I found this information in a good article online. I thought I would share this for anyone interested in reading it. If it is not something that interests you, then ya don't have to read it. Impact The power of today's fisherman has changed radically from anglers of the past. Television programs, books, magazines and websites are available to increase our knowledge. A cadre of trained professionals at State Game and Fish, who are expert in the science of fish behavior, habitat, forage and seasonal patterns, are on call. A dizzying array of technology is available; fish finders, flashers, GPS receivers, underwater cameras, high-powered boats, computers, weather satellites and quality charts all can improve our fishing success. Graphite rods, long-cast reels, engineered line and lures that do everything but stalk the fish, are common. Our ability to impact finite natural resources is unprecedented. Fishing Pressure Down the road from me is a municipal impoundment where I occasionally test the lures and rods I make. One evening this past summer, I caught 31 bass in an hour. Pretty good, huh? Unfortunately, all the fish were 10-12 inches long; there wasn't a decent fish in the bunch. This performance was repeated several more times last fall. Recently, while listening to the radio, I heard that ocean fish were 30% smaller than they were 50 years ago. While the blurb didn't qualify what type of fish, it got me thinking. I started digging through state smallmouth records and what I found was surprising. The average state record smallie, from all 48 states smallmouth bearing states, was caught in 1970, more than 30 years ago. Of the original states where smallies were naturally occurring, not stocked, the average record smallie was taken in 1956. Alarm bells went off! Where are all the big boys I always assumed were in there? Armed with my runty bass experience and the discovery of over-aged smallie records, I stopped in at State Game and Fish to talk with one of their biologists. He listened to my tales of runty bass and shrinking ocean catches, then replied, "I don't know about ocean fish, but what you saw with the small bass is the result of fishing pressure; when a guy catches a keeper, he keeps it. Good fish seldom grow to become great fish because they are caught and taken home. They never have the opportunity to grow big." This would seem to solve the historic records puzzle but where are conservation efforts today? Catch and Release The benefits of Catch and Release (C&R) have been extolled for years, but how many anglers actually practice it? I was told by Game and Fish, as well as others, that local anglers simply don't practice C&R. "It's alien to them. Some find it impossible to put a legal fish back in the water." Curious, I decided to do some checking. I contacted the various Game and Fish departments in almost every state and asked them what percentage of freshwater anglers practiced C&R. Most replied that they had no idea and did not track it: "we do not have specific data and are not able to offer a plausible estimate." Now there's some bad news. Just a couple states have a handle on who, how or if C&R is being practiced. These states survey a large percentage of licensed anglers every few years; an approach other states said they would soon be adopting. Finally, one Southern state said they preferred "selective harvest" over Catch and Release because they don't want to see fish die of predation, disease or age. They feel they can control fishery health through catch limits, size restrictions, slot limits and strict enforcement. Maybe. The C&R ethic can be taken too far. One of our Western states reported having an over-abundance of brown trout. The population is showing reduced growth, minor infections and higher mortality because the trout have exceeded the carrying capacity of the habitat. Game and Fish has made repeated requests for anglers to harvest legal fish, but so far, the fishermen refuse to stray from strict C&R practices, leaving Game and Fish to rethink how to reduce the trout population without the cooperation of "educated fishermen."