Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fish handling techniques

In response to our criticism of their handling of non-target fish, the commercial sector is always quick to criticize the steelhead sportfishery for poor handling of the fish. With the fall steelhead season getting underway in upper Skeena tributaries, we thought we would remind fishers of proper fish handling techniques.

We all dearly love and deeply respect our steelhead, but at times you do see some very poor fish handling techniques being used on the rivers. So, in an attempt to not give the commercial sector any further ammunition in their fight against us, please try to keep this in mind the next time you land a steelhead;
-respect the fish
-play your fish in a prompt manner using gear that allows this to happen. it is unfair to the fish to use lighter gear than necessary and thereby prolong any fights that unnecessarily exhaust the fish. put the lighter weight rods away when you know the quarry will be larger fish.
-used properly the new cradle type landing devices can shorten the last part of a fight and reduce stress on fish; they are also good for containing struggling fish thus minimizing thrashing on rocks etc.
-use normal size hooks....try to avoid using large hooks such as 2/0 or 3/0 size ; large hooks provide more leverage for the fish to use against you; they generally do not get as good a hook set as smaller hooks, and can seriously damage smaller fish....especially smolts early in the season
-and mentioning smolts: when using dry flies early in the season please be very careful releasing the smolts you catch....do not skate the smolt over the surfact to release it; gently strip line in..or just give some quick slack line and most times the smolt gets off; remember, these are our future generations so look after them
-do not drag the fish onto dry rocks to land it; keep the fish in shallow water; keep the fish in water deep enough for it to 'breath' while you measure and if necessary photograph it. Get the camera set up and ready prior to lifting the fish out of the water; do not mess around with the camera while the fish is up and out of the water. Think hard whether you really need another picture of a generic 10lb steelhead....
-if you do need a photograph, do not lift the fish high; keep the fish low and close to the water; do not tilt the fish at some extreme angle with its head held high
-make sure the fish is fully revived before releasing it; do not release a fish that is unable to keep itself upright into any current

Remember, it is a privilege to catch a Skeena steelhead so please respect what that fish has gone through to provide you with the world class sportfishery we have. Good fish handling techniques can not only lessen our impact on this valuable resource, but give our opponents less ammunition to criticize us with.

2 comments:

Steve Otto said...

Good post. It is very important that anglers take extremely good care of the fish that we are squawking about. Otherwise we open ourselves up to counter-attacks from the commercial side.

Anonymous said...

They should make anglers read and understand those handling technique's before they give them a classified waters. I have seen far to many anglers trying to measure a 8 pound doe in the sand, does it really matter if it is 7 or 8 pounds...who cares.