Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Handling Big Fish Properly

Posted by  //  March 27, 2021  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Catch-and-release anglers strive to return fish to the water in good shape, as studies prove they can survive, thrive and even be caught again in the future.  As a staunch advocate for supporting our fisheries through catch and release, I’m troubled when I see fish subjected to unnecessary overplaying, deep hook sets, getting dropped and oxygen deprivation from being kept out of the water far too long – all common sources of angler-induced injuries.  

In addition, how we hold a fish, especially a heavy one, can impact its survival.  Lifting large fish vertically from the water, a net or for photos can cause devastating separation of the vertebrate.  This is especially true for long fish like northern pike but also threatens bass species over 3 pounds.  Another harmful hold is sometimes seen during bass tournaments.  While dangling from its lower lip, the fish is tilted upward and bent at a horizontal angle, putting tremendous stress on the lower jaw.  This can result in muscle/soft tissue damage and fractures.  The fish often swims away only to succumb later as it can’t feed.  If you must lift a big fish, support its weight by placing one hand firmly under its belly.  

We’re never too old to learn; and by changing the way we handle big fish today, we help ensure a healthy fishery for tomorrow.

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo by Chopper McCarty

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