Client Rich Drews - 12.17# April 3, 2002
Sight fishing for spawning bass always has been and probably always will be a controversial topic.
There have been anglers opposing it ever since bass fishing became popular. After all, it does not seem quite fair to see a fish and prey on its weakness. But is that not what fishing is about in general - fooling the fish so you can get them in your boat? Furthermore, since the Bassmaster pros popularized it, more and more fishermen are enjoying it.
There is good reason for the controversy. It logically follows that if you take the fish off of the beds, they will not be able to protect the young and those fish will not even make it to be fingerlings, much less survive to adulthood. However, most serious bass fishermen release the fish, so the main issue is the effect it has on the fishery when fish are caught off the beds and then released. Studies have shown that catch and release during the spawn does not harm the fishery.
According to Bassmaster.com, "In Southern states, fishery biologists have not detected a negative effect on fish populations where bed fishing is practiced. Only a tiny fraction of bass fry grow to maturity in ideal situations, and forage and water quality are limiting factors, not fishing pressure."
In other words, while the controversy is likely to rage on, there are no proven negative effects on the fish or fishing due to sight fishing.