Catch and Release

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Catch and Release
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Catch and Release
A Management Tool For Self Sustaining Fisheries
Jason Hambly Josh Linn

Ten days ago, a good friend, Jason Hambly gave me a picture of himself holding a beautiful wild steelhead he landed and released on the Sandy River. It measured 40" long with a 21" girth. The day before yesterday, Josh Linn landed that same fish at another location on the Sandy River and released it again. The two anglers compared notes and identified this fish because of some distinctive healed wounds. Jason used a pink plastic worm & bobber. Josh used a spey rod and fly.  The fish is still in very healthy condition...and probably wiser. Catch and release works, and both men can say they got a twenty-pounder this winter.
This year is a little different than most years, because we have a very strong steelhead run.  There is optimism in the air.  The fish are fat, and there has been good Ocean survival.  Both self-sustaining steelhead returns and hatchery produced steelhead returns are much stronger than in the past eight years.  This year is a model of how it is supposed to work. Hatchery steelhead are robust and for the first time in many years, they look like wild fish with deformed fins. As usual, naturally reproducing wild fish are also a major factor in our catch rate. In the past several years, most local anglers have worked real hard to limit angling mortality on wild fish...and it's paying off.
On our home waters, fly fishers and gear fishers are seeking ways to contribute to the sustainability of our great working together.   As sportsmen & sportswomen, our single highest compliment to the Sandy River steelhead run could be it's immortality.

How to Catch and Release Your Fish
An Investment in Your Fishing Future
Treat wild fish gently

Wild and hatchery steelhead, and salmon are commonly found together in many Oregon rivers. Hatchery trout may be found with wild trout in many lakes. Hatchery-reared fish are used to supplement natural production or compensate for lost production (e.g. dams). However, catching and keeping a wild fish has a greater effect on a fish population than catching and keeping a hatchery fish. Here's why:
Hatchery fish are protected in a hatchery pond until adulthood, while wild fish must survive stream disturbances and predators to become adults. Adult wild fish that survive are the strongest and most cunning of their kind. Also, wild fish are much more likely to spawn successfully in a stream than hatchery fish. So, returning wild fish to the

stream allows those fish to spawn and pass on their ability to survive to their offspring - enabling the wild fish population to remain healthy and grow.  In most Oregon waters wild fish are protected by law and must be released unharmed.

Hooking and Playing the Fish
(Our perspective).

  1. Use hooks that are barbless to reduce trauma.
  2. Set the hook immediately. Try to prevent a fish from swallowing your fly.
  3. Land your quarry quickly; don't play it to exhaustion.
  4. Decide to release a fish as soon as you determine it is wild.
  5. Don't beach a wild fish or let it flop around on the bank.
    6. If a picture is to be taken, get the fish back into the water quickly as possible.
    7.  Always keep release tools handy.
Treat wild fish gently Handling Your Catch
1. Leave the fish in the water (if possible) and don't handle it. Use a tool to remove the hook.
2. Keep the fish from thrashing.
3. Netting your fish is often the quickest way to  control it. Rubber-bag nets remove less slime and fewer scales than mesh nets.
4. When you must handle a fish:
  • Wet, clean bare hands are best, or use a wet glove or rag to hold on.
  • Turn a fish on its back or cover its eyes with a wet towel to calm it.
  • Don't put your fingers in the eyes or gills of your catch.
  • Avoid removing mucous or scales.
  • Don't squeeze a wild fish or let it bang against things.
Treat wild fish gently

Get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible.
Releasing the Fish

  1. Place the fish in the water gently supporting its mid-section and tail until it swims away.
  2. Resuscitate an exhausted fish by moving it back and forth or tow it gently alongside the boat to force water through its gills.
  3. Watch your quarry to make sure it swims away. If it doesn't, recover the fish and try again.

A released fish has an excellent chance of survival when handled carefully and correctly.

Wild Fish: This is a fish that was naturally produced without man's assistance.  Normally all fins are straight, and have branched fin rays and the adipose fin is intact. These fish are usually protected by special laws. Be sure to read the fishing regulations.

Hatchery Fish: In Oregon all hatchery anadromous salmonids have had the adipose fin surgically removed and healed before they are released from the hatchery.  Also, possibly a ventral, or a pectoral fin may also have been remove for further identification. Some hatchery fish may have a maxillary flipper removed instead of the second fin. To confirm hatchery origin, look for the healed fin clip. Once you are sure you want to kill a fish, do it quickly with a sharp blow to the head. Remove the blood, gills and guts immediately to have the best table fare.

Sailfish On The Fly
Mike Senatra & nice Mexican Sailfish.

Life  is full of challenges.  Or maybe life is about challenges; meeting them and beating them.  Some challenges are thrown at us by luck or divine intervention. Others are of our own choosing; mountains to be climbed or dragons to be slain.  Some people need to do the difficult in order to grow.  There is a lust for adventure, a need to tempt things beyond ones control.  Why else would one fish for sailfish with a fly rod?  At first glance Sailfish would seem like very unlikely quarries for fly anglers.  The sport of fly fishing is usually associated with smaller species that live in relatively confined areas.  Sailfish live their entire lives in the open Oceans of the tropical and semi-tropical parts of the world.  Only rarely do they come close to shore.  Often large expanses of deep blue water have to be covered just to find one.  Small Sailfish are fifty pounds.  Large ones might exceed 200.  When hooked they display the power of a missile launched from a submarine.  They have enough power and stamina to hurt you; to cause you physical pain.  And of course therein lies the attraction, the fact that they  

aren't easy.  Or at least that's the way our quest started out.  Yet now, six seasons later, every one of my closest friends have caught at least one Sailfish with a fly rod.  Mike has caught a couple, so have Jeff and Tilda.  Patty got one, I've landed several and so has Troy.   Yup, and no Ready to land.
Troy & Mark. doubt they still are not easy,  but in some ways not as difficult as we had first imagined.  Even the heaviest fly tackle is considered "light-tackle" by deep sea fishing standards. We have caught sailfish on 12-weight, 14-weight and 15-weight fly rods.  To me, 12-weight rods are a little light in the butt to get the best performance out of 20-pound test tippet.  And they are a little light for casting the large flies that seem to produce the most strikes.  A 15-weight   
rod is a little more than you need for the average size fish.  No doubt it would be handy for really large fish.  We have used several brands of 14-weight rods and this seems to be the ideal size to match the fish and the size flies that are used to get them.  We started out using a 500-grain line, but have since switched to a 600 grain line.  The heavier line loads the rod and turns over the big flies easier.  We load our reels with 450-500 yard of backing.  This used to require a very large reel when we were using 30-pound Micron.  Now we use 50-pound TUF Line which is much smaller in diameter and our reels are getting smaller.  The smaller diameter of the TUF Line creates less water drag than the old style backing and should make it easier if you are into setting light tippet    Sailfish with FPF K.T.s Squid Tube Fly in the jaw.
records.  Reels the size of an Abel Super #13, Ross Momentum #8 and Tibor Gulfstream are adequate and proven in the field.  Sailfish lack teeth that would damage your leader, but there are a zillion little jaggers on the bill.  This necessates the use of a bite tippet.  By IGFA rules this bite tippet can be no more than 12" long including the knots.  This is only a partial help since the bill on some Sailfish measures nearly 2-feet long.  However to date we have lost no Sailfish due to the class tippet being rasped in two.  Any leader used for big Tarpon would work for
Sailfish.  We have been using the Rio Billfish Leaders with good success.  We have used an assortment of of flies.  Three patterns have brought most of our success.  Those are the FPF Green Mackerel, FPF Blue Back Tube Fly and the FPF K.T.s Squid Tube Fly. 

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, But Ugly Goes Clear To The Bone

Probably a world record...

Beauty doesn't always influence natures plan where survival is concerned.  Crocodilians; survivors of at least two mass extinctions might be the most prominent examples.  To most people crocodiles and alligators are just plain ugly.  But "beauty" seems to be merely a human perception.  Take the difference between rats and squirrels. Both are rodents.  One is solid gray color and has a slick tail.  The other comes in a variety of colors; some with stripes and all have hair covered tails.  Rats are usually despised by humans (unless they are white). Squirrels are often regarded as cute and cuddly.  Yet, if you shaved the hair from both kinds of rodents they would be nearly impossible to tell apart.  People's perception of desirable versus undesirable fish often follows a similar illogical vein. On our home

waters, Rocky Mountain Whitefish suffer (or in some cases prosper) from racial discrimination.  They are of the family salmonidae, the same as trout and salmon.  Yet, they are regarded as lesser value than their cousins.  Possibly it is because they have large scales and look similar to several inedible minnow species, such as chubs and squaw fish that live in the same waters. It is doubtful that the size of scales or inedibility determine fish beauty to anglers, or tarpon certainly wouldn't rate very high.  Speed and 

Trumpet Fish

Trigger Fish...

stamina are often factors which determine sport fish desirability.  But once again there are inconsistencies.  The most popular sport fish in the U.S. is the Large Mouth Bass.  This specie has scales which are at least as large as whitefish scales and when they are of equal size, whitefish fight at least as hard.  I have been fortunate enough to have caught many of the most "desirable" sport fish with a fly rod.  Tarpon, Sailfish, Marlin, Bonefish, Permit, Roosterfish, Steelhead and many species of trout and char to name a few.  However, some days on the water are easy and some days are damn difficult.  On the difficult days, a few whitefish can be a blessing and although bragging about catching 

whitefish has no "snob appeal", any fish is better than no fish.  The same criteria applies to foreign destination saltwater trips as to home waters.  Some days are easy and pictures of giant, prestigious sport fish are collected.  Other trips you get the "you should have been here last week" syndrome.  On those trips "ugly fish" are the difference between some fish and no fish.  These trips can fill out your list of "weird exotic species" you have caught and can be nearly as interesting.  A trip to Bara De Navidad was one of those trips.  December had recorded one of the highest catches of dorado and billfish ever.  During our stay in January, even though the water and weather conditions were deemed ideal, they had disappeared from the area. We filled-in part of every day fishing the shoreline for smaller species.  Even trevelly, bonito, sierras and jack crevelles were in short supply.  We did however catch lots of sheep's heads, trigger fish and green jacks, none of which are considered anything to brag about by most saltwater anglers. However, trigger fish and sheep's heads were new to us, and all of these species pull much harder than the average trout or bass. And yes, we caught a number of trumpet fish which has to be one of God's strangest (and possibly ugliest) creations. They are shaped more like a snake than a fish.  They are about one third head and have a very long tubular toothless mouth. They swim like snakes.  They are covered with slime that is about the consistency of wall paper paste. But, in the unlikely situation that some braggart world traveler type fly angler spouts off, "Hey, I caught a three foot Trumpet Fish!"  I guess I might be able to respond, "Oh ya, well I caught one a little larger and my old lady caught a four footer!"

Cortland Toothy Critter Tie-able Stainless Steel Leader Material

Unknown specie caught with Toothy Critter bite tippet...

Chasing after pike, muskies, bluefish, barracuda, mackerel, Wahoo, sharks and a variety of other sharp toothed fish requires specialized tackle. The best nylon and fluorocarbon leaders are useless against such adversaries unless you use a bite-proof tippet.  Cortland Line Company introduces "Toothy Critter", the newest tiable stainless steel leader material available for fishing.  Aptly named, Toothy Critter is tough as steel. It is a leader material that is supple enough for tying all common fly fishing leader knots.  It is tough enough to stand up to the sharpest teeth.  We attached Toothy Critter to IGFA 

rated #20 monofilament and  fluorocarbon tippets using a standard two turn surgeons knot.  Much of our fishing during the five days of testing was with fast sinking lines.  The fish were holding deep among basalt ledges.  Inevitably our flies became snagged periodically and had to be broken off and the leader retied.  Not once did any knot involving Toothy Critter fail.  Every time the leader broke somewhere else.  Another redeeming quality of Toothy Critter is its near invisibility in the water.  During each day's fishing, species which didn't require a bite tippet were also encountered.  As an experiment, one angler would leave the bite tippet on, the other would snip the bite tippet off.  No difference in the amount of fish caught by either angle was detected.  This material is about the same diameter as monofilament, so it doesn't effect casting or presentation.  If you fish for species with teeth, you will like Toothy Critter.

Toothy Critter Wire

Item Description Size Price To Top
605824 Cortland Toothy Critter, 10 foot coil 20 pound test $7.95 SALE ENDED

Native Fish Society

Make Plans to Attend !!!
Native Fish Society Auction and Banquet…
A Feast for Your Eyes, Your Appetite and Your Desire to Help Native Fish

Auction & Banquet 2008

"Wild Is The Future"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Montgomery Park

Special Guest Speaker: Lani Waller

Go Wild in '08

Join us to celebrate Wild is the Future at the Native Fish Society's 12th Annual Banquet & Auction. Celebrate with family, friends and others who care about our native fish. Ticket are $75 and include parking, hosted beer and wine, beverages, a fabulous dinner prepared by Food in Bloom Catering and lots of excitement and good cheer!

Reserve your seats today!

 For More Detailed Information Click Here.

Cabin on the Sandy River.

Cabin On The Sandy River
Located where the river has year around fishing.
This house is recently renovated.

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty


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