Drifting Yak wrote:Another nice spec Tobin - Congrats!
Question: I've been searching but can't find much on how to properly handle a big girl like that. Have read that you can mess with their internal organs if you put too much pressure on the belly area (say from cupping your hand there while taking a photo) but really nothing beyond that. So how do you properly handle/hold a gator trout when you're doing CPR? Just want to make sure we're doing everything we can to help them survive after the release.
Great Question Yak. I like to keep them as vertical as possible. I'd like to stop using the holding implement while taking the pic, but sometimes I'm in a rush to release them. I think the best is with two hands to get that leverage off their neck. One hand under and just front of the pectoral fins, the other just in front of the anal fin. I think it's ok to push the tail portion up or out a little but I dont like to get them horizontal any more with all the weight of the front on neck with a boga. I know my photo looks like it's horizontal but it's quite vertical in actuality. Holding the horizontally It's too much pressure on the back bone behind the neck. I appreciate your question about how much pressure to put on the belly portion. I like to keep my hand towards the rear of that belly area. I don't like fish grips for releasing big trout; they tear huge holes in the mouth of the fish where boga or boga like implements tend not to tear a big hole. This is actually important. In order for that fish to breath after the release they open their mouth to take in water, and close it to force water out the gills. If they have a huge HOLE in their mouth due to a holding device it doesn't help them survive. The device doesn't have to be a boga either... I bought the little $12 one at Bass Pro and honestly I love it. It does't have a scale but that's fine with me. I don't have the sort of $ that I can throw $$$ at a boga. I'm not sure I like the bags either, but the bag is probably better than an ordinary stringer. I'm testing a special stringer right now made by fish-hide to see if it's something I like. I need more time with it. I held a fish on it the other day and she swam away strong. But sometimes there is nothing you can do; sometimes they won't revive. I couldn't revive a big fish from last year and I tried for nearly 30 minutes. I think sometimes mentally they still think they are caught, and just give up.. but who knows.
Back to caring for fish.. once I have the holding device in the mouth of the fish I try to keep her head in the water as much as possible while I get ready to unhook her. I think too many keep her out of the water looking at her and handling her. Yes the gils still transfer oxygen while she's out of the water and wet, but I think keeping them in the water is super important. Perhaps i'm reaching for pliers, I keep her head in the water, then lift her momentarily to get the hook out, then put her back in the water and lead her around. Then take a pic and get ready to release her. When I think she's ready I'll hold her tail and release the holding device and just hold her there stationary and let her 'gil' no need to drag them backwards. When she tries to tail flick I know she's ready. That's something I have to credit Capt. Cisneros for, you want to release them strong.
Things I haven't implemented that I probably will... I might be looking into a net soon. I hate wading with more and more gear but it takes too long to boga or lip grip these fish. They just have to tire more in order to get that implement into their lip. The greener they are when you get them into the net the better they will release. That's about all you can do.
I will also say that another part of good conservation is releasing fish you don't have to keep. A large part of the spawning biomass from trout comes from 18" to 24" trout, not just the big females. Keep a few to have for fresh dinner, but it's time we get past the limit stringer or deck shot. I've been down in Baffin for 2 weeks and I haven't kept a single fish. It's ok to keep some fish, I'm not vehemently opposed to that, but as we grow as anglers keeping the full 5 just to take a picture isn't as worth what it used to be. The high is in the experience of catching the 5 or 10 or what ever the limit is. Yes, everyone likes to show proof but at some point we get past that and I'll try to take a pic of each fish before releasing them. Honestly I'd rather eat black drum or smacks any way; Flounder are in trouble tho... LOL, they're tasty.