Author Topic: Catch and Release Techniques  (Read 11061 times)

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Chris Puchniak

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Catch and Release Techniques
« on: March 28, 2012, 08:50:31 PM »
Given that so many anglers fish "catch and release" (C&R), it's important that everyone learns how to do it properly.  If you don't, you may end up killing more fish than you would if you just caught and retained your full limit.
 
Fish improperly handled may die very quickly, or days after your contact with it.  Internal injuries from lifting it out of the water, infections brought on by loss of "slime", and build up of fatigue (lactic acid) simply as a result of the fight are just some of the factors than can lead to the death of a fish after C&R.  There is also the loons hovering around your boat in a lake waiting to pick off the first four fish you "wear out" and then release back into their waiting mouths - fish they probably wouldn't otherwise be able to catch if you hadn't just fatigued them.
 
Studies have shown that gill damage can occur after only 15 seconds of exposure to the air when you lift a fish's head out of the water (in cold conditions) - so keep that in mind when you take the fish out of the water for picture after picture.  Further studies have also shown that fish handled by human hands can actually develop infections on their skin days later - ironically precisely in the shape of a human hand... or in the shape of fingertips, this being caused by the loss of the protective slime on their skin after human contact.
 
So, learn to do it right.

1.Play and release fish as rapidly as possible. A fish played for too long may not recover.

2.Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. A fish out of water is suffocating. Internal injuries and scale loss is much more likely to occur when out of water.

3.Rolling fish onto their backs (while still in the water) may reduce the amount they struggle, therefore minimizing stress (note: this usually works best on larger fish - hopefully on small fish you won't even have to touch them).

4.Carry needle-nose pliers or haemostats (surgical pliers). Grab the bend or round portion of the hook with your pliers, twist pliers upside down, and the hook will dislodge. Be quick, but gentle. Single barbless hooks are recommended, if not already stipulated in the regulations (note: just always use barbless - it will make you concentrate harder, and you'll really appreciate it if you ever hook yourself or another person).

5.Any legal fish that is deeply hooked, hooked around the gills or bleeding should be retained as part of your quota. If the fish cannot be retained legally, you can improve its chances of survival by cutting the leader and releasing it with the hook left in.  Most hooks will fall out in a few weeks (try not to use stainless steel either, as they are less inclined to erode and fall out quickly).

6.If a net is used for landing your catch, it should have fine mesh and a knotless webbing to protect the fish from abrasion and possible injury (webbing should be less than 20mm for the openings).   Always wet the net before netting a fish.

7.If you must handle the fish, do so with your bare, wet hands (not with gloves). Keep your fingers out of the gills, and don't squeeze the fish or cause scales to be lost or damaged. It is best to leave fish in the water for photos.  If you must lift a fish then provide support by cradling one hand behind the front fins and your other hand just forward of the tail fin. Minimize the time out of the water (keep it to 3 seconds), then hold the fish in the water to recover. If fishing in a river, point the fish upstream while reviving it. When the fish begins to struggle and swim normally, let it go (note: on a big fish, after a long battle, this can take several minutes - be patient).

For more on this, please see the Province of BC's web site at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/ethics/#Releasing.
 
-- --

All this being said, the message is to treat the fish with respect.  But, it does not mean that you cannot take the time to admire the fish and snap a photo.  There wouldn't be much point in fishing if you didn't spend some time admiring your catch.  Just follow the above steps to mitigate any damage - because it's quite pointless to catch a nice fish and then "admire it so much" that you harm it.
 
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Joe Gluck

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 08:58:22 AM »
Thanks for the info!

Definitely gonna keep it in mind on my next trip, I see wayyyy to many people squeezing trout.

Tie one up, bro!

Vance Whitley

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 12:35:58 PM »
Great reminders Chris!! One of the reasons that i have taken up flyfishing is because the damage my other fishing styles would do to fish. Especially deep hookings. Always hated taking home a 12 inch trout just because i new he would die anyway. Through flyfishing and proper C&R techniques that 12 incher i just released will live to meet me another day and hopefully he will 22 inches then!!
All fishermen are liars except you and me,
and I'm not to sure about you... - unknown

Ivo Balinov

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2012, 08:43:28 AM »
I am pleased to report that a video on Catch and Release that a had the pleasure to (modestly) contribute to is now ready and available for viewing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2oHAoGeQGQ

This version is in French but I understand that an English version is in the works, too.

Cudos to Jeremiah Hamilton for the great camera work and putting it all together.

Best,
Ivo   

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2013, 12:33:17 PM »
Good post Chris!

BTW, I read somewhere that the Swiss have abolished catch and release on their streams. You keep what you catch! I wonder why!!!
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman

Chris Puchniak

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2013, 02:05:56 PM »
Good post Chris!

BTW, I read somewhere that the Swiss have abolished catch and release on their streams. You keep what you catch! I wonder why!!!

That is a really interesting fact about Switzerland.  I know the UK has many of it's fee-fisheries on Reservoir and ponds set up that way, but I can't say I have ever heard of a non-catch and release river system.  Let alone a whole country doing it!
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Randy Paskall

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2013, 05:23:20 PM »
If you think about catch and release is a cruel thing. To catch a keep a limit is far less stressful on the resource as well, than banging fish all day. I've had 50 fish days where by the math 3% or there abouts perished according to 'stats' so that would = 9 dead fish over a limit of 4.
Persoanly I believe my survival rate on the whole is much better than 3% and if a fish is questionable (bleeding/slow to revive etc) it's kept for the table where allowable. Where it's not it goes back to the resource, nature wastes nothing. :)
Sorry, but you weren't catching that fish anyway.....

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2013, 09:12:50 PM »
 Yet to see a day that  a Soctsman catch an Atlantic Salmon and let go with it! Same can be said for the Irish.

England is an exception, they do catch and release on many streams once they have reached the keep quota, they let the fish go.

 I don't believe catch and release is cruel as long a you handle the fish with care!  our next door neighbors in Switzerland don't issue fishing license unless you have gone through a training course. (this don't cover the tourists, but not many people travel to CH for fly fishing!)
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 01:09:50 AM »
Has anybody heard of hookless dry flies?  :D

"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman

Randy Paskall

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 08:51:25 AM »
Ian Forbes often does it - fishing flies with the point removed. Mind you he's caught more fish in more places than most people ever will.
Sorry, but you weren't catching that fish anyway.....

Chris Puchniak

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 02:11:08 PM »
I have done that, but admittedly it's been when I am fishing multiple flies and I don't what to hook fish on any fly other than one.  I am old fashioned and really do like bringing my fish in!  Barbarism at it's peak...  ;)
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2014, 10:36:51 AM »
A very sorry picture for an angler to see. This is one encounter we all want to avoid.
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman

Bob Jurmain

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2014, 07:01:33 PM »
Always a good topic to talk about C&R.  There is a lot of misinformation out there on what kind of stress levels fish can or cannot take to survive C&R.  I post  on our local chat site in Ottawa and get pummeled for it all the time for promoting C&R especially when I suggest that in some cases it should be mandatory.

My understanding of the Swiss situation is that PETA or groups like that got into the system and got a Catch and Kill regulation on the basis that it is cruel to "play" with fish.  Some native groups around here are onto that line as well.  But for PETA and likewise groups, the end goal is to eliminate fishing and hunting altogether.  Lets keep that in mind if and when we have to deal with them.  Catch and Kill is often the policy in pay fisheries because as stated above, improper release techniques can kill just as many fish or more than if you got your limit and left the water as you have to do at some of these establishments.

Now over in your high BC mountain lakes you may not have the same situation as we do here in that our trout lakes by early to mid June surface temperatures reach 70F and often goes down 10 feet at that temp.  That is when I stop fishing these lakes as a C&R fisher.  The older textbooks say that 75F is fatal for trout although the scientists on our Council tell me that is not necessarily so.  I'm lucky.  I can go bass, pike and musky fishing until the water cools again in the Fall.

Another issue is baratrauma.  My experts tell me that if you bring a fish from deeper than 30ft rapidly, that is also a stress situation, potentially fatal.  You often don't have control over this as sometimes the fish rockets up on its own to get off the hook so I try to keep my flies no deeper.

I've asked a few biologists their opinion on the length of time trout especially can be kept out of the water safely.  One suggested as low as seven seconds but that is rather extreme. I think they can take a bit longer than that.

Another issue for you bass and pike fishermen is holding the fish vertically usually for a picture.   There is no science on this, I am told but doing so rearranges the internal organs on heavy fish as well as place undue stress on the jaw structure.  This is another issue I get criticized for locally but I carry on because I know I am right.

I like to eat fish as much as the next guy but in many places there are just too few.  I love shore lunches but if we keep harvesting until you fish all day without hardly a bite, then something else has to happen.  It is hard to get that through to some people who are still living in the past.

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2014, 07:30:47 AM »
thank you for this post Bob!!
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman

Alex Berger

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Re: Catch and Release Techniques
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2014, 10:45:23 PM »
Gentlemen,  on Fisheries Management and Ecology 2007 there was a great article about Effect of catch-and-release angling on growth and
survival of rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss.
 
I believe it will do no harm to read it.          http://www.pipam.it/PDF/Catch_Effect.pdf
"Oh I live to be the ruler of life not a slave..
Walt Whitman