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Humane Handling of Fish Before Cleaning


kiowa

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My question is: how does everyone handle their fish before cleaning if they are still alive? I have seen fisherman approach this issue differently; ranging from a whack on the head with a stick to cleaning the animal while it is still alive. I prefer to work on fish that have died, for safety reasons, among others. In winter this usually isn’t a problem, but lately I’m running into this issue a lot with the warmer weather. What is everyone’s approach in this scenario?

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Very interesting question and I don't recall an FM discussion about this before.

In the winter all the fish are dead when I clean them. In the warm weather season I usually grab them from the livewell and drop them in a net or bucket. By the time I clean them they are pretty well comatose. If I do have flopper I will whack the fish on the head before cutting into it.

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Very interesting question and I don't recall an FM discussion about this before.

There was a thread going in the Bass forum about this, turned into another p!ssing match. Here it is if you want to take a look for yourself.

http://www.hotspotoutdoors.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2812730/1

I stick the tip of my knife in what I think is the brain and they quit flopping after that. I do it out of respect for the fact that I'm taking this animals life to sustain mine. I posted something similar to this and got lit up for it.

And like OAF said, if I was getting filleted I would want to be dead too.

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If a person is truly worried about being humane to the fish they decide to eat the fish should be put out the moment the decision is made to keep it.

The moment of passing probably means little to a fish if they have the ability to know the difference. If they do suffer while waiting to be cleaned than I would guess bouncing around in a pail or live well for a hour or so without water might be worse than the out come.

I suggest you put yourself in the fishes shoes, when the hook is out and you are not thrown back in the lake then what ?

When the time comes to clean them the reality sets in, just like hunting. Reality does not set in when the food hits the end of the rubber belt at the grocery store. You appreciate the meat much more than any shopper so don't feel guilty for taking the meat from its natural environment. Nothing wrong with your worries. Let it go, it is ok.

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well said hookey if its such a major concern quit fishing and hunting all together in all just do what you feel is right honestly i dont care they are mostly dead or soon to be before i start cleaning other than that to me its just another way of life

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I would not like to be a fish. Bigger fish eat you alive! What kind of death is that? How about getting a hook in your mouth or in your belly, then getting it ripped out? Get yanked from your environment,a hook ripped from your throat, then confined in a bucket or livewell, or freezing to death? How about getting your head smashed in, or stabbed in the brain? By golly, I'm getting hungry! Fish anyone?

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Forum :

n pl -rums, -ra [-rə]

1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest

2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine

3. a public meeting place for open discussion

Key word open.

I think the guy was just asking a question, I have cleaned a ton of fish and game some people have not if cleaning a live fish bothers him then he 'should' be free to post here and ask for advise without getting a bunch of macho talk dumped down his throat or being told to quit fishing.

I guess he and I are getting a lesson from some on how it feels to be skinned alive. Yuk-Yuk !

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I don't really believe there is a "humane" way to kill something. There is, however, the "decent" thing to do and that would be to kill it as quickly as possible. No matter how it is killed it may feel some type of pain. So far we have bonking on the head, letting them bleed to death, keep them in a cooler until they suffocate, sticking a knife into their brain and just simply filleting them. In my opinion, if you are going to harvest an animal for consumption you should treat it with respect and make sure it has a good chance of being great table fare. All of the above methods will work just fine as long as you don't let the fish rot before you clean it.

By the way, I think it is just fine to ask the question and for people to respond with their opinion. To me it means that we are not just "killers of animals", but harvesters of potential food for our families and we actually care about the things that we harvest.

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Guys I know and myself force the live fish to pump its own blood out of its body resulting in its death. We do this by cutting the gills, then placing the bleeding fish back into water on a stringer or into the livewell with an 1100 GPH pump exchanging the blood filled water with soon to be blood filled water until the fish has no remaining blood. Then into fresh ice water.This action makes for a much neater cleanng sutuation, no blood, and a much better tasting fish. The fish are always deader than a doornail when the knife enters their body.

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Do any of youse guys ice them in the summer ?

I hunt with a guy from Wi. Who says they always throw the fish in a cooler of ice and never use the live well he swears the fish are fresher that way as they are chilled from the moment they are landed till they are cooked or frozen.

I am thinking about plugging my live well and filling it with ice to try it. I really do not want a big fish cooler on board. Not sure if the ice will survive a day in the live well or if I would get dinged for not draining the ice water out of it. I think I would take a chance on it though if the ice is there and the live well only contains fresh water I think they might let it slide ?

Maybe one of them SAMs Club insulated food bags would fit in the live well ? Hummmm off to Sammy's tomorrow.

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Hookey,

I don't think ice will make it throught the day in your live well. smile

But it is called a "live" well for keeping them just that way. They don't get any fresher than live. Ice is good but you should gut em and gill em before stowing on ice and use a good cooler.

To the topic of what do people do? If I'm leaving the lake for the short trip home or to the cabin, I drain the well at the access and the fish are usually just done in by the time I get them on the fillet table. Otherwise a poke with the knife to scramble the think hole usually does the trick. I understand the brain doesn't feel any pain. I'm not a Biologist but I've played one on TV. I won't fillet a live fish.

Fish live in an eat and be eaten world. Most end of life scenarios aren't with the comfort of loved ones holding their fins.

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If they are alive you can instantly kill them by breaking their necks. Hold the fish so it is still and put a thumb behind the head. Grab the lower jaw, or a finger in the mouth and pull the head up. The neck cracks and the fish is dead.

My preferred method is to have a cooler dedicated to fish. I freeze some water in plastic jugs to make ice. When I get to the lake a little water (something for the fish to bleed into) goes into the cooler with the ice. When I get a fish I cut the gills with a small pruning cutter to bleed them out. Before I leave the lake, the bloody water gets dumped out and the fish are left on the ice. This yields nice clean, white, bloodless fillets that have been kept cool. The jugs get rinsed and go back into the freezer.

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Point taken, and if my thoughts were misconstrued as macho bull trying to stifle a discussion then I apologize.

My point is when you use phrases like "put yourself in the fishes shoes" or "how it feels to be skinned alive" it's placing human biology and emotion on an animal. All science to this point shows that fish don't have emotions or feel pain in the manner that humans do or even animals with higher brain functions. I feel that far too many out there view animals through "Disney" eyes. Not that I believe in torturing, neglecting, or abusing animals is right. IMHO the best way to respect the fish and the amazing trials it's been through to get big enough to wind up on my plate is by ensuring it's not wantonly wasted.

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