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Thread: Catch and Release Techniques

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    Member icb12's Avatar
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    Default Catch and Release Techniques

    Brian has agreed to stick this for our forum.


    Catch and release should be practiced because they are essential tools for good conservation. If every fisherman keeps every fish that they catch, a fishery will soon be fished out. Selective harvest has been the friend of outdoorsmen in almost every aspect of game management. By choosing which fish to keep, and which to return to the water, a fisherman can help to develop a strong, healthy fishery.

    Choosing Your Tackle
    • Use strong line to bring your catch in quickly. If you are having difficulty landing fish in low oxygen water conditions and exhaustion is a concern, beef up your leader to allow you to bring them in faster. From a conservation standpoint it is better to catch fewer fish as the result of a heavier leader than to inadvertently kill fish through excessive exhaustion.
    • Fish caught with flies or lures survive at a higher rate than fish caught with bait.
    • Use hooks appropriate to the size of the fish.
    • Go Barbless. Barbless hooks allow for a much easier and quicker release of your fish, with less damage to the fish's mouth. You can use pliers to pinch down the barbs on your hooks or you can carefully file them off of large hooks.

    Landing Your Catch
    • Land your fish as carefully and quickly as possible. When a fish is hooked, he will fight to free himself. This requires a great deal of energy. When a fish fights, he builds up lactic acid in his muscles very quickly. This is similar to what happens to us when we exercise. If you've ever had sore muscles after a workout then you understand what I'm talking about. In fish, this build up is highly toxic and can cause death days later. Getting the fish in quick is even more important in warmer water. Particularly when fishing for coldwater species like trout, when the water becomes warm, fish have a decreased chance of survival after being released. Warm water contains less dissolved oxygen and fish are under more stress in a warmer water environment. When water temps are high, consider other fishing opportunities that will have less impact.
    • Avoid removing the fish from the water if possible. Fish live under water their entire lives and are accustomed to feeling the pressure of water around them. They are accustomed to being wet and derive oxygen from passing water through their mouths and gills and pulling the oxygen from it. When removed from the water the pressure changes on their bodies, and they are essentially drowning in the air. If you want to take a photograph, have the photographer get ready, then lift the fish barely out of the water (unless prohibited by regulation e.g. king salmon in Cook Inlet) and quickly return it to the water. We call this practicing CPR (Catch, Photo, Release)
    • Do not let fish flop about in shallow water, on the ground, or in the bottom of your boat. Fish can bruise themselves or even cause serious internal injuries that can kill them later. Be careful not to drop a fish. If you hold the fish incorrectly, chances are you're going to get the slippery protective coating on your hands and it will slide right out of your grasp. Fish can also shake and break your grip. Don't squeeze a fish to keep him from flopping.
    • Use landing nets made with soft or knotless mesh. Avoid the use of "knotted" nets. These knots act like sandpaper on a fish and can easily remove scales or damage eyes. Another type of damage occurs when the tissue between the spines on the fins gets ripped. This impairs the fish's ability to swim properly. Never try to net a large fish with a small net either. No matter what the material, you'll do a lot of damage if the net is too small to properly accommodate the fish.

    Handling Your Catch

    • Keep your fish in the water. Research has shown that keeping a fish in the water dramatically increases its chances of survival. Think of it after the fight of your life, say going 12 rounds in a boxing ring or running a marathon, imagine having your air cut off! That's exactly what we do when we lift fish from the water. Fish kept out of the water for more than one minute have a greatly diminished chance of survival, once a fish has been out of the water for three minutes, it has virtually no chance of survival, even if it swims away.
    • Cradle large fish gently with both hands: one under its belly, one at the tail. Avoid lifting vertically by the jaw or gill plate. The weight of the viscera of large fish is sufficient to tear internal connective tissue. The connective tissue does not grow in nature to resist gravity in this direction.
    • Keep your fingers out of and away from the gills and eyes.
    • Use wet hands. All fish have a protective slime layer on their skin; a protective mucous coating. This coating helps protect the fish from infection and disease and should be left intact as much as possible. Dry hands have potential to remove this slime. Wet wool gloves are acceptable as well.
    • Never squeeze the fish.
    • Support your fish in the water while your partner takes your picture. Fish can not remain healthy out of water for longer than you can hold your breath.
    • With small fish, simply remove the hook without touching or handling the fish at all

    Removing Your Hook

    • Use long nose pliers to back the hook out. Pliers or similar tools allow you to remove hooks with better control and limit your "hands on" contact with the fish. Fish that are barely hooked or hooked in the lip can usually be freed with your hand, but it's a good idea to always have a pair of needle nose pliers for those harder to reach hooks.
    • Remove the hook quickly, keeping the fish underwater.
    • When the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line to release the fish. If a fish is hooked in the eye or gills, it should be kept if legal to do so. A fish that is bleeding excessively or that has sustained major damage to it's gills, throat, or eye will most likely not survive.
    • Avoid stainless steel hooks. Standard steel hooks will rust out much faster if a hook must be left in a fish.

    Reviving Your Catch
    Besides building up lactic acid, a fighting fish uses up oxygen. They can become out of breath just like us. The quicker he's brought in, the less out of breath he'll be and the more likely he'll be able to swim away without the need to be revived. Some people scoff at this notion because fish don't breathe through their mouths (note that some species such as catfish are capable of breathing through their mouths). They don't think about the fact that fish have lungs and a heart just as we do. When we're out of breath, it's because we've used up a lot of oxygen. We breathe faster to take in more air and our hearts beat faster to get the needed oxygen replenished throughout our bodies. Fish are no different, but they are not as well equipped to catch their breath.
    Fish need to move their gills to breath. If they are out of breath, they lack the energy to move which prevents them from taking in more oxygen. Some fish are so out of breath after fighting an angler that they can't move their gills to force water over them. When this occurs they are unable to breathe and they die. If you wind up with a big one on the end of your line, sometimes you have no choice but to fight the fish. When this happens and the fish runs out of energy, he can be revived. Place the fish in the water belly down and gently grasp him by the tail. If you're in a river, point him up stream. Slowly move him back and forth until he lets you know he's ready to take off. Be careful not to remove any of his protective coating. Most of the time they'll kick loose and swim away, but other times you'll need to repeat this more than once. Try not to let the fish go until he's ready. This is very important in current because he can be carried into rocks or other objects and be injured.





    Info obtained from:
    ADF&G
    catchphotorelease.com
    recycledfish.org
    westcoastanglers.com

    Anything I've Forgotten?

  2. #2

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    That's great!! Thanks for doing that. Myself along with a lot of other people appreciate it! I am a mod on another site here in ak and we don't allow pictures that display bad C&R techniques. It sets a bad example. Those are all great points and from the looks of it a lot of people need to read up. Don't just "let it go" as we all enjoy the resource and want our kids to be able to fish these great rivers and catch good fish. Do your part people. Thanks again
    Fish on

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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    not to jack a thred but slayintrout what site???????????

    Ok I have a thought about the selective harvest part.............this is just me but I think that is a bad idea. People wont keep the small ones, or any defective fish, they will keep the prime healthy fish, which I would think is what we all want to make it up stream to spawn, so people being "selective" will keep them fishing longer, and tramatizing more fish if they hook any thing right? Honeslty I think if we want to conserve our fisheries we need to change the way they are managed......... I don't think it will be to long before even salmon fisheries are c/r only if you can fish there at all. If people are really worried about the health of a fish they just should not remove a fish from water period like some of the streams down south for steel head. It kinda sucks because it makes it hard to take pics if you want to but honeslty it seems that is the best way to go about ensuring the fish will survive.

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    alaskaflyfish.net

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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slayintrout View Post
    alaskaflyfish.net
    oh ok gotcha, I have seen that one they have some good flys on there.

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    Awesome icb12. thanks.

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    Member muzzyman87's Avatar
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    Default Kenai anglers sit in boats.............

    Quote Originally Posted by bowdy15 View Post
    This is pointless......everything here was said in the other thread......
    This man now floats the Kenai as does every other guy since there is obviously not a single other piece of water in the state of Alaska.....(probably cant catch fish elsewhere....)

    With that in mind, Kenai floaters are used to, for the most part, VERY simple landing situations(I will leave it at that)!!!!!!!! Try pulling a 25'' bow out of a ten foot wide creek that contains 3 foot vertical walls on each side without touching a rock. A net you say??? Well I do not and will not use one!!!! I have my own beliefs, so feel free to persecute!!!!

    So go float the most abused river in the state in the mornings and talk about how proper CAR should be done in the evenings....ONLINE....

    This forum is starting to make me sick.. I have such a passion for the fish in which I pursue, yet there are always a few boneheads that have to get mouthy because they think that they are the gods of fishing.. I love fish as much as everyone of you, if not more than most of you. BUT someone always has to turn into a PETA loving *****, crying about how my fish had to suffocate for a 4 to 5 second picture pose. Good god!!!!!!!!!!!! It touched a rock!!!!!!!!!! Cry me a river.....

    So to all the haters out there, stay on the motha flippin Kenai


    And for the record, I am very strongly for CAR. I just cant stand the righteous kenai anglers anymore. Categorizing you say??? YES I AM

    And Bowdy, Not much of this is really aimed to you, I am just ranting at this point.
    I am not against the flippin kenai, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering every other stream... ~Paul O'Neil~/~Wyo2AK~

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    I for one really appreciate this thread. Thanks for posting it and getting a sticky on it. Most of the tips listed are common sense to most people, but I still see a few people dragging fish ten feet up the bank and kicking them back down. Hopefully this will help guide some of those people in the right direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by muzzyman87 View Post
    Try pulling a 25'' bow out of a ten foot wide creek that contains 3 foot vertical walls on each side without touching a rock.
    I wanna see that!

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    I like to take a scale sample and research my catch, then I probe its anus to see if its been having proper bowel movements, and to make sure it been eating a balanced diet. Usually I'll massage around the inner lobe of the pectoral this tells me the fishes mood. If its depressed I make sure not to sing it country western cheating songs as I release it, but if its in a bubbly mood sometimes i'll tickle it under its chin and maybe give it a noogy. If it even thinks about getting sassy I make darn good and sure i smack it on a rock or two. If its lonely I like i'll put it on a stringer and don't release it until I have another one so they can be together. If its a hen in spawning colors I like to wink at it and show it my fancy simms waders just to impress her and let her know I got it going on. Lastly if it just doesn't seem like it wants to leave me and go back to the fish world, Lord forbid I cook it

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    I like to take a scale sample and research my catch, then I probe its anus to see if its been having proper bowel movements, and to make sure it been eating a balanced diet. Usually I'll massage around the inner lobe of the pectoral this tells me the fishes mood. If its depressed I make sure not to sing it country western cheating songs as I release it, but if its in a bubbly mood sometimes i'll tickle it under its chin and maybe give it a noogy. If it even thinks about getting sassy I make darn good and sure i smack it on a rock or two. If its lonely I like i'll put it on a stringer and don't release it until I have another one so they can be together. If its a hen in spawning colors I like to wink at it and show it my fancy simms waders just to impress her and let her know I got it going on. Lastly if it just doesn't seem like it wants to leave me and go back to the fish world, Lord forbid I cook it
    Holy ****. Coffee all over the laptop. This comment should have some with a warning. That is some funny stuff there and a great laugh to wake up to Thanks for starting my day out with a smile and a laugh.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Good post ICB. Great info.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    I like to take a scale sample and research my catch, then I probe its anus to see if its been having proper bowel movements, and to make sure it been eating a balanced diet. Usually I'll massage around the inner lobe of the pectoral this tells me the fishes mood. If its depressed I make sure not to sing it country western cheating songs as I release it, but if its in a bubbly mood sometimes i'll tickle it under its chin and maybe give it a noogy. If it even thinks about getting sassy I make darn good and sure i smack it on a rock or two. If its lonely I like i'll put it on a stringer and don't release it until I have another one so they can be together. If its a hen in spawning colors I like to wink at it and show it my fancy simms waders just to impress her and let her know I got it going on. Lastly if it just doesn't seem like it wants to leave me and go back to the fish world, Lord forbid I cook it

    You my friend are awsome........major cool points for hitting on a fish and pimpin the simms! LOL

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    Thanks for getting this out there ICB.

    Fullbush, I've got a sister-in-law that is working on her Ph.d in psychology. She says you guys should talk. Then she mumbled something about serious issues.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Great post ICB.

    Quote Originally Posted by muzzyman87 View Post
    Try pulling a 25'' bow out of a ten foot wide creek that contains 3 foot vertical walls on each side without touching a rock. A net you say??? Well I do not and will not use one!!!! I have my own beliefs, so feel free to persecute!!!!
    Muzzy... I can agree with you on a lot of fronts. But the comment above makes no sense to me. I don't know how your beliefs fall into this, but the situation you're describing is exactly the reason people should carry a net. Not only is it easier on the fish by ending the battle quickly once the fish begins to tire, but it makes removing the fly easier, and if a picture is desired gives you the chance to safely keep the fish in the water while you dig out your camera.

    This net is $30 plus shipping, and large enough to handle the majority of what you're going to catch (it's yet to be too small for me. wait a minute...). At this price for a solid, rubber basket, C&R net, there's no reason everyone shouldn't be carrying a net.
    Frabill Wooden Trout Net
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Default A thorough report on catch and release practices.

    I came across this report recently called "Catch-and-release angling: A review with guidelines for proper fish handling practices". You can doiwnload the .pdf its a 15 page report packed with useful information. It was published in 2005. It goes into much greater depth than the summary guidelines given by the OP. I found it very interesting, and it reinforced practices I already employ in C&R fishing. However, through the studies cited in the report it helps you understand why you must employ careful fish handling techniques. Just do an internet search for the title and it should come right up OR follow the link I posted below.

    I urge everyone on this forum to read this article.

    www.wildtroutstreams.com/CatchRelease/catch_and_release_review_and_guidelines.pdf

    P.S. Anyone else think ADF&G should make people pass a written test for a fishing license just like one would have to pass for a drivers license or CDL? Given the amount of C&R that is basically mandated by the regs (not allowing the retention of fish 16" or bigger on many streams) there should be a knowledge requirement of some kind.

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    Member cube01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by muzzyman87 View Post
    there are always a few boneheads that have to get mouthy because they think that they are the gods of fishing.
    Amen brother...

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfish6025 View Post
    P.S. Anyone else think ADF&G should make people pass a written test for a fishing license just like one would have to pass for a drivers license or CDL? Given the amount of C&R that is basically mandated by the regs (not allowing the retention of fish 16" or bigger on many streams) there should be a knowledge requirement of some kind.
    Should we also install ignition-lock breathalyzers in every vehicle and have everyone micro-chipped??
    Gimmie a break - this isn't Kalifornistan!!


    (P.S. Maybe the mods should have preemptively locked this post...)

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    I didnt want to come back with some knee-jerk response to Cube, so I've been doing a little research instead. Thing is, I cant find Kalifornistan anywhere on the map. A google search only turned up links to a b-movie. Dang. Oh well. At any rate, I hope the PS to my last post didnt have so strong of authoritarian underpinnings that it discredited the link I provided to that informative report on catch and release fishing. I can assure you that the report is not a propaganda piece. The author does cite alot of studies to support his claims to which I am curious about how the study was conducted- specifically the tagging and releasing of fish followed by a count of survivors and morts (how do you do that job and where do I apply for it?). Nowhere in the report does the author advocate microchipping fishermen to find out where their honey holes are though. Its not like that. We're just on here because we care about the fish right?

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    Member cube01's Avatar
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfish6025 View Post
    I didnt want to come back with some knee-jerk response to Cube, so I've been doing a little research instead. Thing is, I cant find Kalifornistan anywhere on the map. A google search only turned up links to a b-movie. Dang. Oh well. At any rate, I hope the PS to my last post didnt have so strong of authoritarian underpinnings that it discredited the link I provided to that informative report on catch and release fishing. I can assure you that the report is not a propaganda piece. The author does cite alot of studies to support his claims to which I am curious about how the study was conducted- specifically the tagging and releasing of fish followed by a count of survivors and morts (how do you do that job and where do I apply for it?). Nowhere in the report does the author advocate microchipping fishermen to find out where their honey holes are though. Its not like that. We're just on here because we care about the fish right?
    Sorry BigFish, It wasn't meant to be a personal attack - Over reaching government just irks me to no end and the last thing I want to see is more red tape when someone wants to go fishing... That being said though, I'm happy to pay for my yearly fishing license and make my regular donation to Trout Unlimited in the name of conservation. I'd just hate to have relatives come visit and not be able to take them fishing because they have to go pass a test somewhere...

    To your credit, I did read the link you posted in its entirety. Good info... I was surprised to read that the author advocates NOT using a net whenever possible. Also VERY surprised to see the mortality rate of the fish that were released correctly!



    P.S. I used to be heavily involved in the firearms community, specifically precision shooting, and 'Kalifornistan' is what we call California because of its authoritarian gun laws. Do a search for 'Kalifornistan AR-15' to see it used in a sentence :-P

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    Hey, I agree with you anyway. Red tape sucks and it would definitely suck for visiting friends and relatives. And isnt that what alot of tourists are anyway- some resident's friend or relative?

    I was super surprised about the net thing too. I use a rubber web landing net when I have to net one. But I was also ultimately dismayed by the number of fish that die even when you do everything right.

    Oh, and how about the part about fish being able to dislodge hooks you leave in them? I always thought they rusted out, but it actually makes more sense that a fish will work them out with their own mouth parts.

    Full disclosure: I'm originally from California (i know!). Had to administer an estate sale there a few years ago (very sad) and I took cash + trade for a sweet old Winchester 30-30 for this vehicle I had to sell. So anyway some guy takes me aside and says its illegal what I'm doing without a gun dealer, etc! I didnt know that. Its not illegal up here and I never had cause or interest in owning a gun in CA. Nor do I really care about posting it on a public forum. I thought it was funny and got the heck back up here real quick with my 30-30. One less gun in California is not such a bad thing IMO, theres too many wack jobs in hiding there. At least the wack jobs up here are pretty open about it and usually nice guys anyway... So I guess what I'm saying in this long long ramble is if you dont like the rules where you live then move. I don't know why anyone who values personal freedom would want to live in CA anyway there's alot more BS than restrictive gun laws going on there...

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