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keeping a trophy


billyk
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Hi guy's, I have a place in northern WI that I have fished for over 25 years. It's considered a trophy smallmouth river. I've never kept a smallie- ever but I'm considering keeping one IF I'm able to get the trophy I'm looking for. A DNR officer & fisheries biologist told me that a smallmouth the size of which I would mount(at least 23") is an old fish & past her reproductive prime. The eggs she deposits are of low quality & not many hatch. That's why they tell us to release fish fron 17"- 20" in length. These are the prime spawners. Any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated. billyk

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In my opinion, every catch n release angler should not feel any "shame" for catching and keeping a trophy smallmouth. I have heard the same thing about "true" trophy sized smallies being past their spawning prime. Sometimes we anglers need to remember that the fish do not live forever. If you catch a trophy you have to figure that fish does not have much of a life left. Better to be on the wall than floating dead down the river and becoming raccoon food.

 

Now, I know that someone is going to reply with the standard, get a replica mount. Replica mounts are fine, but very expensive. If an angler can afford a replica mount, that is great and the angler can release that once in a lifetime catch. Other anglers may not be able to afford a replica mount, or maybe just plain does not want one. There is nothing wrong with keeping a trophy smallie for the wall as long as it is a true trophy like the length you are spieaking of.

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I would say that as long as the bass was legally caught and kept, you should not feel you did any wrong by keeping it for any reason, nor should you be chastised. Also, everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a trophy.

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I don't see anything wrong with keep a trophy of that size. It is a lot easier and faster getting a replica done and not much more expensive. Replicas have no curing time and all you have to give the taxidermist is a photo and dimensions.

Choosing the right artist to do the work is a big consideration. If he is some distance from where you catch the beast, there is the issue with getting it to the taxidermist in good condition. Make sure you check out the taxidermist well ahead of time. He will give you instructions on how to care for your catch to get it to him. He'll also tell you how long it will take to get it back. Most skin mounts take up to a year to do. Guys who do it quickly take short cuts which affect the quality of the mount. Do some research and inspect the quality of the taxidermists work close up. Don't rely on pictures. There are big differences from one artist to the next.

 

Either way, good luck. I hope you get your trophy.

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In my opinion, every catch n release angler should not feel any "shame" for catching and keeping a trophy smallmouth. I have heard the same thing about "true" trophy sized smallies being past their spawning prime. Sometimes we anglers need to remember that the fish do not live forever. If you catch a trophy you have to figure that fish does not have much of a life left. Better to be on the wall than floating dead down the river and becoming raccoon food.

 

Now, I know that someone is going to reply with the standard, get a replica mount. Replica mounts are fine, but very expensive. If an angler can afford a replica mount, that is great and the angler can release that once in a lifetime catch. Other anglers may not be able to afford a replica mount, or maybe just plain does not want one. There is nothing wrong with keeping a trophy smallie for the wall as long as it is a true trophy like the length you are spieaking of.

Exactly Jonn, the biologist told me that I'd be shocked to know how many fish die naturally each year & end up on the bottom of the river. Just like people. billyk
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Most of the comments here are to the point. I thoroughly respected the choice of a co-worker to have her 18" Smallmouth mounted. It was her trophy. Meanwhile I have released larger fish without a second thought.

 

As the owner of a 1970s skin mount (24" Brook Trout), I want to make some comments.

 

Though the trophy size alone could justify the kill, I am not sure I would do it today. First C&R was not widely practiced back then anyway. Second, replica technology was not a choice at the time. Today I would have had more choices, and the practice of CPR Is more fully understood. Long ago Lee Wulff said,"A good gamefish is too valuable to be caught only once." That tips the scale toward releasing the trophy for the future of fishing and anglers.

 

Then there are two sides to the biological argument. On one hand, the fish in question may or may not be past its prime. That is hard to determine on the spot. On the other hand the size is a good clue that the fish has those big fish genes needed in the gene pool. Erring on the side of caution, one sould let it go, IMHO.

 

Finally, when I look at my mount, I realize that most of it is a replica anyway. The taxidermist preserved the head, skin, and fins. The body is a paper machet model over which the skin is fited. The fins are attached and the head is rebuilt including artificial glass eyes. By looking at the wall side of the mount, I can tell that the preservation process had left the hide a dull grey color. So the mount was painted to match the colors in the photo we supplied. IMHO, you get a replica either way.

 

Get some good photos and length-girth measurements and let her/him go to fight another day.

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Finally, when I look at my mount, I realize that most of it is a replica anyway. The taxidermist preserved the head, skin, and fins. The body is a paper machet model over which the skin is fited. The fins are attached and the head is rebuilt including artificial glass eyes. By looking at the wall side of the mount, I can tell that the preservation process had left the hide a dull grey color. So the mount was painted to match the colors in the photo we supplied. IMHO, you get a replica either way.

 

Get some good photos and length-girth measurements and let her/him go to fight another day.

Excellent point.

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I feel sad when I see a fish on the wall ,but as long as you do it legaly I have ne real bitch. But I must tell you that you will miss that great feeling you get when you release her and see her swim away. There is no feeling like it ,it makes me feel right with the world and isn't that what its all about.

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If every angler takes home the ultra rare 23" fish, how low the odds they'll ever reach 24", 25", state record,etc.

 

Catch and release isn't just for prolification purposes. I'd like to think releasing a trophy increases the chance it may become more of a trophy down the line...

 

Pics and reproduction should do the same thing. I'm in Don's camp. I'd let her go.

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I feel sad when I see a fish on the wall ,but as long as you do it legaly I have ne real bitch. But I must tell you that you will miss that great feeling you get when you release her and see her swim away. There is no feeling like it ,it makes me feel right with the world and isn't that what its all about.

 

 

I agree, a true trophy is such a lucky blessing. I'd hate to asphixiate it slowly for my wall. Rather remember it for the majestic beast tearing through water. Truly lucky, noble warrior, survivor, call it what you will. Some quick pics and back in she goes.

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do what you feel comfortable with. 23" smallie probably isn't going to get much bigger anyway, maybe a couple inches and like you said, past its prime for spawning/reproduction. mount affordability, i would let it go,but if you can afford a mount, go for it..i have a 25# northern mounted and my mom has a 4# smallie mounted from the 80's from Wisconsin..but mounts were cheaper then.

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Ok- leaning twords the replica. With the formula for figuring out the weight of a fish(which by the way comes within 6 oz of my Rapala scale) it seems worth letting her get to 24 or 25'. billyk

 

My formula puts that 24 inch fish at 8 pounds or so. That's a trophy. The record is around 12 #. Go with the replica.

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