Striper Release Guidelines
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<b>Catch & Release Guidelines* </b>
These guidelines are somewhat generic but remembering them
will give all species of fish a greater chance of survival. The most
important survival factors are:
<b>Hook Location</b> - It would be ideal if all fish were hooked in either
the upper or lower lip, unfortunately, this is not always the case. When
fishing with small lures or live bait the chance for hooking a fish deep
in the gullet or in the gills is very high. Never pull on the line when the
hook is lodged deep in the gullet. Cutting the line and returning the fish
to the water as quickly as possible will give it its greatest chance for
survival. The longer a fish is out of water and the more you practice
your surgical techniques, the less the fish has a chance to live.
<b>Depth</b> - When fishing depths of over 30 feet, you should bring a
fish up slowly to the boat. This allows the fish to decompress (adjust to
the change in water pressure). Pause while reeling the fish in and
allow the air bubbles from the fishes decompression to rise to the
surface. Fish can get the “bends” almost like people. If you reel a fish
in too quickly, it will die.
<b>Water Temperature</b> - Playing a fish for an extended period of
time in warm water increases its chance of dying. When the water
temperature is high fish tire much more rapidly due to the increase of
lactic acid that builds in their system. When fishing warm water get the
fish to you as soon as possible, use a heavier line test than usual or
do not fish that day.
<b>Line test</b> - Always use the heaviest line possible for each species
of fish. Again: the longer you fight a fish, the more lactic acid is built
up, the more exhausted it becomes, the greater the chance it will die.
This is particularly true when fishing large saltwater species such as
<b>Note</b> - Use barbless hooks, or pinch the barb flat with pliers. If you
use a net, use one made of cotton mesh. It is less harmful to fish
scales, gills and eyes.
<b>Wet your hands when handling fish</b> Dry hands and gloves will
remove its protective coating. Do not beach a fish or let it flop around
the deck of the boat.
<b>Try not to remove the fish from the water</b> If you must, be quick and
gentle, Do not squeeze the fish. Do not hold the fish near the gills.
Needle nose pliers, hemostats etc., will speed up the removal of a
deep set hook.
<b>To revive the fish</b>, hold it under the belly and keep it in an upright
position underwater. (This is the time to get a measurement and take
a photo.) If you are fishing in a river or stream, hold the fish facing the
current. Be patient and give the fish as much time as it needs to
recover and swim away on its own.
RE:Striper Release Guidelines
Here's more important C&R topics...
As a rule - If the hook is not in sight, don't try to lift the fish by the line. Keep it in the water, and thumb it without letting the fish's weight get affected by gravity out of water.
a) Hooks in the mouth cavity - Flies never end up in a fish's gullet, but some end up inside the mouth cavity. First, determine which way the hook point lies. Then, use a sleeve-style hook disgorging tool or your fingers as follows:
- put two fingers together, index and middle / middle and ring, etc
- stick them into the mouth cavity along the fly hook shank on the side of the
point, such that the gap between the tips of two fingers end up on either
side of the bend of the hook
- squeeze the bend of the hook between your two fingertips and push the fly
downward to dislodge
- keep the hook between the fingertips to lift it out
Obviously the Waterworks tool is easier but with a little practice this can be extremely fast. Use barbless hooks, of course.
HOOKS IN THE GULLET:
Fish hooked this deep are in jeopardy of serious injury. I have never seen a gullet hooked fly in my life and suppose I never will, but it's a common sight for bait fishermen. The best thing to do is cut the leader and let the fish go - although there is no good solution for a gut-hooked fish it's better than digging the hook out which is certain death.
HOOKS IN THE GILL RAKERS:
Once again, the first rule applies. Don't pull the fish out of water by the line. Thumb the striper and push the fly backwards right out the gill opening, and cut the line -or- undo the knot to release the fish. A clinch can be quickly undone by pulling the wraps toward the rod with two fingernails (thumb and finger). This is another reason I use a simple clinch knot for 15# and higher line for stripers. Tie the fly back on and you and the fish are none the worse for wear.
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