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Shark

C & R question

22 posts in this topic

Been fishing Mary, all the fish are 13" or 14" inches, and so am releasing a lot. (Sounds like I should switch to Miltona!) I am following "hear say" information that if hook is swallowed, cut line and release. Does anyone really know that is correct? From what source and what data? Should you net the fish you plan to release?

What got me wondering is I often lift the fish in without net, by the line, and then release. I noted that with a number of the hook swallowers the fist puff through the gills was a puff of blood. I think Fish are really delicate creaters, I really wonder if those fish will survive. Anybody really know?

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Shark, the DNR and Fish Biologists have done studies on fish and found that fish have an acid that will eventually eat away the hook and not harm the fish. So to answer your question yes if you're not going to keep a fish that has swallowed the hook it is best to cut the line and let the fish go back quikly. As to wether you should net a fish you don't intend to keep, they say you should make sure your hands are wet and cradle the fish in your hands. Netting will take scales and the protective "slime" of and the fish can get a bacterial growth that will kill them. You should never lift a fish from the water by the line if it has swallowed the hook, it just drives hte hook in that much further.

You asked if fish will survive if they are bleeding from the gills when you release them, much fo hte time not frown.gif

I hope this has answered your questions, and helped you understand more about fish. grin.gif

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Along the lines of the belly acid.. I saw a fishing show a couple weekends ago, I think it was Midwest Outdoors, they were catching bass, and while holding the fish they noticed a hook coming out of the rear end. The hook was whole..it was also still red. But the hook had passed thru clean as a whistle..so it wasn't being digested at all.. maybe it was just this fish...or because it was a bass.. I don't know. The guy did remove the hook though.

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I've often wondered about leaving a hook in a fishes throat, especially one with some size like a jig. I won't do it because even if they have acid that will dissolve it how long does it take and how do they feed themselves in the mean time? I prefer to just harvest them under this condition. If nothing else, I sleep better at night knowing I haven't released a fish that I don't feel has a good chance for survival. Fortunately for me, most of mine are lip-hooked but there are those occasions... In fact, the one and only time I ever harvested a walleye in my life that was larger than 20" was because it swallowed the hook deep enough that I felt it would not have a good chance for survival.

Bob

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I agree I will normally harvest the fish also, I have released fish with just small hooks in them, but like fishin58 said, you always have that thought in the back of your mind if that fish made it or not confused.gif

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I caught a northern here about 3 years ago that measured 27 inches and was that skinniest fish that size I have ever seen I also noticed kind of a dent in his belly. Well I like eatin northerns so I kept him and cleaned him. After cleaning him I was looking around to see what he had been eating well I found he hadn't been eating anything. I also found that he had been hooked deep and the hook actually penetrated the lining of his stomach worked its way through everything else and was stuck in the first layer of its inside skin basically clamping off its digestive tract. The hook was as shiny silver as one right off the shelf with no signs of rust or decay and this was in the stomach of a pike mind you. There is no doubt in my mind this fish would've died as a result of this. So from that if I ever catch a fish deeply hooked it's kept unless I can cut the hook close enough to the barb so it's just a straight wire instead of a curved one so if that does happen there's nothing holding it up from pushing out. But I would never just cut the line and let the fish go, never.

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That's interesting to know, I never have witnessed a fish with a hook in it personally. I guess it goes to show even biologists don't have all the answers. crazy.gif

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I will make sure that I use this when the DNR askes why I have Walleyes under the 15inch min. Sometimes you have to cut the line and take a chance that the fish will survive until next year.

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Although I favor slots you mention one of the downsides to having them. I gues if it's a choice between giving the fish a chance to make it albeit very low or getting caught with a fish in a protective slot, the fish is likely going to lose out.

On the other hand, I remember one time when I....never mind.

Bob

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Something to keep in mind here - not all hooks are made from the same materials. Years ago when just a standard carbon steel hook was the norm it was possible for hooks to dissolve out of fish. Since these same hooks would rust in your tacklebox over time as well, a need for more corrosion resistent hooks developed. Whether a stainless alloy is used, or just a better protective finish, many of todays hooks will not dissolve inside a fish. This would explain why people catch fish time to time with hooks embedded in them showing no signs of corrosion.

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Absolutely correct. I also am infavor of slots in general to improve the quality of fishing but it bothers me a great deal to put a 14.75 inch walleye backin the water after cutting the line with a hook deep in its throat and blood coming from its gills as I know this fish will be dead in a matter of hours. I get them in quickly, net them with a wet rubber net, but still once in a while you get a deep throat hooked walleye. When this happens more than once when I find myself on a school of 14 inch fish that are biting, I usually crimp the barb as I can back out a barbless hook with minimal damage with a pair of hemostats. I think the fish has a better chance of survival if released without the hook if it can be removed from a deep hookset with little damage and barbless is the only way to do that even though it means I loose the odd one and loose a few more leaches.

I'd rather do that than know I'm essentially wasting a fish.

But either way, its a tough decision to make....remove or cut. Really depends on the type of hook, the location of the hook, and the tools you have to remove it with little damage.

Infisherman did a piece on removing deep hooksets (back in the throat) by going under the gill plate instead of from the mouth. They claim it increased hooking survival significantly over cutting the line and by a tremendous amount over removing it through the mouth. I can't remeber the month or year but I think it was early last year sometime if memory serves. Anyone have luck with this method ?

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I've used that method of going thru the gills for years.

It can be done solo, but almost takes three hands.

Basicly, hold the fish with one hand, pull gently on the line to see the end of the hook eye (with the same hand as is holding the fish if you're solo) and then go thru the gills to grab the hook with a hemostat and turn it inside out.

It comes out slick as a whistle. cool.gif

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I did a little research on the through the gill hook removal technique last week (you can find it online easily with a search on google).

This weekend my young daughter wasn't paying attention to her slip bobber and by the time anyone noticed it had been under for some time. She landed a typical 14.5" inch walleye on a lake with a 15" minimum and the hook was deep in the throat. Usually I would have cut the line and put the fish back hoping for the best.

But I grabbed the hemostats and slipped them in under the gill plate behind the back filaments, grabbed the hook shank and roll-twisted the hook and it popped out of the throat with hardly any damage whatsover. Just a tiny trickle of blood which the web sites advocating this release assure coagulates very quickly in water and it not life threatening. The fish swam away healthy and without something blocking its throat that could be there for months given new hook materials has a good chance of surviving IMHO. Much better than cutting the line and leaving the hook to block the passage of food leading to starvation.

If you don't know how to do this, I highly recommend looking it up on line and giving it a try. It was easy and works great for C&R fish.

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The only thing I would like to add is to do this with care. You are working around gills and damaging them will suffocate the fish.

Just a heads up.

Bob

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I think you have to take your chances and hope for the best. Ive caught a ton of big walleyes on slip bobbers over the years and many of them are throat hooked. It kills me to think they all died, but had I kept them.... I know they all would have died! You just have to use your best discretion. I dont like keeping anything over 18 but If im convinced its dead Ill keep it. The rest of the times ill take my chances letting them go!

The is no tried and true way of releasing fish throat hooked, or with the air bladder hanging out, whatever.... If your gonna worry about the safety and health of every fish you catch.... quit fishing! crazy.gif All you can do is make an effort and try your best.

wink.gif I guess the turtles gotta eat to!

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Had you kept them, at least they would have died for a good cause. smile.gif

I actually do concern myself with the health of the fish I release. If in doubt, might as well put them in my frying pan.

Bob

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My point was that we don't have any options fishing lakes with hard minimums, hard maximums, or defined slot limits. Since I'm on Osakis 90% of the time I don't have the legal option of keeping a fish under 15" no matter what condition its in once its in the boat.

So while I don't loose any sleep over the occassional hooking mortality since they happen to everyone (either within minutes or hours or days of the release), I do think its the sportsman's obligation to minimize hooking mortality by using the best release method possible. That just shows respect for the game fish we catch and our fellow sportsmen. Otherwise like BobT said, you might as well eat them as to rip the guts out of them and throw them back.

Since the original poster created this topic it got me thinking and I did some research to educate myself and become a better C&R fisherman since I've been catching dozens and dozens of 14.5 inch fish on Osakis this year. The large majority of these fish were lip or roof of the mouth hooked and released without issue but on half a dozen or so I cut the line with a hook in the throat thinking that was the right thing to do until I did a little research thanks to this discussion thread.

People that study this topic for a living are mostly all in agreement that leaving modern hooks (non rusting) in a fish's throat is not the best way to release a fish. Removing a deep hook in the throat by the "through the gill plate method" is the best way to go as long as you work carefully.

The only way I'll cut the line from now on is if the hook is completely invisible. By removing the hook from the throat through the gill I think I'm giving that fish a better chance of coming back to my line or your line as a 16" fish next time or who knows, perhaps a future trophy and effective spawner. Thats what C&R is all about....keeping the fishery strong by maximizing survival of released fish.

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I'd be interested to know how many of us go barbless.

Bob

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"Had you kept them, at least they would have died for a good cause."

How do you know they died? tongue.gif Like I said If I think they wont make it, I keep them. You cant tell me all of your released fish have lived, and you cant tell me all your kept fish would have died. You dont know!

Your just giving your best effort to keep the fish in the best shape possible, like me and most people who support C&R. Whether its from laws or improper handling, hook removal, some fish are gonna be turtle food.

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Quote:

I'd be interested to know how many of us go barbless.

Bob


For me Bob it depends on the species.

I go barbless on Panfish much of the time, especially if I'm catching lots of them because I'm thowing 95% of them back and just keeping 8-10 for dinner. They tend to gobble up the waxy or night crawler and I seldom loose one when barbless.

If I'm fishing bass with live bait I usually crimp the barb as they just tend to inhale live bait and it can get deep. But on articials I usually don't as I get the lip area or front of the mouth 95% of the time with plastics or cranks. I never keep bass anyways so I always try and maximize my C&R odds with Bass.

Northern fishing for me is 98% done with artificals and again the strike on a lure is predominantly at the front of the mouth and barbless isn't that beneficial with northerns.

I haven't used sucker minnows on northerns in years as can catch all I need on spinner baits, spoons, and cranks.

Walleyes I usually don't go barbless unless I get into a consistent pattern of deep hooking but that doesn't usually happen. Deep hooking a walleye is more of a rare thing for me. Plus its hard to hold a leech on the hook without the barb if you are slip bobbering, rigging its not so hard.

I find the type of hook is more important than barbless or not barbless. Those circle hooks really do a good job of keeping the hook in the front part of the mouth rather than aberdeen or straight/long shank hooks or worm/bait hooks. If you can keep your hook set in the front half of the mouth, lips and corners of the mouth its an easy release barb or no barb and circle hooks are great at that. I try and use circle hooks most of the time now when fishing live bait.

But its like was said above, we can only do the best to maximize our chances of a successful release of a fish. Sometimes they will die no matter how well intentioned we are and that's just part of fishing. Even the DNR factors in hooking mortality into setting fish quotas on Mille Lacs, its just part of the equation that we all agree we do our best to minimize but will never eliminate.

Good discussion guys.

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Slim, I wasn't being critical, I was throwing a little humor at your statement that if you kept them they would have all died.

You're right. We don't know if the ones we release live or die, even those we think we released in good health may not be. It is and always will be a judgment call at the moment and we must use our best judgment. I doubt anyone visiting this site would even remotely care to see any fish or other game die unnecessarily.

I think we can have some level of comfort knowing that every creature that unfortunately doesn't make it will be recycled in some way. Such is the way of nature.

Bob

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What an amazing list of replies. I need to do some research on the through the gill hook removal method, I don't quite get that. But from the replys above it sounds worth learning.

I am thinking what might be needed is a hook that will disolve in days, or max one week. I think with modern material science that type of material is out there, hooks made from that material would be a marketable comodity, at least to those of us who posted here. One of us should invent that!

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