I had a great piece almost ready to share this week about tips to take better care of your gear. I was almost finished when I came across this. With Spring turning to Summer and many people out on the water, I thought this was a much better post for this week. Many of these things are common sense, but these are tips that bear repeating. I can not claim writing privileges for these tips, I wish I could. This came to me through my Facebook page. I would like to thank the original author for sharing his or her thoughts.
Please take a few minutes to read these tips and put as many of them to task while you are on the river this spring. Without the fish all of these things we know and love so much would cease to exist. My hope is that we all will benefit from reading this.
1. Use barbless hooks. Yes, barbless hooks do less damage to your fish’s face upon removal – but more importantly, barbless hooks make it much easier to release your fish quickly and with minimal handling.
2. Minimize ‘air time’. We all want hero shots – we get it. You’re not taking the fish home in your cooler and you want a way to preserve the memory. Keep the fish in the water until your photographer is ready. Once they have the camera ready and have taken the practice shot, lift the fish from the water, smile real pretty, get the pic, and get that fish back in the water. If you must do it again, do it again – but minimize the time that the fish is out of the water.
3. Fight him hard. Apply as much pressure as you can. Get the fish to hand as quickly as possible. Long battles mean exhausted fish, and exhausted fish die more. Fight hard and fast and get that fish back on its way.
4. Stay away from the rocks. Fish flopping around in the rocks can do serious damage to their own skulls – they’re just not built for that. Find a spot to land the fish with as few sharp, hard objects as possible. Sandy beaches are perfect! If you’re in a run that’s totally lined with rocky shorelines, keep the fish in deeper water and do not swim him up onto the rocky bank. You can land any fish that you need to land in a foot of water.
5. Keep your fingers out of the gills. In normal life, a fish’s gill plates protect its very delicate gills. Once he’s been tired out to the point that you can grab him, he’s very vulnerable. Please, please don’t reach up under his gill plates for the grip and grin – that’s a really nice handle but it’s also often a death sentence.
6. Use appropriate gear. “I landed a 25 pound king salmon on my 6 weight with 6 pound tippet! It took 45 minutes!” We’re not at all impressed by that. That fish was so exhausted that it probably couldn’t even hold itself in the current on release. Use the heaviest gear that’s practical so you can minimize fight times – see #3 above.
7. Watch for predators. This one is particularly relevant in saltwater. Any fish that’s been landed is stressed out and not at the top of its game. Make sure that you don’t release a fish right into the wheelhouse of a hungry shark or barracuda. Here’s a great tip courtesy of our friends at Bonefish and Tarpon Trust – if you’re near some flooded mangroves, release your fish there. That’s a great spot for him to find a place to hide while he rests up. In fresh water, just look for cover. Thanks again for being a responsible angler! Till next time...
Tight Lines - Tim