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docwalleye88

Keep the big or keep the small?

10 posts in this topic

I am wondering what can be done to increase the size of the panfish in the metro area. It has become very hard to find those hand size sunfish anymore. Would it be better to start keeping some of these smaller fish? Any thoughts?

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That's my opinion. Keep lots of little ones.

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I agree, keep the small ones and toss back the bigger ones. But most people keep the bigger, and rip on people who keep those tiny sunfish. A study done in Texas, found that if people want bigger sunfish, they need to keep small ones and toss back bigger ones (the article was in the In-Fisherman Mag).

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It's kind of a catch-22 - If you want big sunnies to eat.

You can only have 'em if you throw 'em back. When word gets out of big sunnies or crappies it doesn't take long for crowds to descend and sort the big ones out of circulation in a wierd sort of "get 'em before they're gone" scene. Maybe panfish should be strictly kids only for keeping, and C&R for us big kids.

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Lee-

You're right. Its a vicious circle. Everybody wants bigger gills & crappies to eat, more meat right? But when you look at all the other species of fish, you are totally frowned upon and dragged across the coals for keeping a large fish. If you want to continue to catch big gills, you're going to have to release the big ones. Matt Breur, Johnson, and Corey Bechtold will preach this fact to know end. They catch many big panfish so they are on to something.

I say keep the medium sized fish for the pan, let the large ones go to get larger, and let the little ones grow to become eaters.

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What's medium in your eyes? Depends on the lake, I suppose. On Medicine sunfish over 8" and crappies over 9" are pretty big. Maybe when you get to that 'wow' factor it's time to put 'em back, and the ones you keep catching to get to that 'wow' fish are eaters.

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in the old days we kept everything and we were happy, now the big pound sunnies are gone from the metro for good. panfish are for eating so catch what you can and make a good meal out of it if they are big enough.

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Interesting info Crappieflop, I thought northerns kept sunfish in check. Hopefully some of these catch and release bass lakes might start producing some better size sunfish, unless they don't have a lot of those 12-16 bass in them. For instance, lakes like Jane and Demontreville.

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It sure does seem the secret to better sunfish is in the Bass population.

There is a small lake in WI that I fish a few times every year. It's 88 acres and 15' max depth. The bass fishing is great, which you would think would help keep the sunfish in check. But there are so many lilly pads. Like the MN DNR says, allows cover for the sunfish to hide. I've been E-mailing the WI DNR for tips on what I can do. This is what I have so far.

"Many of the small lakes in this part of the state are pretty infertile

and have slightly acidic water. Sunfish eggs hatch well and fry get

started but the infertile lakes don't produce as much of the bug life it

takes to grow bigger panfish. You shouldn't expect your lake to produce

as well as green weedy ones like Clam lake do.

The most important thing you can do is protect (catch and release) the

predator fish, like bass. If you can build up the number of predators

then they eat enough of the small sunfish to thin down populations so

there is more food for the ones that are left. If you are successful with

panfish control, you will likely end up with lots of bass between 10 to

14 inches and very few larger bass because competition within high

density bass populations results in slow bass growth.

The problem with small panfish is that there are too many for the food

supply. You don't really want those nesting sunfish to be very

successful. However in the case of bluegill and only bluegill, there is an

advantage to not harvesting large males at any time of the year. The males

have the darker bronze orange breast and their blue flap on the gill

plate is larger than the females. Young males know that the females will

all be attracted to the nest of the biggest males so the bachelors

decide to delay spawning until they are big enough to compete. Growing

gametes and guarding a nest takes lots of energy so once they decide to

spawn they don't grow as well. Once you have a fair number of large males

you actually end up with fewer nests and faster growing fish.

All this takes years to do and won't ever happen where a lot of people

fish the lake that may not comply with voluntary rules over and above

state fishing regulations. Also some small lakes are subject to

occasional winterkills that disrupt predator prey balances etc. "

I guess the best we can do is keep the smaller sunfish and release all the decent bass. I know every lake is different but It sounds like this would help out in any lake.

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