Posts Tagged ‘catch release


little gem…


Oregon Trout caught on a fly and released…


Fly Fishing: Play The Fish & Release It Safely

Photography/Fly Fishing/Net/Catch & Release/Outdoors

Whether a fish is 6″ or much bigger, the intent of a catch & releasing fly fisher is to enjoy the fight but get the fish in sooner than later so the fish is not overly stressed. On the front end, that means using gear that is matched to the size fish you are fishing over to have enough ‘back bone’ to get the fish in quickly.

Also, when the fish is near, using a net for bigger fish is a good way to safely control the fish. Attempting to release fish by hand/pliers/forceps (without bringing into a net) can be done but be careful to not let the fish thrash about on the rocks, boat floor, apron or grass. Fish smaller than 16-18″ can be controlled by drawing the fish toward you, holding the tippet and using the pliers to grasp the fly and back out the barbless hook. Bigger fish may need to slide into a net.

Head In Net B

Now with a net, time can be wasted and the fish taxed if the fish does not slide into the net head first. Tail first and they will often propel out using their powerful tail. Head first they are usually calmer, but may rotate in the bottom of the net. Keeping the fish calm, in the net, is helpful as you attempt to release the hook. My wife incessantly talks to the fish. I try to move gently and precisely to reduce the time in the net.

Trout Tail Out SB

Here the Trout went into the net tail first and within seconds it comes out head first in a hurry.

Fish Head First SB

Just in head first………

Trout into Net SB

Optimum, sliding in head first and horizontal…….

tail in fish out B

Ah, tail first not working here….the Trout is not cooperating

Get them in, admire them and get them back in safely. All Trout caught/released. Click on pics


Photography: Documenting the Easy Release…..

Among fly fishing circles there is the ubiquitous admonition to catch and then release many/most of the fish you catch…be they trout, steelhead, bass, pike etc. Most that practice catch and release (C & R) realize that once the fish is hooked the clock is ticking on a balancing act, that the angler accepts, that you play the fish…feel the life on the other end of the line…get the fish in and carefully release the fish after admiring it or cautiously posing the fish.

Some advocate never hoisting big fish from the water, others advocate never inserting your fingers into the space between the gill plate and the gills, while some believe C & R is a devilish, tortuous practice to impose on creatures at our mercy. 

I believe in Catch & Release is acceptable and reasonable. I also think your gear and leaders should be balanced to allow for good tussles but not unreasonably long because you are afraid of losing the fish to a broken leader or cannot get the fish near because of an under powered rod.

Now here are some photographic examples of catch and release methods my wife and I want to share. Some are smooth and efficient while some are seemingly impromptu and sudden.


Now, sometimes the fish is unhooked and photographed in the net, then gently slid back into the water, to dive down to safety.


Often the fish is carefully presented just above the water and net for a quick photo before sliding easily into the water.

release1 swittersb

Here my wife demonstrates the ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ fish pose…the quick C & R. She prefers to call it the ‘safe at home’ pose.

release2 swittersb

Here there was a good effort to momentarily raise the fish from the net for a nice fish shot. The fish had other ideas and squirmed/propelled from her grasp and into the water. The arms move upward as one chases the elusive trout, now airborne.

Release3 swittersb

Yes, a definitive ‘touchdown’ as the trout quickly returns into the water, splashing its tail and spraying the hapless angler.

xRapid Release MJ SwittersB

Ah, a rare glimpse of the Trout headed back to the water.

All this posing of fish should be understood to pose a potential danger to the fish in your care. An exhausted fish should be taken care of first. If the fish is too tired, forget the photo op. Revive the fish and safely release the fish. If the fish is strong and eager to leave then care must be always taken with  a what if attitude…what if I drop this fish or it propels out of my grasp? Where will it land?

Slow and easy does it, always with the fish’s welfare in mind and fish porn a secondary outcome.

Bucky release SB

OK, she gets it right once in a while….


Photography: Fish Splash


Fly Fishing: To Net or Not to Net….

The net is an option for fishing in general that more often than not means certainty of the catch and the kill. At times it is as certain as gaff in dictating the outcome of that fish’s day. I have used them often on rivers and the open waters for big kings and cohos. I seldom use a net on rivers, regardless of the species. Not sure why, just seems in the way. Most of the fish I catch are below 15″ and generally can be brought to hand without dragging them onto rocks, grass or sand. A quick hook removal, maybe a pic and back in they go.

A fish this big is, for me, best netted and tended to rather than letting it thrash around on hard objects as I hold onto a leader/tippet. Usually, the fish will still flex a bit or a lot, but is better contained inside the net whether in the water or atop the apron. Here, I was a bit stunned (actually a lot) with the size of the fish, during the fight and after. The fish was powerful after the release also… and jetted away.

While on a lake, in a tube or pontoon boat the smaller fish can be released without much fuss, especially if you have taken the time to barb your hooks or gone barbless. Every now and then a fish is more manageable when a net is used to remove the fish from the water. On those occasions, the hook is removed, maybe a shot taken, if a beauty, and the fish is lowered back into the water still in the net. The fish is revived and scooted out of the net, with a helping hand, into the depths.

Here a soft nylon netting is used. The net makes releasing the fish easier than trying to work off to the side. Smaller fish can be released with pliers holding the fly as the fish fulcrum/pivots off the fly. Bigger fish will thrash around more and necessitate grabbing the tippet to hoist the fish. Bent rods, tight lines and hooks coming out of the fish’s mouth can make for a rocketing hook into your hand. Always let out enough line to take the tension/bend out of the tip of the rod…this will help you avoid snapping tips as well.

 I prefer the Brodin Ghost nets with the clear thermoplastic net. I also have several of the soft nylon nets as well that are gentler on the fish’s side. The older knotted, thick nylon nets are too rough on many fish, if you intend to release them. Old nets should go the way of the fingers inside the gill plate pose used on live fish….harmful.



Cabela’s Step Up & Refine Your ‘Official Rules’

I received an email notification from ODFW (Oregon Dept. Fish Wildlife) re a special event where some lucky angler has a chance at $1m dollars.

Oregon may have a million dollar fish
If we do, one lucky angler could catch it in Crane Prairie, Dexter or Blue River Reservoir. All three are included in the nationwide “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions” contest sponsored by Cabelas, Outdoor Channel and several fish and wildlife agencies (including ODFW). 
See more details and register to participate.

I was intrigued that a State agency had joined forces with Cabela’s. I also noticed one of the Oregon fisheries was Crane Prairie Res., which use to be a premier fishing destination until the bass were introduced. But then given this is a nation wide contest that really doesn’t matter:

“Eligible Species of Freshwater Fish:

Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, White Bass, Walleye, Perch, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Striped Bass (Striper), Wiper, Crappie, Blue Gill, Channel Cat.”

So there is some place in the participating states that has one fish that is tagged for the million bucks, if you are the first to photo, de-tag and send proof of catch. There are other prizes as well for others that catch tagged fish but too late to qualify for the first fish caught status. Judging by the rules, it appears all manner of typical fishing methods are allowed. The rules state the handling of the fish as such…


“Registered participants may only catch and log eligible fish during the Fishing Period, and must photograph their fish with an eligible tag showing and still attached, prior to removing the tag and releasing the fish.” 

Well I imagined there must be more precise explanations on how to remove the tag and release the fish given all the methods that must be allowed. I mean Cabela’s does care if the fish survives don’t they? Yet really no where in any of the literature is there anything past the sponsors and the prizes that promotes respect for the fish or instructions on how to handle them. 

This is so typical. Cabela’s you are making assumptions or clueless or as I suspect, irresponsible on the handling of these species of fish. It is part and parcel with the put ‘n take fisheries and, and of course, typical of ODFW too. Here’s Cabela’s Conservation Platform. Yes they are dedicated to preserving this and that for the sportsmen. But, the emphasis is on the taking not the preserving.  I know many of those species are pretty hardy, probably prehistorically hardy, but several aren’t. Cabela’s let’s see something more, in writing, about more than money, sponsors and vague one liner release remarks. 

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