Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ethics for Winter Fishing | Don't Fish For Warm Water Species

This is from the bass podcast from over the summer. I learned A LOT about largemouth bass while researching for the podcast. One of the more interesting tid bits was the potential mortality of a winter caught bass.

These fish are designed to be most active in warm temperatures. During winter their metabolism slows down. These fish are the same temperature as the water. They need to conserve as much energy as possible to make it through the winter and even more so for when they spawn. They will spawn when water temps warm up. They will utilize their stored energy for building and guarding nests and for spawning.

To maintain this low metabolic rate they will not move a whole lot. Maybe between shallow and deep water to gain some sunlight. They will also move to darker substrate which will have absorbed solar radiation and be warmer. If their metabolism is high enough they might have the energy to chase down some prey and digest it. Digestion is a huge consumer of energy.

Winter bass might not feed but for every fortnight. When you do get one to eat you will cause this fish to use up its stored energy as it fights for its life. You may release this fish alive but it will most definitely go belly up.

I'm not talking about fishing in Florida over the winter, I'm talking about fishing where the water temperature is near, at, above, or below freezing. If you caught and released that fish and it does survive, well you just destroyed all potential energy that fish had stored over several months of feeding.

We will fish Four Mile Run exclusively this winter. The water there will be 65F which is perfect temperature for a bass to thrive. We won't hold them out of the water if the air temps are below freezing.

Thus if you do plan on fishing for warm water species (i.e., family Centrarchidae- I'm amazed I can still spell that word after 17 years) over the winter, please do so with the utmost respect for your fishery. If you kill those big bass they won't be around in spring to make more bass and they won't be around for you to catch.

Here is proof about cold temps killing fish. Granted they are tropical and sub-tropical species. But the same thermodynamics apply.  The 2010 snook kill off.

Be ethical when you fish this winter.


I fish for pickerel in the winter.

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