Releasing Badly Hooked Fish
I have released some badly hooked fish, and on a private pond have caught them again. It seems in my opinion they are pretty tough.
Short walleyes don't have enough meat to make the risk worthwhile - even if they're badly hooked.
There's not enough meat on ANY fish to violate just to for the meat. But if it's a case of "It'll just go to waste",I can understand it. Might have even done it in the past.
But I wouldn't do it now.
I got too many stupid,mostly drinking related tickets when I was younger ("Hold my beer and watch THIS!"). I never again want to be "that guy" standing there while an LEO is writing out a ticket.
It just looks degrading.
I wonder how many guys have their limit checked by a warden and the warden's about to leave when the guy's gear starts making "flopping" sounds.
I'm now thinking of an inland lake in WI with lake trout. If I leave tip-ups out much past sunrise I can almost guarantee that any flag will be a LT,not a walleye. They're fragile fish,they almost all bleed like crazy and they usually inhale a minnow and are hooked deeply...Season's closed on LT during wintertime on that lake.
I no longer use tip-ups on deep structure on that lake. Period.
On the other hand...I remember a trip when I had 4 walleyes on the ice when dense,dense fog rolled in. One flag went off and I filled my bag....Pack up my gear with the intent of collecting my "last" tippy on the way out. That flag was up when I reached it. Gut hooked walleye. Treble hook.
Always expect to be met by the warden at the launch....and always act as if he's on shore with binocs.
Except for miniature panfish, I honestly don't recall ever catching a fish and have it die completely enough to be considered a carcass in the time it would take to take the hook out or cut it off. I really don't think a warden would buy the transporting to the garbage story. An illegal fish in your possession is just that regardless of your intentions.
Admittedly I've had muskies clamp on to short walleyes before I got them to the boat and knew there was no way it'd live if I released them. I just kept them and figured I'd take the ticket if I got caught.