Harvesting: proper way to euthanize your catch

MichaelCPA

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Held a pretty native trout in my hand this morning and thought to take it home but would ask here first: is there a preferred way to dispatch?

I have fished a lot of other species and have seen it all (or nothing).

I would like to know what is proper before field dressing it.

Michael
 

clsmith131

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I had a somewhat awkward moment with a friend of mine at a campsite one time, during an annual outing held with a group friends. We were targeting smallmouth, but keeping walleye, sauger and cats for the table. I caught a channel cat in the 6-8 lb range. We had already removed the rest of our fish from the stringers hanging from a mimosa branch at the edge of the river. I took the cat and put him in a cooler full of ice water, still alive. My friend yelled at me, "you're torturing that poor fish! If you're gonna kill them you can at least do it in a humane way". He then grabbed my fish and pounded it over the head with a rock. The fish convulsed and flopped around, head smashed. It required several more blows to get it to stop. I told him "fish are cold blooded, if you put them on ice, their body shuts down". I thought this was the most "humane" way of doing it. He disagreed, but it was hard for him to form a much of an argument considering the way he had just sloppily dispatched that fish. Catfish cling much more stubbornly to life than most though.
 

marianeq

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if i decide to take a fish home, i cut the fish's throat, then snap the neck, then cut the belly open, take the guts and gills out, and clean the belly cavity and head part with grass or dried moss (or any dry vegetation) until the fish is reasonable dry and clean of any blood and mucus. the meat will keep all day in this state.
Recently i took a pike for the table, having killed it at 11am. i arrived home at 7pm, and proceeded to skin and fillet the fish. Every time i drove a knife between the skin and flesh, the tail and fins would flare up! still fresh after so many hours :) (no doubt low temp helped out, though)
 

kevind62

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Actually, I use an ice chest with ice and water mixed making a nice slush. The fish will die quickly and painlessly. This also makes the fish die in a straight line position and makes the meat nice and firm. When you get ready to fillet it, it will make the task so much easier. I do this with all of my saltwater fish and freshwater pan fish, along with catfish.

Fish are cold blooded creatures. When their body temps get to a certain low point they just become lethargic like they would in a natural cold environment. Then their system just shuts down.
 

sjkirkpa

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So what do you do if you are wading a river? I occasionally want to keep a fish, but if I'm wading and don't have a cooler, I don't know what to do with it. Especially if I am far from my truck and can't easily go back to it. How do you keep a cleaned fish fresh?
 

vaheelsfan

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So what do you do if you are wading a river? I occasionally want to keep a fish, but if I'm wading and don't have a cooler, I don't know what to do with it. Especially if I am far from my truck and can't easily go back to it. How do you keep a cleaned fish fresh?
Don’t keep anything until you’re nearing the end of they day. I might keep 10 trout/year for the table. Swift blow to the head, right between the eyes will kill them quickly. Insert knife tip through thin slits on each side of tongue and cut forward towards mouth. Slit from **** to gills then grab tongue and pull rearward towards ****. This will remove gills and organs all at once. Open along spine to remove black stuff (think this is actually the kidneys of fish but may be mistaken/misinformed) with thumbnail. Place on ice immediately. Don’t keep dead fish in water, it speeds up the decomposition.
 

City Rat

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Hmm, everybody seems to have a riff on how to do this. I was told by a very experienced angler to do the following:
1- small, sharp thin bladed knife to the back of the head and sever the spinal column,
2- slit from the ass to the gills along the belly and dump the guts,
3-once inside the body cavity clean that large vein that runs along the inside of the back bone,
4-dump him a creel and keep him cool.

On the last one, because I also fish a pretty decent ways away from where ever I park my truck, I grabbed the Arctic Creel and they were quite adamant that it was made to be worn while you wade and to stay soaked. Per the company, as long as the creel stays soaked, the fabric and construction keep the contents cool and safe. As I have only been fishing C and R streams I haven't tried it out but I plan to at some point soon on different water. Anyway that is what I have been taught.
 

repperson29

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We always brained them then slit them from **** to gills and pull out guts and the vein and tossed in a creel. I haven't kept anything but perch or walleye though in some years and it's obviously different when on a boat

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rangerrich99

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Rock it or stab it ….Its all the same , it dies . The thing about it is how do you live with yourself knowing there are some fingerlings growing up without a mom or dad ? Poor little guys . :p:D
Not to mention all their little fish friends at school . . .
 

dillon

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I harvest very few fish each year. The ones I do are hatchery raised steelhead, marked as such by the adipose fin being clipped at the hatchery before release into the river. I would never kill and native or wild fish even where it is legal to retain them. There are just to few and I have a great respect and passion, if you will, for them. I have no desire to kill a trout be it native or wild for the same reason. However, I do not pass judgement on those that do when caught in a habitat where they are plentiful. I catch a fair number of stocked trout each year in the private stillwater's I pay to fish. I don't kill them either as the landowners buy the fish they stock and they provide me with much entertainment. Many of these fish are large hold overs and I almost consider them wild as they have completely adapted to their environment. No more pellets for them as the ponds are rich in insect life in Oregons high desert environment. I have mentioned native and wild. For those of you who don't already know, native fish are a pure indigenous strain. Wild fish were simply born in the wild. Their ancestry includes some hatchery fish influence. For example, a hatchery raised steelhead released into a river may return and mate in the wild. If the mate was native then the offspring are wild but not native. With a large influence of hatchery steelhead in the Northwest, some believe that there are no longer any truly native steelhead, but I choose to believe there are. There are a few native strains of trout in the United States, but most stream born fish are wild because they were introduced as hatchery raised fish. My family and friends love fresh summer steelhead filleted and grilled. They are full of fat as they are far from ready to spawn when they enter our rivers. So, when I catch one I remove it from the gene pool and quickly kill and dress it. Then place it in a wet burlap bag until I get back to the cabin. Next I'll ice it down and fire up the grill. As for me, Id rather throw a thick rib eye on it ...
 

TwoThumbsUp

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This probably won't be a popular reply with this group, but I normally just clip them onto a stringer and either attach it to my belt, if I'm wading, or tie it to a branch along the bank. If I'm keeping fish, I normally don't start keeping them until later in the day when I can get them cleaned and in a cooler and on ice for the trip home.

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jangles

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This probably won't be a popular reply with this group, but I normally just clip them onto a stringer and either attach it to my belt, if I'm wading, or tie it to a branch along the bank. If I'm keeping fish, I normally don't start keeping them until later in the day when I can get them cleaned and in a cooler and on ice for the trip home.

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Ha . One time years ago at Lees Ferry my wife and I were tent camping on the river . She decides that we would have trout that night . I told her since she was being a good girl I would oblige and keep two towards the end of the day . She was so happy ! Well to make a long story shorter I never did catch those two in the evening and we ate beans ! Okay , not really beans but definitely not trout .

Moral of the story , keep e when you have them , if you want to eat that night ! Personally I don't like the taste as they taste like fish not Bluegill !!!!
 
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rodneyshishido

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Have to snicker when I read this thread. I think back to the days when I fished halibut in southeast Alaska. You do not want to bring a big halibut in the boat alive. I used to shoot it with a 41 mag. A friend tried a 22 but it just kept making the fish mad. Ended up have to use a 357 on it.
 

troutman75

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Have to snicker when I read this thread. I think back to the days when I fished halibut in southeast Alaska. You do not want to bring a big halibut in the boat alive. I used to shoot it with a 41 mag. A friend tried a 22 but it just kept making the fish mad. Ended up have to use a 357 on it.
We kept a .410 short barrelled shotgun on a rack above the net and gaff. Useless for just about anything else, but handy at point blank range on barn door sized halibut.
 

City Rat

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So while hunting down data on fish transport back home after a trip I came across this article on the this topic. How to Humanely Kill a Fish | Topic The science discussed in the article is actually taught in Hunter Ed classes during the discussion of field dressing big game animals harvested on a hunt. In the hunting context you can easily see and smell how a stressed animal has flooded his muscle tissue with adrenaline which markedly alters the taste of the meat and how you have to prepare it. I just never thought about those principles in the fishing context. Anyway it is an interesting read.
 

karstopo

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Well with fish, if you catch it, you've very likely produced a major physiological stress response in the fish. No one is putting bullets into the spinal column or brains for instant kills of unstressed, unsuspecting fish like may be the case in hunting. Whatever stress hormones or metabolites that get produced during the time from the hook set to the net would, it stands to reason, be sort of locked into muscles and other just from the stress of the fight and that is often from a fatal build up of harmful metabolites. Any fish that gets consumed must have whatever flavor alterations that are caused by whatever stress hormones tissue of the fish if the person decides to harvest that fish at that moment. No doubt fish have a major physiological stress response to being caught. Some fish and some types of fish are especially prone to dying and stress metabolites that are produced during the process of being caught unless those substances are somehow removed by bleeding, otherwise decay into something else, or are somehow volatile and evaporate into the air. I guess if one puts the fish on ice and the fish slowly expires on ice that could result in a different mix of hormones and the like than an instant club blow to the head or knife slash to the neck. I've done the fish kill a lot of different ways and some types benefit from bleeding as far as flavor goes. I would rather fillet one that is almost frozen as cold flesh cuts easier than warm, at least with some types of fish.

As far as a stress free humane kill, hunting offers a much better shot at that scenario than fishing other than maybe spear fishing. Whatever anyone thinks about making a long distance shot at an other wise unsuspecting animal, the animal is under no stress when the bullet severs the spinal cord or enters the skull causing an virtually instant and pain free death. In fishing, the fish is being constrained and forcibly being directed against its will. It only can respond to attempt escape with whatever abilities it possesses. If one attributes anything like human perception, feelings and emotions to the fish then there is no way to rationalize that fishing is anything but inhumane, no matter if you catch and release or harvest, intentionally kill, the fish or how you go about the process of killing. "Hey dude, sorry for tricking you and then forcibly sticking that hook through your lip and dragging you through the water against your will, no hard feelings, right?" "BTW, I'll be here next week when the BWO hatch is going off and my flies are so dang good you won't know the difference from the real thing. That's not going to be a problem for you is it?"
 

runningfish

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I tried to drown it but it took way too long. So, I put a stringer via the gill and put it in a plastic bag when I left.
 
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