Keeping Fish To Eat

The fish we catch and keep to eat are for most of us a reward for our effort that goes beyond sport and ties us to the principal reason that most of our ancestors fished. For them, fish as food was right up there with, and usually more important than, anything having to do with sport.


Today, catching and then releasing fish so they can be caught again has become a vital part of fishing. In traditional fashion, however, most anglers still want to harvest at least some of their catch.

For going on two decades now, we have promoted "selective harvest," an approach that captures the best aspects of "catch and release" angling, on one hand, and "catch and keep" angling, on the other. We suggest that anglers harvest fish selectively as a matter of conscience and conservation concern, and because fish are nutritious, delicious, and (when harvested selectively) a renewable resource.


Anglers who practice selective harvest, where appropriate, let a portion of their catch go, particularly those large fish that are much less abundant than the smaller fish of the same species. They release 3-pound bass in favor of harvesting several 12-inch bass, the making's of a great meal. Or they take home a mess of abundant panfish of a medium-size, perhaps perch, bluegills, or crappies. This can help to sustain good fishing. Meanwhile, we also continue a tradition of eating some fish.

When fish are used this way, they continue to be renewable. We can continue to have some fish to eat and plenty of good-quality fish available for sportfishing--so long as we also protect habitat, for habitat remains the most basic key to sustaining populations of wildlife.

Although we have perhaps done the most to promote this simple practical concept, it isn't an In-Fisherman concept, but one that belongs to the entire angling world. Our hope would be that more magazines and conservation organizations would do more to promote the concept as a sensible approach to fishing. 


Recommended for You

Bass

Deep Cranking Confessions from the Pro's

John Neporadny Jr - December 18, 2017

Here's some important crankbait lessons from the big leagues.

Bass

Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!

Recipes

Pecan-Crusted Catfish Fillets Recipe

By: Emilie Bailey

This is not your run-of-the-mill fish recipe! Buttery, savory pecans are seasoned up to make...

See More Recommendations

Trending Stories

Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

See More Stories

More Fish Care

Fish Care

Basic Filleting

In-Fisherman - October 18, 2011

Filleting is the most popular method for cleaning most fish.

Fish Care

One Angler'™s Evolution

Jeff Simpson - October 01, 2015

Knowledge acquired over time is essential for gaining the necessary wisdom to evolve as an...

Fish Care

Keeping Fish To Eat

In-Fisherman - October 17, 2011

Good practices.

See More Fish Care

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.