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Thread: A good fight versus fish health

  1. #1

    Default A good fight versus fish health

    I seem to remember this being a thread a while ago, but after watching a taped (DVR'ed) episode of Spanish Fly it renewed the idea in my mind. Jose, the host was talking about the need to land and release a fish quickly to guarantee its survival, especially in warm water. I personally have had this happen to me. I hooked a 15 pound Brown in Oak Orchard Creek. I was using fairly light tippet in a 1X, an 8 weight rod, and had to really play the fish. When the big buck fianlly came to net, it was very obvious it was completely spent. I spent nearly 30 minutes in the current (Wow! My hands burned) trying to revive it, but it became very obvious it wouldn't make it. Its now at the taxidermist, to my regret as I swore many years ago to never kill a fish I wasn't going to eat. The replicas are just too good.

    I guess what I'm asking is is there a line between wanting land a monster on a gossamer thread, and being a responsible steward of the resource?

    There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus, Never Sniff a Gift Fish, 1979

    Anger is like peeing in your pants: everyone can see it, but only you can feel it. ~Jeff Yalden

    Remember: The winner gets to write the history books.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Ben Lomond, CA.

    Default Re: A good fight versus fish health

    There are some great reads on this subject posted from some of the best.

    Is fishing (and especially catch and release) ethical?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: A good fight versus fish health


    I'm going to post to this and I trust that what I say will not be taken as a boast or any other than an attempt to answer the question, so here goes.......

    I don't have a videographer so I can't make a DVD explaining how I land fish quickly. I do use a leader heavy enough to match the weight of the expected fish (generally speaking) but there are exceptions. For most fishing applications when I expect fish between 3 - 14 pounds I use either 10 or 12 pound tippet. I have what I believe is a unique situation because of my place of residence, almost all the fish that grab my fly are big by a standard of averages. Because of this fact you get good at figuring out the best way to keep a fish from fighting too much.

    My use of heavy tippet or level leaders is not something that was born in Alaska but it was certainly honed here. I spent years on spring creeks and Great Lakes flows using leaders that would allow me to handle whatever took the fly. It's fall here and I'm fishing for trout, however there are still many coho salmon in the rivers so leader strength is of great importance. The best advice I can offer is to use a line equal to the quarry and practice with every fish at controlling the fight and keeping it short as can be regardless of whether you intend to release or harvest the fish. Also, start the 'control' immediately after the fish has taken the fly. Do not encourage an initial run and don't be caught off guard and allow such a charge to begin. Of course some fish will do just what you don't want but that is where the word control takes center stage. Work a fish, don't have a fish work you. Use the rod high to bring the fish to the upper strata of the water then quickly drop the rod and apply side pressure to turn it toward shore. Speaking of 'shore' as soon as you hook into a big fish get your feet on shore and deal with the fish from there. When you have the fish to the surface and turn it toward shore don't stop there! Keep it coming, reel as fast as you can and back off from the shore line. They don't swim well backward and when you have one headed for the beach on the double don't let up. Keep people away, don't have someone trying to net the fish, 9 times out of ten it scares them and they make a last ditch charge to escape the net man. I landed 13 salmon two days ago using my 7' 9" Far & Fine 5 weight with a ten pound leader tippet while attempting to sort out some rainbow trout. Some may be amazed with how simple it is to keep control of that many large fish with a light rod but trust me, it can be done. The salmon were the ones that I didn't see coming, when I saw one pursuing the fly I speed the fly away so I wouldn't be catching the unintended species.

    I wrote an article a few years back about landing salmon and stated that the farther you let a fish get from you the less likely you are to land it. If you are looking to land a big fish many times the fight will not be the stuff of a long and protracted story. In the best case scenario it will be over quick, the upside is that you will have landed the fish. I learned how to land big fish by landing small fish and working my way up.


    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  4. #4

    Default Re: A good fight versus fish health

    While most of us here never like for a fish to die, we must all accept that this IS a blood sport and some fish will die no matter what. I for one keep fish to eat all the time. Maybe not wild trout or fish of trophy class, but salmon, panfish, walleye etc...All that can be expected is you do your best within reason to c&r or selectively harvest.
    The best laid plans of mice and men...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Winston-Salem, NC

    Default Re: A good fight versus fish health

    My enjoyment comes almost purely from figuring out the trout. I don't mind at all if the trout gets off at my feet, so I tend to bulldog them in. As long as I get a good look at the fish, I'm pretty happy. Bonus points for hands-free releases. Its healthier for the fish.

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