Flying into a remote fishing lodge, be it full service or a do-it-yourself outpost camp, anglers are expecting pristine resources, comfortable lodging and of course the legitimate chance at catching big fish. Well, the reality is, in many places, that becomes more and more difficult because of a catch and keep mentality. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are organizations today, which see the value of releasing fish back to the depths, and looking after the fish they catch. Ultimately being a steward of the resource. Hey, we’re not saying don’t keep any fish, we’re not saying no more shore lunch we’re just saying lets do it responsibly. Here’s how.
Remember the adage; “Give someone a fish, they eat for a day. Teach someone to fish, they eat for a lifetime”. Well that’s almost right and at Wilderness North we’ve amended that a little bit with spectacular results.
Now there were times in which there wasn’t any regard for the fish you kept. We have seen photos of people literally keeping wheelbarrows full of fish and not only that, often, the big fish were retained while the little fish were let go. This practice, over time was to the detriment of the fishery. As the big fish were removed, the spawning numbers dwindled, anglers were then keeping smaller fish (the then biggest ones in the system) right down to where so many fish were harvested, there weren’t any sexually mature fish left to spawn. Your ultimate downward spiral.
There is a reason big fish get big as they can be seen as genetically superior. Not only that, larger fish tend to be better breeders and can provide an overall healthier spawn. So it pays to keep them alive and in the gene pool.
So how do we effectively manage a fishery? A wonderful question! First being conservation minded helps heaps. If you’re going to keep fish to eat, consider keeping only the fish you’re set to consume immediately. Fresh fish tastes way better than any frozen fish hands down. If you’re a resident, when purchasing your fishing license, consider buying a conservation license and of course, know how to properly handle fish once they have been caught for the release. Plus the smaller specimens do taste significantly better than the old campaigners.
Wilderness North is a conservation minded company, and has been for over 25 years. Slot limits are in place to ensure the “right” fish are taken for harvest and proper fish handling equipment is sent out on each and every boat that leaves the dock. Walleye over 18 inches are asked to be returned to the lake as are pike over 27 inches. Brook Trout are 100% catch and release. So is it working? Absolutely it is. There are many master angler fish released each year at Wilderness North lodges and camps including lodge records: Northern Pike 53”, Walleye 33” and Brook Trout 8 lbs. Amazingly, there are more and more fish caught and released each year in the trophy class. When you do catch a trophy, take a good photo and measurements and consider having a graphite mount made or a print done with The Fish Print Shop.
Visit the lodge website and see the photos to back up the statements. I do know this, the fish you’re able to catch and release at Wilderness North are big because of one thing – you! So Thank you for ensuring our fisheries keep growing amazingly stronger. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold!