Non-fisherperson: "Do you eat the fish you catch?"
Me: "Not very often. I practice catch & release 97% of the time."
Non-fisherperson: "Could you bring me some fish sometime?"
Me: "Like I said, I really don't keep fish very often."
Non-fisherperson: "Do you not like to eat fish?"
Me: "It's not that I don't like to eat fish. It's just that eating the bass from the creeks where I usually fish wouldn't be very sustainable. I'd also prefer to eat fish other than bass... which is what I fish for most of the time."
Non-fisherperson: "Do you ever keep any of the fish you catch?"
Me: "Sometimes I keep a limit of stocked Rainbows, and I'd probably keep some Crappie if I caught them more often."
So here's one for all the non-fisherpeople who ask all the questions...
|Cahaba River Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)|
|Kelly's 12 1/4" on left, Jay's 12 3/4" on right|
Like I've said before, if I caught more Crappie, I'd probably eat more of my catch. So, yesterday afternoon when Kelly and I got into a few on the Cahaba River with our ultralights (and we didn't have any plans for dinner), we decided Crappie would be on the menu for the evening.
We released the first and smallest one we caught (around 11"), and then kept the two above. We made a few more unproductive casts and then decided this pair would be enough to feed the two of us. We headed home and enjoyed the freshest Crappie meal either of us has ever eaten.
Crappie and other panfish are one of the most sustainable choices for the frying pan (or baked in the oven as the case may be). As much as I support catch & release, I have no problem with anglers who make informed and sustainable choices when deciding whether or not to keep the occasional limit of fish.
Conservation is often defined as "the wise use of resources." Conservation should not be confused with preservation as the two concepts are not entirely interchangeable. They're also not mutually exclusive. There is certainly an element of preservation involved in good conservation and sustainability practices. Informed conservation is about knowing what to use and what to preserve... and sometimes it all boils down to common sense.