Catwomen on Conservation – Tips and Techniques
CATFISH CONSERVATION -Trophy Catfish for the Future
Catwomen tend to be strong women with several behavioral traits in common. They are adventurous, courageous, and assertive. They have found a place for themselves in a sport heavily populated with men. They also display a level of empathy that allows them to listen to others and understand their needs and feelings.
It is these characteristics that make them great spokeswomen for catfish conservation. They quickly grasp the importance of acting today to protect the tomorrow. Two such catwomen are Joanna Renee and Amy Hansen. Both ladies engage in tournament and recreational fishing on a regular basis. Their experiences have led them to recognize the importance of taking care of our catfish fishery.
Joanna Renee – A philosophy of teaching others
Joanna Renee has a passion for catfishing and a desire to pass it on to others. Understanding and teaching the importance of catfish conservation is an important part of her passion.
Her appetite for catfishing runs so deep that she has followed it to the point that she has created her own line of catfish accessories, including an apparel line at LadyCat Outdoors. She also operates a nonprofit called KiddyCat Outdoors where she focuses on teaching youth the basics of fishing and how to begin targeting trophy catfish. Finally, she also serves as an ambassador for the Ohio Trophy Catfish Association (OhTCA).
“I think teaching children and young novice anglers the importance of conservation is crucial,” stated Joanna. “A little education at a young age they can break the cycle of harvesting every catfish they come across.”
“There are plenty of eater sized catfish to go around,” continued Joanna. “But there is a lack of trophy sized catfish. Releasing trophy sized catfish allows their amazing genetics to be passed forward. Releasing these magnificent creatures means that we’re sharing the catch with countless others.”
“I like to pass on my passion for conservation by telling stories, sharing pictures, and showing videos,” concluded Joanna. “It is an effective way to demonstrate to the kids that those giant catfish are out there. At the same time, it gives the next generation of fishermen an obtainable goal.”
Amy Hansen – The right tools for the job
Amy Hansen is an outdoor woman with an acquired understanding of conservation. It wasn’t always that clear. She grew up fishing a little with her dad but it wasn’t until she married Troy Hansen that the outdoor lifestyle began for her.
“I always wanted to live that outdoor lifestyle,” recalled Amy. “The dream came true when I met Troy because he enjoyed all those same interests.”
Like many other women that love the outdoors, Amy takes catfish conservation seriously. She strongly encourages others to have the right tools on the boat to handle the fish with care.
“When landing a fish, especially a larger size fish, we always try to use a net,” reported Amy. “We have different size nets to match the size of fish we are targeting.”
If Amy doesn’t have a net available, she uses Whisker Seeker Lock Jaws (fish grips). She always attempts to cradle the fish for support. This method places less stress on the fish while weighing or taking a photo. When weighing smaller fish, the scales are hooked to the Lock Jaws to keep the fish from accidentally falling off the scale.
“Trophy fish are a different thing,” reminded Amy. “When weighing a larger size fish, we zero out the scale with the sling or net on it. Then we place the fish in the net or weigh sling to complete the weighing.”
“It is important to be prepared with an adequate livewell,” Amy said. “A large cooler, tub, or tool box with aeration can work great. On good fishing days multiple livewells are needed so you don’t stuff all the fish into one small tank. It’s best to recycle the water to keep it fresh and clear of gunk. It might even be necessary to use a water conditioner like Gjuice to add an oxygen boost to keep fish lively.”
In reality, it doesn’t require a tool of any kind to have a positive influence on a successful release. Common sense and careful handling will go a long way.
“When dealing with a large fish, place your fish in the livewell to let it calm down,” advised Amy. “The fish will not stress further and may recover some while you get everything cast back out or put away before you weigh and take pictures. This is only a concern for larger size fish that can’t be held easily.”
“Also be mindful of the fish and try to not drop them,” continued Amy. “And don’t just throw them overboard. Release them calmly and gently to let them regain their whereabouts.”
Photo taking creates its own problems with respect to fish health. Amy advises considering what kind of picture you want and where your fish grip is before you start handling the fish—then take the photo and return the fish back to the water or livewell as soon as possible. If the subject is young, or uneasy about holding fish, sit them down to keep them from just dropping to the deck if he squirms a little.
“We rarely ever keep catfish,” concluded Amy. “Maybe once a year in the spring we will keep some eaters for the freezer if there is an abundance in that particular body of water. When we do harvest fish, we normally limit the size to exclude trophy fish of any species.”
Joanna Renee and Amy Hansen both get it. Taking care of trophy cats and promoting a healthy release, through any means necessary, helps paint a bright future for catfishing as a sport. They both work hard to share this philosophy of the future with others.