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Duffman

Muskie Cradles?

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Just wondering why I don't see the cradles being used as much anymore? I understand that a large net is the way to go, but right now for me a muskie is somewhat of an accidental catch. The muskie I caught last week took a little longer than I wanted to get a handhold on, so I was wondering if it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a cradle stashed away? I don't want to deal with a big net in the boat all the time, especially if I'm rarely going to use it. Is there something wrong with using a cradle?

After reading all the hoopla on here about taking a long time to release some fish, I went back and checked my time/date stamps on the pics of last weeks muskie. During the excitment of the catch, it's hard to keep track of time, but I landed the fish, got three pics and an accurate measurement, plus got her back in the water all in under a minute. I guess I was being as quick about the task as I thought I was.

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Hiya -

Nothing wring with cradles at all - but they're not practical for solo anglers, and there's definitely a learning curve with them. You also kind of accept that you're going to lose a fish now and then if hooks get caught in the cradle when the fish is half way in. But - I've lost netted fish when a hook catches on the rim too...

One of the main reasons cradles were very popular a few years back was because knotless, coated nets didn't exist. What nets were available that were 'muskie sized' were salmon nets with knotted bags that were extremely abrasive. They really shredded fish up. So most guys frowned on them to say the least. Cradles were a lot more fish friendly. Since most guys at the time were used to hand landing their fish anyhow, cradles just simplified a process they were already used to, so the learning curve was a lot shorter.

I don't use one much anymore (I hand land pretty much everything), but I still think a cradle is as fish-friendly a landing device as there is available.

BTW, if you're getting a fish back in the water in under a minute, you're doing pretty well.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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First, I want say thank you for thinking about that fish and getting her back in the water as quick as you did. It says a lot coming from a fisherman who isn't even targeting muskies. If you got it done in under a minute, you did a great job with what you had to work with considering you didn't have a big net and some of the tools that come along with muskie fishing.

My opinion on you getting a cradle is this. A cradle is a 2 man operation. Works if you have someone fishing with you and is pretty much useless when you are fishing by yourself. I will say this though, a cradle is better than having nothing. So, if it comes down to you getting a cradle or not having anything at all, I'd get the cradle. In the case you have a fishing partner to handle the cradle for you, you will be golden. I might also add carrying a mini-bolt cutters in the boat with you if you have one laying around the house. You don't want to accidentally get hooked to a fish in the unhooking process and you can cut hooks if needed. Thanks again.

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Yeah, I started with a cradle too and 3 of the first 4 fish we tried landing, the hooks got caught with just the fishes head in and it managed to shake free. So we went to the net but still use the cradle when releasing the fish. After netting, unhooking, we lift the fish out and either take an optional picture or put the fish right into the cradle. I like using it because I can measure the fish in the water and the measuring is really easy. The method doesn't require lining up 0 on a tail or nose so it can be done quick and by yourself.

Zelmsdawg

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The main reason the release went so quick was 'cause I wasn't dealing with a rack of trebles, the 5/0 worm hook in the corner of the mouth popped out in a split second. I don't have much experience landing a fish that big, so I was taking my time making sure I was grabbing jawbone instead of gills, the next landing should be smoother now that I have gained some of that experience.

Thanks for the info on the cradle guys, I'll probably get one to stash in the boat for those "just in case" times.

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The craddle will work fine for your situation but I wouldn't recommend one for 'regular' musky fishing for the reasons above and also they are a little more unsafe. A craddle requires a guy to get down next the fish as its being led in with a 'loaded' rod. If the lure pops out while a person is bent over the fish/line then it could be really bad. We all know the amount of power that can build up in our rods and with those sharp hooks, no thanks.... I'll reach out with a handle and net.

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I could never recommend a cradle due to the reason that Mike mentions. Although they will work fine when there's no mishaps, I would not be willing to take the risk of having a musky lure making a high speed visit to my face at close range. Personal preference for me goes to a big net with a treated bag. But if I was forced to go without a net I would simply choose to pop the hooks out in the water for a water release over a cradle.

Aaron

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