One value we share here is fisheries conservation. You will never see us posting (or re-posting) pics of “fish-slaying”, with a deck covered up in dead fish. One’s fishing prowess is not measured in numbers of kept fish – at least not in our book. True sportsmen are interested in sustainability. Sure, keep a few for your families dinner – but handle the rest properly and send them back to be caught again. My years of fish tagging have shown that our fish will be caught at least once during their lifetime and often several times. If all these fish were kept, they simply would not be there – it’s not rocket surgery folks!
Our fishing club, the Summerville Saltwater Anglers has 6 member tournaments a year. These are low pressure, fun tournaments where traditionally we had weigh-ins at a boat landing. Fortunately or unfortunately for me, in these tournaments I have had the luck of catching some large fish, namely two trout over 5 lbs. As a personal rule, I release all trout over 20″, but in both of these cases I kept these fish since I was in a tournament. At the time, I requested whether we could look at the rules and see if we could submit a photo on a ruler in lieu of a weight in the case of an exceptional fish – so that the fish might be released. Well, for various reasons, we didn’t do that.
This year, I am proud to say that we decided as a board to go to 100% CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) format. Kayakers have used this format successfully in tournaments out of necessity – there is no way to have a livewell in a yak. One of the largest kayak tournaments in the world, The Jax Kayak Classic, uses this format. All you need to do is take a picture of your catch against an approved ruler. There are several metal rulers with a 90 deg bend on the end available online for around $20. Everyone these days has a smart phone. Simply take a pic of the fish on a ruler with your phone and attach the pic to a text or email to submit it. Simple and easy!
The real beauty of this format is that you can now “weigh” over- and under-slot fish. So, every fish can count regardless of catch and creel laws. This makes it a lot of fun for everyone. And, you can do your part for conservation by releasing your fish. Our club is one that leads by example, and is made up of a lot of conservation oriented families.
I’m very proud to be associated with SSWA, and I truly believe that CPR tournaments are the way of the future, for all fishermen.