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The Maestro

Is bed fishing ethical?

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Bass season doesn't open here until after they've spawned but this debate always seems to come up as to whether it should open sooner to allow fishing during the spawn.  My personal feeling is that if the fish have made it to that point, they should be allowed to do their thing free from harrassment from anglers.  

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Here in MN, the season opens about mid-spawn. Fishing the spawning beds is going to net you mainly the males guarding the nest in reaction strikes. The females will have moved off, their job completed, and be actively feeding.

 

If you practice C&R during this time, catching a male from a bed will have little effect. Their instinct will be to return to the nest to guard it. Catching females will have no effect as they're away from the nests.

 

Fish the areas away from the beds, get the larger females, and it's a non-issue.

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Lots of tournament guys around here catch the males off the beds and are proud  to do it.  I personally think that it should be illegal.  Once that male is gone those eggs are exposed to all the little predators lurking nearby and can no longer be kept away.

 

I don't know how this can happen but I'd still like to see it.

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California had a opening days for trout fishing May 1st and for bass fishing June 1st back in the 50's. Bass fishing opening dissapeared in the mid 50's, eastern Seirra trout opening lasted until the 90's. 

Fishing population has grown 10 fold since the 50's and bass fishing has improved, amazing fact considering California only stocks bass 1 time into new reseviors, additional stocks are from local fishing clubs or cities introducing the Florida strain and Southern Spootted bass strain. In other words bass are a self sustaining and renewable species.

I am not a fan of bed fishing for bass, however no evidence it harms the overall fisheries.

Tom

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Just another way to catch 'em, no issue here.  

 

I would add that if you do think it's unethical, that's cool - your call.  But you may want to consider taking a break for the approximately 2 month period (maybe more/less depending on location) around the spawn window, since you'll undoubtedly end up catching bedding fish on accident that you can't see.  I guess it depends on what you actually think is the unethical part though...The actual catching of the fish or just the intent to catch it.  

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If the fish are harvested legally, the rest doesn't matter

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it is probably the most unethical thing to do in the fishing world.  It kills all those little fish before they even have change to see the world.  I mean how else am i going to catch more fish if i catch all the spawning fish out there?  😂😂😂😂😂😂


All that being said, I don't care if you catch a fish with live bait, artificials, spear, bare hands or with a safety pin on a piece of twine.  As long as it's legal that is all that matters to me.  

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Legal = yes, Ethical = nope. That being said, I realize that it happens both accidentally and on purpose, life goes on. I refuse to purposely bed fish, as do most (not all) of my friends.

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Fished a few beds at the start of my second season just to try something new but generally like to leave them alone and let them do their thing. I figure they've got enough on their minds with trying to reproduce, coming out of a long winter, and facing pressure of everyone targeting their beds.

 

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As long as it is legal I say go for it if you want just make sure to safely release the bass so it continue to spawn. Get a quick length, girth, and picture on a scale if it is a personal best or close to it but release the bass as soon as possible. With that said I find it hypocritical how many bass fishermen will gladly catch a bedding bass filled with eggs yet they bash bass fishermen that use live bait. It requires much more skill to catch a free range bass with live bait in public waters than catch a spawning bass on a bed, this I know from personal experience not something I read on an Internet forum. A bass is most vulnerable when it is protecting its babies. Most of the time it does not take much to make a spawning bass bite if you know what you are doing.

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How about we just outlaw recreational fishing all together. There are certain organizations that deem fishing for the fun of it unethical.

Im fishing ice out to ice on for anything that will bite my lure.

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This conversation usually goes south from differing opinions but here we go. 

 

I don't think fish should be allowed to be kept during spawning months, including for tournaments, but I have no issues if someone wants to pop a big one off a bed to take a quick picture and turn them loose.

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8 minutes ago, Bluebasser86 said:

I don't think fish should be allowed to be kept during spawning months, including for tournaments

Simple answer to this is that the state(s) where the tournaments are held denies tournament licenses during spawning season. The State DNR/Dept of Fish and Game/whatever would have that information, so it's simple to plan.

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2 hours ago, Bluebasser86 said:

I don't think fish should be allowed to be kept during spawning months, including for tournaments, but I have no issues if someone wants to pop a big one off a bed to take a quick picture and turn them loose.

My sentiments exactly.  I have caught fish off beds and released them, the males swim back to the bed, the females swim back to adjoining cover.

 

However, I would not call catching bass off of beds unethical, even if you keep them.  Using such descriptions as reasons for banning something is a slippery slope, for many outside of our fishing world consider just the act of catching a fish unethical.

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The only beds I ever see are in ponds or very shallow rivers that you have to wade

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I don't believe in specifically targeting them off beds! I don't see any sport in that. I always fish deeper water during the spawn, I'm sure I probably catch a couple of spawners by accident. It should not be allowed during tourney events. Just my personal opinion.  

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I've caught females off beds and I release them near the bed. If I see a male guarding fry with circling bluegill, I leave him alone.

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Ken Cook believes that the female often moves on and off of the bed to deposit more eggs (hatchery studies support this claim). Few females drop all of their eggs at once. Instead, they expel a portion and then move off to a near by breakline, bush or grass edge.

 

 It is this sporadic purging of eggs and the ability to spawn with different males on several nests that keeps the annual spring bedding season from being severely impacted by large tournaments.

 

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologist Clarence Bowling says studies have shown that a female (when handled properly) will simply locate a bed and an available male in the area where she is released and complete spawning.

 

GET A LOCK ON THE SPAWN By Tim Tucker

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If someone was harassing my wife while she was pregnant I would be ticked. It's certainly not ethical to fish for bedding bass.

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My fishing is non-tournament and total c & r, mostly in dingy water.  Can't see the beds most of the time.  Bass are quickly reeled to boatside and released, spawn or any other time of the year. 

It would be nice if it was practical (it isn't) for all tournament fishing to be handled like Major League Fishing.

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Legal...some places. Unethical...eh. Lame....most certainly.  Not saying I haven't done it but it's definitely not my preferred way to catch a bass. I'd rather senko fish and that's saying a lot for me!

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This comes up every year. Why do so many people think it's wrong to do this with bass but perfectly acceptable with crappie? And they keep the crappie to eat. Why are crappie the stepchildren of the fish family? Crappie Lives Matter! This is like the argument that it's unethical to shoot deer with a .223 AR, but acceptable with hogs. Hogs didn't ask to be born hogs.

 

If you actually decrease the numbers that hatch, and I don't believe you do because only a small percentage will anyway, you would probably just be increasing average size. Maybe it can have some negative effect on fish populations in the north, but it never seems to matter one bit here. Add to that, most "sportsmen" around here are hunting turkeys during that month anyway.

 

I'd say, overall, if you think catching fish and releasing them any time of year is unethical, you might want to rethink sticking hooks in their mouths and dragging them from their habitat, just to maybe get a picture. To each his own.

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I had no problem with it in the past. However 2 years ago I was fishing a bed in a clear water bass and bluegill pond. I caught the male and bluegills completely devoured the eggs. They came in for the feast seemingly out of nowhere. I released him as fast as I could but the damage was done. I felt absolutely awful. I had known this could happen, but I had never seen it until that moment and I wasn't proud of myself. I'm one of those guys who takes it hard when I gut hook a fish and it ends up dying. Rare for me these days but it happens to everyone. I had that same feeling knowing I'm the reason that bed got destroyed. Now I will never intentionally fish one again. 

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6 minutes ago, the reel ess said:

This comes up every year. Why do so many people think it's wrong to do this with bass but perfectly acceptable with crappie?

It's because it's the topic of the day.  Just look through these responses.  There is even someone comparing his wife to a bass!  It's popular now to anthropomorphize animals, that is to attribute human characteristics to them.  Cruelty to animals is one thing but trying to attribute emotion, intellect, and/or a "soul" to lower life forms is inappropriate and, to be honest, I believe it is blasphemy.  I don't believe in hurting any living creature for no purpose, but if you believe it's cruel to pull a bass briefly off of a bed then you had better be a vegan living off the grid and eating only the food that you grow yourself.  The world is a hard place.  Nature is cruel.  Man is the ONLY creature on the planet that has the ability to show mercy.  If you want to show mercy to the bedding bass then that is your right and I applaud you for it.  I applaud (and defend) anyone who will stand up for what they believe in, whether I agree or not.  In this case, I will bed fish (and release).  My personal choice.  

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Every time I read what people have to say on this subject, something pops into my little mind that really has nothing to do with the subject, but, it's there and when I say it, it will probably tick off a bunch of people:  When you went cruising for women (in your younger days) did you start in a maternity ward?

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