Fouled Hook Ups Release or Keep?

JLantz

New Member
I'm an area 11 guy, fishing the northern Narrows, Gig Harbor side, from the shore. Recently got back into fishing as a chance to get outside during this Covid mess. I am a serial novice.

On ultralight gear with #8 hooks, the baby coho and occasional SRC have been great sport. Very plentiful and fun to target their tide rip hunting grounds.

Nearly all of these small fish get hooked right in the corner of the mouth, but sometimes it doesn't go so well.
Today, the last fish of the day was a really nice 12" fat hatch coho baby, but the hook caught the gill plate inside. I managed to get it out OK with pliers, revive the fish, and it eventually swam away, but it's still bothering me.

At what point do you decide whether the fish is going to survive release, or when it's best to keep it?
 

Jake

Active Member
If it’s legal to keep the fish, and it’s hooked bad in gills or gut-hooked, and I don’t have other dinner plans or my freezer isn’t full of fish, I’ll bonk it.

A dying coho is great food for the other Sound residents.

12” is fairly small. How big of a hook/fly were you using?
 
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Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Maybe try fishing bigger hooks to limit encounters with with smaller fish, especially this time of year.
SF
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
I'm an area 11 guy, fishing the northern Narrows, Gig Harbor side, from the shore. Recently got back into fishing as a chance to get outside during this Covid mess. I am a serial novice.

On ultralight gear with #8 hooks, the baby coho and occasional SRC have been great sport. Very plentiful and fun to target their tide rip hunting grounds.

Nearly all of these small fish get hooked right in the corner of the mouth, but sometimes it doesn't go so well.
Today, the last fish of the day was a really nice 12" fat hatch coho baby, but the hook caught the gill plate inside. I managed to get it out OK with pliers, revive the fish, and it eventually swam away, but it's still bothering me.

At what point do you decide whether the fish is going to survive release, or when it's best to keep it?


A dead fish that you release, though not optimal, is not a waste. It becomes food for something else. Do your best and don't worry about the rest unless there is an opportunity to learn something.
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
I released a small coho that i knew wouldnt make it the other day. Went about 40 yards before an eagle got him. Its a blood sport we play although i certainly try my best to make sure they survive.
 

Meeshka

Active Member
My cousin is a fish cop and this has been discussed with him. He says if the fish is Not legal put it back dead or alive - it could save you a fine
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
My cousin is a fish cop and this has been discussed with him. He says if the fish is Not legal put it back dead or alive - it could save you a fine
Yep. To that point i fought a king back from a seal lion on the columbia years ago. Was dead by the time i got it in and i kept it. Got checked by the cops at the launch and got a ticket.
They took the fish and i got a ticket, but they also encouraged me to go to the judge and explain it, which i did, and it got thrown out.
 

sroffe

Active Member
With so many seals, sea lions, and Ospreys around, you may be providing food for them while a smarter fish survives another day...

The other night I was jigging an area looking for a salmon to put on the bbq, hooked a flounder with a nice healed up chunk of flesh taken out of him, probably by a seal. BTW, no salmon have been bonked on the head this year by me.
 

JLantz

New Member
Thanks a lot for the experienced help, Guys.

Glad I went with my gut and put him back......with either a chance to live or a chance to be fish food.
 

gt

Active Member
it has been so hard to find clipped fin fish, the majority of fish to the net have been unclipped. when they are bleeding, i bonk'um. a fine is OK with me rather than a dead fish floating away. that said, when is the last time you saw WDFW enforcement?? we have one person for all of Jefferson and Clallam counties, quite an area to have to patrol.
 

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
When I worked as a fish checker for the old Dept. of Fisheries, and a bait boy on salmon charters in Lapush (68’ 69) I saw a number of fish with terrible hooking wounds, totally healed and normal body weight. These healed wounds included gill arches and gill filaments.

If a fish is upright, swimming normally, it’s surprising how resilient they can be. On the other hand, a legal to harvest fish that has significant wounds, keep it and eat it.
 

Richard E

Active Member
I caught a 20" SRC in the South Sound, while I was fly fishing for blackmouth, and my hook went through the top of his mouth and through his eye. I wasn't confident the SRC would survive, and I ended up eating him. I still think about that fish.
 

Jake

Active Member
I caught a 20" SRC in the South Sound, while I was fly fishing for blackmouth, and my hook went through the top of his mouth and through his eye. I wasn't confident the SRC would survive, and I ended up eating him. I still think about that fish.

I understand the sentiment, and I did the same with the one and only dogfish I ever ate, but if this was within the last decade or so I don’t know that I’d post publicly about poaching.
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
I caught a 20" SRC in the South Sound, while I was fly fishing for blackmouth, and my hook went through the top of his mouth and through his eye. I wasn't confident the SRC would survive, and I ended up eating him. I still think about that fish.
dammmn - what size hooks do you fish?
 

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