The fundamental concepts of successful catch and release are to handle the fish quickly and to handle them as lightly as possible. The less time spent handling them and the smoother the handling, the higher the survival rate. Barbless hooks increase handling time and reduce the amount of effort required to unhook fish.
At Dorval Lodge Outfitter, people ask if they can possibly keep one for dinner. Unfortunately, we make sure that we do not make any exceptions to our catch and release policy. There are more than 300 guides and outfitters in our area, and many work more than 100 days a year. If we kept only one sturgeon or musky per day, we would drain our fish populations and decimate our livelihood in a relatively short period of time.
There are many people who just want to carry their trophy fish home to be displayed on the wall. It’s quite comprehensible. We want you to cherish that moment you had and remember who you were with, but practically no taxidermist these days does old-fashioned skinning. Most are only replicas of your trophy and the fish ends up in the dumpster at the back of the store. We all agree to take a nice picture of your fish, save it for size and then release it.
We value our sturgeon and musk very highly and we want to share them with you, but we also want to keep them as a souvenir for as many people to remember.
5 simple steps for a successful catch and release technique at Dorval Lodge Outfitter
1. Act quickly with the fish.
The majority of cutthroat fish that are captured are not large and with the strong leaders that can be fished in Jackson, it is not a problem to land them quickly. For large fish, it is important to set them off as quickly as possible. Use the heaviest leader you can. It is not a question of being able to use light socks, but of the survivability of the fish.
2. If you do not have to, don’t touch the fish.
Many walleyes and pikes can be unhooked from the water directly without touching their bodies. Let the water withstand their weight, while using your fingers, pliers or a Ketchum Release to unhook the fish.
3. If you need to handle their body, do so very gently.
A soft net in the water is great or just rock them in the water with your hand. There are different theories on how to handle fish, but all of them agree that you should be very careful and gentle.
4. Less time is better.
Do not wait five minutes for a friend to check out the fish before releasing it. If you need a few more minutes, for example if you have difficulty removing a hook, put the fish in clear, aerated water, at least deep enough to completely cover its body.
5. Don’t kill fish waiting for a picture.
Be quick and gentle with the fish! Get the camera set up and ready. Ask a friend to be prepared to take a picture as soon as the fish is caught. The picture of the catch and the smile look very nice on Facebook, but don’t mistreat a fish to get it. Use a net to lift the fish or rock it in the water with your hands. If you have to lift the fish, do it close to the water, because if a fish is dropped, it won’t hurt it. They are your buddies; make sure they can continue to enjoy the fun for another day.