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Choco Taco

Proper Catch and Release of Muskie

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Guys,

I have been a catch and release guy of LM Bass since I started fresh water fishing several years ago. I have been teaching my kids about the proper ways to hold bass and panfish so they can be released properly to survive.

Well, where I come from out east, we don't see much of the toothy fish. I bought a net, a hookout, wirecutter, and jaw spreaders for my new adventures here in MN. I'll be fishing by myself a lot so what is the best way to release musky / pike. I want to make sure that I don't harm the fish so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Of course, I got grab their lips like a LM bass but I see you guys holding them by the gills. How do you get them on your boat and keep them from thrashing around?

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Lots of practice LOL get a glove that will help. When you grab them by the gills lock your thumb under their jaw and make a fist ( I know kinda confusing but after figuring it out you'll understand) If your unsure about getting them out of the net just lower the net and let them swim untill you feel confident handeling them. I have on a couple occasins with a Lindy glove lipped 42" fish to land them when fishing for other fish and to small of net or no net.

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They usually don't touch the boat. The best way is to have a large tangle free net and unhook them there. Leave them in the net for a bit after unhooking them and they usually calm down. Tangle free comes in handy because for me at least they always thrash at least a little in the net. While the fish is resting in the net you can get a measurement, ready your camera, etc. When ready flip the fish in the net and grab hold of the gill plate with one hand, and near the anal fin with your other. Grab your quick picture, then place the fish in the water, continuing to hold near the tail loosely. Make a subtle swimming motion with the tail and wait to the fish swims off under it's own power.

Oh, with those tools (particularly the jaw spreader) make sure they are tied to the boat for both your sake and the fishes.

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a couple pairs of pliars, long and short maybe. Sounds like you have the things you need.

I would add a camera to that list, and maybe a tripod if you're by yourself.

having a big net helps when getting the hooks out so that you can leave the fish somewhat in the water during the whole ordeal.

be gentle and keep them out of the water for as short of time as possible.

and no vertical holds, support that 50 pounder's weight.

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I would add a camera to that list, and maybe a tripod if you're by yourself.

Already thought of that. I bought a gorillapod table tripod the other day for $20 for a point and shoot camera. If I catch one of these big fish, I want it documented!

So, when you guys get these fish close to the boat, you put your rods down and try to either net them or gill them? Or do you put your rod in a rod holder?

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You'll need one arm on the rod and one on the net if you're by yourself. Takes a bit of practice, but if you put the rod down the most likely thing to happen is the fish getting off (muskies are extremely good at it if you weren't aware of this). This is where having the net readily accessible is key. If it's a smaller pike I keep one hand on the rod, and the other hand grabs them from the top just behind the gills. Bigger fish it's always better to net them, especially with exposed trebles.

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There's a thread a little ways down that goes over handling.

The big thing is to work on the fish while it's in the water. Take your time and be deliberate with the fish. If you take control of it you'll get the work done faster and have a smaller chance of injuring yourself. The one thing I see with new people is that they're intimidated by the fish. You're bigger and stronger then it is so don't forget it.

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I'm curious, i know these are muskies, trophy fishing blablahblah, but does every fish really need to be photographed? If we truly had the fishes best interest and the fisheries best interest (yah i know we wouldn't fish for them blahblah) in mind, we wouldn't take them out. I recall this topic being hashed in the past, but just keep it in mind when you're out this year. If the fish is overly tired/long fight/difficult unhooking, do it a favor, leave it in the water or do a release shot over the side.

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As far as the "Wirecutter" or sidecutters, etc. - do your self and the the fish and your future (hopefully non-) self inflicted hookings a favor, and get a Knipex brand side cutter, and not a small one. Don't get a cheap side cutter, what ever you do, you will be sorry. I would add a tie off to it as well, as mentioned above. Hate to lose that over the side smile

As someone who has used used cheap and Knipex brand side cutters, on my self and fish, there is no doubt which one you should have when tackling old mossy back wink

Good luck, have fun!

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