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.
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.
"But I swear officer I was going to throw it in the trash at the landing" won't hold up, at least I doubt it would.
Btown...I had the same issue a few years ago. In one season I single handly managed to gut hook 2 or 3 mid-20" walleyes. I released them knowing they probably won't make it. I was appalled. I changed several things to ensure it wouldn't happen again.
1)Get to the tip-up sooner and do not wait to set the hook 2)Master the "through the gill" hook removal technique I outlined below 3)Use semi-barbless trebble hooks.