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Catch and Don't Release

For trout, I'm a catch and release kind of guy.  I'll eat any walleye that's legal and keep a bass or two if they are larger than 15 inches, but trout have generally been off limits.  For one, they are a hassle to cook - have plenty of bones - and the ones I catch are not big enough to filet.

But, catch and keep is the right choice when the alternative is that the trout will die from the heat of the summer.  Isn't it a waste for that fish to die a slow death and just wash down the river?

Maryland explicitly recognizes this situation and the guidance published by the DNR pushed me to write this posting.  I'll have to change my perspective going into next season.  Maryland is great for "delayed harvest" areas.  Their DH typically expires in June and then it is open season on the water where it was in effect.  Unless there are special regulations that state otherwise, you can use pretty much any type of fishing gear to catch the fish.

Their bottom line is that the maximum temperature for managed trout water is 75 degrees.  Water where the temperature exceeds 80 degrees just becomes a death trap for trout - with only a lucky few survivors able to find a cool, deep spot to ride out the heat of the summer. Look for delayed harvest on warmer water.

The reason is simple. They want the trout to be cleaned out before they die anyway.  For example, here is the comment from the DNR site on the Patapsco:

"River temperatures become too warm during the summer months to expect trout survival. The trout are stocked with the intention that all will be harvested by anglers before the Patapsco River becomes too warm for their survival."

Town Creek:

"Stream temperatures limit trout survival during the summer, so trout management is limited to the spring, fall, and winter months."

Gelso's book makes the same point on Town Creek. 

I'm not sure this will change my habit since trout are not something we normally eat, but it will be something I consider next season.  You may want to consider this as well.

Trip report on Town Creek

Trip report on the Patapsco


Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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