I have lurched on this forum for quite some time and noticed that fish whackers (what we would call them back in Oregon) and priests (what our friends in the UK call them) really aren't discussed here or on any fly fishing sites (in general). People will mention bonking fish, but no one ever goes beyond that.
When I was in Americorps, I remember an intercity Denver event where a swimming pool (unchlorinated) was filled with farmed rainbows so that kids that never got out of town could be exposed to fishing. The stupid thing that the organizers didn't think of was proper dispatching of the fish. I rember 8-10 year olds throwing these trout in the air, crying kids, flopping fish and horrible abuse of fine animals.
From that day forward, I realized truly how far removed (ignorant) most modern (American) humans are from proper methods of how to kill fish. I know that Catch and Release (C&R) is the seemingly preferred method of angling these days, but shouldn't there be at least one post about proper fish dispatching??
The talk about gear here is proficient, but I haven't seen any posts directly regarding this bloodsport aspect of our chosen recreation. I think that a thread about proper (respectful even) killing of our fish is in order.
Since the wife moved us to Wyoming, I find that the only way to get quality fish is to kill them myself (or herself when my wife is doing the bonking). My wife really prefers her custom whacker that she carved in high school shop class and used when she volunteered at a hatchery along the Columbia.
This is very unPETA of me, but do you carry a fish whacker? Did you make it yourself? Purchase it? Is it a multitool (I've seen photos of a sweet brass tipped priest that is also has a quality fold out bottle opener)?
Good fishing and good eats,
The proper way to dispatch of Bluefish:
Apply boga grip to lower jaw. Remove fly.
Hang fish over side of boat.
Rip flillet knife across gills and cut throat, bleeding the fish.
Fillet, cutting out the dark oily bits along lateral line. Soak fillets in whole milk/butter milk in fridge for 1/2 hour.
Pat dry, dip in egg, dust with breadcrumbs and pan fry.
Place fillets on a hamburger roll with lettuce, tomato, tartar and/or hot sauce. Enjoy with an ice cold brewski.
Another great recipe as I proved to folks at the past few boneclaves is blackened blue - bleed and ice, then pat with light olive oil and rub Chef Paul Prohdomme's blackened redfish magic before grilling, preferably on a fish basket. Easy, healthy and damn good.
I guess it's not discussed because it sems so obvious. Bonk the fish on the head and it stops wiggling. Most flyfishermen don't kill enough fish to carry a special tool for the task. Bleed it if that's what's required (very fast and humane). I have read all sorts of techniques: straight into the ice chest, apply liquor to the gills, stick a screw driver into it's brain, cut out it's heart, slit a major artery. What ever works for your harvest.
C&R, on the other hand is a more demanding skill. I suspect that we all could do better in that dept. May as well minimize the impact on the fish if you're going to let it go. If you're going to kill it, minimizing damage to the meat should be the priority.
Its a long time since I whacked a fish on the head. If I go out with that goal in mind I still have a couple of priests from my salmon fishing days. One of them probably still has a scale or two attached and might be up to the job of dispatching a keeper.
Last year I told myself that I would take a keeper for the pot but I was always a long way from home without an ice box nearby so they all went back to fight another day.
This year maybe. I tell mysef I keep my options open. When the time is right I'll take one to eat and a whack on the head is a very effective way to dispatch a fish if you know what you're doing! Big fish are not easy to kill. The blue water guys have a version of a priest that looks about the size of a baseball bat.
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