Conserve Our Resources
Conservation is necessary to ensure that these magnificent fish are here for our children, grandchildren and all of the future.
As a rule, I have no problem with anglers wanting to take a few fish home for the table, as long as they are within the rules, but if you're looking to fill coolers with fish, I'm not your guy. I will be glad to give you contact information for captains that base their business on bringing home large quantities of fish for their clients. I prefer to enjoy the catch, photograph it for a memory and release the fish to fight another day and provide enjoyment and sport to other anglers. I don't have a problem with clients takng fish home to eat, but I'm not the guy who takes as many fish as he can.
Over the years, I've sent the decline in some species, and the resurgence in others, mainly based on regulation of the species. But there are some species open to harvest that I prefer to release, even though it's legal to keep them. I won't begrudge my clients for wanting to harvest them, but if asked, I will suggest we let them go.
Let me explain more.
Spotted seatrout are a good example. We have probably the best fishery in the world for trophy seatrout. We have a strong seatrout population, but not the huge numbers you'll find in places like Louisiana (where the daily bag limit is 25 seatrout per angler) or the Florida Panhandle (where you can catch big numbers of 1-pound fish). That being said, most of the fish in those states are small, averaging less than a pound, whereas our average fish is closer to three pounds. And our trophy fish (over 8 pounds) are considerably more common. Fish over 10-pounds are a regular catch when we target them.
While we have less fish and a higher average size, most seatrout don't reach trophy size, not because they are harvested before they live long enough to grow large, but because genetically they don't grow fast enough to attain trophy size. So when we do catch a trophy seatrout, we are looking at a fish with superior genetics, a faster, larger-growing fish than the others in the population, and we want to keep those fast-growing genetics in the population. The larger a seatrout, the more eggs it lays, so we want the big fish laying as many eggs as they can, to produce a lasting population of trophy seatrout for anglers to target for generations.
So if you want to keep a limit of smaller seatrout, I don't have a problem with that. If you want to keep a trophy, I will try to talk you out of it, but I won't stop you. It's legal, and within your rights as an angler, and in the end, I believe the fish are put here for our enjoyment, and that includes eating them.
Permit are another good example. We have an incredible permit fishery from April through August, and most of these fish are the large breeders. We're fortunate to have this fishery, which has developed over the last 15 years or so. If my anglers want to keep a small fish for dinner, I have no problem with it, but I'd prefer we let all the permit go because the population is not that big, and we are trying to grow it to the point that we can regularly target them in more areas. By expanding the populations, we'll see more schools of fish in more locations coming back year after year.