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Old 01-19-2005, 09:45 AM
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Lifting fish by the gills

Why do people lift fish by the gills? I watch a lot of fishing shows, and even some of those guys do it when practicing catch and release. A fish's gills are extremely sensitive, and damaging them greatly raises the mortality rate when catch and release fishing. I've stopped watching one saltwater show that I really liked otherwise because they did it so frequently.
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Old 01-19-2005, 10:07 AM
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Have to agree with you on this one. To bad you couldn't reach in the guys chest and grab a lung. That would teach em!

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Old 01-19-2005, 10:38 AM
BigDave BigDave is offline
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Ignorance

I know some old timers who think it "doesn't hurt the fish" and if you do it properly it "won't hurt". Science tells me differently.

Lip, tail or use a boga. Why do anything else?
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Old 01-19-2005, 10:55 AM
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ignorance yes, Yesterday on our local TV news they were filming the floods when a wild Steelhead tried to cross the road. That's right this steelhead tried to swim across the road in a bout 2 inches of water that was rushing across the road. A guy with gloves on gently pics the fish up in the correct way then as he goes to move the fish to the other side of the road he slides his gove up into the gills and carries the fish over the center line that way! I wish it had been a chicken trying to cross the road instead of a wild steelhead.
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Old 01-19-2005, 11:14 AM
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I hope this thread helps get rid of the ignorance of at least one person. I've had people try and defend that it doesn't hurt the fish, and I always use pretty much what Charlie said: "How would you like it if somebody reached down your throat into your lungs and picked you up?"

Oh, and I just realized that the title of this thread is kind of incorrect, I should have said "gill plates". I say "kind of incorrect" because when you stick your fingers in there, you are partly lifting the fish by its gills.
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Old 01-19-2005, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDave
Ignorance

I know some old timers who think it "doesn't hurt the fish" and if you do it properly it "won't hurt". Science tells me differently.

Lip, tail or use a boga. Why do anything else?
So being lifted by the lip or tail is pleasureable then?

Wasn't there a big debate last season re: how evil it is to boga or lip a fish?

I understand one's desire to have as little impact on a fish as possible but, where do you draw the line?

I'm sure someone can produce plenty of scientific support that says C&R is the kiss of death for some species - I know that this is a big debate with tuna.

Personally, I'll keep landing fish my way, with respect for the fish - whether I have to lift a blue by the gills, a big striper by the lip or a tunoid by the tail.
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Old 01-19-2005, 02:55 PM
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I'm just an occassional poster here and not intending to get anybody's knickers in a twist but since it was so timely though I would share something I'd seen.

From the current issue of In-Fisherman, by Doug Stange Editor in Chief.

"Promoting an Advancement in Catch and Release"

"The gills of fish are sturdy, tough organs that can be touched and handled, usuallywith no ill effects to the fish. Bleeding gills and other organs also don't necessarily mean a fish is going to die. especially if the fish is quickly returned to the water, where fish blood rapidly coagulates".

This is obviously quoted out of context. The article relates to releasing gut hooked bass and walleye and demonstrates how to remove the hook from the gut by manipulating line through the gill plate which is (they say) preferable to leaving the hook in the gullet.

Jim

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Old 01-19-2005, 06:55 PM
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I DO NOT RECOMEND THIS...but if you are going to take a glory shot of a tarpon, I think that you can hold the fish at the notch where the gill plates meet the head (on the bottom) with out getting any where near the gill rakers.
I don't recomend this because you could drop the fish, hurt the organs and suffocate the fish. But I can't blaim anyone for wanting a trophy. Better than a mount, and after you catch a few, it won't be such a big deal.
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Old 01-19-2005, 07:50 PM
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IMHO....

It's good to discuss things like this that are not well defined and have an impact on the fish we release. Afterall, we are sportsmen.

However, to imply that it's our intent to cleanse the great unwashed masses -or- to interpret this discussion as a personal affront makes the discussion miss the mark by a long shot. Let's talk about the topic objectively and see if any good thoughts come to light, as they often do in our discussions here. Here's what comes to mind for me...


Lifting is not the same as not-lifting:

Tailing, lipping, etc - are all reasonable means of retaining a fish while it's in the water. Some fish are better off being supported on the abdomen as well as the lip or tail when lifted completely from the water - a two-handed hold for trophy fish. I see why leaving a fish in the water is a well-deserved treatment for wild steelhead in their native waters of the pacific northwest, however I also see no harm in lifting a schoolie striped bass by the lip to get it back into the brine as quickly as possible.

So perhaps when we are wading and the opportunity arises, either leave the fish in the water or lift with two hands and provide distributed support of the body weight for the photo. You may or may not agree, but I feel this is the right credo for me.

Put lifted fish back in quickly. Nothing pisses me off more than the TV idiots who talk at the camera with the fish out of water. Maybe just a little cleansing is in order


Species-dependent thinking applies:

There are considerations for species to be made in this discussion. Using the gill structures to carry a steelhead across the street is not the same as using the gills structures to carry a northern pike or bluefish.

Applying a bogagrip to a bluefish seems like a reasonable fate, but do that to an ocean-fresh coho and the act would result in a salmon with it's entire lower jaw ripped off, and that would not stop the fish from thrashing more as the blood sprayed profusely on the deck.

These things are not universal for all species and situations; common sense should apply. Some species would warrant treatment that another simply would not require and vice-versa.


There are conscientious anglers out there

Just as there is no single acceptable approach, there are people who caringly do all of the techniques without hurting the fish. At the same time there are people who think they are practicing care while really hurting the fish (like the guy "saving" the steelhead).


There are idiots out there and poor handling kills fish every day

There are places where one can watch under-sized fish being killed due to poor handling in virtually every angling corner of the world. Smolts in the PNW and Great Lakes. Schoolies on Plum Island. Sailfish on bluewater, bonefish on shark infested flats, even bluegills that swallowed the hook.

There is nothing wrong with discussing these things. There are definitely people out there who could use a new perspective on handling fish. I might film some of this and post it this spring.

Although it's not our place to impose beliefs, I don't see the harm in being active in education.

.02
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2005, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
Species-dependent thinking applies:

There are considerations for species to be made in this discussion. Using the gill structures to carry a steelhead across the street is not the same as using the gills structures to carry a northern pike or bluefish.

Applying a bogagrip to a bluefish seems like a reasonable fate, but do that to an ocean-fresh coho and the act would result in a salmon with it's entire lower jaw ripped off, and that would not stop the fish from thrashing more as the blood sprayed profusely on the deck.

These things are not universal for all species and situations; common sense should apply. Some species would warrant treatment that another simply would not require and vice-versa.

There are conscientious anglers out there

Just as there is no single acceptable approach, there are people who caringly do all of the techniques without hurting the fish. At the same time there are people who think they are practicing care while really hurting the fish (like the guy "saving" the steelhead).
Two good points.

However, the intent of the thread was to call attention to a members personal boycott of a mystery fishing show because of the practice of lifting a mystery species of fish by the gills & to educate "ignorant" fishermen that they shouldn't lift fish by an unspecified way involving the gills.

The issue is the practice of lifting fish by the gills, which can be done a million different ways for a million different species, some with no ill effect & to some it can be fatal.

What I see in the posts above is a belief that the act of hooking & landing and releasing a fish is only OK if the fish is released a cetain/ specific way. That kind of thinking seems to me to be a few small steps away from joining PETA once you realize that getting hooked & pulled in by a fisherman is not a fishes favorite activity.

I think a more important issue to argue would be the use of too light gear & then releasing fish after a prolonged fight. But hey, that's the sporting way to do it, right?
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  #11  
Old 01-20-2005, 12:33 PM
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I have to agree with the species dependent thinking here.

There is only one species of fish that I will grab by the gill plate, and that is northern pike. Even then, I only do so when a picture is being taken and I have the bulk of the fish's weight in my second hand as I cradle the body. This method involves absolutely no touching of the gills because the fish is held by the notch under the lower jaw where the two gill plates come together.

I don't do it often, but when it's done I really don't believe it to be invasive.
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Old 01-20-2005, 12:49 PM
new yawk new yawk is offline
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man, why even take a fish out of the water if you don't have to? i treat fish really carefully, i think i've only taken tarpon out of the water twice--once was about a 30#er, quick photo... and the other time, one jumped into the skiff, so i had to pick him up to get him back into the water. leave 'em in the water if you can--no matter what species.
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Old 01-20-2005, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roop
However, the intent of the thread was to call attention to a members personal boycott of a mystery fishing show because of the practice of lifting a mystery species of fish by the gills & to educate "ignorant" fishermen that they shouldn't lift fish by an unspecified way involving the gills.
My intention was more to call attention to the practice in general since a lot of people seem misinformed about it. I personally always felt like it was not a good practice to lift any species solely by the gills (or gill plates). And I would never stick my fingers into the gills of a species like a trout, period.

I understand that a fish's gills have to be somewhat tough to withstand abuse. After all, a largemouth bass eats crayfish, which have a lot of sharp points on them that could damage their gills. But I'm not sure how much this even applies because I'm not a crayfish and have never been eaten by a largemouth. Maybe their eating action doesn't really let the crayfish get near their gills to begin with? I just don't know! And in the normal course of life, a fish's gills are going to come under attack by something. In all the reading I've done, damage to the gills has always come up as the # 1 cause of mortality when releasing fish. It also really compounds problems such as a very tired fish. Add in damaged gills, and now the fish is much worse off.

I honestly can't remember the name of the fishing show. I just tried to look it up on the web and couldn't find it. It's hosted by a 30-something brown-haired guy, and most of the shows are based out of New England. What stopped me from watching it were 3 episodes. In one, they were off the Cape fishing for big stripers. I watched them pull several 20-30 lb stripers out of the water with a gloved hand in one of the gill plates. There was no belly support or anything. The second show was where they were fishing for bonito, and they were doing the same exact thing, one gloved hand in a gill plate. The third show, they were doing this with large tarpon off Florida somewhere. They also weren't simply lifting the fish into the boat like that, they were holding them up and twirling them around so the camera boat could take a picture.

So I'm not advocating that this will always hurt a fish, but instead that it's not appropriate for all species, and that you need to be aware of what you're doing. The gill plates aren't there to be a handle.
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Old 01-20-2005, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teflon_jones
I personally always felt like it was not a good practice to lift any species solely by the gills (or gill plates).

I understand that a fish's gills have to be somewhat tough to withstand abuse.

So I'm not advocating that this will always hurt a fish, but instead that it's not appropriate for all species, and that you need to be aware of what you're doing.

The gill plates aren't there to be a handle.
Is this the right way?

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Old 01-20-2005, 02:30 PM
BigDave BigDave is offline
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I agree with the species-specific points made. There's no question that bluefish are pretty hard to handle especially if you're wading. If you don't have a boga grip there aren't many options other than the gill plate or death-grip along the shoulders.

Teflon FWIW I think I saw the same show and that's what PO'd me. Cow bass being hauled around by the gills...hoisted up in the air...lots of pictures....good times!...the host drones on about the brand of sluggo while holding the fish up. When they release it's always "there she goes...she's gonna be fine."

Yeah, OK.

My .02: that fish would have had a better chance at survival if kept in the water, without all of the gill-hoisting, elaborate photo shoot, flopping around the deck, etc. I don't have any hard science to back that up. It's just a hunch.

For the record I harvest a modest number of bass/blues every summer and don't feel the list bit bad about it.
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