Catch & Release
By: Capt. Ty Hibbs
"Catch and Release", it's a phrase for some people, especially down here in south east Louisiana, that has been quite crucial, especially the past few years. Are the fish species in our fishery slowly decreasing in numbers? If so, could it be from our disappearing coast, the rise in fishing pressure, or maybe just a bad cycle of the past few generations of fish? Whether or not this problem exists, it is still your legal right to keep up to your limit of fish here in Louisiana which is the state with the most lenient limits in the country. Yes, we all know those days when it is good. We want to show off that box shot and act like we’re going to feed the whole block; but is it really necessary? Wouldn't you like to keep only what you can consume in reasonable time and help con- serve a population of fish for your future generations to come? Maybe you already do, and maybe you’d just like to know how to release your fish in a better manner once you’ve already obtained your limit. Whichever you prefer, we have some tips for you.
Speckled trout are probably some of the most delicate fish that we catch in our marshes. Although we don't catch those monsters all that often, you can do your part to help keep those bigger trout genes in the next generation of trout by releasing larger specks in the correct way. One of the most important things for speckled trout is trying to keep your dry hands off of them as much as possible because that will take off the slime and scales which help protect the fish. One of the best things to do is wet your hands, take a quick photo with them, then tag and release them; however don’t just toss them back in. Instead, make sure to try and keep their body upright in the water if they need it, and let them swim off when they feel strong enough. Specks can use even more gentle care especially in the hotter months of July and August when the surface temperature of the water can reach insane heights, depleting oxygen levels which are necessary to the livelihood of those fish.
If you want to bring some home for dinner, instead of taking the bigger ones, throw them back and take home smaller ones for the family. They taste better than those monster sized speckled trout anyway. There's nothing better than putting more effort into conserving our species for future generations and also keeping a few to eat right now as well.