With proper fish care and the concept of “catch and release” becoming an ever present topic of discussion, I wanted to write this 3-part blog series to share with you some of my tips and tricks for not only “catch and release” but also ensuring “catch and LIVE release”.
These days, there is no reason to catch and keep those trophy bass or any bass for that matter. Taking the appropriate pictures and measurements will allow you to get a replica mount made which means you can release that hawg to be caught another day. Bass are considered “sport fish”, not “pan fish” which means you wouldn’t want to keep them for the freezer or frying pan. Taking these points into consideration, I see no reason that someone should validly target and keep a bass. That being said, if the point is to release the bass that you catch why not ensure that the bass you are catching and releasing are as healthy and viable as they were before you caught them?
1.) In Part 1,I talked about ways that you can handle those bass with care immediately after catching them to minimize stress. In Part 2, I want to talk about using the right tools for the job. As with any job, you want to make sure that you have the right tools to make you as successful as possible. There are a lot of different tools when it comes to fishing so I will just highlight on a few that have been useful for me and increased my success of ensuring the bass that I catch can be released alive and healthy to be caught another day.
2.) “Use The Right Tools For The Job”
Use a rubber net instead of a cotton or nylon net. The rubber net is less rigid and has more give. As the fish is being netted and fighting, it will bounce in the net instead of scraping and hitting against it. Rubber nets reduce stress and damage to the fish scales and slim coat. Better yet, don’t use a net at all and when you get the fish to the boat…lip it!
3.) Be sure to select the right rod for the application. You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to pound in a finishing nail and believe it or not the same is true for fishing rods. I prefer Elite Rods for their sensitivity. I have fished a lot of other rods in my time but none are as sensitive and light as Elite Rods. Sensitivity is important because you want to set the hook at the right time. If you wait to long, the fish could swallow it. If you use a heavy rod like the Elite Rods 7682f Flipping Stick for a light finesse application you will increase your chance of breaking off, missing the fish altogether, or causing damage/injury to the fish. Understanding that not all anglers can afford a different rod for every application, you may be better served by using a multi-purpose rod like the Elite Rods7054s, which was specially designed with a soft tip for lighter baits but with plenty of backbone and flex for heavier baits too. By using the right rod for the right application you will not only decrease the odds of injury to the fish but you will increase your odds of landing one.
It is inevitable that at some point, even though you do everything right, you will land a fish that is bleeding. When this happens I grab my Mountain Dew. I actually rarely drink soda pop but I always carry a Mountain Dew in the boat. Any clear soda pop with Citric Acid will work so feel free to carry your soda pop of choice. Why? Because when the soda pop is poured into the mouth and over the gills of the fish the citric acid actually works as a cauterizing agent of sorts and stops the bleeding. I try my best to never put a bleeding fish in the livewell as it can cause stress for the other fish. When I land a fish and see that it is bleeding I grab a cull strap, put it on the fish for ease of handling and then put the fish overboard to rinse it off. If it still bleeding, I pour the Mountain Dew (also while the fish is overboard so as not to get the sugary drink all over the carpet) then I wait a few seconds and rinse it off in the water again. Once or twice of this and the bleeding stops. So next time you have a bleeder, grab a Mountain Dew!
You may think that there isn’t much you can do to keep a bass happy after being caught other than tossing it in the livewell. If so, you are wrong. There are a lot of ways that you can ensure the bass in the livewell or in the weigh-in bag are as relaxed and well taken care of as possible to ensure a live release. In Part 3, we will discuss some easy ways to “Keep ‘Em Happy”.