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For those of you who prefer to C&R most fish on the big ponds like I do, what steps do you take to revive fish before sending them over the side of the boat? I usually don’t have any problems with spring Lakers on Erie when the water is uniformly 40-50° top to bottom, just handle them with care and keep them out of water for as little time as possible. However, Summer fish including Lakers, Salmon, and especially Steelhead, can be a real PITA to get to swim off after fighting them up through the warm surface water and exhausting themselves with lactic acid buildup. Most of the time when we fish for Salmonids in the summer, I prefer to pull other lines and stop the boat if possible (not always), keep the fish in the water in the net for measurements, and just pick it up for a few quick pictures before holding on to it boatside until it’s strong enough to swim off. Unfortunately, this only works for some fish and many of them simply won’t revive after the strenuous fight (again, especially “suicidal” Steelhead). That said, I can’t think of a much better method for releasing Summer fish and so I’m wondering what/if you all do differently to C&R Salmonids in warm water?

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Use a boga grip on the fish.  Tie a rope to the handle and let out the fish overboard.  Let the fish swim along with your trolling.  After a couple of minutes most are strong enough to swim of once you release from the boga grip.

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8 minutes ago, pvelyk said:

Use a boga grip on the fish.  Tie a rope to the handle and let out the fish overboard.  Let the fish swim along with your trolling.  After a couple of minutes most are strong enough to swim of once you release from the boga grip.

I’ve done this a few times but usually the problem is trying to keep the fish underwater and not skating on the surface with one gill out of water. 

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6 minutes ago, pvelyk said:

Use a boga grip on the fish.  Tie a rope to the handle and let out the fish overboard.  Let the fish swim along with your trolling.  After a couple of minutes most are strong enough to swim of once you release from the boga grip.

do this I bought a grip not a boga but similar and now i put the fish on the grip and tow it while i start to re-set once the fish starts to kick and swim on its own i release it i have had way better results since many fish take right off now pointed back to colder water.  its not perfect but its a lot better than trying to hold as I dont have to touch the gills at all.  ones that dont start to swim have a place in the smoker or to my coworkers grills they hate the new grip they get a lot fewer fish now

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I’ll have to try the boga grip method again this summer, thanks guys!

 

knotlost, I’ve read about that reverse hook thing before and it sounds like it might work. The only problem I can think of it trying to hook a 15+ pound fish to it with a higher boat like mine. Plus getting it to stay on until deep enough while trolling along at 1.5-3mph.

Edited by Char_Master
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A few things to preliminarily consider in my view:

Deep dwelling fish like lakers may require a little different treatment strategy (e.g. burping their air bladder) much of the time than steelies, browns or salmon.

Something important to the process is the amount of time it takes to get a particular fish to the boat, and how far the lines are out or down (e.g.10 color cores and long coppers especially).

The water temperature they come out of is also crucial especially in real hot weather when the temperature profile of the water column is extreme in variation.

How or if the fish is netted comes into play as well, and in the hot summer months when the floor of the boat is like a frying pan whether or not the fish makes contact with it.

These things may drastically affect the the probabilities of successfully releasing the fish regardless of the method used and needs to be considered before catching them if catch and release is intended.

It is essential to minimally handle the fish and if so, do not place hands or fingers in the gill areas or hold the fish vertically.

Sometimes the process takes considerably more time than the fisherman is prepared to spend in the recovery process and they either release them too soon or decide "screw it" so it is essential to make sure that adequate water gets flowing through the gills and if the boga type grip is used hold it on the lower lip so it opens the mouth and sometimes they require being held backwards going very slowly. 

Edited by Sk8man
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i find if i use the grip to take it out of the net as quick as possible it helps also if you wanna take a pic get the grip on and put the fish in the water for the minuet or two it takes to get the phone out or whatever.  lift take your pick than back in the water.  like sk8 said if they get out of the net and flop around on the bottom thats bad for a number of reasons.  no method is perfect but any release has a better chance than no release.    they do make a device that is a grip with a pressure switch you clip on the fish drop it down and when it hits like 40 feet it releases.  

 

do a google search for fish descending devices there are a lot of options i think some areas/states for certian saltwater species they are almost mandatory.  

 

in fact i may have just talked myself into getting one

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Thanks for all the responses, everyone!

 

Ill definitely try the boga grip and will likely also attempt to make a descending device/reverse hook for this summer. I always keep the fish in the water for as long as possible and only take it out for 15-60 seconds to measure if necessary and for some quick pics. I support C&R fish under the belly horizontally as well, no gill gripping unless it’s a Walleye or small Salmon headed for the frying pan.

 

As far as depth of the fish, I try to bring them up as slowly as possible to allow for decompression without taking ridiculously long to the point where they’ll be exhausted from fighting up through warmer surface water. Lakers are usually the easiest IME because they dive and thrash low for almost the entire fight. Steelies on the other hand (as you all know), rocket up to the surface from 10-100’ down as fast as they can and pretty much the entire fight is in the warm surface water. 

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I hate it if a fish dies and I can't remember the last one that did. I try not to take the big ones out of the water. If I do it is very quick, photo and release head first like a torpedo as deep as I can get it to go. If it comes back up and sometimes they do. I will back the boat to the fish, then gas the engine hard to create a whirlpool. That sucks the fish way down the water column to cold water, in heavy oxygenated water and always works for me. It may work for you as well of you are a catch and release angler.

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After seeing this thread, I made a  Shelton Fish Descender out of a coat hanger and a 1lb. snap weight. Looks like it will work just fine, and can't beat the price...   

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