Proper handling and releasing of fish (Catch and Release alive!)

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Proper handling and releasing of fish (Catch and Release alive!)

Post by Cassio » Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:20 pm

I wanted to share this to non GRTU members who find themselves going through this forum. This is from Jimbo Roberts our VP of fisheries. This advice should always be followed, specially this year with the low flows and warm weather. To summarize, fish should be handled as little as possible and quickly returned to the water properly. Do not keep fish out of water for more that 10 seconds!
That is a perfect picture of how it's done right. With two people, one on the camera, one on the fish. It is done over the water in case it struggles and you have to drop it back in. Unhook the fish leaving it in the net/water. Turn on the camera, set up the shot. Always wet your hands. The angler lifts the fish from the water just a little bit, one hand grasping the tail, one hand cradling it under it's throat, a quick click, then gently lower the fish back into the water or net in the water. This can be done in 5 seconds easy. If the fish is upright and ready to go, let it go or drop the front lip and let it swim out. If it's sluggish let it swim in the net for awhile. Or if it's not staying upright, gently hold the fish upright pointing it's nose into the current. You do not need to work the fish back and forth like you see too many people do. Watch it's gills. If they are flaring open and close, everything is fine. When it can swim out of your hands and maintain it's upright position it's recovered. But be ready to net it again if it rolls over. Then start the recovery process all over again till it can swim off strongly.

Too many anglers have their prize out of the water for; 30, 45, 60 seconds or more.
Many of those fish will swim of only to die from delayed mortality. That is caused by extended fights and the fish out of the water too long. What is too long? I would say anything longer than 15 seconds, 10 would be a better upper limit.

When your by yourself, be happy with a picture in the net in the water. Or maybe shoot a picture as it swims off. I fish by myself often and most of my pictures are fish in the bottom of the net. To be able to do a selfie holding the fish with one hand takes a lot of experience to do it right. The fish has to be calm so you don't have to squeeze it at all. If the fish is 20" or better you probably should not attempt a one handed lift.
I don't like to see pictures of fish laying on dry surfaces. I don't like to see the fish squeezed excessively. I don't like to see anglers pass the fish between themselves. I don't like to see guides pass the fish to the sport for a picture.

If you are going to be a catch and release angler you need to know when it's best to take a crummy picture in the bottom of the net and see it swim off strongly. This is the difference between a true sportsman and a sport. Most of these fish right now are in spawning mode. They are already stressed. They need extra care handling and releasing them. The next load of Rainbows will likely be in spawning mode also. The Browns that are coming to us will be recovering from spawning and will need extra care for a month or so.

By the way Chris Johnson and myself will be shooting some videos later to post them on the forum. Videos about the finer points of LAP orientation. Videos of every Lease site. And Videos of proper catch and release techniques.


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