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Fish quality affected by fishing...

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Fish quality affected by fishing pressure
I've had access to lakes that have little fishing pressure due to limited public access. Fish quality has been superb as well as quantity. Other public water that get more pressure during the warm water months generally have smaller fish though quantity is decent when schools are found. Seems that the more fish that are removed yearly or the more weekly fishing pressure, the poorer the fishing in general. That's not to say that decent size fish haven't been caught in those waters, but that far fewer are caught than in less fished waters.

The other observation I witnessed this year was in a lake that has little fishing pressure, but is overloaded with small sunfish and crappie. Bass are on the small size (14" or less) as are pickerel. Genetics and an overpopulation of sunnies is maybe the reason. I can catch over 40 sunfish easily but nothing to write home about regarding size.

Angler quality also seems to be a factor: the more good anglers that fish a lake from a boat that keep fish, the smaller the fish and at times the harder it is to locate any fish. I recently followed an angler working the same shoreline and did really bad - 2 fish in 4 hours. The week before, I got into a few schools of crappie and caught a couple of dozen with the average size over 10" working the same shoreline. Shoreline anglers are limited by less water covered and not a problem as well as live bait they use vs lures that cover more water with lure designs fish react to while on the move.

Enforcement of fish limits and size is also a factor. The less enforcement, the more fish taken illegally with size and creel limits ignored. Public access lakes suffer more than private lakes with fewer anglers fishing them.

Lastly, the destruction of fish habitat by the introduction of too many weed-eating, hybrid carp also has a negative effect which decimated the usual fish locations shallow and deep in a lake I fished for over 35 years.

Spring will be the real test of fish quality in any lake when prespawn and spawners hit the shallows. Sadly I have a feeling the above will be confirmed.
(This post was edited by SenkoSam on Nov 11, 2018, 7:00 AM)