In 2009, the Fisheries Service (FS) managers put their heads together to address the alleged, but totally undocumented, issue of release mortality in the spring C&R Fishery for striped bass even though they didnt know, for any year since C&R started, how many:
1. people were fishing
2. fish were released
3. fish were female
4. fish were prespawn females
5. fish died after being released
Without any evidence to support the problem, hysteria prevailed and they invoked something called non-lethal effects to justify tilting at this windmill. This is sort of like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for humans and, according to the experts, MIGHT cause some pre-spawn female fish to just abandon the spawning urge.
This was still pretty weak so they invented a one-time policy change just for the C&R fishery - they said it would be irresponsible not to act if there was uncertainty about impacts to a resource that could be damaging. I wondered how such a proactive policy would impact the spring Trophy Season designed to kill the same fish that MIGHT die during the C&R season but the FS promised that this was just the start of a comprehensive review of recreational impacts on striped bass.
The new regulations went into effect and, almost three years later, DNR has defaulted on addressing other fisheries. Even for good scamsters, its hard to be consistent when you are making it ALL up as you go along.