I have always respected size limits for fish and wildlife. As a turkey hunter I don’t shoot hens. It is against the law and there is a reason for it. For at least most of my life there has been size limits on gamefish wherever I have fished. I don’t have a problem with that because I think it is better for the fishing overall. In most states they have mandated a slot limit for redfish, speckled trout, cobia and grouper. All of our lakes here in Tennessee have size limits on gamefish. Here in the Smokies you can’t harvest a trout that is under seven inches. In some of our best tailwaters there is a slot limit. The Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam and the South Holston are good examples.
Many anglers and hunters take it upon themselves to better their sport. Years ago bass fishermen decided to practice catch and release fishing. It caught on and bass fishing improved. Trout fishermen did the same thing. I know a lot of deer hunters who won’t shoot a small buck even though it is legal. Why, because they want to improve their sport. I wouldn’t consider shooting a young jake turkey. I’ve done it but I wouldn’t now. I might harvest a large older gobbler. Or I might just watch him walk away. I consider myself a sportsman but probably not much of a killer.
So why would anglers have a problem with a size limit on trout in the Clinch River. Maybe some people don’t consider trout a gamefish. I do.
Some people might argue that tailwater trout are stocked to be caught and eaten. Some may say a tailwater is an artificial fishery, without stocking there wouldn’t be any trout so why not just kill them and take them home.
Stocking and limiting harvest has made hunting and fishing a better sport for all of us. When I grew up there were almost no deer in central Kentucky. We never saw a wild turkey. They started stocking turkeys and limiting the harvest of both deer and turkey. Now they are everywhere. At my home here in Townsend I see more wild turkeys than rabbits and squirrels. Why, because of stocking and limiting the harvest.
It seems to me that a slot limit or size limit on trout in the Clinch River is a compromise that is good for everyone. The fishermen who want to can catch a limit and take them home to eat. The fishermen who fish for the sport only can enjoy what they perceive to be better fishing. I think that should make everyone happy.
Last edited by Byron Begley; 09-07-2007 at 10:48 AM..