Friday, January 3, 2014

New fish regulation should be province-wide

Jason Pons hoists what would be a great-eating-size northern pike
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is implementing a new fishing regulation in Zone 5, one zone to the south of us, that I wish we had in our Zone 4 and for that matter, throughout the province of Ontario. They are eliminating the slot size for northern pike and instead, making it illegal to keep any pike over 75 cm which is 29.5 inches. So, you can keep any pike under this size. Limits remain the same: two on a conservation license and four on a full-limit license.
The MNR points out this will protect the large fish -- the trophy sizes -- while expanding a bit the sizes of smaller fish that can be kept.
This is exactly what is needed everywhere. Let the big fish go and eat the smaller ones. Big fish are the spawners and are poor eating choices. It is stupid to keep them, there's no other way to say it.
Everyone wants to catch lunker northern pike. They are a thrill like no other as they rip the line off your drag and nearly break your fishing rod. But it is absolutely senseless to keep them. When you do you are reducing the ability of  the lake to provide other northern pike. If you want to memorialize the catching of the fish with a trophy, get a replica. These fiberglass and graphite models are made to be identical to your actual fish and will last forever. The old skin mounts eventually deteriorate.
In Zone 4, where Red Lake is located, there is a slot size for pike that states no fish between 27.5 and 35.5 inches can be kept and only one larger than 35.5 can be kept.
We have always advocated that you throw back all your big fish.
By increasing the size of the smaller fish that can be kept to 29.5 inches in Zone 5, the MNR is letting anglers keep slightly larger fish while preventing them from killing the really big breeders. It will undoubtedly mean more big fish to catch and release. This is really a good idea.
At Bow Narrows we have struggled with what to do about a few of our anglers that routinely catch and kill very large pike. There are some places that simply won't allow such guests to return. The problem I have with that solution is that almost all of these people are our oldest guests. I keep hoping that our education program will some day convince all of them to change their ways. That has happened to some extent but there are still some dinosaurs out there.
Meanwhile 95 per cent of our anglers have taken the more progressive road and always throw back their big pike. Virtually all younger fishermen do this. It seems to be the proverbial problem of teaching old dogs new tricks.
If we had a regulation like the new one for Zone 5 it would be easy. There simply would be no other choice.

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Joe Overman said...

Dan, Good news. I convinced Fred and Dee to release all big Pike. We sealed the deal with a glass of bourbon, so it is binding.

Dan Baughman said...

Glad to hear it!