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Old 06-16-2011, 01:40 PM
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Default Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Growing up as a catch and keep gear and bait fisherman we always just grabbed fish by the guills and some times we lipped grabbed them.

Since, becoming a mostly C & R fly fisherman I have never had anyone show any specific fish handling techniques, so I've simply tried to do what I have seen others who are FF experts do. I try to hold fish in the rib cage area and by the tale using only enough pressure to keep them from slipping out of my hand or getting away and to keep them in the water as much as possible. Release them by placing them upstream head first where light current can flow over their gills gently holding them till they are strong enough to swim. I also use forcepts or other hook remover whenever I remove hooks.

Am I missing something? I asking for myself and others as more than once I've read comments in various threads about the way it shows someone handling fish in pictures. I know when I watch videos I personally cringe at how long fish are often kept out of the water. Then again I also understand the desire to get a great picture as I ejoy great pictures of me and or the fish I catch.

This is a genuine question not intending to stir anything up. Please share any tips and techniques that someone who hasn't been shown likely would not know. Even things you might assume to be common sense as most "common sense" comes from experience and some forum members may be totally new to fishing.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Tom,

I'd say you've got the program down. If I am trout fishing and the fish has lots of gas left I just slip out the hook and it's over. If I'm going to take a picture I just lift it up with my left hand and snap the shot with my right. Then you just let go of the fish and it leaves. I don't get into too much picture taking of fish that are to be released any more but I used to. Now if you see me holding a fish out of the water with both hands it is dead and it's probably a salmon.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Tom, good question.
I doubt you've had hand cuffs on. You seem like a good guy.
Cuffs keep you due to a larger hand than wrist, not by pressure.
My point is, make a circle with your fingers that is smaller than the joint of the fishes tail, (but not a tight squeeze on fishes skin), around their wrist.
Then support lengthwise underneath gills/belly if it's a biggy. No need to even grip with the other hand, just support.
If taking a pic, reverse your grip on the wrist so fingers are towards the lens, that way you can see all the tail too. (Looks bigger that way).
They are like a bar of soap, the more you squeeze, the harder to hold.
Many folks injure fish by the death grip.
Lifting them from the water (forced suffocation), and an uncomfortable position make them struggle more. I know I would as well.
Get into position, fish in net, in the water, proper grip. Takes two seconds to snap a pic.
ALWAYS rest them enough before releasing, "floaters" are bad form.
This pic shows water drops still falling from Dougs little brownie yesterday, fish was away a second later.
Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by Bigfly; 06-16-2011 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 06-16-2011, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Ard & Jim thank you for the responses.

Jim that was an excellent explanation. You are right that I've never been in handcuffs, even so that doesn't mean I didn't spend a couple hours in jail once. Thats another not so interesting story for another time perhaps.

mikel (Mike Leslie) one of our fellow members being considerate of the fact that it is on another website sent me a link to an excellent article he wrote on this topic.

Since it was such an excellent article which included a great story that deserves to be read all by itself I'll take the fall for sharing the link in the forum and recommend reading it to everyone. Mike didn't ask me to do this. http://www.imhooked.com/cmsnav/magaz...and-Release-78
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Old 06-16-2011, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Tom, thanks a bunch for posting this question! I don't have a lot of pictures of me holding fish from the past, so most holding of fish I did was lipping them to remove hooks. I can honestly say I've never done the gill-grab you see a lot of other saltwater fishermen doing, for no particular reason besides me never having been shown that method. I caught my first big freshwater fish in NY this summer, a 9lb steelhead (I know, not a monster by any means, but the biggest freshwater fish I've caught, as I was never really into cat-fishing) and while taking photos my top two fingers slid just into the gills of the fish while holding it. The guy taking the photo didn't tell me what I was doing wrong, and no one has said anything about it, but I still felt horrible. But its the first steelhead I ever caught, so I've kept the photo. The steelhead went back in the water and swam off strong, so in the end it was alright, but still a mistake.

So anyway, thanks for bringing up the topic and thanks to those guys who have thrown in hints on how to do it right!
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:01 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Just my 2 cents, I never use dry hands or gloves while handling the fish.

Rick.
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Good call Rick, sorry I left that out.
Don't steal their slime.
It's part of their immune system.
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Old 06-16-2011, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Jim, I just finally saw the picture of Dougs "little brownie." If I had caught that fish it would have been the biggest brown I've ever caught.

Excellent tips everyone keep them coming.
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Attention New Fly Fishers and those just wanting to improve- Join a Fly Fishing Club. They have classes on every aspect of fly fishing for beginners to advanced for free or cheaper than offered elsewhere. Some offer mentor programs. You will make friends with other fly fishers. Clubs often have outings in which members pay special group rates for guides or to fish prime private access areas.
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Old 06-16-2011, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

I'm so embarrassed by this picture.
Even though this fish was out of the water for a total of about 5 seconds, it's a classic example of what not to do. No support for the belly, too much pressure on the jaw.
You gotta remember that water pressure supports tender body parts much differently than the gravity that we're use to.
As for time out of the water, when I pick up a fish, I hold my breath. When I'm running out of air, I know the fish is too.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: Proper Fish Handling...What Is It!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
I'm so embarrassed by this picture.
Even though this fish was out of the water for a total of about 5 seconds, it's a classic example of what not to do. No support for the belly, too much pressure on the jaw.
You gotta remember that water pressure supports tender body parts much differently than the gravity that we're use to.
As for time out of the water, when I pick up a fish, I hold my breath. When I'm running out of air, I know the fish is too.

Click the image to open in full size.
Rip, that's grilling size...
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