View Full Version : Catch and Release done Right
01-08-01, 10:38 PM
Since we are all hooking and letting go so many DH trout I think it is time we consider some ideas about the best way to successfully release fish. Mine are;
1) Use barbless hooks. There is nothing worse than ripping a piece of trout jaw loose while trying to pull the barb out.
2) Keep the fish in the water and touch it as little as possible. Use forceps to remove the hook, especially when the fish is deeply hooked.
3) Take your time putting the fish back in the water. No flop and drop. Give the fish time to catch it's breath. Trout build up lactic acid during their panic at being hooked and it can kill them if we don't take time to help them recover.
Any other thoughts?
01-11-01, 11:16 AM
1) Use barbless hooks. There is nothing worse than ripping a piece of trout jaw loose while trying to pull the barb out.
Well, since you asked....................
I'm not so sure there's "nothing worse" than "ripping a piece of trout jaw loose" ( who does that?)
it might be worse on the trout to have multiple cuts, holes, scratches, over various parts of his body, than to have one hole in his jaw. ( Obviously, tearing flesh is really bad) I was fishing a creek the other day, catching fish....having a grand time. The fish stopped biting the fly I was using, so I decided to change to a nymph. After sticking, but not hooking a few fish, I finally turned one....he ran downstream below me, hook firmly planted in jaw, or so I thought...then he jumped...ran back by me, hook on outside of head......another flop or two and he rolled over at my feet, hook in dorsal fin. How much did it hurt him( infection wise, not poor ole fishy wise...) to have three holes and who knows how many scratches ? I looked at the hook and .....vola....barbless......I promptly replaced it with an adequate hook designed to make only one hole.
A barbless hook going form mouth to head to back......or one hole inside the mouth?
Barbed vs. barbless is much like C&R........you do what you think is best for the fish....so you can catch them again......or eat them.
should I have preceeded this with a " Don't take this wrong, but..." ? http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
01-11-01, 11:22 AM
1) Use barbless hooks. There is nothing worse than ripping a piece of trout jaw loose while trying to pull the barb out.
Replace "trout jaw" with "your own flesh" and read above quote again.
Organizer of flies by size and shape of scar they leave.
Does anyone know of any scientific studies explaining the health effects of barbless vs. barbed hooks? I remember reading in an old thread that the GA DNR almost eliminated the barbless rule because there is evidence that barbless hooks are not any "healthier" than barbed hooks. Intuitively, barbless hooks seem to be "safer" but may not be. I am tired of reading everyone's opinion. I do not condemn anyone for expressing their opinion, I just want to see some actual evidence.
01-11-01, 01:07 PM
You got that right Black Knight. Years ago in my youth a managed to hook myself in the eyelid with a #16 barbed caddis. I vividly remember what it felt like to remove it.
01-11-01, 02:55 PM
I'm with you on the opinion issue. I've read a number of threads on barbed vs barbless and have never been convinced either way. I fish
small hooks barbed, because I don't have a problem removing them with no obvious damage, and large hooks barbless. I rig up my kids and newcomers with barbless hooks to limit damage on human flesh.
I like to get the opinion of people who have money riding on an issue. On this debate, these would be people like Jimmy at Unicoi Outfitters and the owners of the Soque and other pay streams. I think they all require barbless hooks.
What do you guys/girls think about the use of a net vs. no net?
I was michaeltak, I mean I still am but...you know what I mean!
02-02-01, 02:58 PM
I asked this a while back. I was on a steelhead site where one angler related being told in a very angry manner that since he had a net, why didn't he just kill the fish outright.
My feeling is use of an appropriate net is probably neutral. What is an appropriate net? Well, tight cotton mesh or the like, not the extruded plastic monstrosities you can buy at WallyWorld, (no offense WallyWorld, the angler). I don't have a real nice one, but the net material is soft and supple. I think this does not hurt the fish's "slime" coat as much as more abrasive material.
Why a net? Well, for me, I have trouble subduing the little guys with my hands, and you can't always just reach down and flip the hook out w/o handling the fish. So, is it better to net the fish, or grab it 10 times, squeezing it, rubbing hands all over it, dropping it on a rock or the bank, etc? You get the point. I am very concerned about handling fish I intend to release, but maybe we don't give them credit enough for being more hardy. After all, we drop the little guys out of helicopters in places, (and they don't even use zip lines!).
[This message has been edited by BLACK KNIGHT (edited 02-02-2001).]
02-02-01, 04:58 PM
Let me propose this scenario:
You have a 1/2 acre pond in your backyard. During the winter months you spend your hard-earned dollars, stocking it with 100 pounds of rainbow trout for a "delayed harvest" situation. The purpose is twofold:
1. to provide fishing entertainment during the winter months
2. to provide fresh fish for dinner in the Spring when the water begins to warm.
Now, given the money you have invested, would you use barbed or barbless hooks on your private water?
02-02-01, 06:00 PM
Good point Drifter. As I mentioned above, you would go barbless if you were Unicoi, BlackHawk, etc. or even on closely managed public water like Dukes. If it was my pond, I would go barbless during winter and use the barb when it was time to harvest the crop. Don't know about a net. It seems like a net is good for the fish to the extent it shortens the time needed to land it, but bad for the fish to the extent it removes slime. I think that some privately managed streams allow nets and some don't. I've never heard of management rules on public water that prohibit nets. I only carry a net on a stream like the Chattahoochee where I might run into a big fish. If I think the fish is too small to break off the tippit, I just reach down and unhook it in the water. Unfortunately, my net stays dry on most trips.
02-02-01, 07:49 PM
Even the fisheries folks don't agree on barbless vs. barbed, so I'm not sure it's that big an issue. I don't think it's all that important. If I deep hook a fish, I'll cut the tippet.
02-05-01, 06:06 PM
Drifter, I would use barbless hooks until the water temp rose above 63 degrees. Then I would quickly switch to Purina Trout Chow and a castnet.
Who says you can't enjoy your trout and eat'em too?
Enjoy and consume, the new mantra for the private stockers!
02-05-01, 07:13 PM
I agree with BK- there is little difference between barbed and not.
As for nets. It seems that time out of water(not puncture wounds) is the determining factor when you talk about different hooks. Nets would get the fish back faster and, if you wet them first, probably aren't that harmful. Any studies on this?
If your going to fish, you're going to hurt and kill fish. If it bothers you and you're losing sleep over it, than don't fish. It's part of the game. Catch and release is a falacy anyway because 99% of all streams fished are put and take, and a large portion of the fish are not going to be around next spring anyway.
For a clean release use a Boga Grip!
I'm new to this DH thing, so aprox. how many of the trout released during DH survive until the next DH(not caught, don't die b/ of water temps)?
02-06-01, 09:59 AM
For those looking for studies - a good article based on "scientific" study (I put the quotes b/c they use hatchery fish - not sure if it holds true for wild trout) is in the Feb 2001 of Fly Fisherman magazine.
Bottom line I gather is that exposure to air when exhausted is the biggest threat to trout. Well actually any exposure to air is harmful - cells in their gills start to go instantly, but especially if their gills are already starving for oxygen. The article promotes the use of barbless hooks (so you can release faster) and discourages the use of nets (b/c of the damage to the skin mucous).
One startling number for you from the study - 38% of trout played and then held out of water for 30 seconds die within 4-12 hours. So make that photo-op a quick one!
[This message has been edited by mntnfshr (edited 02-06-2001).]
02-06-01, 11:01 AM
Drifter - that would depend on whetehr or not you wanted to catch the fish during the winter or just poke at them. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
Hooker - <<<because 99% of all streams fished are put and take>>>
I don't think the ratio of put-n-take streams to wild streams is quite that high. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
You guys stick to your smooth hooks, doesn't bother me, but I've talked to dozens of anglers on the water that have the same experiences with barbless.....trout hooked anywhere and everywhere during the fight.
....and the DNR does take a position on this issue.....see thread in "ASk the DNR " where Mr. Keefer correctly states that barbless vs. barbed is moot.
Betting they didn't study or research multiple hookings or abrasions/scratches. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
02-06-01, 01:24 PM
mntnfshr- A lot of that has to do with the variable of water temp. The higher the water temp, the higher mortality goes up. That study didn't seem to cover that variable very well. That said, 30 seconds is a LOOONNNGGG time.
Spey- there will be some holdovers, but the kill and grill crowd will severely deplete the resource, and that's OK, that's the nature of DH, and it is managed as a put and take fishery.
The first summer time gully washer will spike the river temp over 80 degrees and probably kill 95% of the remaining fish. I don't think I would be too worried about catching and releasing properly, cause they aren't going to live anyway.
02-06-01, 03:02 PM
Just because the fish will be harvested in May, and summer temps will kill most of the holdovers doesn't excuse one from the responsibility to properly C&R now. It's DH, and C&R is the law now. With it is an implicit responsibility to C&R properly, to the best of one's ability. Throwing fish back to die is a terrible and irresponsible waste of the resource.
"Releasing to the best of ones ability" vs "Throwing fish back to die."
Where is the dividing line between these two situations?
I use a net on big fish, I have lengthy battles with fish, I use barbed hooks,I hold fish out of the water to take thier picture, and I frequently put my hands on fish.
Am I throwing fish back to die?
This argument comes up over and over, and IMHO I think it's splitting hairs. I've never fished with anyone from NGTO (including myself)who did not excercise reasonable catch and release techniques that gave a fish the best chance possible to survive. At some time most fishers using accepted C&R techniques, touch fish, use barbed hooks, lifts fish out of the water, use nets, fight fish to exhaustion, and kill fish.
Maybe we should solve all these problems and just go hookless!
Also, I have a problem when I see descriptors like "the kill and gill crowd" used like they are some kind of low life scum unworthy to fish for trout.
95% of those DH trout are going to disappear with the first summer gully washer anyway. I guess it would be better for the turtles to eat them than the kill and gill crowd.
02-06-01, 09:23 PM
Hooker-"Where is the dividing line between these two situations?"
BK-If you figure out the answer, you're gonna be one rich author, and a hell of a lot smarter than anybody else..
Hooker-"I don't think I would be too worried about catching and releasing properly, cause they aren't going to live anyway."
That comment seems too portray a pretty flippant attitude toward releasing fish safely. Glad you cleared that up for me, that you do think it's worth a try.
Kill and grill crowd? Hey, just like we talk about bubba the poacher and Bubba, the good ole boy, somebody who keeps their fish in moderation and within the law ain't in the K&G club. The K&G crowd IS bubba, the poacher, the polluter, the guy that just does not respect the resource or fellow anglers.
I can't recall where anybody, anytime on this board has ever said that it is wrong to ever harvest fish within the law, and within the good management principles of a particular stream. Some of the guys that keep fish seem to really have an axe to grind with any C&R, though.
And I think it is a gross exaggeration to say that 99% of water is managed as put and take.
I'm tired of fishing stocked water only to find that if I wasn't 30 minutes behind the truck, there are no fish left. I think guys that spend a lot of time on big water lose grip on the reality of small streams and the pressure they receive vs. the numbers stocked.
02-06-01, 09:51 PM
I have to agree with Hooker. We are splitting hairs on here. No barbless, netless, trebleless, or any such regulation is going to save fish. It is just people putting them back(an in the right numbers) that sustains a healthy population- some will always die from mishandling, but the numbers saved from regs are small and fish mortality is always going to be there as long as you catch fish.
You are also not very familiar with the lower hooch. Those trout WILL die this summer- almost all of the 160,000+ of them. I will not cry when one dies from me mishandling it.
I do, however, see your difference between the K&G crowd. A friend of mines dad tells me stories of how he used to fish the Soque and come out with the floorboards of their VW filled with trout.
Thanks for clearing up who the kill and gill crowd was. I thought it was just the weekend angler who keeps a legal few. We agree here.
I don't like Bubba either.
Releasing properly to me is never removing the fishing from the water and flipping the hook out with a set of forceps. I don't do this.
My flip attitude has motivated me to spend $135 this year on the Boga Grip system for fish release to improve my fish handling.
I hate cleaning fish, therefore I am always 100% C&R. I'm in it for the bite and the fight.
I agree, 99% is a gross exaggeration for stocked streams.
I still think too many people get disagreeable about proper release technique and fish mortality, when the differences really have little impact on fish survivability.
Thank you for agreeing to disagree!
It's been fun.
02-06-01, 10:37 PM
Jason- I guess I took the comment about not worrying about how you treat the fish because they are gonna die anyway too literal. You'd think a sarcastic smart *** like myself would know better.
Read the post on big hooch trout. The early 90's sound like heaven. Why isn't it like that anymore? I've got a guess involving stringers of 20+" trout.
Hooker- tell me more about the Boga grip.
I thought I'd read that it wasn't a good tool for trout due to mouth structure, that's why we're told not to lip them. I can understand its usefulness on bass.
someone correct me if i'm wrong, but i didnt think that it was the stringers of fish that hurt the poppulation, it was the urban sprawl and the increase in water temps that hurt the fish.
-i'm not a fan of cleaning fish, but killing and grilling some fresh trout sure makes a good meal every once in a while
02-07-01, 09:17 AM
<<< The K&G crowd IS bubba >>>
For benefit of those that might be confused - "Bubba"( or "unethical angler" if you prefer ) is a littering, poaching, trashing, "wade-thru-yur-hole-and-not-give-a-dang" kind of person. Keeping some trout to eat does not make you a "bubba". http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
Hooker - right on about the DH trout!
No need to hurt them when you can avoid it, but no need to lose sleep over it if you happen to do so........the hatcheries raise them to be used, not worshipped. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
( F.I.T.H ? )
PS- Man it's good to see us all discussing. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
02-07-01, 09:51 AM
"No need to hurt them when you can avoid it, but no need to lose sleep over it if you happen to do so........the hatcheries raise them to be used, not worshipped."
College dudes- Degredation of environment is part of it, but part is also increased pressure and a change in management to accomodate that pressure (stock more but smaller fish). If people had not been pulling out all the large fish in the 80's and early 90's, it stands to reason there would be more large fish in the river, if not in the lower stretch, further upstream. I just re-read that Big Hooch fish thread. Geez- a 36" 'bow that was stocked and DNR estimated was in the river 8-10 years! I understand the lower section gets too hot now, but how about closer to the dam? Think about how few large fish get stocked ( and they fight like a limp noodle, at least in comparison to wild fish) and wonder if we gave more fish a year or two in the stream to grow and "go wild", would it benefit your fishing? Now we get into the argument of biomass and how many fish the river will support. That should lead to a discussion on cutting numbers of small fish stocked (if there were more big fish, this could be considered a feeding program!) which contradicts DNR's current management plan to provide the maximum number of anglers, the maximum number of smaller trout to throw on the stringer, which in their defense, is apparently what many anglers said they wanted. It's a vicous circle. We overstock to appease the guy who wants to keep a limit each time he fishes. This stunts growth. Then slowly, the large fish get harvested one by one, and fewer big fish grow to replace them due to increasing harvest from increasing pressure and higher competition from increased stocking. It makes as much sense as harvesting a 1000 year old redwood and planting a seedling to replace it. It's just not gonna grow fast enough.
02-07-01, 01:12 PM
I think you are right Bryan. It would take a lot of people fishing even the hard to access(which isn't really that hard) parts of the hooch to clean it out. The water temps below morgan falls are too high in the summer- run off from heated concrete!
02-07-01, 01:17 PM
Certainly the fishing could be improved, but I still wouldn't blame it one people harvesting fish. To catch those old browns, you are either very lucky or very good. Most of the excellent hooch fisherman are C&R. Closer to Buford dam, the amount of food is much more scarce. There are still large fish there and they feed on stockers according to the last few articles I have read about bigguns being caught there. I could see that too many fish being stocked is probably a factor in few big fish. But with developement, the year round range of fish is much smaller. People such as Chris Scalley(spelling?) recommend keeping some of your small fish since there is just too many. Also, I thought alot of those huge fish came from well below morgan falls where there was a lot of food in the river, and area that is inhabitable now.
02-07-01, 01:24 PM
OK, I better understand your position. Ready to do the 'tooga in a few weeks?
02-07-01, 01:45 PM
I am definitely reading for a good day at the tooga. I ain't trying to be stubborn or anything, but I can't believe that people could degrade 40 miles of trout water that fast- I would hate to believe that too.
On a more optimistic note, Iíve heard from a DNR source that the holdover rate below Morgan Falls is better than most of us think. The trout stop feeding actively when the water gets warm, so we think theyíre gone, but really most of them make it through. I donít know how they determined that, and of course I canít vouch for it. Maybe they checked after an unusually favorable summer, and Iíd guess it varies considerably from year to year.
Anyway, I suspect itís too big an area and the fish are getting too spread out for it to get fished out like Smithís or the Amicalola, so Iím just saying letís not assume all those trout are going to die whether we release them carefully or not. A few holdovers waiting for us next fall would be nice. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
Preaching to the choir,
02-07-01, 02:08 PM
I would consider it good research if a group of the "DH'rs" (I'm not one, just because of my proximity to the dam, and that the Ami is about the same distance to the DH) fish the DH prior to the first stocking (presumably in the fall) and then give a full report. It might reinforce some truths, or dispell some myths.
-- tight lines
IMHO the reason the Hooch doesn't have the large trout of days gone by, is the change in environment, the movie "A River Runs Through It", and over-stocking.
The river has warmed up over the years because of the proliferation of concrete surfaces that creates temperature spikes that stress trout.
"A River Runs Through It" created an unparalleled interest in trout fishing that put crowds on the Hooch. I remember fishing all day on staurday above McGinnis Ferry in the early 90's and never seeing another fisherman. As a result, this type of fishing pressure has put fishermen into areas where trout used to grow large, but now get caught before they can.
To respond to the increase in pressure on the Hooch, the DNR increased thier stocking numbers which reduced the amount of available food for each fish. This prevented trout from becoming large.
In the late 80's and early 90's giant Browns inhabited the river from Morgan Falls all the way to Six Flags, but due to the water temp, those fish are now gone.
There are still some large trout on the Hooch, but they are few and far between, and not worth the time and effort to hunt them. I think most are probably night feeders since the river can not be fished after dark.
The next big trout honey hole in Georgia is going to be Lake Burton. Browns stuffing themselves on unlimited Blue-back Herring Is going to produce some real catchable trophies over the next few years.
02-07-01, 07:22 PM
I have been fishing the current DH area of the Hooch regularly for the last ten years ( what can I say, but that I'm a lazy, stubborn fisherman who likes solitude ) so I have some data on pre DH conditions. Generally, the last few years have produced only a few holdovers, mostly browns in the 10 - 13 inch range. Of course, the stocking here was all fingerlings prior to 11/1/00 so their mortality was high. On an encouraging note, this spring was the best fishing at CS I have seen in a while. On several ocassions I hooked 10 or more trout around 11 inches including many rainbows. I expect that many of the more mature DH fish will make through the summer.
As for water temps during the summer, I kept a log of water temp at Paces Mill from spring through August of 2000. The results were surprising, only once did the water reach 70 degrees and mostly it stayed in the low to mid 60s. Given the low water caused by the drought I would have expected much higher temps. I didn't sample post storm run off temps so maybe I missed some warmer spikes. I guess we'll see soon enough how the trout fare.
02-07-01, 09:31 PM
Good to hear input of one who has fished down there recently before the dh. I would have to say, though, that the water would be cooler this summer since low water, meant less runoff, while releases stayed about the same(maybe even higher this summer for barges downstream). Just a thought.
I am definitely going to continue to fish through the summer- the water is clear and I have seen many nice bass and carp in the dh.
02-08-01, 10:46 AM
I think DeBacker is right about last year. I have periodically fished the Paces Mill area in the winter/spring for years and in the past several years have stopped periodically during the summers to check temperatures at the Paces Mill ramp because of all the recent discussion of water temperature in the lower river. In addition to the fall stocking of fingerlings which by then run 6 - 8 inches, there have always been "some" holdover trout. My experience is that the temperature in the summer during normal release conditions hovered around 70 - 72 degrees. Last summer and to some extent the summer before, though, were aberations with respect to water spikes. The big problem with water spikes is that when it rains hardest, the Corp shuts down releases to avoid flooding the roads and homes in the Peachtree Battle and Vinings areas and perhaps downstream. Thus, the cool water is reduced at the same time that the hot water floods into the river. This past summer was different because we didn't have any of the big rains that threatened flooding (in fact, as you remember, we barely had any rain!) I didn't fish in Spring, 2000 because of a house move but regularly walked my dog there and talked to fisherman who reported catching larger numbers of holdover rainbows during the evening light cahill hatch there. I'm hoping for good fishing into June and that the trout can find some cool spring-fed areas to survive the summer.
Tight lines and put them back as carefully as you can. I saw a quote from Lee Wulff on a board (it might have been this one) to the effect that releasing a trout is a gift to someone fishing after you and that the trout you just caught might have been a gift from someone fishing before you.
02-08-01, 06:30 PM
Good point on water temps DB and SB. Thanks for the info.
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