Post By: DaMOTH Posted: 6/3/2012 4:24:05 PM Points: 13
I have been out fishing at monument about half a dozen times now, and have had great success. That makes someone who does not often do much catching very happy. What doesn't make me happy is how badly the trout are typically hooked. About 60% of the fish are hooked very, very deep in their mouths... This wouldn't be a huge issue if I was fishing to keep for dinner, but I mostly C&R. I am sad to admit it, but I have had a few fish go belly up after releasing. Now, If the hook is especially deep or I think the fish is too far gone I will go ahead and keep it, but sometimes I am able to get the hook out and release the fish in about fifteen seconds or less... A time I would consider well within the survivable range, and yet they still die.
Here is a little more info. If the hook is too deep, I prefer cutting the line and leaving the hook in. I know it's not optimal, but I usually use cheapo Eagle Claw that are pretty thin anyway and will hopefully rust away soon. I have tried #6 salmon egg and #4 & 6 aberdeen, as well as #2 baitholder hooks. I do use the typical 'reviving' method (slide them forward and back to get fresh water running over their gills, let them swim out of your hand, etc.).
In the interest of releasing fish as alive and healthy as possible, does anyone have any suggestions for gear/technique that will cut down on the rate of bad hookings/fish dying?
There is a special hook called a Circle Hook because it forms almost a complete circle - see example here: [log in for link]
The circle hook is designed to hook the fish in the corner of its mouth even AFTER the fish had swallowed the bait completely. The hook should snag in the corner of fish's mouth (in most cases) on its way out of the fish's gut.
There is a small change one needs to make when fishing with circle hooks: you do not set the hook like you normally do. Instead, you just lift your rod gently and start reeling in the fish - very subtle but important differnce. Try it - you'll have much better success with survival rate.
Trout are typically weak until they get over 5 lbs when they can handle the stress of C&R handling. I assume you are bait fishing try using circle hooks, but when trout are hitting hard they will swallow them dfeep too. You can try setting the hook immediately upon a nibble to lip hook the fish before its swallowed. Pinch the barb off the hook just maintain constant pressure when fighting the fish to avoid throwing.
I am well versed in circle hooks, having been raised doing a whole lot of saltwater fishing. I was taught that circle hooks were intended for saltwater use-- For what reason they are not 'intended' for freshwater, I don't know. I have given them a try, and did not see any considerable difference, but I'll give them a little more time and see. Thanks for the suggestion.
The fish at Monument seem to always hit hard, even the little ones. I do usually keep my rod in a holder unless I get hits closer than about five minutes apart-- then I'll pick up my rod. Again, holding the rod or setting it in a holder, neither seems to make a discernible difference in how the fish are hooked. Some are gut hooked, some are perfectly in the lip. I do like to crimp the barbs, and that does make the hook come out easier, but does not change that the fish get hooked pretty deep.
If you hold your rod 90 degrees to the line, and the line has no slack then you will hook up far more and gut hook far less. Also, mashing your barbs down will not make you loose more fish, it will only help when releasing them.
I really hate to be that guy... But I'll be that guy. Most occurrences where a fish typically trout is gut hooked is because of bait usage. I'm not a big proponent of bait so it typically doesn't happen to me. Try using circle hooks and that should prevent it, if not just cut the line and hope the best for the fish.
Just don't just bait and it shouldn't really ever happen again.
why even use powerbait or whatev if practicing c&r??? If this is the way you like to fish and continue to do so that is up to you, but there will always be fish that die for no reason with this method. In future, in addition to circle hooks, just cut the line and leave the hook in the fishes stomach. It stands much better chances of survival than ripping its guts up.
DaMoth - I absoluty love to fly and bubble at Monument you can absolutely slay them (30 in a couple hrs at sunrise or sunset and I would say minimum every10 min in afternoons). Use a 6 ft leader and #16 - I like copper johns, mosquitto, and various wooly boogers. Give it a shot - its fun as heck man :)
Your post took a lot of guts and I applaud that your trying to improve your fishing and survival rates - hats off to you man :)