only small fish. Just an opinion but what do ya say? How are the population s of rainbow and browns doing in Granby BTW?
redleader, CO   2/11/2013 7:16:49 PM
Lake Granby has mysis shrimp that deplete the plankton and compete with the kokanee's food supply, the situation gets worse after multiple high water years and the kokanee starve. The rainbows and browns live in the shallow water and don't get much over 2 or 3 pounds. During low water years the kokanee rebound. The report you refer to is unbelievable. Jake Bennit the retired biologist along with several volunteers tagged over 5 thousand lake trout and the growth rates averaged less then a half inch per year and we have never seen that high of growth rates there. The perfect storm that caused Granby's kokanee crash was due to several different factors, we had a slot limit for many years, less fishing pressure and a high population of lake trout (the population is much lower now) the new sewer line put in along the shoreline of the lake along with changes in the windy gap operations created a different lake low in nutrients and unproductive. in 1997 we tagged hundreds of 16" lake trout and have seen several showing up in the last few years from 19-23"s. Blue mesa has faster growth rates for lake trout then anywhere else due to the high productivity of the lake and is the opposite situation. If you catch a 36' fish at Granby it was because someone else released it.
Shane Dubois
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