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fishuhalik

Handling big fish

21 posts in this topic

I had a question for you guys. I don't catch alot of big pike and muskies, but I've got my fair share of fish 35"+, maybe 20 or so. My question is this, when you're holding a big pike or muskie for a photo, how do you hold it? I got a nice one this weekend, 35", and while I was holding it, it did a big flop, cut my fingers to shreds, and I accidently dropped it on the boat. It was stunned but after a couple of minutes it took off good. That's the 4th time I've done that. I usually hold them horizontally, one hand in the "v" of the gills, one hand behind the tail, as firm as I can. Any suggestions so this doesn't happen again?

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Sounds like you've got the right idea. I like to do all of my unhooking and everything else with the net in the water. Once unhooked, I have a buddy get the camera ready and pull her out of the water with one hand under the gill plate and support the body/belly with the other hand. Usually you can feel the fish's muscles tense up shortly before they shake. When this happens I keep a tight grip and keep the fish lower to the bottom of the boat and DO NOT LET GO. It could harm you and the fish. Once she's ready again I'll hold her vertically, 45 degrees away from the body so it's not putting all the stress on the gills and support the belly with the other hand firmly and smile. Get her back in ASAP. I like to explain the process to newbies before getting into fish since many of them like to sit with the jaw on the floor once you hook up.

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I agree with JimBuck.

My system is net fish (if I'm lucky enough to catch one), unhook the fish lift for picture that boat partner got ready during unhooking and then set down in cradle (also partners job) for a in water measure measurement before sending them away.

As far as holding the fish, my only recommendation would be using a glove. Theres also some old fishermans tale I once heard about stroking a muskies belly to relax it but not sure how accurate that is

Zelmsdawg

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The trick is being quick. If you don't have a muskie landing net, you are in trouble. Unhook the fish in the net while the net is in the water. Have your fishing partner get the camera ready, lift the fish out of the water and take picture. Should only take 15-20 seconds, 30 seconds max. I always hold the fish either low to the bottom of boat kneeling, or close to the edge of the boat while standing. If I lose grip of the fish while standing, in the water it goes and the fish lives. If I lose grip of it kneeling, it is not falling from very far and should hopefully still live. Try to limit the amount of slime you take off the fish as well as that will also affect if the fish lives.

Just think quick, but again if you don't have a big landing net for a big fish, you are kind've in trouble. In that case, I would still unhook the fish in the water and then try to grab the fish for a pic. Not easy to do though. Horizontal holds are best. You can find the meaty part of the fish under the gill (do not put fingers in the actual gill) and make a fist and hold tight, while supporting the belly of the fish with your other hand. Good luck.

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Zelms, I did the "stroke its belly" thing once on a 40" musky that was caught on 1/64th ounce jig and 6# line. It was regualr season opener, and we didn't want to put it into a small net. It sort of worked, or it seemed like it, as I was able to calm it next to the boat, then grabbed by gills to get hook out, and snapped a quick pic over side of boat. It did seem to calm it down when boatside, it just sort of went to sleep. Then when I tried to grab it it awoke, then I stroked it again and it sort of calmed down again. This was in very cold water, if that mattered.

Now my bro has huge muskei net and does as you guys say, take hook out in net while still in water, usually by using knipex to cut the hook to get lure out of way while getting the hook out of fish, if hooked good. Quick pic and away she goes.

I solve the problem by only catching small fish wink

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Yup, good advice above. I like to use a glove on my left hand and that's the hand I use to hold the head end of the fish. Even with a good, firm grip with a bare hand, I've had my hand cut to shreds from a flopping fish. With a glove and a good, firm grip I've never dropped a fish in the boat or been cut to shreds.

Works for me...

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Get a big net, if not, leave them in the water and take pics over the side.

Aside from that, wear a glove and make a fist around that jaw bone and don't let go. I find if i go too far into the gill slit, then i get cut up bad, i try not to dig in too far.

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Like others have said definitely remove the hooks in the landing net if you can. Have a glove, even just a leather work glove can give you that extra grip.

One things that I do when I get a hold of Ski, is I get my hand (glove or not) in the gill plate and you can feel a spot on the lower jaw (near the "v") where you can put your thumb and apply moderate pressure. Now I read years ago that this is a pressure point of some kind and can have a calming effect on the fish, plus it sure helps for better grip. I have no idea if there is any proof to this or not, but it's not an inconvenience of any kind so I figure what the heck. I have no dropped fish to my credit in 9-10 years or so of fishing these beasts.

RU

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assuming you keep your net in the water....

stay on your knees for the pic when you lift the fish in the boat

keep your other hand under the midsection of the fish, not the tail

DON'T LET GO of the gill plate and using a glove helps alot

if all else fails you're in position to throw the fish out of the boat or back into the net before you drop it, and if you do drop it, it doesn't have too far to fall

haven't had a drop using this system, always got the pic, can't say the same of other methods i've tried and i can't think of a better way to do it, so 90% of my pics look like this:

Picture005.jpg

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I noticed a lot of people mentioned using a glove. My wife used a leather work glove once, and it got caught in the white comb like part of the musky's gills. Didn't pull out very smoothly. If you need to use a glove, I'd be careful of what material it's made of.

To avoid getting cut up too bad, I try to keep the "pad" side of my fingers tight against the gill plate... when I open my hand up too much is when the tops of my fingers get scraped up. Almost every musky I catch atleast leaves a little scrapes to my fingers (musky knuckles.. which I wear proud!)

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Good suggestions listed above, keep the fish in the net and hook in the water and then have camera ready for quick pic. I don't mind grabbing them under the gills to hold for a pic and pressing under the chin helps.

As a guide it's often difficult to pass a big fish to someone for a pic because they may have problems holding it safely under the gill. I like to use a "boga grip" or "rapala grip" to pass the fish to the angler for a quick diagonal or horizontal pic. The grips are expensive but worth every penny to keep the fish from getting dropped, they also work well for holding the fish in the water to revive for release. Last weekend we boated 7 pike over 37 inches, all were CPR'd and swimming safely.

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I use the Musky Armor gloves and think they are sweet. They dry quickly and are comfortable to wear. The Lindy gloves work well but are a little stiffer than the Musky Armor gloves. I haven't ever been cut by gill rakers, but with my brother it is almost a given he is going to bleed when he catches a fish. Started using the Musky Armor and no more blood from him!

As stated above, get your fingers up in the gills and get that thumb locked down on the underside of the fish's mouth. This is called THE LEECH LAKE LOCK, and as long as you squeeze it hard, you won't drop the fish.

I always have all my release tools on the floor of the boat and ready to go, so when I catch a fish, it can be unhooked, photo'ed and released as quickly as possible.

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I noticed a lot of people mentioned using a glove. My wife used a leather work glove once, and it got caught in the white comb like part of the musky's gills. Didn't pull out very smoothly. If you need to use a glove, I'd be careful of what material it's made of.

Yeah, a leather glove is asking for trouble and likely won't provide you much safety, other than psychological (unless it's really, really thick). The kind of glove you would want is a musky armor type glove or any glove that is sold for fish cleaning purposes. Definitely won't be bomb proof, but they work pretty well.

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Couple things.

1 DON'T use boga grips on muskies. Their jaw bone isn't strong enough to support the fish if they twist or hang (hanging is bad anyway). Other fish have a larger jaw per body weight and length like bass and reds. I've heard of too many stories of esox with broken jaws to promote these things for toothy critters.

2. Don't have your fingers up in the gills (red parts). The gills are more sensitive and will make fish freak out much more often compounding the problem. You're also not gaining a good grip on the fish this way either. That's not to mention having your finger near the teeth as well.

Tips:

1. When the fish is in the net flip it over on it's back. This disorients the fish and settles them down. This also works well when hand-landing. I suppose you can stroke it's belly if you want wink

2. When the fish is on it's back then grab the bone on the lower jaw. Lightly run your fingers over the bottom opening of the gill plate going forward until it stops. You will notice the bone, grab it. Make a fist when you grab this bone. By doing this you will dramatically increase your control and grip on the fish. By using this technique will also keep your finger out of the gills and away from the rakers and teeth.

3. When you lift the fish for a pic be sure to support the fish from underneath AS YOU'RE LIFTING. This will create less pressure on the gill area and the fish should freak out less. Also grip your LLLL HARD! You're bigger and stronger then the fish so take control!

4. If the fish does kick don't drop the fish , "hug" it with your non-LLLL hand. Also grip your LLLL hand as hard as you can. The loss of slime is much less damaging then being dropped in the bottom of the boat and letting it thrash around while you regain control.

I used the Lindy glove before it was Lindy's and do like it. The material on there is very hook resistant. It saved me a trip to the E-room one day when I forgot the net at home and had to hand land a couple fish.

I hope this helps.

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Muskies Inc. magazine had every scenario covered a couple issues back. Wind, warm water, how to handle, pics, etc. Everything covered. Great stuff. See if you can get your hands on a copy of that.

Side note: Ever see the old episode where Mehsikomer had a big fish twist on him but he held on, and he winced and said "I just broke my finger!" Little later in the show, sure enough, he has a big splint on his hand!

Be careful and smart, for your sake as much as the fish. One more thing, that kneeling down is great, provided you keep a clean deck and don't have an array or lures laying around!

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Wow, thanks for all the tips guys. I'll definitely kneel down from this point on. I do think I keep 'em outta the water a little too long while I'm waiting for the camera man to get ready. Nothing excessive, maybe a minute at the most

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Wow, thanks for all the tips guys. I'll definitely kneel down from this point on. I do think I keep 'em outta the water a little too long while I'm waiting for the camera man to get ready. Nothing excessive, maybe a minute at the most

A minute is much too long, IMO. Think of it this way, go run a race, then hold your breath and dunk your head under water for a minute+ and see how you feel.

A good rule of thumb, when you lift their head out of the water to unhook/picture/etc, hold your breath. When you need to breathe, they better go back. It should be 20 seconds tops and if you don't have a net to revive, you just may have to skip the pictures, it's better for the fish. Especially if they're hooked in a difficult way and you have to hold their head out to unhook, then you pull them up for a minute for a picture? That's just ensuring they swim off and die.

Another handling tip, if you're going to set them on anything, bump board etc, get it wet first so their slime doesn't rub off or it's at least minimized. That can allow disease to infiltrate their skin.

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LOL Cjac - afraid to take a knee in your boat? Got too many DCGs laying around? I've seen an 8/0 in someone knee before and it's not pretty!

Holding your breath is a good way to do it, you see those fins start to bleed she's been out way too long.

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I put a magnum hawg wobbler in my knee a couple years ago. Monster pleasure boater kept driving by at full speed and slowing down at times nailing me with a big wake. I lost my balance and put all my weight into my knee and the hawg wobbler. It was in the meaty part of the knee and I just ripped it out. Wasn't hard to do because I was mad at the pleasure boater with a little adrenaline going and just ripped it out so I could keep fishing. I do like to keep a clean boat for this reason.

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OUCH! Guess when it's a choice between musky fishing and going the ER you gotta man up!

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