Avoid fine, know how to measure fish
Keeping a fish now and then for consumption can be a good thing for a fishery at times. The analogy that one hears so often is about brook trout in the backcountry lakes and streams that receive little pressure. Brook trout tend to stunt by overpopulating their environment.
If a fish is to be kept in an area that has a slot or maximum/minimum size limit, one will have to measure the fish accurately in order to legally keep the fish. Many fishermen carry a tape measure for such occasions.
Ah, but how do you measure the fish? Most fishermen will automatically measure the total length of the fish. That is the measurement from the tip of the snout to the longest point on the tail fin. After all, this yields the fisherman with the absolute largest measurement for bragging rights.
Using the total length is probably be fine if fishing in California, but at Pyramid Lake in Nevada, the measurement for fish is fork length. Fork length is the distance from the tip of the snout to the fork or center of the tail. This is generally the preferred measurement of fishery biologists.
As a fisherman who wants to keep a fish, knowing the regulations could save you some real embarrassment and a few dollars from a potential fine. Imagine measuring a fish at Pyramid Lake where there is a slot limit in place.
The slot limit allows an angler to keep two fish in the size range of 17 to 20 inches, and 24 inches and longer. Only one of a two-fish limit can be 24 inches or longer. All other fish between the 20- and 24-inch mark must be released. Those who fail to comply are subject to a $100 fine at Pyramid Lake.
If you are planning to keep a fish, know just how large it must be according to the regulations, but also know just what measurement is being used to enforce them. This will save you from breaking the law.
This is another good reason to practice catch-and-release angling where there are size limits. If you must keep a fish, be sure to measure it according to the regulations.
and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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