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The Science behind Panfish regulations (not just my opinion)

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    The Science behind Panfish regulations (not just my opinion)

    I posted this in a reply in the "Lower Panfish Limits?" thread, so I apologize for posting it again, I didn't want it to be buried on the 3rd page of that thread. I just wanted as many people as possible to see some of the research that goes into fishing regulation and hopefully share a little educational experience. If the moderators don't want this up twice, please delete it.

    Most of the time I am a reader on this forum and do very little posting, so forgive me for this extra long post, but I challenge you to read this who thing and maybe learn something. I researched a bunch of articles on panfish regulations and summarized them (so I did the majority of the work). I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for keeping a limit of fish, I just wanted do this for my own educational experience and maybe someone else can learn something too. (blue = my opinions,
    black = quotes from the articles, red = citation of article)

    I see a lot of "opinions" on this subject but very little "research" being discussed, and remember "opinions are like armpits, everyone has 1 or 2 and most of the time they stink." Just because we did it "THIS" way in the old days and it worked back then doesn't mean that was the best way.

    This first article isn't exactly scientific, it does proves my point about the old ways aren't always the best ways and its pretty entertaining to look at things we used to do in the name of healthcare. I am sure the people who look back on bloodletting might have a different opinion now, or giving our children heroine for a tooth ache might be frowned upon nowadays. I would bet we will look back one day at the liberal panfish limits and say "what were we thinking?"


    http://www.cracked.com/article_15669...n-history.html

    I did a quick search on google "top down harvest of panfish" and the top two hits came from Nebraska sources, and both heavily quoted our very own pointy headed biologist, "whitetips". But we have heard from him repeatedly on this subject so I am gonna focus on other sources.

    The first thing I would like to bring up is, "what is the NGPC motivation for changing harvest limits?" Are they trying to make fishing "no fun" or want to control everything? The NGPC is a tax funded agency, so the less people that participate in the activities that the NGPC manages the less money that will be available for them. I guarantee you "money" is a huge factor when determining what to do. My father-in-law works at a state park and in his 30 years of service he has seen the staff go from 3 full-time and 4 part-time to 1 full-time and 3 part-time employees. So you better believe money is a big deal, and if our fishery department ruins our fisheries or over-regulates and people stop fishing then they are gonna be without a job.

    But lets look at the "opinions" of some people outside of our state. I read a handful of articles from multiple states (ND, MN, WI), In-fisherman and some professional fisherman and here is a summary of what I read. I challenge you to read these articles or find other research that refutes my findings.


    https://blog.nature.org/science/2015...nfish-fishing/

    "If you don’t catch and keep a lot of bluegills out of a pond, you’ll often hear a fisherman say, the bluegills will overrun the place. You’ll soon have a pond full of runty, stunted fish. This is why the bag limits for bluegills are typically very liberal – it is not unusual to be able to keep 25 fish a day. It’s the angler’s duty to catch and eat as many as possible – keep the herd in check, if you will. It sounds good, but current research suggests it’s wrong. In fact, research conducted by Andrew Rypel, research biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, suggests the opposite: that liberal harvest limits on bluegills actually decreases the size of fish."

    "Wisconsin DNR reduced the bag limit to 10 fish on 10 lakes as a test. Researchers, including Rypel, analyzed fish size before and after the regulation. They found that fish size increased on average a half-inch on maximum size and .8 inch on mean size."

    So we actually have research that suggest reducing bag limit will increase the average size of the fish, and increasing bag limit does the opposite.

    http://nodakangler.com/forums/conten...-BIG-BLUEGILLS

    The lakes that the DNR tends to see good bluegill growth typically have a couple things going for them:

    1. Good Habitat
    2. Relatively Low Harvest


    In Nebraska we don't have a lot of lakes that fit this description

    "Why is it important to release the large males? The primary reason: Without their presence, the bluegill population will stunt (likely permanently). The males are the key protectors of the nesting colony. Once they are removed, it allows smaller fish to spawn and become sexually mature."

    I have seen this discussed numerous times but the sooner a bluegill becomes sexually mature and the less energy they use towards growth (i.e. stunted)

    https://www.sctimes.com/story/sports...vior/85186790/

    In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1980, authors Mart Gross and Eric Charnov found that large male bluegills aggressively defend nests with eggs and larval young, become sexually mature at larger sizes and older ages, and in delaying sexual maturity devote more of their energy resources to growth.

    We knew in the 80s that taking the big bluegills out of a population was a bad idea and it has taken this long for regulations to catch up and people still don't like it.

    http://www.in-fisherman.com/editoria...harvest/153269

    Fish populations are shrinking:

    "Two previous studies from Michigan and Wisconsin show how vulnerable sunfish are to exploitation. Just one month after Third Sister Lake, Michigan, was first opened to angling, 24 percent of legal-sized (6-inch) sunfish were harvested. In another lake newly opened to the public in 1976 — Mid Lake, Wisconsin — anglers harvested 13 percent of bluegills greater than 6 inches within the first three days, and 35 percent by the end of the third month."

    "A creel survey from 1961 showed that 40 percent of harvested bluegills from Lake Andrew, Minnesota, measured nearly 9 inches or larger. By 1995, only 1 percent of the bluegills in this lake measured this size or larger."

    This article does go on to say that southern lakes have an advantage because they have longer growing seasons but I don't think we are far enough south to have that much of an advantage and we lack the natural habitat that a lot of northern states like SD, ND, and MN have. Prove me wrong if you think our fisheries can sustain heavy harvest because of our geographic location.

    https://blog.finandfield.com/fishing...nfish-harvest/

    "Brian Brosdalh - In the past five years, even some the most remote lakes I fish have been discovered and selectively vacuumed by unethical anglers. Vulnerable populations can be easily rooted out through social media now, where not everyone is ethical. It reminds me of the way buffalo were once hunted to near extinction on the frontier, but now the mission is to rid the earth of big bluegills, crappies, and perch."

    Fishing technology has grown by leaps and bounds, I think back to my grandpa going out with a zebco, plain hook and a worm and just tossing it over the bow with no idea what is below. Now we have GPS, Contour maps, sonar, cameras, etc. With panoptix you might as well be playing a video game. Combine that with the internet that spreads information like wild fire and even the "remote" lakes are getting highly pressured. I have heard it said on here before that if the oceans can be over fished then any lake in Nebraska definitely has the potential to be over harvested.

    "Consider a single deep-fried bluegill fillet can contain in excess of 200 calories. Run the numbers and you realize how much food value—and ounces of meat—lies in a limit of 25 sunfish."

    I would never consider telling a grown man what he can or can't eat but consider that if that those numbers are correct, a 15 fish limit would provide 6,000 calories. That is more than the suggested calorie intake the average male should consume in 2 DAYS!!!! Put it another way, with one limit of bluegill you could provide a 1,000 calorie meal for 6 PEOPLE!!! I find it pretty naive to suggest that, a 15 fish limit makes it not worth the trouble of getting the equipment out of the garage.

    https://myemail.constantcontact.com/...id=TwD71W5R-xo

    "Don Cox - How is this scenario any different than us continually harvesting panfish from the top down? Obviously we cannot harvest all the top producing panfish in a lake; we're making a genetic impact."

    Another one of the first articles that came up on my google search was by Don Cox and he compared the genetic impact of harvesting the biggest fish to a herd of cattle with ideal genetics that was bred with the lowest producing bulls. Basically cattle are selectively bred for decades to produce certain traits (bigger offspring, certain marbeling patterns, higher milk production in dairy cows), and if you decided to start breeding your cattle with bulls that do not have these traits it would only take a few years for a number of them to lose their desired traits and to reserve this effect could again take decades before you consistently see the traits you want. Don does a better job of explaining it, so read his article, its good.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVfJg02_YjY
    http://anglingbuzz.com/panfis
    h-regulations/

    Watch this video or read this article, Anglingbuzz asked a bunch of professional fisherman what their opinion is and its basically unanimous that we should have stricter regulations. Now I will say none of these guys are from Nebraska and we do have stricter regulations, so they are more referring to states like MN, ND, SD that have more liberal bag limits, but let's not suggest that the limits we have are ruining our fisheries.

    So basically in all these articles we are hearing from Fish Biologist who's jobs rely on citizens of that state enjoying fishing, or professional fishermen who rely on people to paying them for help catching fish. Both of these people are financially invested in creating fisheries that have the most desirable fish populations (big fish) and if they mess up they literally can lose their job.

    I want to reiterate that I am not trying to make someone feel guilty for keeping fish, heck I just kept 14 bluegill yesterday, but personally I want to be as educated as possible when sharing my opinion, so hopefully 1 or 2 guys will read this whole thing and learn something.

    #2
    I agree with you 100%. I love the taste of fish as much as the next guy, but I always release big fish for the reason of catching the fish is the funnest part about fishing. I don't think lowering the Panfish Regulation to 5 or 10 would be a big deal as I strongly encourage it. If it does stay at 15 they should make it so ALL Bluegill over 9 inches must be released or ALL perch over 12 inches must be released which would help out the fisheries tremendously in my opinion.

    GREAT POST! I loved reading it

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for reading, I would like to add that I think 15 bag limit was a nice compromise. I have just heard so many complaints from fishermen about the current bag limit being too low that I wanted to look into the matter myself.

      The one thing I wish I could change is: Only 1 fish over a certain length can be kept

      Allow fishermen a chance to take home a trophy but not fill a limit with those top end fish

      Comment


        #4
        In my opinion, taking home a trophy is for those days where cameras were not what they are today and there weren't such life-like reproductions available. When I was a kid, we used to eat bass from a farm pond. The 1-3 lb bass were great. But anything bigger was less quality meat and really didn't taste as good. I had a buddy that caught a 16" crappie in Missouri. He brought it back whole and kept it in his freezer to show off. Until it was so iced up and freezer burnt you couldn't tell what it was. There aren't very many people who don't have a camera available to snap a quick photo and release.
        Mike - LaVista, NE

        Comment


          #5
          If the panfish limit is lowered in Nebraska so be it, but than bluegill,perch and crappie need to be considered separate species and not lumped into one category. In other words 5/10 bluegill, 5/10 crappie, 5/10 perch. Protect our resources but don't push the flow of money to other states, i.e. South Dakota, North Dakota, etc. Amazing how many people support lower limits in Nebraska and than hop over the border to catch their more liberal limit in SD. You can't be on both sides of the fence without getting something caught on the barb wire.
          With that said:
          I have personally witnessed a brand new pond, with privately purchased fish become stunted with 3 inch Bluegill and 5 inch Crappie within 2 years of the stocking, by not harvesting a single fish in hopes they would grow up. When that proved to be the wrong theory; the owner asked for advice from the Game and Parks, he was told he needed to reduce the fish population to get the fish size to increase. 2 years of reducing the population of those 3 inch bluegills and "viola", now seeing several 8-10 inch gills and 12 inch Crappie. Now I understand that doesn't mean we can start carrying buckets of 8-10 bluegills and 12 inch Crappie away, but the delicate balance of increased harvest worked on this particular body of water.

          Comment


          • whitetips
            whitetips commented
            Editing a comment
            How many bass are in that pond?

          #6
          Originally posted by Perch Fanatic View Post
          If the panfish limit is lowered in Nebraska so be it, but than bluegill,perch and crappie need to be considered separate species and not lumped into one category. In other words 5/10 bluegill, 5/10 crappie, 5/10 perch. Protect our resources but don't push the flow of money to other states, i.e. South Dakota, North Dakota, etc. Amazing how many people support lower limits in Nebraska and than hop over the border to catch their more liberal limit in SD. You can't be on both sides of the fence without getting something caught on the barb wire.
          With that said:
          I have personally witnessed a brand new pond, with privately purchased fish become stunted with 3 inch Bluegill and 5 inch Crappie within 2 years of the stocking, by not harvesting a single fish in hopes they would grow up. When that proved to be the wrong theory; the owner asked for advice from the Game and Parks, he was told he needed to reduce the fish population to get the fish size to increase. 2 years of reducing the population of those 3 inch bluegills and "viola", now seeing several 8-10 inch gills and 12 inch Crappie. Now I understand that doesn't mean we can start carrying buckets of 8-10 bluegills and 12 inch Crappie away, but the delicate balance of increased harvest worked on this particular body of water.
          That pond needs some bass and cats.

          Comment


            #7
            Thanks for the input whitetips and pelican. 500 large mouth were included with the initial stocking and another 100 added since then. Have caught several 4-6 lb bass ( which were released back into the pond) and seeing lots of bass hatch. I quess my point is that there are several ways to bring a body of water into balance and lowering the limits may not work on every body of water. Nothing is more frustrating than spending a day on a GFP stocked lake and catching hundreds of 3 inch bluegill and having the same results year after year with no signs of improvement. Is it possible that lakes like that need the population reduced?

            Comment


            • Harold
              Harold commented
              Editing a comment
              Curious, what's a GFP stocked lake?
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