A conservation plan that works

By Tom Keer

Feb 09, 2016

Conservation can sometimes be a double bind.

Conservation can sometimes be a double bind. I love to catch fish and I like to eat them, too. One of my favorite fish to catch is the striped bass, and it's one of my favorites to eat as well. Now that the fish stocks are dramatically down across all size ranges, what should an angler who wants to keep a fish to eat do? Here are 4 ways to work around that problem.

  1. Identify species to catch and release. I'll catch any type of fish, fresh or salt, cold water or warm water, with spin, bait, or fly. Quantities of stripers, Atlantic salmon, and Steelhead among other fish are low, so I toss them back. They'll lay their eggs and if there is enough reproduction I'll just eat them another year.

  2. Identify species to catch and eat. Since I do like stripers, I'll carve out some time to catch a few freshwater Linesiders and put one or two on the grill. I like bonito, so I'll focus on them this summer. Nothing beats a panfish fry, so perch, bluegills, and Johnnyroach make the list.

  3. Think creatively around a situation. I like to catch largemouth bass, but in the summer they taste muddy. So I'll eat one or two in the spring and fall and call it a day. Big Bluefish are strong and oily, but smaller cocktail blues in the 2-4 pound class are ok. Handling them is important, so I'll bleed them and put them on ice quickly.

  4. Experiment with different recipes. Striped bass...here we go again...are great as sushi, ceviche, grilled, fried, smoked, you name it. That's where the magic lies, for some fish taste great when cooked a particular way. If a Bluefish filet is too strong, smoked Bluefish is another option. If I vary my cooking techniques to bring out the best in a fish then I'll have a great meal. My Brazilian Fish Stew from last month was a bit hit at home...

Conserve some fish and eating others is a balancing act. It just requires a little advanced planning is all! Check to learn more on how cook your catch.

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.