Turning Anglers’ Trophies into Community Bounty
Fish That Can’t Be Released are Donated to Area Food Banks
In catch-and-release fishing tournaments across Maryland, professional and amateur anglers routinely compete for a chance to catch record setting trophy fish. Fish caught during these tournaments typically are released back in the water, but inevitably some – up to 5 percent – don’t survive. That’s a low percentage of fish lost, but it’s enough to make a difference for some Maryland residents.
For the past few years Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist Tim Groves has been collecting these fish from tournaments and donating them to Angel Food Bank in Prince George’s County.
“It’s a win for the angler and the community,” Groves said. “We are largely successful at preventing fish morbidity at these tournaments, but the inevitable loss of some fish can quickly be turned into a real positive.”
Angel Food Bank distributes nearly two dozen boxes of food to families in need every month. Overseeing the operation is Manager Mary Proctor.
“I absolutely love it – it’s like heaven fell in our arms,” Proctor said.
This past summer, Groves donated a large supply of fresh bass to the food bank. Proctor said her clients were overwhelmed because specialty food items, like fresh fish, are rarely available outside the holidays.
In addition to collecting tournament fish, the department also gathers and donates invasive species when practicable. Fish like the northern snakehead and blue catfish are part of the department’s invasive species management plan, which requires anglers to dispatch rather than release these fish when caught. Once weighed, aged and sampled for scientific assessment, these fish are then donated to various food banks.