problems when fish are crowded together
between hot surface water and cooler but
oxygen-depleted deeper water. The slime coating that most fish have is their primary defense
against infection, so it’s vital to maintain it.
If possible, release fish in the water without touching them. Dehooking tools make
this process much easier — and faster. If you
must handle a fish, do so with wet hands,
supporting its body horizontally with both
hands. If you use a net, choose one with
soft nylon or rubber mesh (or a combination) and a flat floor that will support the
fish well. One good option for large fish is
a cradle with mesh between two poles, like
those used for Midwestern muskies.
CAREFUL CATCH EQUIPMENT RESOURCES
n To buy dehooking tools, visit your local tackle shop or browse the websites of
Bass Pro Shops ( www.basspro.com), Cabela’s ( www.cabelas.com), and West Marine
( www.westmarine.com). You can make your own J-dehookers with a variety of
n For deep-hooked fish, consider an ARC (Aquatic Release Conservation, Inc.) dehooker.
The company’s website ( www.dehooker4arc.com) features information and
n For release-friendly nets and cradles, visit websites for Beckman Net Company (www.
beckmannet.com), Ed Cumings ( www.cumingsnets.com), EGO ( www.adventureproducts.
com) Frabill ( www.frabill.com), and West Marine ( www.westmarine.com).
Time Ou T Of The Wa Ter
Fish are built to be supported by water.
Their gills are designed to stay wet, to allow
temperature is in the 90s (a sure killer).
The author and BoatU.S. Maga- zine’s electronics editor Lenny rudow land another rockfish on the Chesapeake Bay.
sary hook wounds to the body of the fish
by avoiding or modifying treble hooks. At a
minimum, convert them to doubles by clipping a tine off each. Fish with crushed barbs
and keep hooks sharp. The combination not
only aids release, it also hooks fish better.
If you’re baitfishing, use non-offset circle
hooks or tend lines carefully to avoid deep
hooking. When using bait on a hook with a
crushed barb, clip off a short section from an
old plastic worm and slip it over what’s left
of the barb to keep the bait from sliding off.
Modify treble-hook plugs by cutting
the rear tine off the front; then cut the lower
tine off the rear hook. If either hook faces the
wrong way, remove it from its split ring, turn
it over, and reattach it; good split-ring pliers
make this job much easier. The combination
of forward-facing front hooks and upward-facing rear hooks is very effective. It reduces
hook injuries and makes release much easier,
especially with pliers or a J-hook dehooker.
If you’re concerned about throwing off
the weight and balance of the lure, switch
the hook to one size larger before modifying it, or consider adding flashing or hair to
bring it back up to spec.
dissolved oxygen to diffuse into blood ves-
sels in the gill filaments while wastes diffuse
out. A fish out of water without proper body
support can suffer severe — but not imme-
diately obvious — internal organ damage.
And when out of the water, fish get very little
oxygen — they are essentially holding their
breath. The gill filaments collapse in the air,
greatly reducing surface area for oxygen dif-
fusion. Abrupt temperature change causes
great additional stress, especially if the air
tograph, and release it. Have release tools —
net/cradle, ruler, and camera — ready ahead
of time. An easy tip to remember: Don’t
keep a fish out of the water longer than you
can hold your breath.
Win Ter WOrkshOp
The off-season is a perfect time to spend
tweaking your tackle as you dream about
opening day. And if you find you’re missing
a vital piece of gear, the holidays are just
around the corner.
Hook wounds and other damages that cause
external bleeding leave fish vulnerable to
infection as well as physiological shock
from blood loss. You can prevent unneces-
John Page Williams is the longtime Senior
Naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in
Maryland. He writes about fishing and environmental issues for Chesapeake Bay Magazine,
and is the author of Chesapeake: Exploring
The Water Trail Of Captain John Smith.
PHOTO: ALANNA KEATING
safe Ty spOrsOrship: Boatu.s. is the official sponsor of the Vessel safety Check program, managed
by the u.s. Coast Guard auxiliary. Vessels that pass a voluntary inspection can display the VsC sticker,
donated by Boatu.s. more than 250,000 vessels participate annually. http://cgaux.org/vsc/