Doing our part
Catch and releasing only works when done properly.
This thread is only on lactic acid. There is much more to saving a fish that just, "get it in fast". Barbless hooks, slim coat, ect... all play a role.
The Easy answer-
I once heard from a guide that smaller fish are much less fragile than larger fish. He was a retired biologist; therefore, I can't agrue with that. It seems the fragility of fish's osteology increases as it grows larger when it is taken out of water.
If you have a good size fish on and the current is strong, but the fish is tiring down and you still don't feel you can get him in yet. If the fish swims up river and as you pull it back you see it doing a half backflip, get it in! Forgete the tippet, just save the fish.
The more indepth answer-
Most all of us have heard of lactic acid build up, but do you really know what happens? Lactic acid build up is probably the #1 reason for fish not surviving a long fight. Large amounts of pyruvic acids are formed when the fish is fighting (from glycolysis). When there is not enough oxygen to break down those carbs and get those ATPs (energy from a phosphate group being broke of) rolling it will start making lactic acid. The fish only has a certain lactate threshold, and once you pass this point you risk killing that beautiful wild stealhead (or other fish) because it won't be able to recuperate from the build up of lactic acid. The lactic acid will enter the blood stream (acid = low Ph (below 7) = bad). Out blood Ph is around 7.4 and a little inbalance can cause havoc in the body. I would think the same goes for fish.
I am not a biologist so I am probably not 100% correct. I just thought I would share a little knowledge from my much enjoyed Biology class.
Last edited by iciclecreek; 01-22-2012 at 12:54 AM.
Reason: I dont spellle correctt