This is an article by a friend of mine from my site. Good tips.
By Bob LuskTop:
Bend down, wet your hands and lift the fish properly. Bottom, left:
This is a good way to handle sunfish such as this bluegill. Both hands
wet! Bottom, right: Ethan Lovelace shows a good way to pose a fish for
a photo. At least his hands are wet.
get some interesting phone calls here at world headquarters of Pond
Boss. In early September, I returned a call from a faithful Midwestern
Pond Boss subscriber. When he answered the phone, I could hear the
tension followed by a little sigh of relief. "Thanks so much for
calling me back so quickly."
Then, he told me his story.
his dream pond in central Missouri five years ago. Stocked it by the
book, nurtured his fish, even hand-fed them from his dock every day he
could. His bluegill would be there every warm day, awaiting his
kindness and the free food. Occasionally, a bass would take a swipe at
the bluegill. His bass grew. He was proud.
Finally, after two years, he was ready to catch and enjoy his fish.
It was going well.
caught one of the biggest bass in the entire pond, a voluptuous female
with a lovely shape. The five year old was pushing near eight pounds.
He had no idea there might be a fish so large.
He was pitching a soft plastic, a lizard, Texas rigged. She swallowed it ... whole.
did everything he could to get the hook out without damaging the fish.
He didn't have any pliers on the dock, so he held the monster by her
bottom jaw and did his best to pry the hook out. Couldn't get it. He
was in a quandary, trying to decide what to do. Should he bite the line
and leave the hook in the fish and release her? Should he leave the
fish on the line, in the water and go get some pliers?
What would you do?
Here are some tips for the proper care and handling of your fish.
you catch a fish, do everything you can to remove the hook without
damaging tissue. Personally, before you ever cast a line, I suggest you
bend the barb flush to the shank to minimize tissue damage. If you deep
hook a fish, keep sturdy pliers at hand to cut the hook. If you can cut
the hook, it will be much easier to remove from the fish. You can get
another hook, but a big fish is too hard to replace.
you can't get the hook out, cut the hook, cut the line and gently push
the hook downward into the gullet. If the hook is stuck in a gill arch,
exercise extreme caution. Those red gill filaments are highly vascular
and bleed easily. Once a fish bleeds, its odds of survival drop
One tidbit of information that might be
helpful... unlike humans, fish blood coagulates much more quickly when
the fish is in water.
What if you choose to catch and keep
some fish alive ... maybe in a livewell or a dockside cage? What can
you do to assist your fish?
According to Tony Gergeley, of
Sure-Life Labs, a company dedicated to providing state of the art
products for fish handling, there are two key components. "The two most
important points to remember are water temperature and dissolved
Cooler water holds more oxygen than warm water. Gergeley offers, "Handle fish in clean water. Fish are designed to be wet."
you catch a fish, make sure your hands are wet. Each fish has a mucous
coating on the outside, called its "slime coat." That coat is its first
line of defense against disease. Dry hands dislodge and remove the
slime, a definite "no-no." Keep your hands wet.
another standard rule of thumb ... in a livewell, lower the water
temperature by no more than 10 degrees from the water they come from.
Professional anglers, in hot weather, put ice into their livewells to
cool the fish and slow them down. Be careful with that with your pond
fish. Actually, dramatic water temperature changes can do as much
damage to a fish as any mishandling. Never change the water temperature
more than 10 degrees, if you plan to keep fish alive. Here's another
hint... going from warm to cool is easier and safer than going from
cool to warm. Don't do it during the hottest part of a summer day.
Blake Wilson kneels to lip this 14" bass. Good technique. Don't let
your fish bounce on the ground or on the deck of a boat...bad technique
and harmful to your fish. Bottom, left: As he lips the fish, notice the
water dripping from his hand. Good stuff: Bottom, right: Quickly out of
the water, the hook is retrieved and the fish is gently released. No
another nugget... Don't keep a fish out of water longer than 30
seconds. Remember the "30 second" rule. When a fish is held out of
water for too long, its slime coat begins to desiccate. When a fish has
to regenerate its slime coat, its immune system is taxed.
Gilliland, long time fisheries biologist from Norman, Oklahoma, helped
write the B.A.S.S. book on handling fish. In "Keeping Bass Alive,"
Gilliland makes a strong point about how to hold a fish.
"Hold a bass vertically by the lower jaw. Never try to hold a fish horizontally by its lower jaw.
prepared. If your pond or lake is home to big fish, have a good dipnet
available. I suggest the rubber ones. Knotted nylon nets are abrasive
to all species of fish. Avoid abrasive nets. Have pliers, always.
you catch a fish larger than five pounds, use the dipnet. If no net is
available, guide the fish to the boat or dock, kneel down and lip it
with wet hands and use your off hand to cradle the lunker under its
Never hold a large bass by its lower jaw only. Jaws of
large fish can easily be dislocated if its mouth is opened too wide or
there's too much weight on the jaw.
Here's another hint.
Make sure you have no lotion or sunscreen on your hands. That stuff
will compromise the fish's slime coat. The slime coat is a media and
can transfer chemicals into the fish. That goes for bug repellent, too.
a fish is caught, it is stressed. Its metabolism rises, the muscles
work hard, and lactic acid begins to build along with cortisol. The
"fight or flight" syndrome pushes the release of stress hormones.
Muscle tissue breaks down and the immune system begins to become
unstable. The fish needs to recover, once it is landed. If you put it
in a livewell, there are all kinds of products and chemicals and
additives you can use.
But, simply speaking, the basic
rules are simple. Clean, fresh, oxygenated water with electrolytes ...
salt. Uniodized salt is preferred at the rate of 0.5% Salt does two
things. First, it naturally dehydrates the slime of the fish and keeps
the fish from sloughing it off. Secondly, salt gives the fish an
opportunity to replace electrolytes in its blood, similar to a shot of
Gatorade for a runner.
Be sure the livewell is highly oxygenated and refreshed with clean water.
of us choose to remove and transport fish. If that's part of your
mission, fill your transport tank with pond water and use the proper
additives. And, be sure you have sufficient means to oxygenate your
transport water. There's no sense in working to properly handle your
fish, only to let them suffocate because of inadequate aeration.
transporting fish any distance, amend the water with the "right" kind
of products. Three pounds of salt in 100 gallons of water is the
standard rule of thumb for fish transport experts. But, many, including
one of the best in the nation, Mr. Fish, Roger Coffmann, goes a step
further, "For game fish and forage fish in the private sector, I use my
own concoction of salts, medications and water enhancers that help
minimize stress from ammonia, one of the byproducts of fish metabolism."
most consumers, Sure-Life is one of several companies which sell over
the counter products to amend water. Educate yourself before you use
Gergeley described one of their top sellers. "Catch
and Release has an EPA registered and FDA approved antiseptic and
disinfectant used in the food processing industry and is completely
safe for use with fish. It has electrolytes, an ammonia remover,
chlorine and chloramines remover and stimulates the fish to produce new
slime. It also chelates and removes heavy metals and gently sedates the
fish to slow its metabolism. It also has a foam retardant."
when fish are confined inside a transport tank, they tend to slough
some of their slime anyway. That slime is made of amino acids, the
building blocks of protein. In the presence of oxygen, the slime turns
to foam and floats on top of the water, inhibiting the water's ability
to hold oxygen. The foam retardant diminishes the bubbles.
What about our friend in Missouri?
big fish made it through the first phase of handling, but not without
more than one scare. And, I won't be surprised to hear from him in a
week or so, if the big creature floats to the top from delayed
He held the fish wrong, kept it out of the
water too long, touched it with dry hands, had no pliers, tugged and
pulled at the hook until he forced it out and then took the fish to the
garage to take photos before releasing it. Thank goodness he dipped the
dizzy creature in the water twice during its ordeal.
More advanced tips and videos are available.
Northeast Bass Fishing For Trophy Bass