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Not certain about the most of us, but since I'm a float tuber and a pontooner, I'm close to the surface of the water, already at arms level to hold the fishes in horizontal, double-handled method, wetting my hands before man-handling the fish. When I'm on the shoreline, I always have a 5 gallon bucket filled with the local water, preserving the natural biomatters and organics within that water to wet my hands with before handling the fish.

However, I can confidently say 90% of us still hold the fish vertically when we CPR (capture, picture, release) holding large species, aside from the smaller, lighter, bubble weight BGs. Why would this matter?

Fishes in the water swim horizontally. They descend and ascend horizontally, in an angle. They don't go vertical in the water. When being pulled out the water, the majority of the body mass suddenly shifts from horizontal to vertical, creating stresses both on the jaw and the body. Imagine you're wearing a 100lbs weight in additional to your own body weight, and someone grab you by the jaw, lifts you up, and suspends you from a minute to probably 3 minutes. What's the damages resulting from that event?

The comeback statement probably fired back like, "Well, I CPR, and nothing happen to the fishes."

How would you know? Do you swim with the fish for the next 3 to 5 days, to monitor their physiological damages before they go belly up? There are many documented events at my waters where double digit bass bellied up, not only being dragged from the depth too quickly without proper deflation, but also jawline damages due to improper handling. There goes the prized sport fishes the bass chasers are so happy to nurture.

"I handle my fish with one hand horizontally with no problem."

Sorry to say, but you just damage the fish's jaw, preventing it from properly feeding due to permanent opened jawlock. You might as well have kept it.

"I properly handle the fishes using both hands during CPR."

Did you actually protect the fishes by wetting your hands first, or place it on a wet towel to prevent the protective slime layer from being stripped off?

Sport fishermen like to toss their catches right back into the water like the fishes are dolphins. My gosh, I see 10 to 25 years veterans, holding the huge fishes by one hand on the jaws, and just swung those poor thing right off into the waters like their yesterday dead baits. I'm just baffled of their knowledge in handling prized fishes that they are chasing after. For me, I don't really care. I chase after fishes that I can eat, not released to be caught over and over again. However, catching a water monsters and release it will be a blessing to brag about in the decades to come, with cautious handling tactics.


We're all guilty of mishandling the CPR fishes. I'm included at time when I have to handle an aggressive fish for CPR. However, since I'm on the float, I tried my best to hold onto the fishes in the water, setting up the CPR station/deck/apron, and get the fishes into/onto it. But, the fishes that I will hold onto for my dinner, I will manhandle it vertically, or with one hand, clearly indicating that those victims will be my meals.


What's your take?

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Great post Leo!  Horizontal is the way to hold a fish .Your gonna make me go through my pics because I am sometimes guilty of the one handed vertical hold . Always dislike seeing the one hand horizontal pose where the fishes jaw is bending in the proud anglers hand .Lets take care of these fish ! I often fail to wet my hands properly also .From depths with bladders bulging from mouths is it  prudent to pop the bladder before releasing like I've read and done before ? I wonder if it really helps the fish survive. I prefer ,RELEASE CAREFULLY DONT THROW BACK.

 

 

John, we're all guilty of the improper handling of fishes. I'm so guilty even to this day, it's not funny, especially when your families and friends are among the mix, trying to teach them, and attempting to take care of everyone's needs at the same time. I tend to forget the protocol once in awhile. But when I'm by myself, I make sure to go through that check list over and over again on every catch.

Don't pop that bladder, because that's not the bladder. That's commonly the stomach, unless you are dead certain it's the swim bladder. If it's the swim bladder, go for it. If it's the stomach, well, there goes that victim if you pop it. Best to follow the two deflating methods. Me, I go for the third method, either using a 1oz sinker to push the fish back into the depth if it's the BGs, or using a reversed cage to allow the fish safely pushed back to the depth, and simply release it at the bottom if it's a bigger species.

The throwback I can swallow the sight with a grain of salt. But I see only only the throw back, but the hurl back while the fishes were still on the hooks. The adults taught the kids, and the kids used the same carnage of a release method, as they hurled the fishes into mid air, strongly whipping the line downwards, pulling the single or treble hook right out of the fish mouth, tearing pretty much the entire jaw right of the fish as the fish landed on the water about 10 feet off the ground. My heart sank every time.

I follow most of your positives, including the wetting of hands horizontal gentleness and so on.
I do one thing different, though: I try to cradle the fish upside down for the de-hooking. This mellows them out, and quiets them during this phase.

I read about out in a book of fishing tricks.

But I'm with you... I try to be as gentle as I can. Thanks for the thoughts.

David, I tried that method of mellowing the fishes out as well. It did and still does mellow out the fishes because the internal organs compresses the swim bladder, triggering a response for them to remain calm so the remain air can escape before erecting their body upright again. I use this on aggressive fishes during de-hooking. Always have a wet towel with me, either hanging around my waist with the wader on, or next to the bucket when I'm on shore, or on my wet dock station/basket when I'm in my tube.

I use one of those micro fiber towels, because they have no rough nap like on a Terry cloth towel.
I also try to get the job done quickly.

David...I agree with the upside/down unhooking...fish seem to lose their balance and remain still for a few seconds during the unhooking proccess.

I do like to use the soft wet towel, Jim, when possible. Those dorsal spines can be sharp!

Great post, Leo!  It drives me batty when I see even famous fishing pros on TV throwing back fish with a casual offhand toss like a banana peel they're throwing at the garbage can - they of all people should know better.

I feel the same way Walt!

Good stuff Leo.

Good post Leo. I would like to address this issue as I find it has relevance.

I remember reading a study made on this issue posted in the In-fishermen Magazine and yes, some fish that are handled improperly and released simply sink to the bottom, die and end up as crayfish food.  Obviously there are many factors involved in release mortality such as #1 handling, warm water stress, where and how the fish was hooked, initial health of the fish, net damage and so on.

I believe in following Leo's steps in CPR to insure fish will return to their watery world unscathed. Good common sense goes a long way.........

Back when I use to do only skin mount taxidermy (Over 20 years experience), where all the muscle tissue had to be removed and the skin "taxied" on a manikin then dried, I observed an interesting find.  When removing the muscle tissue from the inside of the lower jaw bone there is a clear solid tubular like tendon which extends from the front to the back on each side.   What's interesting is, I found that when cleaning out this area, fish with the plate teeth such as Bass, Crappie, Sunfish and Perch this tendon would be fractured and or have hemorrhaging associated.  The injury would be in the area were the jaw bone meets the cheek muscle, this is the pivot point of the lower jaw.  I noticed this more in LMBass.   Fish such as Northern Pike, Muskies and walleyes with sharp or pointy teeth did not have this injury. You usually don't want grab these fish by the lip. 

This is only my observation of trophy fish that have been caught by anglers (years ago when we were't that aware about how to handle fish) and brought to me to have mounted.  This only leads me to believe that the classic vertical "lip" hold is not the way to go.  I have found that fish struggle less when caught if they are cradled vertically under there bellies. 

  

      

Thank you Tim for the splendid observational insight. With this verified info, I will relay to anglers, beginner or veteran level. This is why ignorance can no longer be deemed as blissed, but consequence-yielding.

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