THE YEARS WE SPEND LEARNING TO CAST AND DRIFT A FLY OR THE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WE SPEND ON GEAR AND TRAVEL ARE ALL WASTED IF WE DON’T HAVE FISH.
With more anglers entering the sport every day, sport fish are heavily pressured and in grave danger. There are a lot of common mistakes that anglers make which contribute to fish mortality. Most are innocent and many don’t show an immediate risk. With that in mind here are fourteen tips to help keep our little friends happy and healthy.
THE 10 SECOND RULE
A fish’s gills are remarkably efficient at collecting oxygen but the delicate membranes that extract the oxygen molecules rely on their buoyancy to keep the collecting surfaces exposed. Out of the water they collapse and are useless. This is to say the obvious, fish can’t breathe out of water. It’s easy to over estimate how long a fish can hold its breath. The fact is, a fish can’t hold its breath at all because it doesn’t have lungs. He is out of air as soon as you lift him from the water. Add to this that his metabolism is raging because he’s been fighting for his life and you have a pretty desperate situation. While you are trying to get that hero shot, he’s dying. Use the 10 second rule and never keep his head out of the water for more than 10 seconds and give him a good 30 seconds before you lift him again.
HOLD ON LOOSELY
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen guys squeeze a fish until its eyes pop out. Some guys just get so rattled holding a fish you’d think they never saw one. This death grip can cause serious internal injury especially to the heart. The trick is a nice loose grip. The tighter you hold a fish the more he will struggle. To control one, properly grip him just in front of his tail where there’s nothing but muscle and let him just rest on a loose hand under the boney part of his pec fins and gill plates. He will relax and the whole vibe will be nicer.
Once in a while a fish will unbutton due to a barbless hook. That’s just a fact of life but most anglers understand that they will hold hundreds, if not thousands, of fish in their life. Decreasing that number by a few is not a crisis. The fact is that barbless hooks go a long way to reducing fish mortality from hook injuries. If you are fighting fish properly you will not lose many and if you aren’t, fishing barbless hooks will teach you to fight fish smarter and you’ll be a better angler for it.
FIGHT WITH AUTHORITY
The biggest mistake I see anglers make is not fighting fish with authority. Most of us are taught to play fish too long, exhausting them before they are landed. A fish that is fought with authority is landed fresher and released fresher. Keep a good
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