Release over 20″

A conservation campaign started by David Fladd at Eye Strike Fishing in North Charleston, South Carolina.

“ETHICAL BEHAVIOR IS DOING THE RIGHT THING WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS WATCHING- EVEN WHEN DOING THE WRONG THING IS LEGAL.”

― ALDO LEOPOLD

Release Over 20″ is a conservation campaign started by David Fladd at Eye Strike Fishing in North Charleston, South Carolina. https://eyestrikefishing.com/releaseover20/

Sea Island Fly Fishers is proud to partner with Release Over 20” by encouraging fly fishermen to voluntarily release all Spotted Seatrout and Southern Flounder over 20″. In essence, creating an upper-slot for these valuable gamefish – even if South Carolina fishing regulations allows it.  Click here to view suggestions on releasing your catch.

The origin of Release Over 20″ began many years ago when Eye Strike Fishing company partner Dave Fladd inquired about whether South Carolina would ever implement an upper-slot for trout, and was told it would never happen.  In South Carolina, laws pertaining to our natural resources are made by the State Legislature, not the Department of Natural Resources.  Therefore, the process is highly political, and big changes are unlikely to happen in a timely manner.  

So, that inspired Peter Lami to wonder, why can’t we team up with David and set and observe our own fishing club’s catch and creel limits that are more restrictive than the law allows?  If we get enough club members to follow this philosophy, we can effectively have an upper-slot for trout, and may very well move the needle.  Leading by example, many fly fishing guides in the Lowcountry are also getting onboard by sticking QR Code stickers on their flats boats and coolers so every release fish can be recorded online in real time. Once a month prizes donated by sponsors are awarded for participation and numbers of total fish released.

Why Release Big Trout?  

Most trout over 20″ are female

Egg production on larger trout increases exponentially, for example an 11″ trout releases around 3 million eggs a year, and a 20″ trout releases approximately 20 million eggs annually

20″ trout are approximately 4 years old and are survivors.  A 20″ trout is very rare.  It’s estimated that if you start out with 1000 trout at year 0, only 8 trout will remain at year 4.  Imagine how rare a 28″ trout is?

It’s important to pass on survivor genes on these big fish.  How did they survive to the size they are?  Are they able to withstand cold snaps?  Do they grow bigger and faster than the others (think of an NBA player)?

How Can You Get Involved?

Anglers:  Please follow @releaseover20 on Facebook and Instagram to see program submissions and to keep up to date on the initiative.  Catch, Photo, Release a > 20″ trout or flounder, enter it at releaseover20.com and get a free decal and an entry into our monthly drawing.  We also have have stickers and apparel available Bay Street Outfitters, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to funding the initiative.  The stickers are sold at cost, just a $1.75 each, to encourage people to spread the word.

Bay Street Outfitters:  All of Bay Street Outfitters Orvis-endorsed fly fishing guides are on board as official supporters of Release Over 20” lead by Capt. Tuck Scott, Capt. Shannon O’Quinn, Capt. Tony Welch, and Capt. John Hawthorne. Each of the guides has a RELEASE OVER 20” decal sticker on the boat or cooler with a QR Code for your smartphone so you can complete a web form application in real time right on the water. When you catch and release a Spotted Sea Trout or Southern Flounder, make sure you credit your fishing guide on the entry form.  We will track the leading guides by state.

Corporate Sponsors:  We are soliciting corporate sponsors of in-kind donations to give away in monthly drawings for program entries.  In turn, we will promote your business as sponsors of our program on our website and social media platforms.

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