Lifting wild fish

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Clarki, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    When WDFW first adopted "Sparky's" law I thought it unnecessary and bordering on dumb. Then I changed my mind. I did so as I thought about all the really bad fish handling I've witnessed over the years and still occasionally see on the rivers from time to time. I don't know if I see the poor handling because of Sparky's law or because anglers have become better educated about handling fish intended for release.

    Is it necessary to keep a fish intended for release in the water in order to ensure its survival post release? No, of course not. But if the fish isn't allowed to be removed from the water, I see fewer boat fishermen netting fish and bringing them aboard the boat to flop around on the deck while they're being unhooked and untangled from the net and then held up for a photo - oops, and dropped onto the deck to flop around some more, and then finally put over the gunwale, and released back into the river. Often that episode takes a full minute or more. Steelhead and salmon are tough, but that kind of treatment doesn't enhance their survival likelihood.

    Same with bank anglers who drag fish out of the water and up onto the bank, where slime is scraped off and sand sticks to the fish's scales. Again, the fish are often picked up, dropped once or more while getting the all-important photo. Usually not as much time taken as the boat fishing example, but still doesn't enhance fish survival.

    If Sparky's law reduces the frequency of that kind of bad fish handling, I'm all for it. As it is, WDFW and NMFS use 10% as the incidental mortality rate applied to caught and released fish even though most biologists think that is high. However, as long as there continue to be abundant examples of poor fish handling, the agencies are justified in assigning a conservative incidental mortality rate to released fish. And this works directly against our interests if we want and expect more angling opportunity in areas where ESA listed fish occur.

  2. I agree 100%
  3. Jim Kerr

    Jim Kerr Active Member

    This law has made a difference, and I bet it has saved a lot of steelhead. It wasn't that long ago that I saw steelhead drug 20 feet up the beach, left flopping there while a guy got the camera, and then kicked back in every week. Here at least, that has all but gone away. I also used to see boaters drop fish on the floor of their boat and then lift them, and hand them around for photo's before release every day. EVERY DAY.
    That has gone away. Sure the law could be better, sure it creates a lot of holier than thou bs on the interweb, ....
    From where I am standing fish handling has gotten a hell of a lot better due to this law. It creates a bright line of what is legal and what is not, and if people do something illegal they don't get to post their pics without getting a lot of shit. Fine by me. As CHris pointed out we are landing and handling a huge percentage of the fish coming up river. Small price to do it quickly and let them go.
    As for the pic that started this thread, does not look like real bad fish handling to me, but it does look like a pic you should never let on the internet, so maybe next time he leaves it in the river?
  4. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

    This was NOT popular when first proposed and personally glad to see it adding value by reducing previous bad behavior in handling the fish, thus reducing mortalities.
  5. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    One of the problems with people fly fishing for steelhead is that they are often not used to playing or landing big fish that way. And so there is a tendency to overplay and over stress the fish. And this is especially true of spey fishermen. You really need to use a strong enough leader and rod, and you need to play the fish with less lifting and fanfare, and more constant, moderate, diagonal to horizontal pressure. And focus on getting the fish into shallow water, without grounding them, and release them without any unnecessary handling at all. I am willing to bet that the unnecessarily long periods of playing these fish has a lot to do with mortality. We are heading into some low clear water days soon. Milder weather etc., be careful on the roads in the early hours.
  6. rory

    rory Go Outside

  7. xdog

    xdog Active Member

    My thoughts and experience exactly.

  8. Blktailhunter

    Blktailhunter Active Member

    So xdog. Did you release the fish you have hoisted out of the water in your avatar pic? Just wondering.
  9. xdog

    xdog Active Member

    Yes I did.

    I also do not believe that fish or the other 1 out 50 fish or so I might actually pose for a picture with prior to release were significantly harmed by being lifted out of the water for 5-10 seconds.

    Blktailhunter likes this.
  10. Blktailhunter

    Blktailhunter Active Member

    As do I.
  11. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

    just leave them in the water, end of story. mike w

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