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Letting big fish go?

Old 08-25-2020, 03:34 PM
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Default Letting big fish go?

Is there any validity to the theory that it is better to let the bigger fish go and keep the smaller fish because the bigger fish spawn more eggs? As an example...would you keep a large Sword vs a smaller legal Sword? Large Tuna? Large Dolphin?
Of course I am talking to recreational guys that don't care about having more than a half dozen meals in their freezer at any one time.
Don't know. I am thinking about starting to let the bigger fish in each species go back?
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08-25-2020, 03:55 PM
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I let trophies go. I figure if they were strong enough to get that big, that’s the fish I want spawning. just my thought.

Take a picture and back in the water they go.
Old 08-25-2020, 03:45 PM
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Big King Mackerel are filled with eggs. In fact all the 30 pounders are females since the biggest males are supposedly less than 20 pounds. The 30 pounders are also 10 or 12 years old and filled with mercury. I prefer to keep the smaller kings, because they taste better, have minimal mercury, and are not filled with eggs. Of course in a tournament I want the ones over 30 pounds.
Old 08-25-2020, 03:55 PM
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I let trophies go. I figure if they were strong enough to get that big, that’s the fish I want spawning. just my thought.

Take a picture and back in the water they go.
Old 08-25-2020, 04:03 PM
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I agree if you want to improve the bread, always let the desirable continue to expand their DNA. Works for all species......... not just fish, Have you been to the sandbar lately?
Old 08-25-2020, 04:05 PM
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Bigger fish usually don't taste as good, and as Kendall said, they accumulate mercury and other heavy metals. I'd much prefer a barely legal king to a 40"+ fish.
Old 08-25-2020, 04:08 PM
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I’ve noticed when I filet fish the smaller ones just by a few inches can have up to 1/3 the amount of eggs in them. I would love to release the larger fish but I’m not a good enough fisherman to choose if I want to come home with meat haha. If I went out all the time and caught a lot of fish I would release the bigger fish and keep the closer to just legal sized fish
Old 08-25-2020, 04:11 PM
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You don't suppose that bigger fish were once small eating size fish?
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Old 08-25-2020, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by noelm View Post
You don't suppose that bigger fish were once small eating size fish?
lol...common sense aint so common...
Old 08-25-2020, 04:26 PM
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There are many species that aren’t good table fare as they get big. Rockfish, Bluefish etc. I much prefer to keep a Rockfish a 1/4” over the minimum than catch and keep a trophy. I don’t even target them. With regard to keeping fish in general. I only keep what we can eat in the near future or if it freezes well within a several months.

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Old 08-25-2020, 04:29 PM
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Some fish larger ones are not as good - channel catfish is the most extreme example I know of.


Some fish it does not matter like YFT.
Old 08-25-2020, 04:31 PM
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https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0510150058.htm

heres an article for you, to sum it up, big fish produce a disproportionate number of eggs compared to smaller fish. So, yes you are much better off saving the trophy fish and letting in reproduce as opposed to killing it.
Old 08-25-2020, 04:57 PM
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Don't know about pelagic or other offshore species, but that is definitely the case with inshore species like snook and trout.
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Old 08-25-2020, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by homeby51 View Post
Is there any validity to the theory that it is better to let the bigger fish go and keep the smaller fish because the bigger fish spawn more eggs?
The short answer is yes, bigger fish produce more eggs.
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Old 08-25-2020, 05:25 PM
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As for the argument that big fish were once "keeping size"

That's true, but a barely keeper is one of many. A big fish is one of few that made it to that size.
Old 08-25-2020, 07:01 PM
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I guess the other side of the argument would be that since you kill more smaller fish for the same amount of meat....... it's a wash when it comes conservation. Any validity to that?
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Old 08-25-2020, 07:01 PM
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Mahi mahi may be an exception. They begin laying eggs at 4-5 months old and only live about 5 years. By the time they're large they've laid a bunch of eggs and only have a short time to live anyway.
Old 08-25-2020, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by wstanford277 View Post
Some fish larger ones are not as good
Some fish it does not matter like YFT.

A yellowfin tuna under 15# or so is definitely poor quality meat.
Sashimi grade Ahi just don’t happen until they’re over about 40#, and the top grade fish are invariably cows.
But none of that matters if you freeze it, that is the ultimate downgrade!
Old 08-25-2020, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by homeby51 View Post
I guess the other side of the argument would be that since you kill more smaller fish for the same amount of meat....... it's a wash when it comes conservation. Any validity to that?
Marine biologists will disagree with this, and looking at the research rightfully so. The numbers are exponential so ten 1 lb fish do not equal one 10lb fish. Its closer to one hundred 1lb fish equal one 10lb fish. As the fish get bigger they are able to expend more of their energy on egg production. So, a 1 lb fish might be able to produce an ounce of eggs. A ten pound fish is able to expect a significantly larger amount of energy producing eggs and instead of a simple linear relationship (which one would assume being 10 oz) of eggs they are able to produce several times that.

Also, the quality of the eggs produced by that one 10 lb fish contain more energy than the same number of eggs produced by the one hundred smaller fish so the spawn of the larger fish have a better chance of surviving.

This is why slot limits are used in conservation. Limiting the take of large fish will absolutely benefit the stock. Been proven theoretically and in in real life numbers (striped bass and redfish come to mind and both have recovered well since the implementation of slot limits).
Old 08-26-2020, 04:40 AM
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All this is dependent on species, for most Saltwater species, I would let the big ones go, I MIGHT keep a trophy speckled trout, but I haven't had to make that decision yet. For freshwater fish in, especially in a smaller pond, sometimes you have to harvest the big girls to make room for the next generation to grow up or you will end up over crowding of adult sized fish. Nobody wants to fish a pond that has a bunch of undersized fish that will never reach their potential. This is easier managed with a private pond, public ponds are so over fished getting anything is lucky.
Old 08-26-2020, 07:40 AM
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It can depend on species. If something like a salmon that only spawns once then dies, doesn't matter. In general, a young female has more spawning cycles left than a large/old female. Large old females might put out more eggs, but in general, fewer of those eggs are viable and will make it.
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