Hello from Guatemala, Everyone!
I check in to the forum every once in a while and as always, I enjoy the information shared here.
I found this article about 6 months ago, but I just got around to really reading it. For years I’ve wondered about catch and release practices and what some people say about them. Some are all “keep them wet” and others are “no pictures”, while others say don’t touch the fish and others are “wet your hands” fans. Most of the C&R articles I’ve found are not with salmonid species and use laboratory data. I thought this article was interesting since it used prospective observational data on the species of trout that I fish for in a stream that is like my streams.
I was wondering if any of you have read this article and what are your thoughts. I makes me feel more hopeful that I’m not the murderer I’ve been told I am for taking pictures of some of the trout I catch. I’ll included links to a press summary and to the article itself.
Anyway, keep up the good work on the forum.
Confirmation is always nice. I go with wet hands and the theory that they can be out of the water for as long as I can hold my breath.
Thanks @tvdavisid for the post. I hope all is well with you!
I’ve read that article. The study does not mention mis-handling that can compromise the fish’s slime coating which can be avoided or at least minimized with wet hands as @dpnoll mentions.
I still “feel better” when I am able to net a fish, move to calm water, keep it wet as much as possible in a rubber measure net, remove the hook, maybe snap a photo in the net to get a measurement/document the catch, then let it swim out of the net when it’s ready; all hands free if I can.
There was an interesting post in the local-regional (with members around the globe) FF forum about C&R practices for larger anadromous salmonid species that are ESA listed in the PNW (and now Scotland) :
" If you haven’t seen the Youtube video “Two Days at Steinfossen” you really should. It’s two friends fishing Atlantic Salmon on a classic pool on the Alta River in Norway. The remoteness, boat work, truly monstrous salmon and, most of all, the comradery highlight the best of our sport.
But this isn’t just a general recommendation. Shortly past 22-minute mark bearded Mikael points and remarks “Look bubbles!” just prior to releasing his relatively small 12-13 kilo salmon. This hit a sweet spot for me- bubbles .
I’ll revive the fish in slowly moving water in the net after keeping the fish suspended in the water through the entire unhooking process. Resuscitation is a two-handed procedure that occurs once the fly is removed and rod safely placed aside. I’ll shade the fish’s eyes with one hand. They seem to feel that they’re safe once the big predator is out of sight. I’ll watch their gills. Eventually bubbles will generally appear which I take to be the fish excreting lactic acid build-up. A tilt of the net and they calmly swim away.
Anyone else ever watch for bubbles?"
Thank you Tom for staying in touch with us. We miss you but we understand what a positive impact you are making on the community in Guatemala. I hope your wife is doing well and we hope to hear from you again soon. Take care and our prayers are with you during your mission trip.
Good find on the study. The way I read the study is that most anglers know how to treat trout with the respect they deserve.
Caught any Guatemalan fish yet?
Thank you for sharing that! This is the first study I have seen that looks to be solid. I also like it just gave the conclusion on one aspect of C&R - oxygen exposure. Of course there are many other things that impact fish in the process of completing the “catch” and the “release” - but it is nice to know that if you keep the air exposure below 60 seconds then your likelihood of doing harm is not high.
April Vokey just posted her interview with the Keep Em Wet scientist so I’m looking forward to hearing that and seeing what he has to say.
I actually listened to the April Vokey podcast with the founders of Keep 'em Wet and they mention some disapproval of this study.
It is worth a listen.
Principles for C&R based on scientific study of various species in various situations.
I think in general most studies are misleading or are easily misinterpreted.
Best to just stick to the common sense stuff. It is a creature that lives in the water.
Short fights, barbless single hooks, quick releases. Forget 60 seconds…try for ten.
Lately. I net the critter and take a two or three second inspection of the fish’s color, then they go back into the drink.
My approach exactly, Gressak. Super quick, minimize having the fish slap against rocks or other objects.
When I look at studies, research papers, and time spent on data collection, I often remember what
Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) said: There are white lies, damn lies, and statistics. My graduate biology adviser introduced this quote to me early in my pursuit for knowledge. I still get a good laugh out of this quote.
I do try and bring the fish in quickly and let them go while in the water but sometimes my excitement overrides my common sense and I want to take a picture to have bragging rights. This doesn’t happen too often because no one is interested in looking at a 6 inch trout.
@Gressak @Jason_Seaward @Kookagee all good points gents! Indeed your points are the take away for me. I think the scientists/angler couple that is "Keep Fish Wet"s point is that science, as in the Idaho U study, can prove something for that species on that watershed for that time period…but to take those findings and apply it to other situations may totally not work. For science those findings have their place…but for anglers we need a set of “Best Practices” and you guys nailed what those best practices should be.
I do the same thing, but I put on a ski mask, so people do not recognize me when I torture fish. The fish call me The Boogiefish.
I sill will take pictures of trout if I dig their markings and color. I know that it is not good for the fish and will only go for it if the fish seems really lively. These sorts of threads help keep my actions in check.
To counter the bad feelings we might have for our practices: Realistically, these trout could be dinner, so even if an angler was to impose harm and a lower 50% survival rate it is still better than nothing. Crayfish need to eat too. Most fisheries are put and take, so I do not get too upset with folk who impact the fishery. It is there for our entertainment and without concrete law on practices, nearly everything is fair game. I still try for ten seconds or less myself, but if I break that rule or someone else does or even harvests a fish, it is fine in my book.
A turning point for me was about 2-3 years ago while Western fly fishing, I watched as two men had caught a large rainbow (one of the biggest I ever seen) and attempt to get a series of “grip and grin” photos. The fish was out of the water way too long, they dropped it against the rocks a few times, fumbled as they passed it back and forth. They finally released it back into the water, but it stayed towards the bottom, both shocked and close to death.
I realized in that moment that I no longer wanted any hero photos or “grip and grins”. Since then, having me in the pic is the least important part of a pic. I like the rare pic of a beautifully coloured fish. All the others are quickly placed back into the water.
Again, no judgement with what others do (well… except those two dudes with the rainbow…that was harsh to watch)