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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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Southern Ozarks in Arkansas    LOFR

Fin clipping is a common way to identify fish...if done properly, the fish will not suffer for it. I currently have two year classes of HBG in one pond that are identified in this manner.

Seeing is believing. Adam did a great job in pointing out that, even with proper CPR, we won't know unless we practically swim with the fishes until they recover.

Example of problems unseen

We may suspect overall great techniques of CPR, but what seem healthy, well handled situations tend to go south real fast. We may catch double digits prizes, believing they are great and healthy during our releases, as we toss them like they're frisbees (not you Adam!), but we won't know until we see the belly-up body counts in the later days if they actually float. Those that don't, we won't know. True heart breaking to see such beautiful and prized sizes monsters pass on.

some good info to think about, i felt guilty of the "throw back" a few nights ago.i was worried about not being able to see where my legs and feet were safe from mr no shoulders so i tossed one back further than i normally do. one of the ponds i fish has some cotton mouth snakes that like to hang around the grass and reeds. one of them chased me from one side of the pond to the other i let him have the pond the rest of the night. i was fishing  on the west bank and i saw him swimming at me so i reeled in and walked around to the east bank five minutes later he was swimming at me again mouth open...  i do my best to avoid the snakes but some of them seem to just come after you if they see you. normally i take the fish as close to the water as possible if not in the water to let them go. when i hook a bigger one i cant get my hands on easily i will lay them down on my tailgate or on the ground on a towel or t shirt to remove the hook then put them back in the water. i figure its a lot safer than them slipping out of my hands and falling a few feet to the ground.  

That's an interesting  topic discussion on how to handle fish.  Your take seems to be just common sense to me. I never really thought about it before. I took the liberty of posting this on Pensacola Fishing Forum to see what sort of discussion might be generated there. Thanks for bringing this up for all of us to think about.

You're more than welcome JB. Let me know if we can provide additional insights from different perspectives.

The post on Pensacola Fishing Forum generated a good discussion. Some of it is scientific. Other comments are  sour grapes.

Sour grapes are generated based on personal ideals that would not like to be changed. Common human behaviors. Scientific explanations are merely the starting point, which doesn't end anything and everything. It's just provides us a better understanding of the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, why. Then toss in the How as well.

If those who like some scientific background explanation and convincing, please, feel free to let them know that I'm more than willing to share my knowledge.

I think the sour grapes are understandable considering it's a touchy topic and Leo was, well, rather blunt about it. I have a bit more optimistic view on the success of CPR but the jury is still out on that. Something undeniable is that cradling the fish with two hands will always help, and wetting your hands before you touch the body of the fish is a must.

Indeed Jacob. You should have read the replies on the site. It's based more on the challenge of "Where's the proof?" Other chimed in with various study to provide the proof of vertical holding vs proper horizontal holding. Sour grapes were sweetened by scientific refinement. It's a touchy subject indeed, and the guys that I fish with still handle things extremely vertical, and horizontally cranked the mouth of the pour bass so wide that you can practically see the jaw being damaged.

I think CPR works rather well, ESP when compared to just taking them home to eat ;) . I caught a catfish last weekend that had the hook so deep I just couldn't get it so after five minutes of trying I let him go with hook inside his throat . Caught the same fish Last night in the same spot, still had my silver circle hook inside its throat a d he was out hunting . CPR works .

Indeed, they work well. Proper handling and releasing techniques work, not flawlessly, but remarkably well. When all else failed with gently handling, cut the hook off, and let the fish survive with deep hookset. Chance of survival is still slim, rather than none. The funny thing about the argument that only the bellied up fish are the proof of dead ones. Tony indicator that the sunken ones are the uncounted victims which we won't know until we're searching for them. Of course, the kitties will make meals out of them before the gas can make the bodies float.

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