Jul 15 2014

Holding Fish, does it matter how ?

Yesterday on my O’fieldstream Facebook account, I received a Share from FBfriend Matt Nelson.  He was sharing a post made on a New Zealand site alerting readers to the potentially fatal dangers, from improper holding, when attempting to grab-a-photo of a trout.

The article, Trout Dying to Get a Good Photo, was published in the online fly-fishing blog,  Bish & Fish: From New Zealand  | Fly Fishing Stuff

I’d read this article when it surfaced a few months earlier.  A very good article. Much like my own Lip-Grip is OUT, but this article dealt with trout/salmonids, where my article points, primarily to improper ‘lip holds’ on Bass.

The reality of fish holding is this: there isn’t a fish that swims which is NOT subject to being damaged by improper handling.

The article came at a time when I was -again- seeing a lot of very long ‘out-of-the-water’ fish grip-n-grin photos: where the fisherperson, ‘grips the fish’ and ‘grins for the camera; often, many times with the same fish.

So I made a comment on Matt’s post/share and then re-Shared it back to my FBfriend list – along with an introductory comment.

The following is the series of comments I made and attributed comments from others.  This is – as I say – a matter worthy of, ‘serious attention’.

Article LINK+IMAGE Shared

Anatomical drawing of trout

Image used by Bish & Fish to illustrate the location of easily damaged internal organs of the salmonid. The illustration shows, due to their location of the typical ‘grip area’, (at and just behind the pectoral fin), the fish are ‘at risk’ of being injured when mishandled for photographs or out-of-water release.

COMMENTS on this post:

LES BOOTH/O’fieldstream: Yes. I’ve been ‘preachin’ this for several years now. And folks don’t like being preached to or at. Well, that’s tough. I’ve done the research and know the results. Improper handling and exposing too many fish to improper handling, through C&R mass-catching … IS damaging the resource.

I like fish. Love to fish. And cannot stand people who say they do, but continue to engage in damaging-to-the-resource practices. It’s pure hypocrisy to be that way. And it matters. It matters to the future of fishing and the future of the resource.

It doesn’t matter what species of fish. There are commonly-used-holds that are either debilitating, damaging and yes, lethal – to the fish being handled.

We need to wake-up to the reality. If you ‘touch’ a lot of fish in a C&R fishery, then you are exposing a lot of fish to the results of your handling. Even if you handle with extreme care – it’s very likely someone before or after you – will NOT be so knowledgeable and gentle. It also turns out that WE, OURSELVES!, are not so all-knowing or capable of handling a fish – every time – without adding to the melee.

There are two ways to avoid this issue: 1) reduce the number of fish you catch: Period; and 2) don’t handle your fish. Pass on the ‘grip-n-grin’ moments;

It’s really simple. If you love fishing, then back-off a bit and let the resource breath. If you love fish, then … back-off a bit and let the resource breath. Yeah.. same good-sense action will help – no matter where your interests lie.

Just don’t continue to lie-to-yourselves, thinking, “There’s no way I could be a problem. I’m a good, responsible, conservation-minded fisherman/woman.” Well, NEWSFLASH .. if you grip-n-grin or C&R 30+ fish a day … the YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Preachin’s over … for now.

Matt Nelson Les, I honestly believe that the majority of today’s anglers don’t know the proper way to handle fish. Catch and Release used to get a lot of attention back in the day…now it is just something that is considered a “given”. Unfortunately that means that most people don’t address it anymore. The magazines don’t run articles on it (it’s the hero shots that sell copies) and Cortland’s Trout Boss lines actually had a horrible image right on the box…so I see them as a major part of the problem. As a guide and fly shop manager I try to educate people on proper fish handling (the best being leave ‘em in the net!) whenever I can, I’ve even started to include it as part of our Fly Fishing 101 classes. To me it is part of a bigger problem which is the ethics of fly fishing. There used to be a “code” of behavior among fly fishermen on the stream, rules and basic manners that were passed down from angler to angler, but you don’t see that as much anymore. IMHO I think a lot of that comes from people learning from the internet instead of “mentors” or other experienced anglers…people get too caught up in what they’re catching and forget about how they should go about catching it.

Les Booth Amen Matt. In the face of the oblivious .. keep up your efforts. You’re spot on. Some may say ‘resistance is futile’… in this case – and every case where action truly means something … ‘resistance if FERTILE!. Keep planting!

IF interested ..
read SA-LIFE manifesto on this topic: http://ofieldstream.com/ofs-differs/sa-life-manifesto/

Thanks for the efforts you put forward. Keep up the good influence.

ofieldstream.comI have written, talked about -extensively- and practice a very simple process that entails a straight-forward approach to a set of principles that guide me in my fishing activity.

 

MY SHARE of the Above LINK+IMAGE

My introductory comments when I Shared:

LES BOOTH/O’fieldstream Pay serious attention to this. If you don’t – or Thumb IT – then you’re placing yourself squarely in the slot of being, THE PROBLEM.

And I’ll add my own to this .. for all you Bass fishermen/women out there – trout are NOT the only fish species that suffers from poor handling! EVERY fish species is susceptible to the damage of poor handling.

“Lip-Grip is OUT” -> http://ofieldstream.com/2009/06/19/lip-grip-is-out/

Joe McDonald I see so many of the “BassPro’s” that don’t have a clue about the proper handling of fish.

Les Booth You’re absolutely right Joe, except for one thing: The Bass Pros … DO KNOW the right way to hold the fish. But they CHOOSE NOT to do so. As I’ve said many times before – and don’t intend to stop:

“Ignorant is not knowing. Stupid is not caring. Ignorant is mere suicide. Stupid – *IS* – a WMD.”

As the old joke says, “If the shoe fits….”


Sayin’…

Evidently this SHARED article went over quite well .. as the stats below show – as of (7.15.14 – noon EST)

The BOTTOM-LINE here folks is simple.

If you ‘grip-n-grin’ (G-n-G) your fish you are contributing to a growing lethality among released fish.  If you G’n’G your fish for each fish .. or even a high percentage of your fish, you ARE damaging the population of fish. You might as well priest ‘em and cook’em.

If you want a photo .. take it IN THE WATER.

  • Use barbless hooks;
  • Release with hemostats (grab fly with hemostat and remove;
  • Keep hands and fingers off the fish;
  • DO NOT touch the fish.

And I will add … be responsible and limit the number of fish you catch in an area. Catch-and-Release was not created to give carte blanche to catching as many fish as you could in a given stream or lake section.  It was – and still is – a viable way to limit IMPACT on critical populations of aquatic resources: fish, food, shelter, environment.  The MORE we CONTACT any of those elements, the more chance there is for a negative reaction.

If you would like some ideas for guidelines, then read the SA-LIFE Manifesto.

Keep ‘em alive. Or there won’t be a tomorrow to go to.

O’fieldstream