Red observations 2009
Couple things we've observed/learned/adapted to while fishing for sockeyes this season:
1. General opinion is that reds travel right along the bank; while seemingly true (as evidenced by the ones I caught at Morgan's last night), some of the big "hawgs" we caught thus far have been out further from the bank. We just don't stick to the 5' rule anymore. With a 9' flyrod, you can flip out quite a ways and it's always easy to adjust back in towards shore if need be.
2. Just "bonk" the fish ONCE on TOP of the head; seems they bleed out better if you don't beat the living crap out of them.
3. Keep fish on stringer in the water; hard to believe guys just throw the fish on the bank and let them sit there as long as they're fishing. I realize that the river water is not as cold or good as ice, but it's better than tossing them on the bank in the sun. Plus the water flow helps bleed the fish.
4. BIG discovery!!! The green scrubbies/SOS pads for kitchen use work pretty well to scrub off & de-slime the fish. If you really want to go overboard, scrub them whole while on the river (easy to do it while they're whole before filleting) and also scrub the pieces/fillets at home prior to packaging; makes a world of difference!
5. Go with the lightest weight possible while still maintaining occasional contact with the bottom; nowadays we use fly rods for reds and the lighter the weight, the more sensitive everything is (and more enjoyable to use).
6. Treat the fish with care; can't believe how many folks actually throw the fish from the bank into a tote or cooler on their boat; I missed-bonked a fish the other day and whacked it in the side; later when cleaning it had a big ugly & bloody bruise in the meat.
7. To be continued...
I agree with your post, primarily #2. The reason for bonking them just once is to stun, not kill, the fish. Then you need to cut the gills so the blood drains out. The result is a blood-free fillet, which is exactly what you want. The reason you don't bash them hard enough to kill them is that dead fish don't bleed. The heart needs to be beating to drain the blood out.