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C&R fish

  What is the best way to return fish (kings ,lakers & steelies) to the lake?  We don't want to keep fish many times. We get them off the hook as fast as we can.   We have tried reviving them next to the boat, thrusting them in head first & just putting them back in & nothing seems to work.  It really ticks me off when they float belly up then we try to go back to get them. What are we doing wrong?  Any ideas?  Thanks

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Boga grip on a 6' rope tied to a cleat is the best I've found. Drag them for a few minutes until they get feisty.

My boat is low to the water so you may need a longer rope for a proper lake o boat.


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Boga and that other one mentioned are somewhat expensive. I bought on just like the boga with weight scale and ruler for about 12.00 on line. can't remember where, just search fish grips and you'll probably find it. They do work great with the rope.

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The key is handling them and getting them back as fast as possible for the most part. Lakers brought up too fast will need to be burped before they are returned. If the are not burped, they will not be able to swim back to the bottom due to the amount of air in them.


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You flip them over on their back and lightly push on their belly moving your hands / fingers forward.  Another tip is to drop them in head first.  It pushes water into them and pushes the air out.  I can watch them streak right back to the bottom on my fish finder most of the time. 

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Something probably worth mentioning is that what you do when retrieving and boating the fish plays a huge role in whether or not they make it afterward. If catch and release is intended it helps to get the fish in as soon as possible, don't bring them into the boat release them in the net if possible by using needle nose pliers to take the hook out not physically handling the fish. Try not to have the fish lie on a hot boat floor while retrieving the hook. Don't hold the fish vertically and avoid placing fingers or hands near or in the gills area keep the fish horizontal and supported underneath whenever possible. Many techniques are used to "revive" them at the side of the boat and to plunge them back toward the bottom but it is unknown what their actual fate really is with any of these methods.I believe that lactic acid builds up in the kings when they are fighting all the way in and you have to wonder if this dooms them as well when released. Also I have seen fish that were "belly up"  actually swim away afterward but who knows their actual fate long term. Kinda like the bass guys releasing fish near the launch after weigh in :lol:

Edited by Sk8man

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How do you release them without bringing them back up to warm water (really fast on a rigger)?

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x2, I have been thinking of this too, getting them back deep on the rigger, but how do you release them or do they simply come off on their own??


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Something probably worth mentioning is that what you do when retrieving and boating the fish plays a huge role in whether or not they make it afterward. If catch and release is intended it helps to get the fish in as soon as possible, don't bring them into the boat release them in the net if possible by using needle nose pliers to take the hook out not physically handling the fish. Try not to have the fish lie on a hot boat floor while retrieving the hook. Don't hold the fish vertically and avoid placing fingers or hands near or in the gills area keep the fish horizontal and supported underneath whenever possible. Many techniques are used to "revive" them at the side of the boat and to plunge them back toward the bottom but it is unknown what their actual fate really is with any of these methods.I believe that lactic acid builds up in the kings when they are fighting all the way in and you have to wonder if this dooms them as well when released. Also I have seen fish that were "belly up"  actually swim away afterward but who knows their actual fate long term. Kinda like the bass guys releasing fish near the launch after weigh in :lol:

Well said. I think timing from hookup to release might be as or more important as anything else. Probably one reason why the little ones go right down after release.


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I'm not a scientist or marine biologist but fish make adjustments all the time to temperature changes and although slow changes may be the best I'm pretty sure that just the rapid change in water temperature isn't the one critical factor in their death. Releasing without handling is a main reason why I use strong single hooks on nearly every one of my spoons. I merely grab the hook in the heavy duty needle nose pliers while the fish is still in the water and invert the hook in his mouth and quickly pull upward aand usually the hook releases and the fish takes off like a rocket. Occasionally the single hook will penetrate the eye area of a fish usually rainbow or landlock but it is not frequent.

Edited by Sk8man

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4 hours ago, Sk8man said:

Something probably worth mentioning is that what you do when retrieving and boating the fish plays a huge role in whether or not they make it afterward. If catch and release is intended it helps to get the fish in as soon as possible, don't bring them into the boat release them in the net if possible by using needle nose pliers to take the hook out not physically handling the fish. Try not to have the fish lie on a hot boat floor while retrieving the hook. Don't hold the fish vertically and avoid placing fingers or hands near or in the gills area keep the fish horizontal and supported underneath whenever possible. Many techniques are used to "revive" them at the side of the boat and to plunge them back toward the bottom but it is unknown what their actual fate really is with any of these methods.I believe that lactic acid builds up in the kings when they are fighting all the way in and you have to wonder if this dooms them as well when released. Also I have seen fish that were "belly up"  actually swim away afterward but who knows their actual fate long term. Kinda like the bass guys releasing fish near the launch after weigh in :lol:

 

I release most fish as well and agree totally about minimal handling.  Shakers almost always good and sub 10 lbs usually head right down as well so the fight plays a part as well.  It is not the funnest way to catch nor is it possible with the big ones but in my experience the fish that get horsed in quick stand a much better chance. 

I have also noted fish that come up from the deeper water have to equalize swim bladder before they can descend and have seen many belly floaters kick there way down eventually.   

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Maybe a bit extreme for Lake O but on west coast the seasons for wild salmon and stocked salmon differ so you are required to use barbless hooks, they do much less damage when removing hooks that end up in top of mouth.  I can say without doubt even the bigger fish I catch out of Puget Sound / Pacific have much better survival rate.  That said surface and down temp difference not nearly as big as Lake O.

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Following this thread, some great advice and methods I hadn't even thought of. I CPR 99% of my fish and usually rely on different ways of revival depending on the species.

 

For Lakers (especially in Spring cold water), if you handle them quickly and have them in and out of the boat in under a minute, they will usually rocket back to the deep if torpedoed back in (getting oxygen to them quickly and sending them in the right direction). In the summer it gets more troublesome with the warm surface water so June-August I'll stop the boat after hooking up with a fish (fishing a 1-4 rod spread) and fight them while drifting, giving them time to equalize and rise slowly. Net the fish, unhook and measure in the net while the fish is still in the water, pick it up horizontally (and without gill gripping) for a quick picture or two, then place the fish back in the water, keeping a firm grip on the caudal peduncle (wrist) until it has regained enough strength to swim out of my grip (anywhere from instantly to 4-5 minutes). The most difficult Laker I've successfully revived took about 7-8 minutes after hopping into the lake with it to burp it and get water through its gills, but most take off within a minute or two. If you don't want/need pictures, I'd advise not even removing the fish from the water, but I'm somewhat of a trolling amateur and like to get pics of all my larger fish :).

 

As for Steelhead, which are basically suicide-fighters during the Summer, I pretty much always have to stop the boat and use the same method as I do for summer Lakers, otherwise they just float belly-up looking like a free meal for gulls. Only for Steelies, I'm still not able to revive more than 50-60% of the fish after 5-10 minutes drifting with them. The others, I believe, have so much of a lactic acid buildup that they fight themselves to death. 

 

Salmon, I have much less experience with than Lakers and Steelhead, but I've noticed that the shakers swim away just fine after handled "normally" while the larger fish will sit at the surface for half a minute or so before slowly swimming back down.

Edited by Char_Master

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  Caught 14 lakers yesterday & released all but 1 for the smoker!  We either unhooked them in the water never netting them or we did the boga grip thing & it worked perfect held the fish along side the boat & let them go when they were ready.  Thanks for the info, guys!  BTW all where caught on Gambler rigs.

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2 minutes ago, lineman49 said:

  Caught 14 lakers yesterday & released all but 1 for the smoker!  We either unhooked them in the water never netting them or we did the boga grip thing & it worked perfect held the fish along side the boat & let them go when they were ready.  Thanks for the info, guys!  BTW all where caught on Gambler rigs.

:yes:

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