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Is catch and release a death sentence for trout ?

 
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Fryfishing
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:20 pm    Post subject: Is catch and release a death sentence for trout ? Reply with quote

I have watched a lot of mis handling of trout in boats near me, even in shared boats and close by on the bank and worry about the survival rates of the returned fish.
Reading Malcom Greenhalgh piece in FF&FT confirmed some of my thoughts on the subject.
I think if you handle the trout properly and do not take them from the water when extracting the barbless hook the fish will go back quite easily with little harm.
But holding them up for a picture and giving them a kiss before returning them is in my opinion a death sentence. I witnessed that in a a shared boat not so long ago ( not Allrounder) The fish in that case turned belly up and had to be re netted and held in the water eventual to slip away but to what fate ( pike/cormorant food at best).

Don't slag me of to much but do have a think about it.
P
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wylye
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter,

Trout are a lot tougher than we give them credit for. That 2lb stockie will have gone through at least half a dozen gradings on the fish farm, plus several nettings in the stock pond before their number comes up and they are loaded onto the transport. Stocking is generally via a chute or poly tube down to the water. Not exactly a gentle slipping into the water - more a rough and tumble down ten or twelve feet to the water.

I have done innumerable fish surveys during my time with the EA and its predecessors. Not everywhere has rainbows,but in those that do they prove themselves no more susceptible than other species. Electric fishing is the basic tool and the fish seem well able to withstand 1.5 amps up the ar*e, followed by being scooped up in a net, plonked into a tub on a boat along with scores of other fish. From there they are transferred into a larger tub on land from which they are netted one at a time, measured and weighed and popped into yet another tub until the survey is over whereupon they are returned en masse to the river. Reasonable care is taken, but the fish certainly aren't mollycoddled.

I remember years ago helping to unload a tanker of trout into a cage at the Queen Elizabeth reservoir in south London which was being used as a cage-rearing facility. The cage was towed to the end of one of the piers and the lorry backed up along it. The fish were unloaded by the netfull - about a dozen or so at a time and these were then carried to the end of the pier and the fish dropped about 30' to the cage below. Minimal losses and most of those were ones that missed the cage and dropped into open water. These then grew on to become some fabulous rainbows up to 10lbs or so in weight.

When I retired I took on a job with a trout farm doing some of their deliveries. One guy I used to go to had three small lakes as well as a stretch of river. When we stocked the lakes I would net out half a dozen trout which he would then throw into the water. I took the view that once that net of fish left my hands they were his to do with what he wished. All the fish swam off happily and none came back on the tide.

I do quite a lot of teaching/guiding at a small and very clear lake which is full of rainbows that are clearly visible. Almost everyone who fishes there is an absolute novice or beginner and therefore are enthusiastic but have little idea of playing a fish. Having landed their prize they nearly all want to admire it and get a photo. Then the fish goes back. One could be excused for thinking that that fish is dead meat, but not at all. I am sure that many of those fish are caught not just once but several times. Last year I was sure one of them winked at me when I slipped him back! Dead fish in the lake are a rare sight, and are more likely to be caused when the resident otter comes calling as shown on the motion sensitive camera.

This lake, incidentally, is an ideal place to observe the trouts' reaction to a fly. With dries the fish will take seconds after the fly lands or not at all. Takes to a dry that is just left to drift are rarer than rocking horse droppings. The fish seem to prefer taking on the drop. A small nymph just chucked out and allowed to sink is frequently taken. If not we just lift off and chuck it out again. I tried a squirmy worm there last year and it was quite amusing. I would tell the pupil to cast it out and watch it as it sank wriggling through the water. If it disappeared they were to strike. Deadly! Pull the fly and one or two might chase it but don't often take it.

The key to the trout survival at this lake is temperature. The water is very cold as the lake is largely spring fed. At places like Farmoor the key factors will include temperature but also the length of playtime. The quicker they come in the better especially when the temperature gets above 15 centigrade. Giving fish recovery time is also important, something that many anglers don't take heed of as they are keen to get back out and catch another.

See you in April
Bob
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post, Peter. Very Happy

I agree with Wylye that various factors like water temperature and how long a fish is played has a huge bearing in safe C&R but I remain unconvinced that farm reared rainbow trout are as resilient as wild trout or coarse fish. I have played rainbows firmly to the net on many occasions but have sometimes found that if they need extra handling due to a difficult hook hold, they do seem to go belly up rather easily compared with their wild cousins. Sad

Like all of us I have always believed that I practiced C&R responsibly but after talking to some of our local match guys I now realise that I could do better. They tell me that they have a rule that fish to be released must not leave the water and if they are taken into the boat then they must be killed. That is not something I have strictly followed in the past but it is something I will try to do in future, although if I do catch a particularly big trout that I intend to release then I won't rule out a quick trophy shot before I do. Laughing

Alan Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bob & Alan.
All points well made which helps ease my conscience.
I have seen a lot of dead fish lying on the bottom in Farmoor one over the years, but as Bob says it is in the warmer months.

I purchased a new landing net that has a net that is deep enough to hang in the water while the handle is across the boat. When fishing barbless the majority of fish if left a short while in the net in the water will throw the hook without any intervention from me.That seems the ideal solution for C&R for me.
P
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wylye
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan,

I think we can agree that every rainbow trout stocked is farm reared. A visit to any fish farm will quickly demonstrate just how tough life is for those fish, and that is well before they encounter an angler. Certainly every farm has losses, but it is in the farmer's interest to keep those to the barest minimum. No point spending money just for lots of your profit to vanish.

Greenhalgh in his article refers to Atlantic salmon and their survival post-capture. He comments that at 6 degrees 100% survived whereas at 22 degrees 40% died. Well, where is the surprise in that?

The build-up of lactic acid in the tissues of salmonids is well documented and is the main driver for playing the fish quickly. This can be followed by minimal handling which is sensible practice. Barbless hooks enable quick release but having seen the sort of wounds that all fish can sustain and survive I am doubtful that the pin hole caused by a hook is going to be terminal. Trout have been caught with their innards hanging out of great gashes in their sides, and yet these fish still feed, take flies and give a good account when hooked. No human could begin to tolerate the sort of wounds I have seen on many fish of all species.

The small lake I referred to in my previous post is, as described, used as a teaching facility. It is not uncommon for a father & son, for example, to catch a dozen trout in the course of an afternoon. By the 20% mortality theory there should be two or three bodies next day. There aren't. I've done two days on the trot there and the clients on Day 2 caught as many as those on Day 1. Quite a few people will take a brace home but just s many don't. The lake is stocked three times between April and October. Actually I think Madam Lutra takes more trout than the anglers.

As you will know I fish a lot at Farmoor, mostly from the bank. I will net fish there and lift the net to check whether the hook has come out of the fish which often they will. If so, I will remove the hook from the net because I have had the experience of a fish hooking itself on a fly in the net and swimming off to start the whole rigmarole over again. When I m sure all is clear, the fish is in the water in the net until he is ready to go. If the hook is still in the fish I'll endeavour to remove it while the fish is in the net in the water. Some cooperate in this, some don't. Quickly landed fish are still fresh and will tend to leap about in the net. Sometimes it is necessary to hold the fish in the net across my knee in order to remove the hook. Once all is clear the same procedure as before.

From the boat the scenario is slightly different. I know that the perceived wisdom is not to lift the fish out of the water, but sometimes, as per above, there is no option. Also, I think that leaning over the side of a boat moving up & down and with someone at the other end still fishing is one day going to result in an angler going head first over the side - a "pleasure" I think I'll pass on. I am considering getting a section of unhooking mat and sticking it to my boat seat so that a fish in the net can be placed on it for unhooking if necessary.

We need to take care of the fish we catch is agreed. I've been almost totally C & R for a good few years now and will continue my current practice as I think they have minimal impact on what is a fish that is every bit as durable as any other - more so in some cases. During our surveys the fish most likely to turn over were dace, followed oddly enough by chub.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great information in those threads Bob, it certainly helps me to come to a conclusion about C&R.

I now use rubber coated landing nets for trout and lure fishing and they almost do away with hooks stuck in the net and some times fish at the same time.
There is a way of rubberizing a standard net but off the top of my head I can not remember the product that is used for it.

With my season ticket at Farmoor this year I may be doing more C&R than previous years.
P
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter,

A look through the Sportfish catalogue shows that quite a lot of nets are rubberised these days.

A few years ago Farmoor had a student for the summer & he tried to get a handle on repeat captures on F1. To that end a number of trout were stocked carrying a small numbered tag inserted behind the eye. I caught the same fish three times - tag number D604 if I remember correctly. All the captures were along the west bank, but two were three weeks apart in late summer and the third was in early spring the following year.

The student left before he completed the project so it was never written up which is a shame because I am sure it would have thrown up some interesting statistics.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a great operation.
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