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Faner50

90,000 + Hooking Mortality

69 posts in this topic

We were walleye fishing on a smaller western Minn lake this past weekend. The 2 of us caught a couple of limits from Saturday night through Sunday morning all under 18". While in the boat we talked about our 3 trips to Mille Lacs and the "pigs" we caught and released and wondering how many of those that we released ended up adding to the hooking mortality numbers. We agreed that just because they swam away when we released them, it didn't mean they would stay belly down. During the drive home on Sunday from the good keeper fishing we had, my buddy said he'd almost feel guilty going to Mille Lacs right now. It's a lot of fun catching the big pigs but in reality all he thought he'd be doing is adding to the mortality rate. Sometimes it is difficult to make the right choice I guess. What is good for the fisherman isn't always good for the resource.

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I couldn't agree more. It's a great time catching but you do wonder when you let them go in this warm weather if they're going to be the one you see floating by later that afternoon. But I feel for the resort owners too. It's kind of like being between a rock and a hard spot. Maybe they need to do a better job promoting the other species in the lake? As long as we're throwing the big ones back why not go for a muskie or northern? I accidentally hooked into a big northern a couple weeks back while walleye fishing and it was a blast.

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If you are doing a good, sportsman's job of setting the hook early and minimizing the time the fish spends out of the water, I'm guessing you would actually be surprized how MANY of your Mille Lacs walleyes will survive. The DNR has done detailed hooking mortality sudies on Mille Lacs (complete with deep holding pens to count the number of deaths and survivors over a period of days) and their results showed more fish survived than what was previously believed.

Okay, now that being said, Sunday was an eye opening experience for me. It was sobering to see how many boats used horrible catch and release methods. I am not normally one to pay much attention to other boats. I might take note of the occasional dip net, and even watch to see if it is a big fish, but that is about all the attention I show towards others out there. I am usually too busy trying to stay on a spot, avoid another boat, etc. etc. For some reason, I spent more time watching others on Sunday. I saw some ugly catch and release routines.

It all started when we noticed a boat dip netting a fish as we were moting against the wind to set up another controlled drifting run. We motored past them, set up the drift farther down wind, and started fishing. After a few minutes - probably at least 5 or more minutes, I happened to glance back at the same boat. THE FISH STILL WASN'T BACK IN THE WATER! They were still taking pictures of it. As the walleye was gasping, it flopped to the floor from the guy's hands held about 5 feet in the air. As he stomped around to pick it up, he finally got a hold of it... and... you guessed it: more pictures! By this time, they were nearing the 10 minute mark. The fish had NO chance. They finally "released" it and surprise surprise... it just floated. They took turns for a couple minutes holding it by the tail, but it stayed belly up. I'm sure they thought to themselves, "well you win some and you lose some."

This really got me going, so I started to pay closer attention to other boats. I saw the following several times... guys standing up to set the hook on a lindy rig. I was amazed at how long they were letting the fish take the hook. With light biting walleyes, I will sometimes let the fish take the hook longer. But this was crazy... my LONGEST 'let them take the bait' time frames would only measured between 1/3 and 1/4 the time these guys were letting them have the hook. Then, for good measure, it would be concluded with the most violent hook sets I have seen. The rod tip would go to the water, and then jerked all the way back over their head like they were setting the hook on a halibut in the Gulf of Alaska. The good news is guys mostly miss fish on these bass-master wild hook sets. The bad news is if the hook has gone in the gut, you can count on that fish floating within a few hours after it is released. I guess I just haven't taken the time to notice this stuff much in the past but I was shocked at how often I saw it repeated when I actually paid attention.

I always scoffed at hooking mortality figures. I've only gut hooked a couple walleyes all year and I cut the line on both of them. Almost every one has been hooked in the side of the mouth, or at worst, deep but still on the roof of the mouth (not in the gut). Now, I guess I can understand better the big deal made over hooking mortality. People should have to have a license to lindy rig or take a class. Well, I'm joking about that but it is frustrating to watch.

Most of the guys doing this are not the kind of guys hanging out on websites like this. You just learn this stuff over time, especially if you have an open mind and are willing to change.

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I have a place on the lake and it is disgusting to see all the 20 - 28" walleye's floating in the lake (and ending up on my shore for me to dispose of). At 90,000 lbs that is almost a 1 in 5 (by weight) mortality and that is for the entire season so far not just the last 3 weeks of warm water so you can only imagine what is is now! Yes mortality can be desreased by good catch and release practices but some of these fish still die no matter how carefull you are. I think we are kidding ourselves just because we use good catch and release that we are not killing the fish and it's all those other people's fish not ours. If you are out on the flats catching and releasing 15 -20 fish a day YOU ARE KILLING FISH no matter how carefull you are. It is a numbers game and the more you catch and release the more that are going to die. I do not have a solution for this but maybe the best thing to do is not go out and pound the fish hard just because you can.

My two cents worth.

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Last year I discovered pulling spinners and this year I started feeding the fish very little if any line when rigging. I have not gut hooked 1 fish in about 80 hours of fishing Mille Lacs. I also have not missed a fish on a rig either, which really suprised me. The fish isn't in the boat for 2 minutes and it swims away fine. If I take a picure, I usually have the camera ready before it hits the net. I guess I am just throwing out ideas on how we can reduce the mortality rate. As Schnauzer said, it is probably not people on this site but we can pass the word along.

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Bigfife, you prove my point exactly. "It's not me it's the other guy because I know what I am doing" If you have 80 hours in on the lake and have had any good fishing at all that means you have probably caught and release ALLOT of fish and guess what many of them have died even if you want to put you head in the sand and not believe that. Hooking mortality is a numbers game and the more you release the more that die. Yes proper catch and release can lower the rate of dead fish but it will NOT eliminate it.

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Quote:

Last year I discovered pulling spinners and this year I started feeding the fish very little if any line when rigging. I have not gut hooked 1 fish in about 80 hours of fishing Mille Lacs. I also have not missed a fish on a rig either, which really suprised me. The fish isn't in the boat for 2 minutes and it swims away fine. If I take a picure, I usually have the camera ready before it hits the net. I guess I am just throwing out ideas on how we can reduce the mortality rate. As Schnauzer said, it is probably not people on this site but we can pass the word along.


Not trying to call you out or anything, but try holding your breath for 2 minutes. This is basically what the fish has to do if you remove it from the water.

I try to have any fish out of the water as little as possible including unhooking while still in the net. I rarely take pictures. Yeah, it's nice, but do you really need a picture of every 24" you catch?

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Very well put. I think we all should take time and read your Post again.

I noticed alot of the same last Sat. when we were out. Even saw people "tossing/ throwing" the fish back in the water.

We need to get hooks out fast, quick photos , and revive these fish if needed!!!!!

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Good point Captainmusky. I also do not even take the fish out of the net as there is no reason to. I also only use rubber nets.

One other point to consider, how many 24" fish does one person need to catch and release in a day to make them feel they were successfull?

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I know what you mean about people over-handling fish in the boats. I see so many people start fumbling around for camera's etc. I watched 2 guys the other day catch a fish, take a picture, they looked at the picture and decided they didn't like it so they took another one then switched places and took some more. They must only catch 1 a year (at least I hope that's the case). I do have a question, I know when a hook is too deep to cut the line and the fish should be ok. My question is, does the same hold true for a jighead or artificial bait like "gulp"?

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fishorgolf

After reading your post I suppose you are spending more time golfing than fishing these days. The DNR sets reg's to the level they think the fishery can handle. I use every possible means to C&R fish quickly to minimize mortality. I am not going to feel guilty or quit fishing because some of the fish I release might die.

I too am appalled at the C&R I witness in some boats. All we can do is try to educate those that dont do what they can to minimize mortality.

eyewarrior

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I was out on Sunday and noticed a number of people throwing fish back in the water and flipping them out of the net and onto the floor when bringing them into the boat. I also noticed a number of boats that had fish out of the water for more than a couple of minutes. What are these people thinking??? I often fish by myself and hardly never let the fish touch the bottom of the boat. I also try to play the fish as quickly as possible. I try to not have the fish out of the H2O more than 30 seconds. As far as those of us who continue to fish, I don't think that we are doing anything wrong or being unethical. I fish walleyes and Mille Lacs almost exclusively and will continue to do so. I am very thankful to the DNR for their efforts on this lake.

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I just threw 2 minutes out there because I have never taken the time to really measure it. I have foreceps all over the boat so after the fish comes on board it is a matter of seconds between the time I get my hands on the fish and the hooks removed. Half the time the spinner and crankbait fish pop the hooks before I even touch the fish. I have a ruler on the gunnel that I use for a quick reference and one in the boat for the fish that are close. All fish are lowered to the water and released. If the process could be sped up anymore, please advise.

I also agree that I do kill some fish, but I can't say that I have release 1 that I felt was in tough shape. I have had plenty of fish in years past that I didn't think would make it, but not this year. I just tried to throw some ideas out there to help all of us reduce mortality.

I guess I could just troll hookless crankbaits around all day and count every time it gets hit.

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I guess I could just troll hookless crankbaits around all day and count every time it gets hit.


That made me laugh grin.gif .

Fishorgolf... I included the info from the DNR's detailed Mille Lacs hooking mortality studies because I figured someone might have an opinion like yours. I think you would be surprised at how many properly released fish do live and even on average, the DNR's test results back that up (that includes even the poorly released fish, like I was talking about earlier).

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eyewarrior, my point was never to make people feel guilty or quit fishing because some fish might die. What I am trying to express is how much is enough? Is catching 20 walleyes make you feel that much more successful than catching 10? When do we get to a point were enough is enough? Is that extra 10 fish caught worth the add'l fish that will die because of it. I guess it is just human nature to take as much as we are allowed to when we can. How many of us have fished other lake or ML in years passed and been happy with a much lower catch rate but now because we CAN catch them in such number we somehow feel we are intitled to it. The DNR is now in a very tough position because if the new slot does not lower the catch rate the next step is what? Close the season? Now all you day fishermen can just go somewere else and the people who own property on the lake can look out and enjoy the view.

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how much is enough?

Its never enough. I am always looking for one more fish. That next fish could be my personal best walleye or a fish for the frying pan. I am sorry if I catch 10 fish faster than someone else, but does that mean I should go home? For the record I will not be on Mille Lacs again untill this fall, so I will not be contributing to any more hooking mortality.

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I pretty much agree with you. With only 15,000 pounds to go before we hit the top of the "safe" level, I believe we as a fishing community (not just the DNR) have a difficult decision to make. Continue to sport fish (C&R) the lake and head us to a shut down or to take the big boat and all the electronics to another local lake? How long will it take to eat up the 15,000 lbs we have left? I for one don't want to head up to my fish house this winter, look through the holes and see dirt.

See you on Grand Island

Faner

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Guilty as charged. I feel more successful catching 100 walleyes than I do when I catch 0, and I feel more successful catching 4 than I do when I catch 3.

It is my favorite hobby, and I plan to continue to pursue it both on my favorite lake: Mille Lacs; and elsewhere.

It sounds like you are suggesting Mille Lacs should be left to the local cabin owners?

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faner50, finally someone who gets the point! Sometimes we need to do what is right not what the DNR etc.lets us do. "the DNR says it's OK so I will take take take untill they tell me when to stop. da de da da da"

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Schnauzer, Hows the walleye fishing near Minnitrista? Are the reefs on Minnetonka holding any reasonable fish? I live near the cities and wondering if tonka is a good choice besides ML? smile.gif

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No Schauzer I do not thick ML should be left to the local cabin owners but I do think it should be respected by everyone who uses it. And that means having some personal restraint and maybe thinking about others instead of only oneself. What I would like to see is the lake staying a 12 month fishery not a 7 month fishery so it can be enjoyed year round by everyone. This is best for the resorts, and everyone who makes there living off the lake. So now you pack up for the year and don't have to worry about anything and come back when the new allocation starts up right? Every day I am more amazed how we are becoming a me first society.

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I believe one of the causes of fish hooking mortality is the small snell hooks on a Lindy rig (or any rig). The small hooks increase the likely hood of gut hooking the fish. I aggree a experienced fisherman can hook up on a rig without gut hooking, however many less experienced fisherman will gut hook. And those are the guys that wait to set the hook as they have a hard time hooking up with a jig. How about a minimum hook size on rigs?

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I have done very little summer walleye fishing on Tonka. I know there are some guys that do quite well. For me, I spend most of my Tonka walleye hours in October and November. I usually do get a few evenings in per summer but have yet to hit Tonka for Walleyes this year. Little League coaching has cut a bit too deeply into my week day evenings.

I am always amazed at the size and health of typical Tonka walleyes. I doubt many if any spawn there but once established, the stocked Tonka 'eyes grow huge and fat.

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Sure...I for anything that eliminates the slaughter. How about artificials only. That would thin out the anglers. Right now my wife and her sister could go out there, manage to put a leech on a hook (using flack jacket, helmit and gloves lol) and catch at 26 pounder.

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I am always amazed at the size and health of typical Tonka walleyes. I doubt many if any spawn there but once established, the stocked Tonka 'eyes grow huge and fat.


They are average size in Tonka. You are just used to the skinny fish from ML since they have no forage. grin.gif

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