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EddieF 09-12-2005 09:23 PM

New to list, C&R question
Hi. This is my first summer fly fishing (for all intents and purposes, my first summer fishing at all, although I used to go as a kid and catch bluegill from time to time). And I am absolutely hooked. I have taken a casting class and practice regularly and read everything I can get my hands on.

I started out fishing for smallmouth in the Shenandoah near my house. Man, are they fun! And I've recently tried for some trout in a nearby stream. In two trips I have caught three nice rainbows. The most recent catch is the one I have a question about.

This was a beautiful fish, my best ever, about 16" (if my little picture shows up to the side, that's the one). I did NOT want this opportunity to pass without a quick picture. I was very careful with this fish, but was standing in a creek on slippery ground. I had to get him to shore and put the net down. I took a quick picture, struggled a little with the hook (they are so much harder to handle than the smallmouth I'm used to -- so muscular and slippery), but had him back in the water in fairly short order. But it took quite some time for him to revive, it really worried me for a minute. But then he finally snapped out of it and swam away very strongly (I was holding his tail waiting and when he took off, there was no holding him back).

But it took a lot longer than I expected. Is this normal? The other two trout I caught didn't have this problem. Does it sound like I hurt this fish? I know as I gain experience I'll get more efficient at removing hooks and stuff, but in the meantime I don't want to hurt these fish.

Sorry for the very long and boring first post. I have another question but I'll post it separately (and shorter).


Eric 09-12-2005 11:08 PM

The post was neither boring nor too long. Very worthwhile topic.

Ideally, fish you're intending to release should not be removed from the water, if at all possible. If they are removed from the water, avoid any squeezing of their mid-sections or any "rough" handling. Wear a soft-cotton glove if you want . This will help you get a grip on these slippery, muscular fish without having to apply too much pressure.

Use barbless hooks if you intend to release the majority of your fish.

Watch out for blood coming from the fish's gills or mouth. A fish will sometimes take a fly deep in the throat, and the hook can easily puncture an artery. A bleeding fish is mostly a dead fish. Whether you keep it, or release it to be devoured by crayfish, is up to you.

Play the fish you intend to release as quickly as possible. The longer a fish fights, the more lactic acid builds up, and the harder it is for the fish to recover.

The fact that the beauty you released escaped forcefully from your grasp would indicate, in most cases, that the fish would survive.

Hope this helps,


EddieF 09-13-2005 07:30 AM

Thanks again for your input Eric.

Looking back, and reading what you've written, as good as my intentions were I handled this fish more clumsily (and selfishly because I very much wanted a photo) than I should have. But I will get better at it and try harder to do what's best to keep these fish in good shape.

When I've been fishing for smallmouth, I have clamped down the barbs on the flies. Honestly with these tiny trout hooks it didn't occur to me to bother with the barbs. But I'm releasing everything, so I will start doing that too. By the way, the other two trout I caught spit the hook out pretty much as they were getting in the net, so this is the only fly I've had to remove.

What about holding the fish through the net? Like, get him into the net, then hold onto him using the fabric of the net (the one I'm using is called a catch and release net). Might be a good way to get a grip and control him, while not handling him directly, long enough to remove the fly?

Anyway, thanks again.

teflon_jones 09-13-2005 08:02 AM

Holding the fish in the net is fine. It's critical that you don't squeeze the belly though. In general, it's better to hold the fish from the top behind the head. There's more muscle and bone here and it'll give you a better grip while protecting its delicate organs.

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