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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
More often than not, when drifting for anadromous species on our rivers, the hook set and the fight go smoothly and get our hearts thumping with the thrill of battling some of our migrating chrome slabs...the real action however, inevitably occurs when a fish is being brought to hand. This is the time when the fish is at its highest risk of injury.

A high percentage of the time the fish doesn't cooperate as quickly as we'd like. Yet each fish will take very brief rests as it is swung to shore, interspersed with moments of spastic thrashings that inevitably lead to a short powerful run then once again to a brief moment when the fish takes a "breather"...

It is precisely these breathers that allow an angler the best opportunity to tail a fish safely. Recently, I was able to get some decent video footage of an angler tailing a steelhead for a quick pic. It shows some basic techniques that work well, and exemplifies some good habits to get into.

But I am getting ahead of myself here...let's start at the top of the fight and go through a few things an angler should look for during the course of playing a fish and then we'll get to some tips to make it easier to land your fish responsibly.


When fighting a fish,

-Consider carefully the water around you looking for any obstructions that the fish can run into. Sometimes a fish can get into trouble when tangled up in submerged branches and such and it's best to have a good idea where such traps are while fighting a fish so as to be ready to try and keep the fish away from them.

-Try to determine as quickly as possible the nature of the fish you've hooked. Specifically, is it wild? or hatchery? Decide asap whether or not the fish in question is to be released or if it is going to be retained. This will let you go over your course of action and how you handle the fish as fight comes to an end.


Now, as for those "breathers" a fish takes. They are short lived. But in the following video anglers take advantage of these opportunities and display some good techniques for tailing fish. Whether you are tailing a fish yourself or your buddy is going to tail it for you this video shows some sound techniques to get the job done in style....There are a couple of things to point out from this clip that will make you look like a pro out there and are responsible to the fish.

In the video,
it is obvious many of the fish are taking those brief breaks mentioned above. They roll onto their side, and are relatively docile. These moments are often brief, so be prepared for the fish to take off again.


-Notice often the anglers rod is pointed up river and held away from the angler so that the fish is just above or even with his feet.
With the rod extended away from the body in one hand, the free hand can quickly reach down and grasp the fish firmly. This sequence of events must be done quickly and succinctly to fit in the short window of opportunity of the fish's break. Use the leader to help guide the fish into good position.

-If the fish takes off, or the tailing is unsuccessful the angler simply lets go of the fish and lifts the rod tip up and away from the direction the fish is running. If the tailing is successful the angler can quickly let some line off the reel, and then support the fish's belly with the other hand for a quick picture and a smile.


It is also a good idea to keep yourself between the fish and the shoreline...this prevents the fish from wrapping itself around you if it goes off on a tear. Often keeping the fish to your outside will lead to it going towards deeper water if it chooses to run...but it also keeps the fish out fo the rocks, which is integral to avoiding injuring it.

The key is though, that the rod is held upstream of the angler and the fish, and that the movements are coordinated and quick enough to tail the fish while it is not struggling. Holding the rod pointing downstream while trying to swing the fish to hand is more often than not the death move, it allows for very little control to be exerted over the fish and will usually result in a lost fish or one that could potentially injure itself more easily.

Most importantly though,


-The angler holds the fish away from his body, does not use a glove at all, so as to minimize or prevent removal of a fish's protective slime layer

-The fish is suspended OVER THE WATER. If it were to wriggle free of the anglers grasp it would fall into the water, and not onto rocks. All anglers should consider this when choosing where to tail a fish.


-The fish should only be out of the water a short ways, (shorter the better), and quickly placed back in the water once a picture is taken.


This is a very simplified overview of fish handling techniques, and I am sure, (and hope), that others will contribute anything I have missed. Often having a plan makes all the difference in landing a fish smoothly and releasing it unharmed. I find the methods shown here are critical to landing and tailing fish responsibly. They will help any angler, especially if they are going to tail their own fish, which I feel is part of the battle. Doing it smoothly and doing it well can be the most rewarding part of the fight, not to mention it's good for the fish... ;)

Some other notes...

DO NOT drag the fish on the beach

DO NOT keep the fish out of water for more than a few seconds

DO NOT overhandle a fish, get it back in the water and reviving as quickly as possible.

DO NOT "hug" the fish close to your body...

DO NOT release the fish prematurely. Let the fish go once it is fully revived, regardless of how cold your hands get...

Anyways, hopefully this thread will shine some light on what is the ideal way to handle our fish, and although it doesn't always work out as smoothly as it does in this clip, striving towards responsible fish handling is all any angler can do.

Here are some additional links on the subject that might be of interest:


-A Question for all Anglers...(click here)


-Why are you backing up the bank to land your fish?!?!? (click here)


-You may be killing Steelhead and not even know it!!! (Click here)


-FFSBC Catch and release article (Click here)


Here's the video: (the HD version is available on vimeo)

 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Awsome read and video Rib. Very informative. ;)

About the only thing I could add would be that if your've fishing with someone else, pass your rod to them when the fish is ready to by landed. That way you can walk a little further out into the water at tail the fish without a rod in the way.
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Rib-
Great post as always. Seams you go the extra mile to be of a help to the anglers out there that don't have the experience that you do. Kudo's for that.

With your permission I would like to copy your post to a couple of boards down here that I think could use the instruction. I would of course give credit where credit is due. That is unless there is a problem. I think a lot of people here in this area could benefit from this video as well.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Sure...why not...whereabouts is your area?
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Well, all I gotta say is that is a lot of information, a lot of time on the keyboard and a prime example of how members can help members!! Good work, Rib'...............Excellent, informative post!............Because I fish alone most of the time, I dont bother with any pictures, because as you can see, it is much easier to take video and pictures with a "buddy" and difficult to do alone, without harming the fish.....Ortho 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

That's precisely why it has been so difficult to get good footage of release techniques, as the best techniques are the quickest to bring the fish to hand and the also the fastest return to the water...in this case I happened to be right there and was able to film the key part of the battle. Most other times this year fish were landed and released too quickly for me to get my camera out for a decent clip...as it should be...any pics should take a couple of seconds to bang off while the fish is reviving...this fish went right back into the water after the clip ends...it was lifted briefly a few seconds later for a quick pic and then revived and not removed from the water again...minimizing contact is the key, and I think this is a good example of an efficient tailing job...

If the fish starts thrashing about, swing it into deeper water and get your rod pointing upstream. More often than not it will settle down for a second and you can swing it back into the tailer's grasp. This will prevent the fish from thrashing about in the shallows, will minimize lost fish, and prevent them from banging their heads on the rocks near shore. Notice how the angler moves the fish to slightly deeper water...this was a good move. It could have even been moved out further still... ;)

And yes, I definitely agree...

WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, DON'T BOTHER WITH TAKING PICTURES!!!
Of fish that are to be released anyways...
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

I post quite a bit on steelheader.net & also piscatorialpursuits.com

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

That's fine, no prob. Just label it a "BCFishingReports.com" item and that "Ribwart" wrote it, and "Steelie99" tailed it. Those are the only conditions. You might also add the last 8 lines from my last post, they should've been included in the original.

Also, no profit should be made from such a post. If the sites you mentioned have subscriber only sections versus "free" sections, please make sure the post is put in an all access/free section of the forum....

thx,
rib
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Cool-
Thanks ribwart. Anything that we can do to make other anglers aware of proper fishing techniques and ethics needs to be passed on in my book.
Tim
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

As usual for your posts Rib, very informative. Thanks for posting it.

Now if I ever am in the circumstance where I can use your info, I'd be one happy guy!! Still haven't gotten out for steelies yet....
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Rib Brilliant post as always man....I think we should nominate you for a BC wide fishing award...there is about 10 handed out to the top 10 most influencial fisherman, that follow the regs, show character etc. etc...its in the regs somwhere on a page....

Mike <"))))))><
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Top notch post again Rib... not much need to go to any other board with posts like that here!! Now we just need a few more video clips and pics with the new hats and touques in them... ;D
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

great report and video
now we just need somone to film the safe release of a fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Yes indeed...still trying for that footage... ;)
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

If I can get out, I will try to get some footage of some sort. You know, if I can hook anything!! :p ;D


But I have to say, great footage so far Rib. You went out with the right guy if you want to see fish hooked!! That is a sweet little run as well, I tried to go there last week, but they had the road blocked off. ??? ;)
 

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Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Rib,

I have access to a great outdoor video camera, my buddy at work used to be on a proffesional bike team and has a camera worth about 11,000 bucks he mentioned to me that he was interested in filming some fishing footage. If you're interested let me know and we can go out and get what you're looking for.

Tight Lines, Wes Roffey
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: Fish Handling and Release Techniques (Video clip attached)

Sounds great nates...maybe our trip next week we'll try and set it up....
 

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Just wanted to bring this thread back as I feel some might benifit by reading such a good article especially during this time of the year when some will be targeting stealhead that deserve to be handled properly.
Thanks Ribwart for allowing this thread to be opened once again, and thanks for taking the time to put together this great read.
 
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