Suggestions to Boost Survival Rates of Released Striped Bass Feb 3, 2019 20:05:01 GMT
Post by Virginia Striper©® on Feb 3, 2019 20:05:01 GMT
Suggestions to Boost Survival Rates of Released Striped Bass
• Always use appropriate weight-class tackle that allows stripers to be brought in quickly to reduce exhaustion and minimize stress.
• When fishing with plugs and lures with multiple treble hooks, consider removing one or two sets of hooks or replacing them with single hooks.
• In general, use single barbless hooks whenever possible, or crimp, file or flatten the barbs on hooks to ease hook removal and reduce tissue damage and handling stress.
• When fishing with natural or live bait, use non-offset circle hooks to minimize gut hooking and the chance of lethal wounding of striped bass to be released. (Note that octopus-style hooks are not true circle hooks and fish like traditional J-hooks.)
• When using the “snag and drop” technique to snag menhaden, herring or other live bait on treble hooks, transfer and swim baits on a single circle hook rig.
• When you feel a strike, set the hook quickly to prevent the fish from taking the hook deep in its throat or stomach where it may cause internal organ damage and be hard or impossible to remove.
• Once a fish is hooked, land it quickly rather than playing it to exhaustion. A fish brought to the boat or shore quickly has a much better chance of survival after release than one that has been exhausted by a lengthy fight.
• Ideally, do not take the fish out of the water. Striped bass should be unhooked quickly and carefully in the water to reduce stress and the potential for injury, especially when air temperature is much higher than water temperature.
• If a fish must be removed from the water, always try to minimize the amount of time it is kept out of the water, handle the fish as little as possible, and release it quickly.
• Avoid using gaffs to land striped bass that are going to be released. In a jetty situation, if a gaff must be used, gaff fish in the jaw or corner of the mouth only.
• When using a landing net, use a net with small mesh made out of rubber, knotless nylon, or other soft non-abrasive material rather than a large mesh polypropylene net. These materials remove less slime and reduce potential wounding. Make sure the net basket is shallow and of sufficient circumference so it doesn’t bend the fish.
• If you need to lift a striped bass, refrain from holding them in a vertical position to avoid displacing or stressing internal organs. Hold fish horizontally by firmly gripping the lower jaw with one hand and gently supporting its weight under the belly with the palm of the other hand.
• Once a striper is landed, keep it from thrashing around and injuring itself.
• When unhooking a striped bass, handle fish carefully using wet hands, wet cotton gloves or a wet towel to minimize removal of the fish’s protective mucous layer.
• Avoid touching or injuring the eyes.
• Avoid touching the gills, as this could damage the gills and impair the fish’s ability to breathe.
• If a fish is deep hooked in the esophagus or gut, cut the leader as close as you can to the hook and leave the hook in the fish—attempting to dig the hook out can cause considerable trauma.
• If a hook is difficult to remove by hand, use a de-hooking tool such as long-nosed pliers, hemostats (forceps) or a commercially available hook removal tool.
• Fish in good condition should be quickly and gently returned to the water in an upright, horizontal position. Fish that are stressed by the fight or handling and unhooking should be revived prior to release.
• Revive exhausted fish by holding them headfirst into the current or direction of the seas in the swimming position with one hand under the tail and the other under the fish’s belly by grasping its jaw between your thumb and forefinger.
• Gently move fish in a figure-8 pattern to get water flowing through the mouth and over the gills. Always keep the fish moving forward; never move the fish backwards.
• When the fish is revived, let it swim away on its own. Do not let the fish go until it clamps down on your thumb or is able to swim strongly and freely out of your grasp.
It is our hope that the information contained in this article will allow anglers to better understand the causes of stress in angled striped bass. By using best catch-and-release practices, anglers can ensure greater chances of survival of released fish and increase their contributions to conservation of this important recreational species.