Another Reason To Catch And Release: Your Health
Fish is generally considered one of the best health foods a person can eat. This is certainly true when the fish come from pristine waters where pollutants are not nor have ever been present. The bad news is many of the rivers, and even some impoundments/lakes, are well known to contain PCB’s, mercury, and other chemicals rendering the bass and other fish unhealthy to eat on a regular basis. Your health is at risk when eating the bass you catch so let’s look at what to avoid when planning how to minimize this risk to you and your loved ones.
All states have a regulation booklet with recommendations on what fish to never eat, how often to eat certain species, what amounts are safe to eat, and the rivers, streams, and lakes contain these species. Always consult these informative publications for any state you are bass fishing in. The booklets are free and available at most fishing supply stores or through contacting the state fisheries department. This information is also easily found online.
Eating the fish you catch is a time honored tradition in many locations across America but we have to also realize it might be unhealthy when done on a regular basis. Most states recommend an adult eat only a few ounces once a month to avoid health risks posed by mercury and PCB’s.
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have put out recent advisories covering all the popular bass fishing waters in these states. While contaminant levels are low for many of the waters we fish there are some popular rivers and streams where levels of these chemicals have been located. It is therefore very important to read up on the most current information because just because the water looks great does not mean it is. Most of these pollutants, such as lead and mercury are heavy, and sink to the bottom, where bottom feeding fish consume them. These fish then have their spawn and predator fish such as the smallmouth bass we fish for eat these tainted minnows. The chemicals are passed on to the smallmouth in this very natural and simple method.
The older the bass the more likely it is to have some level of contamination. This is one of the top reasons why many state fisheries recommend a slot size and the avoidance of eating any but the younger fish.
Fishing is a great sport and I definitely enjoy a good fish fry with family and friends just like you. Some fish, such as walleye, grow more quickly than bass so it can be healthier to eat these fish because the younger they are, the less contaminants they are likely to contain. Use good catch and release practices for bass and eat other species as specified by your state’s recommendations.
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