Few people handle and release trout properly.

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To start with, i'm not saying these words to anyone on this Forum as i know most fly fisherman are conservation minded and are interested in keeping fish alive. This goes to everyone on this forum as a call for action more than anything.

As with every single time I'm fishing and there's other people on the water, the amount of ignorance and lack of respect for Trout ****ing astounds me. Here in Pennsylvania we love trout fishing, and everyone wants to catch them but nobody gives enough of a damn to learn how to increase their survival rates and the damn hatcheries don't seem to care enough to try to educate people. Every time someone other than me, my dad or another fly fisherman catches a trout it makes cringe. Not out of jealousy, or spite but because the way they handle these trout. I rarely see anyone use a net, occasionally see people wet their hands, i've seen too many people throw them on land before releasing them, seen people step on the trout to control it, seen them tear hooks out of their throats just to release the fish and many more despicable things that make me ask every time "well why don't you just keep the ****ing thing then?".

In PA especially its a real [Edit] epidemic, and i assume in most states with a larger concentration of people its also a huge problem. Nobody puts up signs oh how to handle fish (something i'm going to start doing now), nobody speaks up when someone just about kills a trout then throws it back into the water and its a real problem here. We pay for our trout every year when we buy our license and here in PA we have streams and rivers that actually support trout throughout the year as well as delayed harvests and FFO sections. And yet even on those special regulations sections I still see people pretty much killing trout unintentionally. So we have a good reason to release trout properly, so i'm asking everyone who lives in PA who reads this and anywhere else this is a problem to help spread the word, help teach people these things, because nobody seems to understand the concept of a slow death over time for the trout, everyone thinks if it swims away its fine.

Don't Put a trout on dry land, ever!
Don't throw the trout in the water, place it in the water until it swims away.
Don't touch its gills!
Do not squeeze the fish, hold it gently.
Always wet your [Edit] hands.
Use a landing net when possible.
If possible don't touch the fish at all.
If the hook gets swallowed, quickly cut the line close to the hook.
Don't keep the trout out of water for longer than 20-30 seconds at a time.

Those are just the basic rules i can think of, and i follow them always. TROUT ARE NOT BASS OR SUN FISH, they are easy to kill, sensitive fish that use a protective slime to guard them instead of just plain old scales. Please, i'm asking everyone out there to help spread the knowledge and help to reduce fish mortality rates. Even on this very forum i see far too many pictures of trout laying on dry land next to some schmucks fly rod to show the size. Ignorance is the problem, if you don't know you can't do it right.
 
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bluewater

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All true, both the advice and the observations, but Wish, dude, these days the decaffeinated stuff is just as tasty as the real thing. Just sayin' :D
 

troutma99

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All good advice.

I would add, since it is getting warmer as we approach summer, be careful playing and releasing trout in warmer water. If you fish a shallow stream on a 95 degree day, unless it's a tailwater, the water will probably be pretty warm. Trout need to be revived longer in warmer water before they can be released.
 

mtbusman

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Since I've been living in the same community for many years now, most of my acquaintances know I release the trout I catch. It often happens that if they ask me if I've been fishing, and I have a story about a fish I caught, they will respond with, "but I suppose you threw it back." "No," I explain. "I carefully removed the hook and then gently released it in the water." I get a grin out of answering that way, and people often say, "well, that's what I meant." But the words we use are telling. I don't know how successful I am, but I try to educate people nonetheless.
 

wolfglen

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It has always amazed me as to how the people who kill everything they catch are the ones who complain most about the fishing. Never could understand that.
 

FlymanSJB

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I'd kindly like to point out to the OP that griping the trout with one hand over the vitals as shown the their avatar pic is not a good grip for a picture. Supporting the fish in the tail and non vital areas and less than 10 seconds out of the water is critical especially in the warm summer months.

I usually unhook a fish and revive it before the less than 10 second photo and immediately get the fish back into the water for the swim off of the fish on its own.

Wet hands really help the slime coating but fish regenerate slime, after a battle oxygen is the key factor. Think about running a marathon and then some one takes away your ability to breath.


In my pictures a fish on the bank next to my flyrod means it didn't go back.

Most of the time I don't take pics, I twist out the fly with hemostats and gone, don't even touch it. I don't take a pic if it will risk the fish I don't want to keep.

Fishing by myself I take few pics unless the fish is in the water or going to the grill.
 

Ard

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Well at least this thread didn't go off the rails :) Our original poster may want to stop and think when making a contribution that many folks here are past fish squeezing. Let's face facts, since the advent of the small digital point and shoot camera and the internet to post the pictures to, things have gotten rougher for trout. Whether we want to admit it or not all you need to do is scroll through the fish picture threads here and on other websites to find bad examples of fish handling.

I am a reformed fish molester and unless you were spawned under the fish signs you either did or are still keeping them from their water for too long just to get that perfect shot. When I see a picture which shows a fish out of water being held with one hand I kinda cringe. When you can hold them with a single hand it's because of one of two things. Either the fish is too exhausted to squirm and flip from your grip or you have it in a stranglehold. Yeah someone will argue this I'm sure but you are talking to the wrong guy if you do. I have done more things wrong than most fisherman because while most of you were pursuing a career or at least holding a regular job raising a family I was out there fishing. I don't know everything that's for sure but I know we could let them go with a lot less fussing around.

I think the intent of the post was honest but the approach and presentation could have been way better.

Ard
 

unicoiboy

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All good advice.

I would add, since it is getting warmer as we approach summer, be careful playing and releasing trout in warmer water. If you fish a shallow stream on a 95 degree day, unless it's a tailwater, the water will probably be pretty warm. Trout need to be revived longer in warmer water before they can be released.
Better yet, don't fish for trout at all if the water is warm. We close our private waters from mid june to around September due to warm water. Trout can barely survive in water in the low seventies, when stressed they typically die. Imagine running a sprint for your life, holding your breath for 30 seconds, then having to breath through a coffee straw. This is how trout feel in warm water.
 
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Since I've been living in the same community for many years now, most of my acquaintances know I release the trout I catch. It often happens that if they ask me if I've been fishing, and I have a story about a fish I caught, they will respond with, "but I suppose you threw it back." "No," I explain. "I carefully removed the hook and then gently released it in the water." I get a grin out of answering that way, and people often say, "well, that's what I meant." But the words we use are telling. I don't know how successful I am, but I try to educate people nonetheless.
Lol I really enjoyed this post, and it is very telling because thats exactly what a lot of people i talk to say. "I threw it back". Thanks for the post, and its good to hear you're at least trying to educate. I just don't know how to talk to someone about releasing trout correctly without them getting pissed off at me.

---------- Post added at 08:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:16 PM ----------

I'd kindly like to point out to the OP that griping the trout with one hand over the vitals as shown the their avatar pic is not a good grip for a picture. Supporting the fish in the tail and non vital areas and less than 10 seconds out of the water is critical especially in the warm summer months.

I usually unhook a fish and revive it before the less than 10 second photo and immediately get the fish back into the water for the swim off of the fish on its own.

Wet hands really help the slime coating but fish regenerate slime, after a battle oxygen is the key factor. Think about running a marathon and then some one takes away your ability to breath.


In my pictures a fish on the bank next to my flyrod means it didn't go back.

Most of the time I don't take pics, I twist out the fly with hemostats and gone, don't even touch it. I don't take a pic if it will risk the fish I don't want to keep.

Fishing by myself I take few pics unless the fish is in the water or going to the grill.
Thanks for the post, and I'll start by saying that the Pic for my avatar is an older picture and since then i've learned a lot about trout and how to release them better. I leave them in the net for the picture and even in that pic I wasn't squeezing the fish i was cradling it and raised it just above the water. You're correct though, and fortunately on that sunny day the water was running extremely cold :)

Anyway I rarely take pictures, and I always do my best to give the trout the best chance of survival. Things rarely go as planned but i'd be damned if i didn't always try. The thing that gets me is that i'm 24 years old and most of the people I see who are unintentionally killing fish are 40+ years old, who really have no reason to not know these things. And if i ever screw up or don't treat a trout right when i've caught it, i don't go home thinking I did everything right to keep it alive, but everyone I see just have no remorse and no care about how they treat the fish and it says to me that they think they're releasing them ok, but they aren't and I'd just like to see that improve.

I was upset when i wrote the post, but it really is a damn problem in my area and it makes me cringe and breaks my heart. If anyone cringed at my Avatar picture lol then you wouldn't have wanted to see what a lot of the people did this weekend. The fishing was amazing this weekend, which mean't a lot of people caught trout which normally i'd be happy to see, but not when people are irresponsible with the trout. The only time i'd rather not see someone catch a fish is when they're gonna treat it the way these folks do.
 

Ard

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We can understand how seeing displays of bad behavior can get a fella worked up. However we have been over this topic many a thread and for a large part you're preaching to a choir here. I lived in PA a large part of my life and can tell you that if you're fishing where there are enough bone heads to get you worked up you need to take some road trips. Head into Lycoming - Tioga - Potter - Clinton Counties now and then and find a place where you may be able to be alone for a day. It'll do wonders for your fishing attitude ;)

Ard
 

ia_trouter

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I was upset when i wrote the post, but it really is a damn problem in my area and it makes me cringe and breaks my heart.
We share your concern and sorry if my first post was condescending, You are preaching to the choir though I'm sure that wasn't your intent . Hang around here regularly and you'll get a feel for the crowd. 95% of the guys here treat trout with utmost respect. In many parts of the country overharvesting trumps all our gentle releases tenfold. You are absolutely correct it is about education and we are in it together.
 

Poke 'Em

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Fish are tougher than you think and I got bitten by a chipmunk this weekend, so there!

:p
 
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We can understand how seeing displays of bad behavior can get a fella worked up. However we have been over this topic many a thread and for a large part you're preaching to a choir here. I lived in PA a large part of my life and can tell you that if you're fishing where there are enough bone heads to get you worked up you need to take some road trips. Head into Lycoming - Tioga - Potter - Clinton Counties now and then and find a place where you may be able to be alone for a day. It'll do wonders for your fishing attitude ;)

Ard
Thanks again man, and I really did figure this topic has been brought up a lot before. I couldn't find an old thread though, so I made this one and I made it with the hope that it will get some people out there trying to educate because I pretty much could assume that everyone on here tries their best to take care of the fish they catch. And I didn't mean to be preachy, I definitely was being preachy though lol and I've seen online some of those creeks in Potter, Tiogoa and Lycoming and i'll have to take your advice and just drive till I get away from all the goofballs. And theres a lovely creek about an hour and a half from me called the Redbank Creek, its big and holds trout season after season and because my Camp is by the Clarion River i've not given the Redbank a chance, but a guy who has a hunting/fishing store next to the creek told me how nice the creek is and how few people actually fish the creek, so it sounds like a bit of a gem.

---------- Post added at 09:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:18 AM ----------

We share your concern and sorry if my first post was condescending, You are preaching to the choir though I'm sure that wasn't your intent . Hang around here regularly and you'll get a feel for the crowd. 95% of the guys here treat trout with utmost respect. In many parts of the country overharvesting trumps all our gentle releases tenfold. You are absolutely correct it is about education and we are in it together.
I don't think anyone was being condescending, so don't be sorry my friend. I appreciate everyone's advice, and I really did figure I was preaching to the choir lol but I suppose I needed to vent some frustration. Every one who posted though really helped me realize that i'm not the only one who sees this problem as a problem and that has helped me feel better. Because now I know i'm not the only one out there trying to help.
 

stenacron

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...I know most fly fisherman are conservation minded and are interested in keeping fish alive.
Man I used to catch a lot of flack for saying this. And eventually I just stopped saying it (although I still believe this to be true, in general).

FWIW - It's not just in PA and fly anglers are not excluded. I see plenty of pictures on line of trout lying on rocks or in grass, all caught on flies.

The good news is that you will get over it someday. 10-20 years from now you'll have so much other stuff to worry about that trout abuse won't even crack your top-50.
 

FlymanSJB

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I certainly meant my post in a kind friendly way, these guys here have taught me lots of stuff and by stuff I could write pages.


Rocks- sometimes fish fly up on the rocks and lie in shallow water, a twist of the hook and a nudge and their back off swimming.

I wonder how many of you have seen wild protected steelhead swim up a river or caught and released such fish and we can include salmon. I'm going to tell you that in the rivers where I fish they are all rock piles and most of the fish I catch are scratched up from fighting the current to get to the spawning grounds and they fight each other for the right to spawn. Seen scratched up trout too but not as much.

I have caught and released lots of scratched up fish scratched up from the wild, and not minor scratches, seen some pretty beat up bucks. If all the fish died from scratches well there would be none left.

My personal view on fish mortality is formed on what I've seen and from my peers. Fish exhaustion, oxygen depletetion, depth and temperature changes, keeping hands away from the vitals and gills, accidentally squeezing fish to release or photograph them.

Dead hot summer heat I don't fly fish for trout not much in July and August if at all. Well the bugs will kill you up here and yes catch and release is tough not going to lie. It is fishing for a trout dinner.

It takes me around four seconds to get a fish pic with another person there, I unhook the fish and leave it in the river or net and let it recuperate while we are getting set up for the pic camera is all adjusted for zoom and what not then, lift, shoot and back in the river. Usually it's 3 full seconds.

I try not to judge pictures, but squeezing or fingers in the gills are tough even if the fish is killed for food. I like to see your fish pictures and I hope through positive education we can all get better at catch and release, faster and with more respect and less harm. And I'm trying to keep my fish mortality to the bare minimum.

Also I assume that many of you enjoy a fish dinner as much as I do and I offer no judgement if one decides to keep fish for a meal or two within the legal limits of the law, hopefully below.

This post is coming from a guy that killed everything to the limit of the law for most of my life, if I can change and be taught anyone can.

Peace
 

Ard

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If you browse the forum more often and start communicating with the active members I think you'll find a bunch of like minded folks posting here. There are also a good number of PA. people who post and maybe you can meet up with some of them. You seem like a good sort and you will fit in here.

Ard
 

ia_trouter

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Great post Steve. I come from a long family history of fish murderers. I've done what I can to educate whomever in the family will listen, and a few have listened and now release most of their fish. I'll take a few pictures. Once in a while there will be a casualty and I'll answer to nobody for it. Caught two of the best crappie of my life this weekend. Out of the water for at least 10-15 seconds and I think they will be fine upon release. Crappie are revered around here and I am sure they would have been delicious. My Dad would turn over in his grave if he saw my foolish behavior. All my kids friends harvest EVERY decent fish they catch. I told her it was fine if she kept fish last night. I am deeply grateful I was lucky enough to have a teen daughter that truly enjoys fishing with me and I don't want to ruin it with my judgemental views. She released every fish she caught and told them to go have babies. Its a new lake and I think she "gets it". She'll likely teach my grandchildren to do the same even if she is in the minority opinion. That's really all we can do.
 

wolfglen

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Even though they are not related to true trout, spotted sea trout are just as easily injured by careless handling.

I also hate to see photos of people holding bass up horizontally by holding the jaw and using it as a lever to bend the fish up to the horizontal for a photo.

Same with fingers up the gills. Anyone remember when outdoor writers used to tell people to lift up pike by putting your thumb and middle finger into the eyesockets?
 

roguebum

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We all understand rants and can definitely feel your pain! At least you now know that you're among friends here. ;)

It's good to see people with a true respect for the fish that have given them so much pleasure over the years. I know that warm water fish are much more hearty (as far as releases go) than their cold water brethren, but I like to treat them with the same kid gloves anyways. They may not require it, but I think they appreciate it!
 
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