Specimen Tips: Reproduction Fish
It pays to plan ahead if you want a reproduction, as you should have certain tools in the boat.
First, make sure you are aware of all regulations and the handling of fish, (especially if seasons are closed), and that you are within your legal right.
Second, remember that our first goal is to release a healthy fish. You should have your tools readily available and within reach.
You will need:
- a net or cradle
- hook outs
- bolt/hook cutters
- flexible measuring tape
Always work at unhooking a fish in the water, whether in a net or in a live well. Use hook cutters for badly hooked fish and remove as many hook fragments as possible.
Once the fish is free from the bait, allow it to recover in the net in the water. This is a good time to get an accurate length and a largest girth measurement. Prepare the camera by turning on and setting up, getting the boat positioned for good lighting, etc.
Once the fish is relaxed, get a firm grip on the jaw with one hand, and support its body weight with the second hand. Quickly lift and hold fish horizontally for multiple pictures from different angles and get some close ups of the head/gill area and bold color areas.
Only keep the fish out of the water as long as you can hold your breath, and then put the fish back in the net if you need more time. Let the fish rest and get some more oxygen before taking more pictures, and then release as soon as possible. Remember that time out of the water is a major stress factor for delayed mortality, keep it to a minimum.
Water temperature also plays a role in the health and release of a fish. For example, if you are fishing for muskellunge and the water temp is 82 degrees, most agree that a water release is necessary for reducing stress. You may want a disposable under water camera in the boat to snap a few water releases. Release the fish and watch it to make sure that the fish is healthy and able to swim away freely on its own.
Our ethics in this new era of catch and release are critical to the fish survival and our privilege to fish for them. It is our responsibility to know how to handle fish in way that is safe not only to the fisherman but to the fish as well, promoting good stewardship of these marvelous creatures. What better way to relive a brief moment in time, than to release a creature to her home environment while still having a reproduction memory on the wall to share with all?
Lastly, continue fishing and making memories and bring your pictures and measurements to UMWA at you convenience.