C&R gone overboard?

Unknownflyman

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In my opinion with little trout, with small 20-16 flies and barbless for easy release and really for any trout, I think the mortality is lower than 4.5%

Big hooks, bait, I see people fishing mepps giant killers, and have talked to spin and bait guys that dont fish trout anymore because they got tired of killing smalls. It got to them.

I know some fish didnt make it after I caught and released them, but I haven't had one not release strong and healthy in many many years. IF one looked weak or bleeding, even if small, it was lunch, and maybe pick up another one to make it a meal.

This is also why I fish the methods I do, its nice having a good day, but I know I touch less fish every time out and enjoy it more, dry fly, skating flies and swinging and spey fishing for Steelhead and salmon.

Whenever I hear from someone after I say swing flies or only skate or whatever, "I only fish the most effective means" ..... I cringe a little bit.

Dry fly only, skating, swinging Its harder, its less effective, sometimes even pointless and yet it brings me the most satisfaction when I do get a fish.

And I`m not going to bang on anybody for any fly fishing method but, in catch in release, how many fish do you need to touch in a day?

And I had to look at myself and answer that question for myself as a fish hunter.

I catch less fish, enjoy it more and I`m cool with that. Thats what people don't get about fly fishing.
 

trev

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I don't like small flies for small fish, a few times, I've gotten into sections of stream that had a lot of non-target ~5" parr marked stuff and they swallowed every #16 barbless fly they saw, I'm not adept at gullet removal, so they went a way with fly and a cut tippet. Changing to #12 flies let me turn them loose by unhooking, while still catching a few of the target stockers.
 

MarsB

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I don't think that anyone has addressed this issue as of yet.

Not all released fish survive. On average about 4.5 % of C&R's fish die. So that is a fatality rate of about 1 in 20 fish released.

Here's the thing that has not been addressed. The better fisher person you are, the more trout you are killing even if you release all your fish.

I've had several 40-50 fish days on the Madison River when it seemed every fish wanted me to catch them. It is rare but it occurs and quite often I will catch and release 20 fish over a day's fishing. So I am "killing" fish just by the act of fishing.

If you fish, even if you release every one, you will kill fish. That is the nature of "catch and release" fishing.
Is that statistic based on how the C&R is handled? We all know that there are good ways and bad ways to catch, handle, and return fish to the water. If you are a better fisher person and are catching more fish, are you really killing more fish if you are using proper C&R technigues? I don't feel that statistic is linear in this fashion.
 

silver creek

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Is that statistic based on how the C&R is handled? We all know that there are good ways and bad ways to catch, handle, and return fish to the water. If you are a better fisher person and are catching more fish, are you really killing more fish if you are using proper C&R technigues? I don't feel that statistic is linear in this fashion.
These % are from a compilation of fisheries studies on the mortality of C&R. This is the abstract from the best study on C&R Mortality. "For flies and lures combined, mean hooking mortality was 4.5% for barbed hooks and 4.2% for barbless hooks."


"Abstract.—We summarized results of past studies that directly compared hooking mortality of resident (nonanadromous) salmonids caught and released with barbed or barbless hooks. Barbed hooks produced lower hooking mortality in two of four comparisons with flies and in three of five comparisons with lures. Only 1 of 11 comparisons resulted in statistically significant differences in hooking mortality. In that instance, barbless baited hooks caused significantly less mortality than barbed hooks, but experimented design concerns limited the utility of this finding. Mean hooking mortality rates from past lure studies were slightly higher for barbed hooks than barbless ones, but the opposite was true for flies. For flies and lures combined, mean hooking mortality was 4.5% for barbed hooks and 4.2% for barbless hooks. Combination of test statistics from individual studies by gear type via meta-analysis yielded nonsignificant results for barbed versus barbless flies, lures, or flies and lures combined. We conclude that the use of barbed or barbless flies or lures plays no role in subsequent mortality of trout caught and released by anglers. Because natural mortality rates for wild trout in streams commonly range from 30% to 65% annually, a 0.3% mean difference in hooking mortality for the two hook types is irrelevant at the population level, even when fish are subjected to repeated capture. Based on existing mortality studies, there is no biological basis for barbed hook restrictions in artificial fly and lure fisheries for resident trout. Restricting barbed hooks appears to be a social issue. Managers proposing new special regulations to the angling public should consider the social costs of implementing barbed hook restrictions that produce no demonstrable biological gain."



 

Unknownflyman

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I think where barbless helps me, is that many times I can just shake em loose without touching the fish at all. I dont believe there is increased mortality with barbs, but maybe there is if I`m struggling to unhook every fish. I love when I net a nice fish and the barbless hook pops out and I let him swim in my net sunk deep for a bit and rest, maybe grab a quick pic and dump the net, most of the time that is the way it goes.

Ive been able to shake em free ten feet out, give slack, fish gone. SO for me, barbless is easy on me and the fish, because it's so easy to lose them.

Hook sizes, if a bit bigger hooks works good for you do it, size 12 is not "big" I find that I seldom hook fish deep at all with dry flies, skaters or streamers, always in the jaw or beak.

Good discussion here, I`m always trying to improve my c and r methods, cause I do catch a lot of fish over a season when I`m out. Not this year though, too hot and dry.
 

LandoLando

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I’ve read 2% mortality for a skilled angler using flies and around 5% for lures or on flies by an unskilled or careless angler. 20% or more mortality for bait fishing or using treble hooks.
I can say I’ve only personally seen a handful of fish (orders of magnitude less than 1%) die after being caught. I know that on rivers it’s unlikely to see a fish that dies after being released but I would expect to see some on still water. Especially on lakes less than a few acres, but perhaps not all dead fish float to the top.

My observations have shown me that a brief fight followed by seconds or less out of the water results in pretty low mortality rates. My observations are made on catching the same fish in the same spot many times.

Even if catch and release mortality rate is as bad as 5% even by a very skilled, careful and conscientious angler, that’s still 20 times fewer dead fish than someone who keeps everything they catch.

That assumption also highlights how important it is to catch and release.

Of course there are exceptions like put and take lakes and stunted brooky lakes. I’ll have a hard time being convinced that keeping a fish on any river is good or even inconsequential for the fishery.
 
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trev

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that’s still 20 times fewer dead fish than someone who keeps everything they catch.
Not at all, the fish keeper has to stop fishing after the first few fish, while the C&R guy can keep on into hundreds. Compare 100% of 4 fish (MO. Limit) with 5% of 100 fish (you said very skilled angler) and you will find that the C&R guy killed 25% more fish than the keeper guy.
One of the reasons I started turning fish loose way back when (before C&R became a cult thing) was I wanted to fish more than 1/2 an hour or hour per day.

When the natural mortality is 30%-65% annually, chances seem to be pretty good that all the fish eaten and the the all the fish killed by C&R would have died anyway, especially if the fish is large old fish.
Every dead fish is less competition for the survivors, only the fish that are easy prey get caught, so the gene pool may be bettered?
The fisheries managers have studied hard to become professional scientists and make decisions on seasons and catch rate or C&R based on facts and accrued knowledge, rather than emotions, or perceived ethic/morale assumptions.
I'll let them guide us on how many to keep and when to close the fishery down.

I suppose the next step is pointless hooks or hookless flies and "counting coup"?
(you might be surprised at how hard a fish will pull without being hooked)
 

LandoLando

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Not at all, the fish keeper has to stop fishing after the first few fish, while the C&R guy can keep on into hundreds. Compare 100% of 4 fish (MO. Limit) with 5% of 100 fish (you said very skilled angler) and you will find that the C&R guy killed 25% more fish than the keeper guy.
One of the reasons I started turning fish loose way back when (before C&R became a cult thing) was I wanted to fish more than 1/2 an hour or hour per day.

When the natural mortality is 30%-65% annually, chances seem to be pretty good that all the fish eaten and the the all the fish killed by C&R would have died anyway, especially if the fish is large old fish.
Every dead fish is less competition for the survivors, only the fish that are easy prey get caught, so the gene pool may be bettered?
The fisheries managers have studied hard to become professional scientists and make decisions on seasons and catch rate or C&R based on facts and accrued knowledge, rather than emotions, or perceived ethic/morale assumptions.
I'll let them guide us on how many to keep and when to close the fishery down.

I suppose the next step is pointless hooks or hookless flies and "counting coup"?
(you might be surprised at how hard a fish will pull without being hooked)
A couple of issues with your logic. Fisheries management are taking more factors into account than just the health of the fishery. They also have to balance customer satisfaction and tourism economies. Also, you cited 2-4 year lifespan for rainbow trout. I question that number but also, that is an average. Here the average is around 6-7. Some specimens can live 10-12.

Lastly, if you are assuming that fish that are released would otherwise have a chance of dying naturally within in a year is flawed. It’s not an either or, it’s an and. Those probabilities stack. I’m also not convinced that your survival numbers are accurate for most trout fisheries. Perhaps in areas that are heavily stocked or too warm for trout to exist naturally that could be true.
 

silver creek

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I’ve read 2% mortality for a skilled angler using flies and around 5% for lures or on flies by an unskilled or careless angler. 20% or more mortality for bait fishing or using treble hooks.

Here is what I have found to be a well documented summary article. "The following review paper was written in response to a request by a Brazilian government agency for an analysis of catch and release mortality data in the current scientific literature and ways to minimize mortality in real-world field applications."



Screen Shot 2021-09-15 at 3.59.11 PM.png
 

Bambooflyguy

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To some C&R means catch and refrigerate......those have a zero chance of surviving......especially when using bait. The vast majority of the lakes I fish are all hatchery trout, I pinch all my barbs before I tie a fly and practice C&R. Rarely do I get a floater....Eagle’s dinner!
 

LandoLando

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While browsing the brown trout pics thread I was reminded of a pet peeve I can get on board with (it’s not C&R fishing). The recent fad of criticism of those taking photos with a fish out of water. I agree that landing a fish and resting them on dry land and keeping them out of water for periods of time is harmful, but a photo takes milliseconds. Fish voluntarily leave the water for longer than that without dying.

When I photograph fish, I careful remove the hook from netted fish while they are in the water and keep them in the water while I ready my camera and place my rod in a safe location. I then careful cradle the underside of the fish and remove them from the water for about 2-3 seconds for photos and return them to water immediately. I would love to hear the physiological reason why removing a fish from water for such a short period of time would cause fatal harm to them.
 

flytie09

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Right or wrong I use this rule of thumb. Do an experiment and hold your breath and time it. After a minute or so you're taking a deep breath. Now run down the road for 5 minutes at maximum speed and then do this....I'd say you might be able to do it for 10 seconds max.. They say a fish should be out of the water for no more than 10 seconds and it makes sense why. In some places where there are wild fish and the numbers are being protected by every means possible....you can't remove the fish from the water at all. It's an honor system....noone is going to bust out of the woods to correct you. In certain fisheries the game wardens might.....but unlikely.

People will justify their poor handling with saying...."oh, but it swam away". 3-5% of all trout caught that are released die on average. I'd prefer to do everything I can to keep this mortality rate as low as possible. There's no reason < 1% can't be achieved. If you don't like it....don't post the fish on social media. It's as simple as that. You don't like that rule.....I'm sorry....be prepared to be corrected and none too nicely. Is this wrong?.....that's the mystery of the internet. There's some pretty harsh things said on here that would never be said face-to-face.

We're trying to do better and learn what is right or wrong and help foster safe handling practices within the sport. Educate yourself and others and try to be nice.

With all of this said...... I no longer take pics of fish. It's too difficult to do so safely by myself. In the end....how different will trout #2004 be from trout #135?
 

Bambooflyguy

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I don’t own a cell phone or camera so no hero shots from me.......once in a blue moon my buddy will take a fish picture. Knotless net, fish kept in the water and so many times the hook is out and in the net, zero human touch release!
 

LandoLando

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Right or wrong I use this rule of thumb. Do an experiment and hold your breath and time it. After a minute or so you're taking a deep breath. Now run down the road for 5 minutes at maximum speed and then do this....I'd say you might be able to do it for 10 seconds max.. They say a fish should be out of the water for no more than 10 seconds and it makes sense why. In some places where there are wild fish and the numbers are being protected by every means possible....you can't remove the fish from the water at all. It's an honor system....noone is going to bust out of the woods to correct you. In certain fisheries the game wardens might.....but unlikely.

People will justify their poor handling with saying...."oh, but it swam away". 3-5% of all trout caught that are released die on average. I'd prefer to do everything I can to keep this mortality rate as low as possible. There's no reason < 1% can't be achieved. If you don't like it....don't post the fish on social media. It's as simple as that. You don't like that rule.....I'm sorry....be prepared to be corrected and none too nicely. Is this wrong?.....that's the mystery of the internet. There's some pretty harsh things said on here that would never be said face-to-face.

We're trying to do better and learn what is right or wrong and help foster safe handling practices within the sport. Educate yourself and others and try to be nice.

With all of this said...... I no longer take pics of fish. It's too difficult to do so safely by myself. In the end....how different will trout #2004 be from trout #135?
I’ll agree with you on your experiment, except I’d say 10 seconds may be too long.

With regards to photos, Not safe or too difficult? I’ve had some trophy fish I’d love to document with a photo not cooperate and they are released without a photo. I’m not going to grip their body or let them fall onto rocks or soil to get a photo, but the worst case scenario of lifting them a few feet above the water for a photo is you don’t get a suitable photo. I’m not sure what difficulty or safety concerns would arise attempting to take a photo of a fish beyond not being able to get a good photo. Unless, of course, the angler prioritizes the quality of the photo over the survival of the fish. Short of that, I think you are getting a little dogmatic about this.
 
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Ard

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Yep that was probably me and a post I made that stirred this up. I'm no stranger to ruffling feathers here so I'll confess. I'm just past the hoist them up photo stage that's all. I'm close enough to 67 years old to claim 67 and have been fishing since I was this close to 8 years old. In those 60 years I've done about everything imaginable in the realm of fresh water fishing and after 5 decades or so you change. I simply don't care anymore about pictures that feature me holding some fish as if it meant something.

I was just sitting on my front porch a couple hours ago in the balmy 46 degree air with overcast sky thinking about tomorrow. I went and checked water level and color at about 3 PM today and found that I am green light for now till ice up! But where was I? Oh yeah, I had just finished dinner and went out to see how the weather was. The thoughts that occurred to me were that I am still living well. I had just finished a nice ribeye steak and a potato and was enjoying my second round of a good cabernet from Chateau St. Michelle vineyards and I spoke out loud to myself ....... "Here I sit, I have friends who have made nearly a billion dollars in the same amount of time it took me to get good at fly fishing and tying. But here I sit; had a great meal, having a good wine and tomorrow I'll be on one of the best rivers to fish this time of year in Alaska. Not only will I be there but I'll be miles and miles away from any other people and will be with the best fly fishing guide in this part of the state. The guy knows that river intimately and I'm sure we'll get into some big rainbows and or steelhead. Even my old buddy who (last time I knew) was making 21 million dollars a year in 1999 / 2000 can't do any better than I'm doing today" ................ And I smiled smugly to myself then got off my chair and came back inside.

I'm going fishing tomorrow and Friday for me, not for the internet. I'll take pictures of fish but they may be like this one....

I get some pictures that aren't that good but I do enjoy seeing them when I look back through images. That one above was fall of 2019 and I have no clue of the length or weight. It seemed to me to be about the size of a small Silver Salmon so maybe 4 pounds or so. Thing is though I realize that not everyone views the capture of a nice trout the same way I view it. For me the fact that I've found one where I thought it should be and felt it hit that streamer is about 95% of the goal. The actual capture, scooping it with my net is the point where I know I can touch it. Next comes the stressful business of locating where my hook point is imbedded and removing it with as little added shock to the animal as I can manage. Some of them are all but impossible! I see the hook, I have the forceps almost gripping it and the fish flops. They twist at the worst possible moments and I do not 'grip' the fish, I wait. Wait for it to calm and try flipping it upside down so it calms again and give it another go.

I get them freed and I let them go. If I can hoist one up like this before it pops over the rim of the net that's cool,

I don't make remarks about fish handling for the purpose of offending anyone here on the forum, I'm just trying to influence the willing to let go of the need to over handle our dance partners in this waltz of life we do together. The images I post? I always figure that if anyone finds them to be in bad taste they probably should just stop fishing altogether. Every now and then I say what I'm thinking and I never know how it will play for some who read but I post and then move on. The fish picture thing? How we handle them? Whether we catch and release with as little of impact as possible? All are things I can't control beyond my own actions. There are a lot of fellows younger than me with a ways to go on the experience ladder. I know what it's like to think you are blazing a trail but the truth is that that trail you think you're blazing is actually a well worn highway traveled by millions of fly fishers before you. I I were to tell someone "Good luck" when they go fishing I guess I mean that I hope they get to where I ended up at. Once you get there you are done justifying your practices to anyone and most importantly you don't justify them to yourself.

I almost forgot to say that that guide I'll be with tomorrow, is me ;)

 

flytie09

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You’ve got a good guide Ard. Go get them.

I’m dogmatic huh? Tell me exactly what I said that wasn’t factual. These are presented in countless published scientific articles, podcasts, from industry professionals and companies all across the World. Patagonia, Orvis, TU, Wild Steelhead Coalition, et al. A shift is occurring within the sport whether an individual likes it or not.

Listen….I’ve done things I’m not too proud of throughout my angling journey. I can say I’ve grown to see things differently. Not right or wrong. I don’t make the rules, I don’t seek anyone’s admiration, affirmation or confirmation. You’re welcome to your opinions.

Is taking a picture of you holding a fish wrong? No…. absolutely not. They are amazing and beautiful creatures to be admired. But there are safe and respectful ways about doing so.

I’m not making these comments blasting individuals for their hero shots or fish laying on the bank pics. That’s not me. And yes I agree that’s wrong.

I guess I’ll have to go back and read this thread from the beginning again because I have no idea what we’re even arguing about now? C&R, taking pictures, trolls…….I’m sure it will circle around to something ridiculous and have to be closed by Ard. He will be away fishing for a bit….. so get your swings in.
 

LandoLando

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Believe it or not Ard, it wasn’t anything you said in that thread. It was a post stating that a members wife had been lambasted online for posting a picture of a fish being held above water.

People have varying levels of success and experience fishing. I recall when I was pretty new, nearly every fish got at least a photo of it in the net, and many were posed with in a photo. Now I’ll get a photo with some of the more beautiful specimens but it’s pretty few and far between. I’m sure at some point I’ll get to where you are, Ard.

I don’t like to take the wind out of peoples sails for getting a photo of a fish, certainly if I have no reason to assume they mishandled or were otherwise unethical or unsportsmanlike. I feel bad for the members wife who was trolled online by people who would probably not have the guts to make remarks like that in person when they know nothing about her or how she handled the fish. I think that kind of behavior reflects poorly on all of us that participate in this sport.
 

yikes

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Agreed, Lando. When I first started, I used to take a picture of every fish. Max 10 seconds or less out of water.
Now it's maybe 1 or 2 fish per day, tops, in the water, as an "establishing" shot. I don't need to see myself in the photo.
But if I'm fishing with someone new, or a young kid, I won't fault them for a quick hero shot. They'll have time in the future for their enthusiasm to mature.
 
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