Why Are We Keeping Smallmouth?

Fishing Editor Dean Shadley encounters unsportsmanlike conduct and is less than thrilled.

I had to let my blood pressure settle before I began to write this article. My day started out pretty good. My friend Rick Cockrum and I were heading out to fish one of my favorite streams. Within the first half hour I’d caught my biggest smallie of the summer. 

The handsome fish was briefly admired and set free. We decided to move to a different spot on the river, that’s when my day started going downhill. 

Rick and I were heading upstream to hit a couple of good holes that usually produce some action. I very rarely see anyone on this stretch of the river, that wasn’t the case today. 

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As Rick and I looked upstream we saw another fisherman heading toward us. The man was dragging a minnow bucket and a stringer of fish. It was obvious he was using live bait. I told my buddy “I bet this guy is keeping smallmouth.”

Using live minnows or crawfish is a simple and deadly way to catch smallmouth bass. It might be too deadly. Bass tend to swallow live bait, even those returned to the water often die. 

We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him if he had any luck. He said he just wanted a few fish to eat and raised the stringer of fish shown in the photo. That was the moment my blood pressure went through the roof. I was furious. 

Instead of telling him what I really thought of his stringer of fish I bit my tongue and asked if I could take a picture of those beautiful fish. I saved the lecture and wished him well. I felt sure a conversation concerning catch and release fishing would have fallen on deaf ears. 

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I tried to convince myself that I had no reason to be angry, after all he wasn’t breaking any laws. It didn’t work. I was still pissed. 

I haven’t taken a smallmouth bass home to eat since I was a teenager. In my opinion smallmouth are a treasure and should be treated as such. I always use barbless hooks, handle them as little as possible and return them to the water as quickly as I can. 

So what does that make me, a saint, an arrogant fly fisherman? I’m not sure. What I do know is that small streams can’t take much of that kind of pressure. Some of the smallmouth on the stringer were probably five to seven years old. 

They were the brood stock of this smallish bass stream. Are those five bass bound for the frying pan going to greatly impact the fish population on this stream, probably not. My fear is that this fisherman will return. He might also invite his buddies. Why not share, he had a hell of a day. 

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When I see a stringer of smallmouth I’m tempted to ask the fisherman what compelled them to fish for smallmouth. My questions would be “do you need the food, do you love the flavor of smallmouth bass, or do you enjoy the sporting aspect of catching them?” 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess the vast majority would say they really love catching them. If that is indeed the case, why would they keep one? Smallmouth bass are too precious a commodity to catch only once.

I’d like to think they don’t understand the biology of smallmouth bass. They don’t realize that a mature bass may be 6 to 8 years old. They don’t understand that removing the mature fish damages future bass populations. I’d like to think if they knew these facts they’d quit eating them. 

Where do we go from here? If you believe as I do you believe that there needs to be some significant changes in the law. I would suggest greater protection for smaller streams and rivers, or catch and release fishing, or possibly artificial lures only. 

If you’re on the minnow fisherman’s side and think I’m way out of line, don’t blame me if your next smallmouth outing ends with an empty stringer.

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Dean Shadley
Shadley’s interest in hunting, fishing and a ton of other outdoor activities started at a very young age. He was hunting and fly-fishing on his own when he was eleven; it’s always been his passion. He was employed by the Indiana DNR as a conservation officer for 34 years. For the first 17 years, Shadley worked southeastern Indiana as a field officer. For the last 17 years he was in charge of Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program (TIP) and was the chief public relations officer for the law enforcement division. Since his retirement he’s spent most of his time fly-fishing, shooting sporting clays, hunting and photographing wildlife. Shadley is Fishing Editor of Sportsman Magazine

101 COMMENTS

  1. Fu*k the bass that crappie is what I’m interested in I love crappie y’all can fight over them bass all day, I let every bass go I catch, crappie is my favorite. but how can one be mad at another for keeping fish if he’s not breaking laws to get them and if he’s eating them and not wasting them I don’t see a problem people sometimes just need something to complain about crappie are way more fun to catch and are much more tastier imo

    • I agree with everything you just said. Crappie all day long! And people need to quit bitching about everything…..the guy didn’t hurt the small mouth population…

      • I agree with you. Im a country boy and i believe if you hunt or fish it you should be able to cook and eat it. Everyone’s not able to catch and release after paying for the trip bait etc. Catch and eat is fine with me because grocery stores arent worth eating when those farms are sewage and byproduct Fed. Catch & Eat is my moto calm down

    • I have fished for 60 years. I have caught my share of bass and trout. Some I have taken home to eat; some I have released. Nothing wrong with an angler taking his catch home for dinner. Fish is a favored, healthy food encouraged by every nutritionist I know. Catch and release is sporting, but don’t fault a guy(s) for keeping his catch.

      • Who wants to eat bass anyways. Here on the great upper Mississippi bass are nothing but a nuisance in my opinion. I wouldn’t think that they belong in a trout stream.

        • “What I do know is that small streams can’t take much of that kind of pressure.” How do you know this? What are your sources? Define the kind of pressure you’re talking about. Your arguments are weak and based on passion. You are a step away from joining PETA. This individual is breaking no laws. You aren’t brave enough to confront him with your objections but write an article eviscerating him. You’re a couch warrior. I’ll look for you on Facebook to make sure you know who I am as I disagree with how you handled this situation. Finally, there are hatcheries that supply smallmouth. You’re indignant over a species that can be restocked. How was this even published?

          • Doesn’t DNR or the equivalent in other states set size and count limits for a reason? Aren’t they doing population studies and releasing stock from hatcheries accordingly?

          • I agree with your comment as long as no laws was broke people need to mind their own business. I have been known to make a meal out of smallmouth from time to time if the DNR didn’t want us to do so they would make a law against keeping them.

        • You went a little too far when you stated he was not breaking any laws. So his catch was legal. Just because you see ONE person with 5 or 6 legals does not mean you should criticize. Now I ponder…if you had seen 5 different individuals walking out with ONE smallie, would you be complaining fishing pressure too great? I doubt it.

          To say he is going to tell his friends or whatever is pure speculation. Good fishermen never give up those secrets. Part of the GAME is FIND your lucky hole or spot. Not broadcast it.

          He broke no laws, he likes to eat them, more power to him
          BB

  2. Some people fish for enjoyment, some for food, and some for both. None of them are right or wrong. Shame on you for painting those who think differently in a negative light.

    • That’s why some people fish to eat them what’s everybody supposed to stop eating what they. Atchison cuz this writer is the greatest sportsman ever gtfoh

    • Who wants to eat bass anyways. Here on the great upper Mississippi bass are nothing but a nuisance in my opinion. I wouldn’t think that they belong in a trout stream.

    • That sounds like the guy I met not to long ago said. o no I don’t shoot does,why would you shoot does.there won’t be enough deer next year if you keep shooting does. I told him that in Ohio where I live BROWN IT’S DOWN

  3. If this writer had a problem with gaming laws on limits he can make a request for change and present his case to local wildlife authorities. It’s to bad you Don get everything you want because it’s your blood pressure.

  4. I would return tge fish to water also but I’m not in need. If I was in need I would keep anything g to survive. In this world that we live in I totally understand why people would keep them. It is cheaper to stock your own freezer then to go buy in a meat market to do so. There is no reason for you to get pissy about other people especially if you do not know there situation. Maybe you should have asked the man why and you would understand but instead you got mad and decided to wrote about it.

    • Sadly its “sportsman/women” like you that seem to be separating folks(like traditional bow hunters hating on crossbow hunters).
      To me… it’s like someone who helped Found this country said.
      “We must hang together, or we surely will hang alone”

      • Nothing wrong with keeping fish. Bass small mouth and large are really good to eat. Meat is similar to pan fish meat. Those look like some pretty good size smallies. Unless you got a family of 5 or 6 and no$$$. Or live 30+ miles from a grocery store please dont keep more then you need for a dinner. That guy has enough for 3 or 4 meals. If your fishing with live bait and the fish swallows the hook and its legal size keep it. Can t stand releasing a fish that prob wont make it. I use live bait all the time but try my best to use hooks the fish do not swallow such as octopus and circle hooks or something with a long shank like aberdeens

  5. I agree with the prior statements. You are putting yourself on a pedestal for returning your fish. Well as you can see your rant is not appreciated. Oh and by the way, just where IS this stream?

  6. That is why there are limits. I’m glad you have time and money to do it sa a sport. I only ask if you keep it eat it. This goes for all game. It is funny how some people put one fish over another. Bass fisherman are the worst, well maybe second behind fly fisherman.

  7. If he wants to eat them that’s his business. I could say the same about you your just fishing for fun how many bass have you injured doing that or how many have died for your fun. I love the taste of smallmouth but don’t care for largemouth but I would take a crappie or walleye over any other fish.

  8. It wouldn’t matter if it was a eel everyone gets but hurt get over yourself most places I fish are overstocked and the bass look deformed heads are huge bodies are small because they need thinned out I’m talking thousands they are no different than deer thin the Hurd don’t poach catch your limit and enjoy what God gave you.I would have said nice mess of fish catch and release in the grease.

  9. This author is the problem with modern sportsmen. Fishing and hunting is an extremely personal and individualized skill. Everyone has their own specific techniques and favorite species. The biggest difference between anglers today is between those who fish for fun and those who fish for food. Take a step back and have some perspective. You are hurting fish for the fun of a trophy. That guy took those fish home and fed his family. I’ve met plenty of anglers like this author. They claim that they are mad about the fish populations and the ecosystem. They are actually just jealous that they won’t get to catch those fish. Jealous that someone found their spot. Jealous they didn’t get minnows from the creek before they came. So the real question is, do you fish for food or fun? Sure fishing for food is fun but there is an endgame. Fishing just for fun is for the boujie anglers who don’t need to save money and don’t mind hurting fish just for kicks. They put themselves on a pedestal and look down on the blue collar anglers who (like the guy in the picture) are minding their business. it’s pretty rough that the author would want to implement laws that prohibit low income people from eating dinner and in return reward wealthy people hurting fish for fun. It just goes to show how removed these types of sportsmen are from the actual outdoors and how much they cling to notoriety and trophies. Hunting and fishing is for food. Get over it. If the author had any self respect he would have confronted the angler in the moment instead of trying to troll him online like a teenager looking for clout.

  10. I’m all for some SELECTIVE harvest. Big fish of all species should be released to breed and pass on their genetics. Keep a few smaller or medium sized fish if you like because it is part of fishing. The problem with limits and the argument of well he didn’t break any laws is that all limits for all game are reactionary. Limits are not adjusted until the population has already suffered and numbers are low. Release the trophies, be mindful of the type or sensitivity of the water you are fishing and keep a few for the pan when it makes sense because that is fishing.

    • I fully understand your passion for small mouth and fully respect that you are perfectly happy with catch and release of these amazing fish. I do think that you should have ask a few polite questions that may have turned your personal rant into an article expression your opinion without coming off as a closet ranter. In my area it is speckled trout and flounder that suffer from being on everyone’s I’m going to keep list. I have no problem keeping fish for the table, but I too don’t understand why if the fish are biting that you have to keep only the biggest when the smaller fish are better table fair. I also do understand that small water like stream’s can suffer a bigger impact quicker, but a well stated opinion to your Department of Wildlife and Fisheries may yeild a more favorable out come for the catch and release angler’s like yourself and the take some home for the dinner table crowd. Tight lines and good luck.

  11. I’ve seen many trout rivers, streams, ponds and lakes destroyed by ignorant and selfish bass fishermen by their own “stocking ” of such waters. Time for trout fishermen to return the favor.

  12. So your bent out of shape over a man thats going to eat the small mouth bass. No laws were broken. He keeped his LEGAL limit and LEGAL sized fish. You dont keep and eat small mouth bass but your mad that someone does. Youra stupid idiot. Inwould do the same thing keep what i want to eat and maybe give some to a friend. Its anyone legal right to keep fish as long as they are legal. Anyone else yhat doesnt like it can ho suck on it.

  13. Sounds like typical fly fisherman. Look if he wasn’t breaking the law. Then good for him. My take is
    He doesn’t get out much probably works 100hrs a week maybe fishes twice a year. Hopefully he will invite a body the next time and the next and next. Our sport depends on law abiding outdoors people to fund research abbitat and enforcement.
    Don’t worry so much about a guy having the best day of his fishing life. If you want to really help get involved with your local fish and game. Shaming people that fallow the rules doesn’t fix anything

  14. I grew up hunting an fishing an ate what I killed an what I caught, I don’t hunt or fish anymore bcoz I’m a wildlife photographer an really don’t hv time but it don’t bother me that other people do an am willing to teach young people how to feed them selves survival skills. People obey the law pay their fees you can’t say anything the DNR will determine over usage so if catch an release is your thang more power to you.

  15. Typical elitist mentality. Eating what u catch is perfect. Those small mouth you claim are so prescious are thriving and are a very renewable resource. You do nothing but divide. I have encountered snobs like you while fishing the juniata. One fella wearing about 3000 dollars worth of orvis gear tried to get me to sign a petition to make that stretch of water fly fishing only. I told him he better walk away from me or he’s going swimming. I’d tell u the same if I saw you along the river. Shane on you

  16. I bet the author didn’t expect this . I didn’t either in all honesty, but I’m pleasantly surprised to read the comments. I don’t see how there’s room for this sort of divisive, holier than thou type of attitude in this sport, especially because it can be (and has been) dangerous to law abiding fisherman that are confronted by people like you all of the time. I’ve seen 2 physical altercations myself over the years not to mention the constant grumbling and side eying that you see anytime a catch and release evangelist sees someone with a stringer or ice chest of legally taken fish. What makes you so judgemental of people that want to keep their catch? Although you want to protect your prized Smallmouth bass from being harvested, it’s not your call. They’re not protected and you don’t own them nor do you own the water where they were caught. There have been a few eye opening studies that have been published recently on fishing tournaments and bass mortality rates that show that during certain times of the year, +50% of released bass don’t live longer than 3 days. Most of the deaths having nothing to do where they were hooked. Anytime you catch a fish, the stress of the fight, especially at higher water temperatures are just too much for the fish to recover from. So although you may think your barbless hooks and light lines are far superior to whatever barbaric method that we use, I bet the 5lber on #65lb braid that I boat flip less than 5 seconds after it bites is going to be way better off than a 3lber you catch on barbless hooks after fighting it for 15 minutes on #2lb line. But hey, as long as you’re stress killing less than your daily bag limit, I don’t really care. You shouldn’t either maybe.

  17. Not sure what part of the country this was written about. Maybe they are native to that stream? Where i fish on the Columbia River drainage they are non native and we call them SEB, Smolt Eating Bastards. I make it a practice to never put one back in the water (when on the river). Same thing with walleye! Besides they taste too good to let go. Highly predatory non-native fish will always get a bonk in my boat!
    Also if someone is not breaking the law why throw rocks at them? Same team man! Write about illegal dumping, habitat loss, pollution or any number of things that actually effect the quality of the fisheries not a dude with 3-4 fish on a stringer.

  18. Go Brandon! Typical left wing thinking! Change everything to my way of thinking ! Everyone that doesn’t agree with me is wrong. And yes i am talking about both sides here! Why not sit down with the man and have a kind conversation and agree to disagree, instead of each of you putting someone down on the internet.

    • I agree keeping fish to eat is no sin, however I think his point is small streams do not rebound like lakes or big rivers, a small stream can quickly become extinct of a species by over harvesting of the mature breeding fish, it is happening and has happened every were in America. Take the native trout in states like Maryland or west Virginia for example some haven’t held the fish years . I agree for small streams were these fish are often much easier to catch one or another should be protected because trust me not all fisherman are good ppl and taking 50 simply because they can will and does happen alot, read your states fish and game violations one year and you may become I’ll, I tgink this was the man’s point not if your starving not simply because you just wanted something different to eat but 50 fish out of a stream in say a years can depending on circumstances can cause harm that is all. MAGA

      • I don’t reply to this crap often lol and clearly my phone had a mind of its own , so please forgive me for the awkwardness of my statement I clearly need to proof read a little before I push that little post button, Good day all

  19. I fish therefore i eat. I cant afford and dont prefer, to buy fish when i can catch them. I kill does and fill my freezer and keep small white perch that other anglers might not. There are plenty of regulations keeping me from being meat and fish self sufficient. I respect the author (who undoubtedly) would purchase fish at a restaurant, but that is his choice to catch and release my choice is to catch and dine. Although i could be open to fillet and release..

  20. This is exactly what is wrong with this country. People such as the author of this article get offended by someone else doing something completely legal and they want the rules changed to favor their opinion. Sorry to tell you but the world doesn’t revolve around you and your opinion.

  21. This author most be the karen of his fishing hole . Look man fish and let fish . If you want to release do it if you want to eat it do that too not everyone has the opportunity to own a boat and target just the fish you want targeted

  22. So, what you’re saying is, the man legally took some fish home for dinner? Yet you’re throwing a fit about it in your article. I, personally, don’t believe your articles should ever be considered for publication again after reading this one. Do us all a favor, and make this your last!

  23. Could it be your pissed because of his accomplishments as a great outdoorsman ? You are the reason some have given up on the great outdoors and what it has to offer. That man did everything right. And has the right to be there as you. Those fish belong to the waters for all to enjoy. That could have been his best day of fishing and probably can’t wait to share his stories about how he caught them and the fun that he had. I think if you ever see that man again you need to tell him how you felt the day you met him.
    Give him the right to tell you what he thinks about your opinion.
    Or don’t you have the guts too.? My guess you are a greedy man who only thinks of himself. Grow up boy and start becoming a man.

  24. I agree with all of the above comments. It is important to obey the fishing regulations. If someone stays within the regs, they have every right to enjoy a fish dinner. If you want to talk about ethical and sportsmanlike behavior- I’d like to have a crappie in my live well for every bass fisherman that has blown by me at full throttle in his quest to get his tournament limit. I’d probably be over my limit!

  25. I agree with most of these comments it is none of your business and taking a picture to post on the internet and talk smack about this guy while acting buddy buddy and not letting him know how you really feel is pathetic. The real problems at the streams is the catch and release fisherman like you if you aren’t going to keep a fish dont catch it. Why harass and molest a creature for no reason I keep what I catch and I dont throw back something just cuz it wasnt the species I was going for. If it’s legal keep it or stay at home take what you need to eat then leave. Turning the outdoors into a sport is the disgrace not the men and women that fish trap hunt for survival it’s the hobbyist like you that should stay home

  26. There are a lot of greedy people in this world on both sides of the coin. But is it that bad to throw some fish back so a kid can catch a big smallmouth and remember a fun day with his dad for the rest of his life? I’ve seen grown men take fish home clean a few then start half assing the cleaning wasting meat that inevitably gets put in a freezer until it gets thrown out a year later. Everybody who has frozen fish in their freezer eat that before you fillet more. Anybody who has thrown out frozen fish or game meat you’re just killing to kill shame on you.

  27. Comments to this post are spot on. No shame in catching fish to fillet and eat. Totally agree this writer has to be one step from joining PETA.

    • Well, aren’t you all high and mighty?
      Act all buddy buddy then trash him in a public post?
      If you are a fly fisherman, you are one of the guys who gives the rest of us a bad name.
      Learn to mind your own business, and stop acting like a child.

  28. Hey I’m with most people that commented hell if the guy was out to only keep 6 or 8 fish to take home and eat there’s nothing wrong with it. But if he continues to come back over periods of time and fish the hell out of the quality fish then yes that portion of the river/stream won’t be very fruitful. I’ve fished many of private lakes and ponds and have keep a lot of fish just to harvest the meat and never had a problem with it but I’ve also seen how over harvesting can lead to poor fishing it’s just depends on how hungry your are.

  29. 6 to 8 years old is young for a fish. Save your outrage for old and rare fish. Also, smallmouth bass are rarely hooked that deep because they hit like a stupid freight train. They don’t have time to swallow the hook. Trust me, I fish bait for redhorse (which get more like 50 years old) and smallmouth are bait thieves. They release fine. You are giving fly fishermen a bad name.

  30. Nothing wrong with a guy taking fish home, I think you have forgotten that eating the fish, is the main reason we fish. The fact that you got angry about that says something about you. I see nothing wrong here. I think your perspective needs to change.

  31. How do you know how often this man does this? That’s my question, I’m often ridiculed when I jug fish for cats on my home lake, or travel to Cumberland lake and keep a few smallies in the winter.

    Truth be told I’ll use the jugs 2 or 3 times a year and usually only keep 10-12 of the 2-5 lb blues I catch for the grease. Why? I don’t care much for catfishing and really don’t care for jug fishing but it’s an easy way to put fish in the freezer after I run out of crappie from the spring run. (Which I’ll keep 3 or 4 limits of over the course of the spring run) 99% of my fishing is catch and release but people will criticize me for the 1% of the fish I decide to take home to eat. That isn’t right! I understand the need for conservation, and it is an absolute shame that there are gluttons that are out there willing to ruin it all, but don’t condem a man because you see him 1 time with a limit of fish. That may be just the 1 limit out of 100 that he decided to take home and enjoy and if your fishery is in bad enough shape that 1 guy keeping 1 limit of fish is going to destroy it then I’m sorry to inform you that your fishery was already dead.

    Proper education is the key here. Sure lowering daily limits will help but rather the limit is 3 0r 12 fish if a guy brings 4 of his buddies back everyday they’ll clean out a small fishery in no time. Daily limits only hurt the people who have limited time to enjoy the sport anyway. I can only fish 1 day a week so at most I can only keep 15 crappie a week during the spring run. Meanwhile, there are people who go everyday and catch a limit, that’s 105 crappie a week. Both are legal but 1 is more departmental.

  32. One thing we have to all remember is that fish are not just here for sport fishing I grew up hunting and fishing salt water and fresh. Our tournament fish now and I’m a big advocate for catching release but I asked you who’s doing more harm us who catch and release and cause undue stress amongst other things where fish just die. Or the person who takes a few home every once in awhile for a meeting keeping the population growing. Let’s open our hearts and our minds and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around us.

  33. What a complete jerk! If the man isn’t breaking any laws, then leave him alone. He has every right to keep those fish so you need to mind your own business and quit being a pretentious prick. People like you are a cancer to fly-fishing!

  34. Leave the man be mind your own dam business this is the first time I have ever commented on anything but I am getting sick and tired of people like you

  35. It’s about the future of fishing. I have so much fun catching them I don’t want to kill them. If everyone kept ad many fish as they could a small lake would be fished out quickly. I’ve seen it happen in small to medium sized lakes. Every fish born does not survive.

  36. I will eat 6 a day for the rest of my life if I want. You do whatever you think is best for the smallmouth you catch and leave me alone in WV.

  37. Caring about the stream is one thing but you sound like just another cry baby a**hole who is just mad that people eat bass. Self righteous d*ck

  38. I have come to the realization that and today world everyone just wants to b**** about the guy next to him. I have no idea why this guy felt he needed to write an article about someone in free America going out within the laws and catching fish for his table and family would be a problem. If you want to catch and release then catch and release someone wants to go out and catch and keep within the guidelines of the laws and that is his right this writer is a tool.

  39. Small-mouth and Large-mouth bass aka delicious stumpy football walleye. Just kidding but in all seriousness I can understand your anger since this was certainly an act of poaching on restricted waters but seriously fishing only for sport is strange. When it’s legal to harvest I harvest. I eat almost everything I catch and follow all state laws. You clearly have never used bait for bass if you believe it’s deadly to them. Bass are a active fish and don’t like bait that doesn’t move. On the subject of fowl hooking I’ve had more trouble with treble hook covered jerk bait and plugs then most typical circle hooks. You must be attentive on bait I like crawdad and minnows since you have mere moments to set the hook after the strike or the fish will spit it out just like a lure. Not to mention both baits like to hide under rocks and vegetation. You can de-barb hooks with the anvil of your needle nose. I do this often when bait fishing especially to ensure the clean release of under size fish. Also I don’t know why other way to catch bass while ice fishing that doesn’t involve bait.

  40. Never heard of a catch and release buck or doe. I get a good fish it’s cause I put in just as much effort. Around me they stock ponds and streams for possible consumption. I’m opening up that food web for the fish I don’t keep.

  41. Definitely don’t agree with you. My family harvests food from hunting and fishing. If I follow the laws of the state, I am within my rights as a citizen. I am a fly fisherman as well, I catch and release each time by choice. I have run into older gentlemen like yourself on lakes and rivers, I don’t like your zen I am better than you attitude. You come across as selfish and arrogant, even if you do support bringing new anglers into the sport it’s only by your rules. Stop being a curmudgeon.

  42. I rarely comment on articles like this but I feel strongly enough to state that keeping fish within legal status is and should always be kept to the individual. Regardless of whatever reason a person chooses to be on one side of the argument a freedom to decide is a basic right of a sportsman. I may choose to pass on a younger legal deer but I also remember how excited I was with my first harvest and how delicious my hard earned spike deer tasted. Please don’t forget that we may have differences but articles beating down law abiding sportsmen will only turn new recruits away. Do a search on the decline of hunters and fisherman and realize that our way of life is going by the wayside and is in more danger from the outside world so let’s stick together within.

  43. Smallmouth are delicious. That man may only take a few fish a year to enjoy while someone who fishes often for sport may kill many more incidentally using catch and release.

  44. Hang on a minute, the guy broke no legal laws. They’re not an endangered species. Wildlife departments go to great lengths to determine and maintain populations and do a better job at it than you. I do know why you are upset, although you have no right to be. Two things pissed you off that day. Seeing your sacred idol on that stringer. You didn’t mind it’s fate so much as it’s captivity. Secondly, that damn minnow bucket! No worthy smallmouth sportsman would stoop so low as to use live bait! The very next thing I recommend you do is to get over yourself! You feel like anyone not living up to your personal standards isn’t worthy of space on your river? You might wanna rethink that, maybe try some anger management classes….just sayin

  45. I keep and clean every legal fish I hook. They are put on this Earth for us too eat. I love to eat fresh fish. As long as this guy was legal with his fish. Good for him. You are as bad as those clowns who think you only shot a giant buck. When someone shoots a smaller buck. You probably make fun or call that hunter a terrible person. You have no right to judge anyone.

  46. I’ve read the same story with differt fish or game depending on the person’s passion for a particular game
    instead of trying to convince people if your concerns is real you should be talking to d.e.p about limits and sizing

  47. Why is this still a feature article on Google? This man needs to file a lawsuit against the company supporting the author and the author. Even though his face is covered, people still knows how he is. He has done nothing wrong. You have judged him without knowing anything about him. This is what’s wrong with our country today. I am sure he, single handedly, has not ended the smallmouth population. Get over it and mind your own business. Not article worthy just to make yourself sound like God.

  48. I 1000% support and agree with the author. Fishermen in the 1950’s decimated fisheries across the country as it was routine to keep everything caught. Thank God that mindset began to change as outdoorsmen began to evolve and wise up in protecting our natural resources via catch and release fishing. When I buy lures the first thing I do is throw away the treble and in turn replace it with a single barbless hook. All of theses hilljacks complaining about this article lack ethics, and the intelligence to understand the harm they are causing by needlessly keeping everything they keep. Research the great kill off of Musky on the St. Lawrence River during the 1950’s. Enough said.

  49. There guy who wrote this is a shortsighted ass. The man is catching to eat. The author catches for sport. People eating are not the problem. This author is the problem with fishing.

  50. Sometimes I keep my catch to eat it and most of the time I release it. The thing that got my nlood boiling is the self righteous attitude towards somebody taking a fish in manner you fisapprove of and or then daring to take their harvest home and consume it. If the fish are taken legally and are of legal size, then let it go.

    • I love how the vast majority of those commenting have a more realistic view of fisheries than the author… Let a bunch go… Keep a bunch over the minimum size limit… Enjoy the release, enjoy the meal… I personally wouldn’t want to see someone keeping a daily limit EVERY DAY. But hey. To each their own.

  51. My mom always told me not to play with my food! On average the is a 16% mortality on catch and release bass so you and your Buddy are most likely killing some bass and just sending the dead fish downstream. Your like the guy who says tell people not to hunt over a stake dinner

  52. I cannot see a single reason for the authors anger.
    As he admitted, no laws were broken, and as the guy with the stringer said, he planned to eat the fish.
    I’d call that, exactly what fishing is all about.
    If you like to catch and release, good for you.
    I like to catch and eat. That’s what God made fish for.
    As the LORD said in Peter’s dream, “Arise, kill and eat!”

  53. The people that said they just love crappies, well keeping all of them will deplete a resource too. I’ve seen it happen. I personally release all bass, but that’s just me. If this guy wants to eat some fish, who I’m I to tell him he shouldn’t? I also only keep enough crappies for a meal, not a pail full to freezer burn in my freezer.

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