Case in Point
The last time I went ice fishing (March 2), I went out on Haywards Bay and worked depths anywhere from 10-20 feet of water. I noticed way out in the middle some anglers were fishing for perch. Depth was in excess of 50 feet and up to 60+ feet deep. So, since it was a nice day, and I wanted a little exercise, I decided to walk out there. When I got there, I became very upset. Scattered on the ice were small 4-6 inch perch that anglers had caught and then thrown on the ice.
All I can say is this: sad and disgusting. First off, if perch are caught at this depth, they are dead fish. They simply cannot survive. Their equilibrium is shot. So, no matter how many times an angler tries to get a perch to go back down the hole, the fish simply can’t make it. It’s a dead fish.
All of those dead fish are a totally wasted resource. Not very responsible actions, I would say. Plus, technically, once a person places this fish on the ice and does not turn it back, that fish is part of that day’s limit.
Now, a friend of mine told me what was happening earlier in the winter when there was snow on the ice. Anglers fishing this deep water would dig out an area of snow, place the smaller dead perch on the ice and cover them up. Now that’s pretty sad, too!
I have two answers to this issue. First, if you are going to fish this deep water, keep what you catch. If it’s 10 inches, that’s good. If it’s five inches, then keep it, too! That’s being a responsible angler. However, there is also the chance that walleyes will be caught in this deep water. Based on the slot size limit, anything 17-22 inches must be released. Plus, this time of year, no walleyes can be kept anyway. See the problem? Caught walleye; dead walleye!
My second answer is this: don’t fish that deep water. Is it really worth it? Yes, I will admit, years ago I did fish this deep water. However, I kept all of the perch I caught, and luckily I never did catch a walleye. However, I decided after cleaning 5-6 inch perch that it just wasn’t worth it. I don’t fish the deep water anymore. It’s not worth it.
It is our responsibility to be stewards of our natural resources.