Catch and Respect – Fly-fishing for bass – & Leave no trace
There is a skill too, in the proper release of fish!
Please limit your kill rather than killing your limit.
Catching a wild fish like a bass is a skillful process, releasing one successfully back to the sea alive and healthy also requires skill and good techniques. I try and apply the following to my own fishing as best I can
- Before you start fishing look closely at the area where you are angling and search for lies that you suspect a fish may run to for cover and use to his advantage for escape or possible hang up.
- Plan regularly as you move and consider how you will play land and return your fish under the circumstances you are in. Check for your own safety and a possible path to bring the fish through to release.
- Think speed of return – get them back in the water fast!
Some helpful tips for successful catch and release
- Handle the fish as little as possible and try to keep the fish in the water when removing hooks
- Avoid lifting or touching the fish if you can
- If you do need to touch the fish, make sure your hands are wet
- Avoid lifting the fish out of the water unsupported
- If you do need to lift the fish, make sure he is supported evenly
- If you are using lures for the first time and are nervous of treble hooks, consider using a boga grip for in the water releases
- NEVER lift or SUSPEND a fish from a boga grip.
- It is often not necessary to use a boga grip when fishing for bass, especially when using single or barb less hooks, cut down or eliminate its use entirely as you grow in confidence
- Always have a plan for releasing a fish before landing it
- Because time is crucial in keeping a released fish alive, work quickly and eliminate any over exposure to air
- Avoid using landing nets
- Do not drag fish over dry hot sand which clings to its slime
- Handling the fish with wet hands helps to avoid removing the beneficial fish slime.
- Remove treble hooks carefully and quickly using pliers and try to avoid lip or flesh ripping, also avoid any contact to the red gill plate area.
- When taking photographs make it very quick and always plan ahead
- Revive any exhausted fish in the water by pointing the fish into any available current and providing support until the fish recovers.
- Try not to recover the fish where water is muddy or sandy or temperature is high
- Be patient with bigger fish or fish that are responding slowly
Points to Consider in reducing overexposure
- Be confident when landing your fish
- Cut down on the number of hooks on your lures
- De-barb your treble hooks
- Fit lures with single hooks
- De-barb your single hooks
- Try to land fish as quickly as possible to avoid over stressing them
- Overplayed and overexposed fish die after release
- A quickly landed bass will still have a lot of energy and is very inclined to shake his head from side to side – a dangerous time for both fish and angler for potential damage especially with barbed multi hooked lures
- Longer lures with multiple treble hooks cause greater damage to fish than shorter ones
- Regards measuring fish – wrap tape of three different colours at important intervals on your rod- measure from butt of rod to coloured tape – is it really that important to be mm accurate at the cost of a fast return?
- 50 cms equates to approx 1.35kgs or 3lbs
- 70 cms equates to approx 3.35kgs or 7lbs
- 80 cms is mostimes greater than 4.45kgs or 10lbs and less than 5.25kgs or 12lbs – this is a big fish and one that bass anglers seek most.
Further considerations in a dwindling population
If you intend to kill and keep a fish from time to time (July – December) then carry the proper tool do the job. Don’t leave fish gasping and flapping on the shoreline but use a salmon priest to dispatch him quickly.
If keeping a fish consider keeping one that has spawned a number of times > 45 cms.
Try not to kill the fish that everyone wants to catch i.e. return bigger fish,
No form of fishing offers such elaborate silences as fly-fishing for permit. The most successful permit fly fisherman has very few catches to describe to you. Yet there is considerable agreement that taking a permit on a fly is the extreme experience of the sport. Even the guides allow enthusiasm to shine through.
Thomas McGuane – The longest Silence
Travelling to a hotel at Dublin airport by bus was a journey I can recall without any serious event or indeed concern. Even though there was snow on the ground I had seen worse but then, as I approached Dublin and disembarked at the airport things were definitely changing. Much faster than I realised. I hauled my wheeled baggage through the snow for five minutes, made a dramatic entrance through the foyer in a flurry of cold wind and banging doors and stumbled into an unexpected crowd of people – all trapped in a long queue trying to book rooms. Flights were being cancelled at an ever increasing rate. I didn’t register any anxiety regarding the fact that I was flying to Belize the following morning via Amsterdam.
Suffice to say that this seemingly inexorable invincibility and belief continued as the weather worsened, I survived a ‘lost in a whiteout’ experience on the way back to my hotel having met and drank with my fishing companions in celebration of our pending angling future and success.
Standing at the foyer door of the hotel the following morning as temperatures plummeted and snow fell like I NEVER saw it fall before, I looked forward to the routine and excitement of airports and their cadences. Apparently we were now flying straight to New York, I never felt the true impact of what this meant, but Atlanta was apparently on our list for a non scheduled stopover. This of course kept us in line for our destination but also allowed us time to contemplate and create new plans for things like having a ‘rare auld time’.
Spencer proved to be excellent exponent of this philosophy and immediately fell in love somewhere over the Atlantic.
We were the second last plane to leave Dublin that day. The airport closed for three days 40 minutes after we took off. Invincible!
Spencer got badly sunburned on day two – he remained on MOTHERRR for a day, recovering by way of air-conditioning. This left me to fish with my guide Jose to fish for the longest time for the greatest challenge.
They’re running hot to the boat Jim, fifty yards at 11 o’clock and closing.
Jose never raised his voice, even when I eventually spotted the fish, twenty of them, at 20 yards and going past the bow. I never even got a cast off. I marvelled at their speed their meticulous formation held in perfection as they traversed the reef on a secret mission.
We sped over shallow water, close to giant starfish, ray, reefs, stopped and drifted. And in the midst of the drifts I found the impossible silence as Jose majestically polled the boat over the flats and through heart racing locations where we met the fish, again and again.
It was always the gentle sound of the wind, the flap of shirt collar, the hiss of line through the cast, sometimes the clink clink clink of small waves against the hull. A pelican fishing.
Fish Jim..came the voice, do ya see um?
With some instruction and help, but now more frequently than not, more like encouragement, in the silence, came the activity of the cast, the retrieve, and most of all in the silence sometimes too came the sound of a fly reel emptying at speed, creating, in the silence, a frame of mind I can never forget.
That scene, with Macbeth helpless and desperate
In his nightmare—when he meets the hags again
And sees the apparitions in the pot—
I felt at home with that one all right.
In the street and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it — dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even on a black and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that the cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home… It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible, companion, and walked with him.
Henry David Thoreau