I have been knocking around the edges of trout
management for nearly half a century now and still
do not claim to know nor understand much about it.
I have fished with and associated with many guys
from the first ranks of the departments, got to
know them and admire the work and dedication they
have. Management is just that; management. But I
wish it was that simple.
Let's take an example for a moment, 'multi-use.'
The idea that if it is outdoors stuff it belongs
to all of us. That means that we can play horse-shoes
on the tennis courts, just be careful of each other.
Right, some things can not be done that way, but
there are times when 'multi-use' can be used. What
would be the management tool to use here? How does
one balance the needs and desires of department with
those of the legislators? How indeed. How do you pass
a law that is right, works, and will still let you
get re-elected? Do you write a law for the fishery
or the people using the fishery? Protect the
environment from all destruction/use, or can it
stand some sustained/constant use and regeneration/harvest?
Info and data comes up through the ranks and is analyzed
and acted upon by those entrusted with the job. Good
luck, stuff like that is way above my pay-grade.
About fifty years back a company wanted to put a
plant on a tiny river in the mid-west. The state
needed it, it would make jobs, and was clean, so
to speak. The only thing it would do was dump some
hot (about 176 degrees) water back into the stream.
This did not seem like the right thing to do. We
did step into this one and got the water re-entered
back into the water at a reasonable temperature.
The tool we used? The court. Tools come in all types.
This one is for you to think about. Let's call it 'Catch
and Kill.' (C&K) Yes, the idea here would be to, of
course on highly selected targets, write the law
something like this. You may catch two fish of any
length (or in a slot size or weight) and you must
kill and keep them. Why such a law?
Perhaps the targeted fishery is in trouble and should
not be fished at all. Ok, don't fish it, period. Let's
say it is better than that, but not much. It can stand
a few fish being harvested, but not many. C&R you say?
Perhaps, but is it not true that maybe even ten percent
of the fish released by C&R die any how? Would that
mean if you caught twenty, you actually killed two?
And wasted them? And how about the eighteen? Did you
stress them to a fatal or near fatal point? No answers
here from me, just questions as usual.
Is it possible that at certain times a C&K policy may
be a better management tool? I ask this because of a
rather odd circumstance that has developed. A aura of
"better than thow" has settled over the C&R idea. There
some who feel they have taken, "The moral high ground"
by being part of the C&R crowd. The aloofness gets a bit
rank at times. I am not saying that there are not times
when C&R is the correct tool, but until someone deflates
the "moral high ground" idea we are not going to make
much use of the C&K tool.
There are times when here in our country C&K is in use
though. The idiots who snuck the Lake Trout into
Yellowstone Lake years ago should be hung if ever
caught. You now are required to C&K all you can. A
few other examples exist as well, but that is not
my point. We need to start thinking about management
tools in the correct light, not as badges of superiority.
Perhaps we need to take a hard look at all sides
when we scream about some poisoning of a lake, some
bag limiting new rule or other such thing infringing
upon our rights. Not to say we knuckle-under, just
try to stay totally informed and open minded
~ James Castwell