C&A food for thought [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: C&A food for thought

09-08-2005, 10:48 AM
I saw this posst on reeltime (poster: rbrown, thread: giant blue fin tuna), and while not conclusive of anything, it really has forced me to rethink many of my assumptions about C&A.

As a fishery biologist, I have long thought that both scientists and anglers underestimate catch and release mortality because of the inability to estimate mortality occuring after 48 to 72 hours. It is very difficult for fishery biologists to estimate the catch and release mortality on high metabolism and highly migratory species because traditional methods utilized in these studies (caging fish after release to quantify short term mortality) are largely ineffective. Functionally, mortality caused by caging equals or exceeding the handling mortality from catch and release unless an extremely large cage is used.

However, I offer the following unscientific observation. In early September 2004, there was tremendous action for false albacore (a closely related but clearly smaller tunoid) off the stone jetty in Woods Hole. During a 6 day period, I would estimate that approximately 100-150 fish were landed. Couple of days after that, one of our maintenance personnel was diving a water intake adjacent to the jetty and report "dozens" of dead false albacore on the bottom. I thought he was exaggerating so I dove (actually snorkled) it myself and counted 43 dead false albacore within 20 yards of the end of the stone jetty . Those were only the fish that died within 20 yards of the jetty and were not carried off by the tide. As a biologist, I was stunned because the anglers fishing that week were using excellent catch and release techniques and that I had been one of the anglers who caught approximately 10 fish (and likely killed at least 4 to 6 of them).

Someone will inveritably come back with a "sbft aren't albies" argument and that we really do not know what the mortality is, and they will be correct because there are little or no scientific studies relative to catch and release mortality of sbft. But given the conservation bent of the average participant in this forum, a precautionary approach to one's angling practices merits consideration.