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WILL KEEPING THE BIG ONES DESTROY A LAKE


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I found out that the lake/slough that I live on is full of sunfish and was wondering what the effect would be if a guy kept the bigger sunfish over the smaller ones. The fish I have been keeping earlier this spring avraged 8 & 9 oz (not sure length) now I started catching a lot of 11 & 12oz fish (caught around 25 in about 1 hour half were in the 11&12oz range rest in the 8&9oz range). The main part of the lake is about 100 acres with a bay about 50 acres.There is a good number of smaller fish also that keep you on your toes. The lake is land locked but I have friend that would like to fish it and was wondering if I should put some kind of personal limit on it so it doesn't get fished out(greed is taking over).

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Welcome to the site! If you are weighing these fish, you will have a pretty good idea of what the "middle of the road average" is as far as size goes. Keep those fish from the middle if you don't mind working with smaller fish while cleaning them. During the active spawning period, I'd say let them all go just to be sure that they get some genetics back in the pond.

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My personal take on these issue, I think people should keep pretty much what they catch, I'm not much of a believer in slot harvesting, I think the fisheries would be better off keeping some bigger ones, and some smaller ones. That just what I think, last year I started to catch some nice big sunfish in a lake I didn't know had that many nice ones, I threw them all back, but I've since caught a lot more of them, therefore In my mind it's ok to keep some of the nicer big ones, since it's a metro lake I'm way more cautious on what I keep in my personal effort the keep bigger unstunted fish in out local lakes. To another big factor in keeping fish for me, too in numbers, personally I rather see someone, keep some nicer big ones every so often, then their limit of smaller ones everyday. To me this is much more harmful then keeping some big ones.

If you catch a bunch of nice fish don't feel bad to keep some.

YMMV (your mileage may vary)

[This message has been edited by mnrstrider (edited 07-06-2004).]

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I believe that if all you take out of a lake is the big fish, it hurts the gene pool that produced them in the first place.

But then, whose to say that the small ones that are kept, are not offspring of the genetically superior fish? So in that respect, it would also be a loss. Keep afew to eat, let the rest go.

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I keep big ones. The thing is, I think people keep too many fish somtimes. I mean, how much fish do you need. If I catch 10 or 12 big gills, that is plenty for dinner for the wife and I, and they're FRESH. I work with a guy, who when the bite is on he will go out with his daughters and catch 45 crappies. Then, he'll go back, and do it again and again until the bite is done.
Last winter, I brought home 9 or 10 big slab crappies TWICE all winter. More than enough to feed 2 to 4 people. And I went fishing on the lake I live on 3-5 times a week. Maybe it's just me, but I love catch and release. I can only eat so much fish, and I get tired of cleaning them after 2 or 3 times. That's why I don't mind keeping big panfish. I hope your friend is more into catching fish, than just hording them in is freezer.

Brandon

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my dad and i were talking to a DNR guy this last weekend about this very topic. he said that sunnies eat and grow larger as a way to compete with the already large males. so he said if people harvest large sunnies all the time then there would be no need for the smaller ones to try to grow larger. therefore making a lake full of small sunnies.

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Good point Sami. Along these lines, a pattern of harvesting top-end size bluegills from a lake, particularly a smaller body of water, eventually causes remaining fish to mature sooner. This means smaller, more abundant sunfish producing more generations of sunfish that again, mature and reproduce sooner than what would occur in a stable environment.

Soon, the lake is overpopulated by small sunfish that remain small. Research has proven this phenomenon time and again. It's simply the bluegill's way of perpetuating itself when too many truly mature fish disappear. It's the very same situation the DNR now faces in returning too many of these lakes to their previously balanced state.

-a friend called Toad

[This message has been edited by Toad (edited 07-08-2004).]

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Thanks for the replies.I agree with Holy Canvas about keeping a limited amount of fish to feed the family, being I live on the lake I never have more then 1 meal in the freezer, any more than 3 meals seems to get lost in the freezer never to be found again. I have an 8 year old daughter that has learned that catching fish is fun and that you don't have to keep them all, now I don't even remind her.It seems like the younger generation is easier to train then the old at times. Thanks Again

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All, to have our fish grow bigger, we must keep some of thesmaller one's. There is no way for the bigger one's to get bigger. An over population of small fish is not going to help so we must all take a part in protective harvesting.

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1 more ? with no predator fish in the lake you can see a lot of fish the size of a silver dollar.Are these fish going to over take the lake or will birds control this, I do see cormorants and pelicans on the lake with a loon every now and then. Thanks

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Throw those big ones back. Any species.

The littler ones taste better, and they are better for you. The older ones may have been exposed to more toxins over time.

Personally, I am not sure I have kept a sunfish in 15 years.

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Re-quoted from the Ohio DNR based on Lake Erie. Although not applicable to Minnesota, I think the last paragraph is important and something to consider.....

Are we overharvesting? In any overharvested fish population, the most desirable fish (big-uns) are removed at a rate that crops the population down to the point where relatively few keepers remain.. The population is cropped downed to the minimum acceptable size - i.e., it seems nothing but little ones are left. Clearly, survival that allows successful reproduction is the critical point. Is survival adequate?

PWT anglers just brought in 346 walleyes weighing over 10 lbs. each. To provide that quality of fishing requires large numbers of fish to survive to old age. And this harvest of older, trophy size walleye has been consistent for many years - there are always more. everytime the PWT comes to western Lake Erie (I think it's about nine times now), they always set big fish records. If sport fishing was hurting the population shouldn't they be catching fewer big ones, not more of them?

I also submit that these larger walleye need to be caught if we are to gain maximum benefit from the fishery. By the time a female has reached 8-10 years old, she has spawned several times, successfully replacing herself (and others). At this age, while her egg numbers may be high, the viability of the eggs has dropped greatly - she's worth less as a spawner than a 4-6 year old female. Look at any hatchery and you won't see a breeder trout over five or six pounds. Much better fry production comes from younger, smaller females, so the hatchery manager gets rid of the big-uns. They aren't worth feeding. In Lake Erie, the best fry production comes from female walleye in the 17-24 inch range. Those are the ones most anglers put in the cooler while releasing the whoppers "to spawn." TV star anglers have done a lot to romanticize this practice.

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When I fish I dont realease a huge fish and think...that baby's gunna spawn alot more fish, instead I do it so the huge fish can get huger and be caught again, hopefully by me. I dont think too many of the people that believe in releasing the bigger of the fish, do it because of spawning, most of us know very well that they are not the best spawners, I think the "quote" above is missing the point of it, its to keep the bigger fish in the lake to be caught again, because that is what, at least I, am out there to catch...the bigguns...of all species, because its sooo fun. I dont ever need to keep a fish to have a good time, and I never will, and for those who NEED to keep fish to enjoy themselves, im sorry for you. I dont disagree with eating fish, but it should not be needed to enjoy yourself like I have heard a few people say. My .02

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"Better get the net!"
-Fishin Chad

[This message has been edited by FishinChad (edited 07-08-2004).]

[This message has been edited by FishinChad (edited 07-08-2004).]

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