Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gone Fishin'! : Releasing Fish Unharmed

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
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Here are some important tips on releasing fish unharmed, so they will live to be caught another day.

Fishing isn't what it used to be, there was a time when you just went out and fished with little regard for the fish. Regulations were far and few in between, and social customs different.

But now we have slot limits, catch limits, open and closed seasons, catch and no-catch zones; it's a wonder we can still fish! The fish though keep on biting, and we must do everything we can to make sure the resource isn't harmed by our actions. How you release a fish, determines if it will survive to fight another day, or if it becomes food for crabs and seagulls.

I read a long treatise (available here) on Striper mortality with respect to fish hooks. The long and the short of it is that the major cause of mortality in released fish comes from where a fish is hooked, and how the hook is removed. To make it short, circle hooks don't kill stripers as readily as J hooks. Circle hooks tend to only hook the fish in the jaw, whereas there is a high percentage chance of a J hook hooking a fish past the gills. The odds of a Striped Bass dying were 17-times higher if the bass was deeply hooked. The J-shaped hooks had 3.7-times greater chance of gut hooking a fish than circle hooks did. By switching to circle hooks, you can reduce fish mortality by a factor of four!

Wild Ed wrote a very good piece on the circle hook, Texas Fishermen Love the Circle Hook. He says: "All you had to do was start reeling and the fish would hook themselves. The best part was ninety-nine percent of them were hooked right in the corner of the mouth. No more gut hooked fish and no more undersized fished hooked so deep they would die upon release!"

There are other steps we can take to help nurture and protect our fish resource. The way you handle your catch makes a difference in how well they survive the encounter.

As you may know, handling a fish can remove much of the protective slime coat off of the fish's body leaving it vulnerable to parasites and infections. The best technique for releasing a fish would be one where you don't touch it. There are de-hookers available that allow you to remove the hook with out touching the fish. If you have to handle the fish, wet your hands, or use soft gloves that are wet to gently hold the fish and not rub the slime off. If you frequent any of the flyfishing blogs, you'll notice that they always take great pains to carefully unhook the fish, many times barely holding the fish where it breaks the surface. They tend to use barbless hooks, and soft rubber coated nets.

Give a thought as to how you handle you fish. It is a resource that is renewable, and we need to treat it with care!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

1 comment:

Ian Nance said...

It's a wonder we can still fish - that's a true statement. It'll be a cold day before I spend another dime on a snook tag the way they jockey and mess with that season. I feel about the same with grouper. I wrote a research paper in grad school on the troubles with fish harvest data. It's so self-evident it was an easy A