If you have ever wondered why I post photos of very big bluegill with the fish in a bucket, rather than being held by myself or an employee in a more camera-friendly pose, the answer to that question is a great example of our core philosophy.
If you have photographed more than a handful of fish, you’ve had the experience of a fish you were holding flopping at the wrong moment and ending up on the ground. Realize that a three- or four-foot drop, for a thirteen-inch fish, is roughly equivalent to a thirty-foot drop for you or me. Dropping a fish risks damaging its internal organs, or at a minimum severely stressing it; just stress by itself can kill a fish because it weakens its immune system. One of the first things one learns when one begins raising and transporting fish is just how susceptible to disease fish are, and just how easy it is to kill one inadvertently.
I love a good fish photo as much as the next person, and all things being equal, I’d rather pond owners be able to fully see a giant fish we just raised or managed. But getting that fish back into the pond unharmed can make the difference between its superior genetics being passed on to more generations of fish and an ever-upward trajectory for our selective breeding program, and that fish dying a day or three later and the genetics of the pond and the line becoming a little more run-of-the-mill. Putting the fish first over that impressive photo angle is putting you, the pond owner, first, because it ultimately means we can bring you better fish.
Friday we seined one of our hatchery ponds, a 1.5-acre pond, and found a 2 pound thirteen ounce female hand-painted bluegill. Yesterday we seined a different pond, this one only 2/3 of an acre, and found a 2 pound 8 ounce male hand-painted: