Planning on some big game fishing on your next vacation? Spend a day outside in the sunshine on a boat with family or friends. If you are a first-time or novice angler, here is some essential information you need to know before your first cast. Game fish are fish that recreational anglers pursue for sport. These fish can come from fresh or salt water. Some Fisheries and Wildlife Departments tag game fish in order to accumulate scientific data used to promote the habitat and population of the species. Fish caught with tags should be immediately released. Species of game fish include marlin, trout, crappie, bluefish, flounder, mackerel and catfish.
Regulations: Catching game fish in your local waterway may require a permit or license from the municipality or state. Permits specify legal ways of catching different species as well as catch limits and size requirements. Follow the rules and carry your permit with you while fishing. Depending on local regulations, children may not need one. Officials, like a game warden, may approach you and ask to view your permits and your catch to assure compliance.
Catch and Release: Some anglers catch and release fish rather than keeping them. Your local Department of Natural Resources may promote this form of game fishing along damaged waterways and where fish populations need replenishing. Catch and release fishing is also popular in when fishing in polluted bodies of water where it is unhealthy to eat the fish.
Preserving your Catch: Bring your catch home from your fishing trip and preserve it for later use. Common methods include smoking, drying, canning and pickling. Whatever method you choose, Julie Garden-Robinson a Food and Nutrition Specialist/Assistant Professor with North Dakota State University Extension Service recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water before you start and using clean equipment. Upon completing your preservation process, wash and sanitize all equipment with a bleach solution.
Red Sore Disease: The most common disease afflicting freshwater game fish, including largemouth and striped bass, is red sore disease according to Peggy Reed, biological scientist, and Ruth Francis-Floyd, DVM from the University of Florida. Red sores develop on the tips of fins and progresses into fin erosion. They explain although the appearance of the fish may be unappetizing, removing the affected areas and thorough cooking eliminates any pathogens; rendering it safe to eat.
Mercury: Mercury is a natural element that causes damage to the central nervous system, your heart, the immune system and the developing brains of young and unborn children, according to the March 2010 issue of Science Daily. The level of mercury in game fish depends on where you catch it and the species. Find out about local consumption advisories before you consume freshly caught fish. These warnings may advise you not to eat the fish or limit consumption.
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North Dakota State University: Preservation of Game Meats and FishUniversity of Florida IFAS Extension: “Red Sore Disease” in Game Fish
Department of Environmental Conservation: Fishing Licenses
Science Daily: Mercurial Tuna, Study Explores Sources of Mercury to Ocean Fish