I’m not going to debate catch, weigh and release in this column versus a five-bass limit. What I do want to talk about is a 50 year standard that started when Ray Scott and Harold Sharp mandated catch and release back in the early 1970's. At the onset, a 10-fish limit was the threshold, and that went pretty quickly to a seven-fish limit. Then Dewey Kendrick went to a five-bass limit that has been the norm for what seems like forever.
As I write this column there will be 100s of tournaments across the land this coming weekend with thousands of anglers participating. Most will leave and return at prescribed times with hopes of weighing the heaviest five-bass limit. Heck, on Lake Jordan in Alabama where I live there are multiple tournaments almost every Saturday plus night derbies four to five nights a week during the summer. And the fishing remains excellent.
Our lakes and rivers are in great shape thanks to state agencies and the care most anglers take with their catches. And I would be remiss if I did not mention all of the great boat builders we now have in this sport. Over time these companies have spent unknown resources and time to build what they think is the best livewell system for their product — if not they would not be in business very long.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the heck out of fishing these local derbies. And on a good day I take pleasure in peeking in the livewells every now and then. I think the vast majority of us go to great lengths to take care of our fish. We want those fish released in fine shape to be caught again — hopefully by us.
At B.A.S.S., in addition to educating the public on fish care, we go to great lengths to care for the fish caught in our tournaments, releasing them back into the tournament waters. According to the experts, tournament fishing has no negligible effect on fish populations. Yes there are certain fisheries, like some smallmouth waters, where fish care takes on added emphasis.
I have been weighing fish on the Bassmaster stage for a long time, and last I looked our lakes and rivers are as good or better than ever. Lake Guntersville is an excellent example. There are boats on it every day and on weekends there will be multiple tournaments. Guntersville remains one of the greatest bass fishing lakes in the world.
None of us know what fishing will look like years down the road, but I for one think it is pretty darn good right now. As a matter of fact I plan to take off a week to fish an old mans derby here in central Alabama. Can’t wait.
Good fishing to all of you!