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I saw this article awhile and wanted to share it.Studies now show a high mortality in releasing lake trout.up to a 60% mortality in warmer water about 50 degrees.I tried this last year using a downrigger and never saw one surface.A nice idea would be using a camera.The salt water rockfish sportsmen have been using this with great success.

http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/newsletter/2013/05/let_em_down_easy_returning_a_fish_to_deep_water.html

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I don't bother fishing lake trout in warm temps.  Spring/fall only usually.  A good tip is to make sure the fish has burped before bringing it into the boat (lake trout).   If I don't see air bubbles it stays down there until I do.   

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Best trick I know is to troll fast enough to keep the darned things off you lines. They're a nuisance. 

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Survival went from 50% to almost 90 %.I have often caught them along with kings.If you can greatly reduce mortality why not catch a few if the kings are scarce.Last year we tried towing them on the surface awhile but it didnt work as well if you got them deep and released them

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I’ve wondered about this a lot. Typically I keep anything poorly hooked (that’s legal) and fish I think I can get a nice fillet off of. Basically anything over 21”. I’ve released a lot, but mainly Browns. I’ve never released a laker on my boat as I’ve only caught two (9lb and 12lb). I wish em luck and typically will not put my hands on my releasable fish. 

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An easy way to keep them from dying is bring them up slower.  The slower you bring them up, the less chance they have of blowing up.  I also burp them and send them back head first.  We have very few floaters a season and those floaters are given away to a neighbor that loves them.  

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I used this depth sensitive release all last season, clipped to the downrigger cable, worked perfectly and released at the set depth, usually 50 ft.  Have to believe it made a difference.  
 

https://www.seaqualizer.com

 

 

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Posted (edited)

We try to release them unharmed and the needle prick of the air bladder on lakers has been around since at least the early 70's and probably before. The thing I have always wondered about catch and release methods regardless of type is if they actually do work (e.g. long term). A fish swimming away from the scene does not truly answer the question either. The assumption is made that if they don't float back to the surface they probably made it but it is just that an assumption too. We try to do what we can but after seeing fish laying on bottom including lakers and especially bass after tournaments where they are released afterward  places this as a long term question mark in my mind. For years I used the bladder perforation and burp method but always wondered whether the bladder seals properly afterward soon enough to maintain its function. I don't think anyone really has the actual answer but again we do our best  with limited knowledge and data about the results.

Edited by Sk8man
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We attach a lip gripper type to the fish attached to a short rope troll slowly with the fish off the stern [ ie piscatorial CPR ] if the fish can eventually swim away on its own that is the best we can do ! If not I have takers for every Lake Trout we bring in !

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The fish descender has got to be better than piercing the air bladder with a needle. You can use the design in that link with the hook barb pushed down, or you can also just attach a binder clip (used for paper) to the line and clip it to a fin or jaw. A gentle tug when you reach depth, and the fish will pull right off.

 

This can also be modified using a clip or ring to slide down your downrigger cable, so you can descend a fish while you keep trolling. Towing them around on the surface to revive them does not help the air bladder, or the temp change. Descending them back down to the right temp and pressure seems best.

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