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Thoughts from Pete Maina:

Something I’ve long wrestled with regarding catch and release; size limits and fish handling: Are we (me) pushing too hard – taking the fun out of this? Are we being elitist? I guess I still honestly don’t know the answers. Maybe we (i.e. those of us who promote total catch and release for muskies and limited, selective harvest for other species) are.

http://www.petemaina.com/2014/05/pushing-safe-fish-handling-hard/#more-1867

 

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Odd that the title is "Are We Pushing Safe Fish Handling Too Far" and the article, after some meandering parentheticals and segways, essentially argues that the answer is "no."
 
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I was just thinking about that last weekend. I posted a bass that was maybe 2# tops and partly due to borderline smallish size and partly just caught up in the moment when I had a chance to pose, I help it "wrong" - straight up and down by the lower jaw. I wondered if I would catch any flack here. I didn't. Someone else posted photos from a great day of fishing; caught several that were substantially larger than mine and all pictures were the jaw breaker hold. I thought about saying something, but I didn't. I would have been the pot calling the kettle black and it likely would have come off as raining on his parade. Neither did anyone else. Should we?
 

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Odd that the title is "Are We Pushing Safe Fish Handling Too Far" and the article, when after some meandering parentheticals and segways, essentially it argues that the answer is "no."
It's sneaky; he got people who are looking for an argument the other way to read it. It was also sneaky that he offered up selfishness as a reason for careful handling.
 

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I was just thinking about that last weekend. I posted a bass that was maybe 2# tops and partly due to borderline smallish size and partly just caught up in the moment when I had a chance to pose, I help it "wrong" - straight up and down by the lower jaw. I wondered if I would catch any flack here. I didn't. Someone else posted photos from a great day of fishing; caught several that were substantially larger than mine and all pictures were the jaw breaker hold. I thought about saying something, but I didn't. I would have been the pot calling the kettle black and it likely would have come off as raining on his parade. Neither did anyone else. Should we?
Yes, we all should !!
 

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Red X Angler
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Hardest part about the proper hold is that a lot of fish pics are selfies. Prohibitively difficult to pull off a "proper" hold and snap your own picture without a timer or remote, which most phones don't have.

I have seen folks congratulate people on the preferred hold, but I think it might be a bit overbearing to comment negatively on all the vertical holds in pictures. Truthfully, a lot of people just don't know... I never did till I saw someone mention it in a post on this site; I have been holding bass like that since I was 6 years old and habits just die hard I suppose.
 
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I think disbelief plays into it also. From what I have read, breaking the jaw will lead to a slow death days or weeks later and probably a sunken carcass (floating is a common result from trauma but not so much from starvation). Anyway, because they don't see floaters around the boat, many people think they are doing no harm.
 

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I think an occasional new thread about it is ok, like the Pete Maina article you shared. Its useful information. But posts on NCAngler won't ever stop people that don't care, and the ones that would care may change their ways once they hear about it, like Surfrider says. The last thing the internet needs are more threads that turn into futile, flame-style arguments, so I'd hate to see this come up as an argument in each and every fishing report. When people post pictures in a fishing report they are excited and want to share their experience; if someone comes out of left-field and fusses about the hold, they might not want to post anymore. The moderators of this forum really do a good job keeping this site civil and useful, and that's why we all keep reading it!
 

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No doubt in my mind that cameras and internet fishing reports are killing lots of fish. It struck me one day when I showed my wife some pictures of fish we caught on a trip. She said they look like the same fish you caught the last time. Made alot of sense. Made me wonder why do we keep taking pictures of the same five pound bass, 40" musky, 50" drum, 50# catfish, 2# shad, 14" crappie, 20"+ rainbow or brown trout, etc, etc,etc........
We've started releasing fish in the water with minimal handling whenever possible. If someone wants to see pictures, I can pull one up out of an album or from a computer drive.
If I catch what might be a new personal best or something I've not caught before, I'd probably try to get a picture.
But I say to each their own; as long as it's legal.

Good fishing!!!
 

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2 good points made...

I'd hate to see this come up as an argument in each and every fishing report. When people post pictures in a fishing report they are excited and want to share their experience; if someone comes out of left-field and fusses about the hold, they might not want to post anymore
The forum is often at cross purposes. It's a universal problem with the web; you need visits for the site to be viable and saying things to offend members is bad. Not sure how you ever resolve that.

No doubt in my mind that cameras and internet fishing reports are killing lots of fish. It struck me one day when I showed my wife some pictures of fish we caught on a trip. She said they look like the same fish you caught the last time. Made alot of sense. Made me wonder why do we keep taking pictures of the same five pound bass, 40" musky, 50" drum, 50# catfish, 2# shad, 14" crappie, 20"+ rainbow or brown trout, etc, etc,etc........
Another good point. I should start taking more pictures of where I am and who I am with. Flip side is I do know a few serious anglers who record for reference - to make future decisions on harder data. I converse with a few people whose catch totals are 4 figures each year and they can tell you exactly how many of various things they caught.
 

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Not every fish needs a picture, but I do understand having a couple of representative pictures for later dissemination. Most of us aren't serious enough to care about the minor details of coloration, minor body shape differences, etc. I guess maybe that is one question to ask - do I really have a use for the picture? Back to your point, the existence of forums like this one is one reason to answer "yes". Is it a good enough reason to photograph every catch?
 

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This thinking seems to assume that every fish caught and photographed is released and it assumes that anyone not holding a fish the way someone else thinks it should means they don't care. Many of those fish are kept to be eaten, which as long as they are legally caught, can be kept.

If we start pointing out every infraction of "improper holding" techniques, especially in a public forum, it's no longer education but it's harassment.

I have caught a lot of fish in my day and I take lots of pictures I take these pictures for various reasons. I do my best to keep the fish in a safe condition and not to have them out of the water for more than two minutes at any given time. "Safe" practices and biologists recommend no more than 4 minutes.

I have never broken or dislocated a fish's jaw and believe me, I would know. I have seen and have held fish with damaged jaws and I know the difference. I will also say, that the number of injured fish that I have held is minute in comparison to the number I have caught so there are a lot of people out there trying to do it "right"...whatever that is.

The truth is, it's basically about being careful and try not to stress the fish if you plan to release it. I have yet to see any fishery decimated due to "improper handling techniques".

If we let ourselves start judging and berating and publicly bashing people, calling them out because they don't hold a fish the way WE think they should, then it's harassment...in my opinion.

Judge not, lest you be judged by the same standards. Education takes time and patience.


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This thinking seems to assume that every fish caught and photographed is released and it assumes that anyone not holding a fish the way someone else thinks it should means they don't care. Many of those fish are kept to be eaten, which as long as they are legally caught, can be kept.

If we start pointing out every infraction of "improper holding" techniques, especially in a public forum, it's no longer education but it's harassment.

I have caught a lot of fish in my day and I take lots of pictures I take these pictures for various reasons. I do my best to keep the fish in a safe condition and not to have them out of the water for more than two minutes at any given time. "Safe" practices and biologists recommend no more than 4 minutes.

I have never broken or dislocated a fish's jaw and believe me, I would know. I have seen and have held fish with damaged jaws and I know the difference. I will also say, that the number of injured fish that I have held is minute in comparison to the number I have caught so there are a lot of people out there trying to do it "right"...whatever that is.

The truth is, it's basically about being careful and try not to stress the fish if you plan to release it. I have yet to see any fishery decimated due to "improper handling techniques".

If we let ourselves start judging and berating and publicly bashing people, calling them out because they don't hold a fish the way WE think they should, then it's harassment...in my opinion.

Judge not, lest you be judged by the same standards. Education takes time and patience.


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I agree with all of this. Handling a fish roughly for a long time out of water is one thing, but I think most people's experience would indicate it is highly debatable that lipping the fish for a photo is spelling that fish's doom. I don't like the idea of harassing someone on the basis of an average fishing photo, which is an image of one instant in time. You don't see whether or not the fish was handled gently, how long it was out of the water, etc etc. This would be like a photo taken in the middle of a horse race. Frozen in time in that photo would be the crowd on the track, the blurred legs, the jockeys riding whips in the air, and the dirt flying, but all of this chaos isn't enough to let you assume that there was a catastrophic horse wreck 10 seconds later in the race.
 

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I think most people's experience would indicate it is highly debatable that lipping the fish for a photo is spelling that fish's doom.
But when they do studies where they try this and keep tabs on the fish afterwards, it turns out there is actually a pretty high probability that the fish will not survive. One major point I tried to make earlier is the one you made - "most people's experience would indicate" - people think that if it doesn't float up right away then it is okay. I would like to think that is true myself because I have been lipping them like that a long time. I have no reason other than my own discomfort to doubt the studies though.
 

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I don't disagree with that at all. That info keeps showing up, which is fine, but again I don't think anyone ought to be going on the prowl ready to denounce threads containing photos of "improperly handled" fish.

When I was a kid I caught a bass with my dad, it had a weird distinctively shaped wound near its tail. We put it in the homebrew livewell (a cooler with an aerator) and later trailered the boat, drove out to the bait shop, got the bass weighed for the summer contest, and then drove back out to the nearest ramp where I released the bass. A month or so later my Dad caught the same fish (based on size and the weird wound) from the same spot I caught it, which was a couple miles away from that ramp I released it. That bass was lipped, transported in the heat of the summer, weighed inside a shop, and driven back to where it was lipped again and released. Completely weird, and I won a fillet knife because of that fish, lol.
 

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I have read studies and have seen the results of those studies that show holding bass vertically, keeping the stress to the jaw hinge to a minimum, is a viable option for landing and holding fish.

I have seen studies to the contrary, too. I look at who is doing the studies as to what point they are trying to make.

My experience tells me that most people are holding fish relatively safely. I have caught thousands of fish that showed signs of being recently hooked before with some being hooked more than once!

The main thing to be careful of is the over torquing and hyper extending of the jaws.

On Lake Norman, there are at least 500 tournament boats on the lake every weekend and if half of them weighed in a limit, that would be about 1250 fish weighed in, not to mention the people that weigh in less than a limit, the fish that were culled and the non tournament anglers with their catches. If anglers as a whole did a bad job.of handling the fish, it wouldn't take long at all for Lake Normans fishery to suffer and die out. As it is, it is thriving.

I know there are those that do damage to a fish because they are too rough and some that damage them on purpose. I truly believe those people are not on this site and that people here try to be careful.

Again, the idea is to try not stress the fish. I think we do a pretty good job of that.
 

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Not to mention most of those released fish are handled multiple times. Net to livewell, livewell to weigh bag, weigh bag to scale, scale to weigh bag. As many people catch and release bass fish, just about everyone out there holds and handles them the same way... from Joe Schlobotnick fishing off the bank in his back yard pond to KVD winning the classic. If that hold was really that bad, there would be dead fish everywhere and no fish left to be caught.

In my opinion, the jaw is the safest way to hold a bass. Everyone talks about, oh dont touch them, youll damage the slime coat. Not to mention if you dont grab them by the jaw, they have the potential to go nuts and slip out of your hands, you drop them on the floor from 3 or 4 feet up and they go to raising cane beating around the bottom of the boat on hot carpet and rubbing all over and possibly injuring themselves on anything that might be in the bottom of the boat. Meanwhile you are rubbing them all over trying to get a grip possibly causing even more damage grabbing them wrong. They are out of the water longer and surely more stressed.
 

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To my earlier point...I think civilized discussion of this topic is ok and as long as people have an open mind and are willing to discuss, it could be beneficial.

The point it crossed my radar is when it involves calling individuals out for they way they are holding their fish.

This crosses into an area that history shows gets heated and offensive. We won't have that.

It is not up to us to call out anyone else if we see fish handled in a way that doesn't suit us. Unless there is egregious problem that is both unethical and illegal, let's assume the person is doing the best they can and not jump them for a picture. That's a good way to cause even more issues down the road. If I, or any of the moderators, see that kind of thing happening, we will delete those posts.

Thanks for your understanding.


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you dont have to do the "selfie" with one hand holding the fish and one hand holding the camera. you can take a selfie with 1 hand holding the jaw and 1 hand supporting the body. Just mount a monopod in a bucket. that is how i do it. saves their jaw.
examples- all selfies
Water Sky Fisherman Lake Fish
Water Tree Fisherman Fish Sky
Water Sky Fishing net Watercourse Fish
Water Fisherman Fish Fishing Recreational fishing
 
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