By Jerry Drazer 

Another beautiful day is about to begin. The sun is rising on the horizon. Radiant beams of sunlight are poking through trees along the shoreline. A light, foggy, mist dances on the surface of the water as an angler gently lowers his trolling motor without a sound. He picks up his favorite rod and reel and gently tosses a small top-water minnow next to an old stump along the water’s edge.

Just as the ripples begin to quietly dissipate in the water from the lure touching down, the angler twitches the top-water minnow slightly as a tremendous splash interrupts the morning tranquility along the side of that old stump.

He rears back on his rod, and a big bass tries to leap out of the water, but all he’s able to see is his lure imbedded in a mouth the size of a 3-LB butter tub. After a few minutes of tug-a-war the big bass begins to tire. She slowly swims along side of the boat and rolls on her side, the angler reaches down and opens her lower jaw with his thumb and lifts the magnificent fish from the water. "She must weigh seven pounds," the angler says to himself in disbelief and his arms starts to shake from excitement after he removes the lure.

After a moment of admiration, the angler gently leans over the side of his boat, lowers her back into the water, and watches her slowly swim away.

This scenario is called catch and release, and it’s the staple of the sport of bass fishing.

Why is catch and release important? By releasing a bass you give yourself, another angler, or a small child a chance to catch that same bass again. If the bass you release is of trophy proportions, you will be reintroducing and preserving valuable genetics within that lake’s gene pool. In essence, you’ll enjoy the thrill and excitement of catching a fish, and at the same time preserving the resource for yet another day.

Very few bass fishermen keep bass anymore for table fare. There are many other species in the water that over reproduce, and are much more delectable.

Fish species that over reproduce allow anglers more fish per daily bag limit, and can feed your family with both quality and quantity. Examples of these species would be bluegill, crappie, and white bass just to name a few.

Still, some people will argue: "I bought a fishing license, so I’ll keep bass if I want to". They’re right. That’s their option. Research confirms that harvesting fish is a good way to help sustain a healthy and balanced fish population in any body of water.

However, if everyone took everything they caught, there soon wouldn’t be much left. Furthermore, if people would take only the amount of fish they actually plan to eat and release the rest, there wouldn’t be a need for so many restocking programs. This is true for all species of fish, not just bass.

The next time you go fishing give a gift that keeps on giving, CATCH & RELEASE.

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