years ago , at a bow shop in the downriver detroit area i saw what looked like the biggest gar pike i had ever seen mounted on the wall . over six feet long , a trophy from texas the owner had said . i would have wanted a mount like that at the time too . once i became more involved with my sport that mount became a reminder of how we tend to abuse the hunt for the trophy . there are more sportsmen , less species . even the little guys become a trophy up untill the point of extintion . i no longer wish to have a mount like that at such a cost , it isn't worth it . i saw this artical today , thought i'de share it with you . Sad distinction for smalltooth sawfish Marine fisheries scientists readily admit they know depressingly little natural history of the smalltooth sawfish. They don't know how long they live in the wild -- maybe 20-30 years. They can only guess at how long it takes a sawfish to reach sexual maturity (10 years is the best estimate) or how many young a female sawfish produces. Fisheries folk concede they don't really know how big the things get, although 20-foot sawfish weighing more than 1,500 pounds have been documented. What they do know about smalltooth sawfish is that there are darned few of them remaining along Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic coasts that once were home to thriving populations of the strange-shaped creatures. So few sawfish, looking like flat-bottomed sharks sporting a long snout studded with teeth, survive in U.S. waters that the fish have the sobering distinction of being the first marine fish designated as endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The most immediate result of the ESA listing was to make illegal any capture, killing, harassment or other human interaction with smalltooth sawfish. The move stands to have no effect on Texans or anyone else along the Gulf Coast outside the bottom portion of Florida. It has been almost 20 years since a sawfish was documented in Texas waters, and only three have been recorded in the past 25 years. But until the fish hit the endangered species list on April 1, it was unprotected by federal law or the laws of all other states in its native range except Florida and Louisiana. Florida protected sawfish in 1992, and Louisiana did so in 1999. By then, the point was moot everywhere except that tiny portion of south Florida. Still, if anyone captured a smalltooth sawfish and kept it alive, there were ready buyers in the aquarium trade. Three years ago, an aquarium paid $11,500 for a single specimen, NMFS investigations found. The market value for a live sawfish was estimated at $1,000 per foot of fish. The only place with even a remote possibility of producing a smalltooth sawfish was that lower portion of Florida, particularly the shallow, grassy, mangrove-lined waters on the edge of the Everglades National Park and similar habitat around the Keys. That area represents a tiny portion of the native range of the smalltooth sawfish, a range that covered the U.S. east coast as far north as Cape Hatteras in the Carolinas and all of the Gulf Coast through Texas and into Mexico. The reason marine fisheries scientists know so little about the sawfish is that by the time they decided to study the fish, there weren't enough left to study. In the first half of the 20th century, sawfish were considered fairly common, particularly along the Gulf Coast. The fish were hard to miss, since they typically were large and lived their lives in shallow bay waters. Sawfish appear to have had a good tolerance for freshwater and often would be found considerable distances up rivers. NMFS research documented reports of sawfish being taken as far up the Mississippi as its junction with the Red River. Available information says sawfish seldom if ever ventured into water more than about 30 feet deep. They preferred the shallows, where they would root along the bottom like the rays to which they are closely related. Or, if they encountered a pod of forage fish such as menhaden or bay anchovies or mullet, they would burst into the school, whipping that tooth-studded snout (officially called a rostrum, and the "teeth" are really modified scales) into the fish, then feeding on the harvest. That rostrum proved to be a source of one of the sawfishes' many troubles. Sawfish were almost never targeted by commercial fishers -- they weren't that abundant and the market for them was limited. But the fish encountered gillnets set in the bay -- nets targeting more commercially valuable and much smaller speckled trout, redfish and drum. The rostrum of wandering sawfish would get tangled in the net, trapping the animal. They invariably died from suffocation or were killed by the netters. Such net mortality appears fairly limited until the last half of the 20th century, when shrimping exploded with the development of the otter trawl. Shrimpers certainly didn't target the sawfish. But nets are indiscriminate in what they bag, and the big, slow, shallow-water fish sawfish didn't avoid them. When a shrimper encountered a sawfish in his net, it was bad news for the shrimper and a death sentence for the sawfish. Simultaneously with the increase in shrimping and commercial netting in the bays, booming populations along the coast began impacting the fragile balance of the bays. Habitat destruction -- from draining or filling marshes and estuaries, changing hydrology through damming rivers and dredging channels -- ran rampant. The sawfish, long-lived, slow to mature and saddled with a low reproduction rate, appear not to have been able to keep pace with the attrition. Not unusual in Texas bays as late as the 1940s, sawfish were all but ghosts along our coast by the 1960s. Since that capture in Aransas Bay 19 years ago, sawfish have been missing in Texas. When, in the late 1970s, fisheries scientists and managers snapped to the declining abundance of sawfish, there were almost none of the fish left to study. Current data indicate the population of smalltooth sawfish has declined 95-99 percent from what it was a century or so ago. Whether the inclusion of the smalltooth sawfish on the Endangered Species listing, which became effective May 1, has any appreciable impact on the species is questionable. The ESA mandates critical habitat for the species be designated and a recovery plan be considered. But with the factors causing the sawfishes' disappearance seeming irreversible, odds of the species ever returning to Texas waters, or any of its historical range, appear insurmountable. But some positive can come from the sawfishes' tale. Its plight proves the wealth of the oceans is not infinite, and a major piece of the fabric of coastal marine life can be forever ripped from the water.
it would probably smell a whole lot better than if you put a real fish on your wall! joe
i have a bunch of catch and release mounts lined up. though they cost just a bit more. it makes way more sense since they last way longer require virtually no maintenance and the fish lives for another day. for me not necessarily for another person to catch, since i dont see fish as just there for people to catch. but to reproduce and hopefully pass on the dominant genes that made it successful in nature so far. everyone do yoruselves a favor and think before you keep that large fish you just caught, just for a mount to be done, or for the bragging rights to prove to your neighbor you really caught it. it keeps our favorite fisheries in tact by letting the Healthy trophies go.
belive it or not , i don't have one single mount yet . i have admired how great they make a house look on the inside , but i just haven't kept ( kept=cought LOL ! ) anything worth a mount . state or world record i would , but the big guys just go back for another time or another angler to enjoy . eating size i keep . i do this for a few simple reasons , one , cash flow . a bill or three for a mount and then catch my lifetime bigboy , thoes little monsters would end up being neglected . wasted bucks. larger fish have the gene pool that is disapearing as time goes on , our au sable river system used to produce some steelies and eyes that were in the 20+pound range ( eyes were over the fifteen pound range ) . over harvesting now has the big brusers at anything over twelve pounds . gotta give thoes old fish there due too , they didn't get big being stupid . i have seen the mounts you speak of , made to order from your photographs , one fantastic idea for the c&r fisherman .
With the new technology, you can get a duplicate polymer fish that will last 10x longer, look better, and keep the fish swimming for another day... Unless its a state record, its going back!
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