At the fish cleaning station I was chastised for saying that I have been releasing the rainbows. Two guys told me there were "dead fish, goners, no way they are gonna live, hooks ripped the gills too bad, etc". I don't know... all but 1 seemed real happy to be back in the water and swam off down into the deep. The one, I saw the flash of his side as the boat moved away so it was struggling.... maybe didn't make it... maybe recovered, surface water was 61, which I think is fine for a rainbow. I should mention, the 2 guys said they had lost 3 fish at the back of the boat, which by their own standards should be "dead fish" right? I mostly fish with 4 lines and pull lines often when we have a fish on, so I haven't lost any at the net yet this year. I've been fishing for 45 years and I don't waste fish or game. If a fish is bleeding out of the gills, or showing no signs of life, I'm gonna eat it. I have scooped up and ate quite a few fish flopping on the surface with flasher fly dragging behind them and broken line. I've snagged "ghost lines" of copper and leadcore on my downrigger cables with fish attached. I think I'm probably in the black on other peoples lost/wasted fish I've salvaged vs fish I've wasted in my lifetime. I know others throw fish back as well and in about 1000 hours trolling out there, I haven't seen but 1 or 2 dead fish floating without hooks in them. So I was hoping for some support on C & R for rainbows, browns, & lakers. I'm doing the right thing right?
Catch & Release Mortality
With trout being able to live for many years, I release all browns and lakers. I’ll keep an occasional rainbow but generally prefer to release them. Being harbor and bottom dwellers, browns and lakers are terrible to eat and if a fish has contaminates, it’s them. Salmon taste a lot better, don’t release well, only capable of living 2-4 years, keep all of those you want.
I cringe every time I see a big brown or laker at the cleaning station. Yeah, it’s a good fish to catch but they’re much better to catch than eat. I wonder if the people that keep them have no sense of taste or just no appreciation for how long and what it took for that fish took to grow that big.
I know there are plenty of people that will say how good the big trout are. They’re marginally edible and definitely not a fish that I would consider to taste good. The next time someone eats a big brown or laker, think hard if it was better to catch it or eat it.
if you release them, at least they have chance to live......what percentage die vs live?
no one knows.
But 100% of fish that get filleted die
I release all browns, bows, and lakers boat side. There's a few studies out their. If I recall, the main factors are how they are hooked (bleeding and such), water temperature (salmonids warm is bad), netted vs boat side, and are they played out. When I'm in release mode, it's always boat side release. If I have to net them, I often have to resuscitate them which I'm not always successful at. Resuscitating a played out king that was netted is hard. If I can boat side it, they swim off strong. The obvious reality is that if you keep it, it's a 100% chance of death. If you release it, there's a good chance it will live to be caught another day depending on the factors I described. A lot of folks do not have grasp of the ecology of the lake. Fish die in the lake all the time. It's part of the cycle. The death of the predator fish just returns the nutrients to bottom of the food chain to start over again.
It is all about how they are handled.....this steelhead made it after getting handled.