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Walleye handling - ouch


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I am (usually) a bass and pike fisherman. I have been having luck catching some nice walleye this year. I have struggles with handling them well. I usually try to avoid using nets so as to harm the fish less.

One time up north I hooked what I assumed was a large carp. After several minutes of fighting I found that it was a very large walleye. I grabbed my line in my hand and then hesitated with her next to the boat and she snapped my line and took off. The dorsal fin extended and flared gills were somewhat frightening.

I felt so bad about not getting that fish in the canoe that I made up my mind to just go for it next time. I thought it'd feel worse to lose the fish than to get stabbed or cut by the fish.

Last night I caught a nice walleye and was struggling to get the gill. I went to grab it in the back behind the head. she stuck me bad with a dorsal. Deep into the muscle on my index finger. It was very, very painful. Then it immediately swelled. I worried for a minute that there may be a piece of walleye left in my finger. Then I could see bruising in the finger. She got me good. Man, it hurt.

But I landed her and that's all that matters. I need a glove or something.

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But I landed her and that's all that matters. I need a glove or something.

Save yourself the pain and bring a net along. I feel your pain but I got it from a saltwater catfish this spring and it took almost four days for my hand to return to normal size. My fingers looked like sausages and the pain was like a toothache running up my arm. From there on out, I used the bocagrip on those bad boys.

Tunrevir~

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I fish walleyes a lot and other than when I'm trolling crankbaits or fishing in a contest I almost never use a net. I never use a boga or similar gripper.

The best way to hand-land walleyes is to scoop them under the belly, right behind the pectoral fins. Usually they'll just sit on your hand (flaring their gill plates and extending their dorsal fin) and you don't even need to grab them, but you can squeeze them gently from the bottom while they're resting on your hand if you need to (doesn't take much pressure at all).

I do this when I'm casting cranks or fishing jigs and livebait rigs. Works great on walleyes up to 25 inches or so, once they get bigger than that they're pretty tough to grab by hand.

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I agree with PerchJerker I do what he does if I'm fishing from shore or wading out in the water, the fish seem to stay more relaxed when you do this. otherwise i always just use a net.

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PJ, can I ask why you don't use a net when fishing in a tournament? It seems that it would be more effective and reliable way of landing fish, or do you want to avoid detection?

Personally, I net all my walleyes, unless they are small enough to flip into the boat. I don't know if it is detrimental to them at all, but I don't think flailing around trying to grab one by hand is good for them either.

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I use nets in tournaments, and I use nets when trolling cranks (too difficult and too dangerous to hand land these fish with all the hooks flopping around and the boat moving). Other than that I don't use the net too much.

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Yeah, I just net crankbaited fish. I will look into some other devices. I'll try the underside grab. The swelling in my finger has gone down. I can't believe how deep a spine on that dorsal fin can go in...

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I would caution you that if you are going to try hand landing the fish, please make sure you hold on to them. Dropping the fish from 5 feet can really do some damage if you are trying to release the fish. Definately don't let the fish flop around.

If they are sitting on their stomachs they are fairly docile, but upside down they don't move at all in my experience.

Watch out for the gill plates, I always seem to grab too far forward in the dark and I have the scars to prove it.

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Put your hand under the belly just behind the pectoral fins. When you lift have the weight of the fish slightly supported by the pecs they dont hardly squirm at all. OOPS I GUESS I SHOULD HAVE READ THE ENTIRE THREAD

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  • 11 years later...
Guest Fisher kid

I’m only 14, but I can say that walleye will get you if you aren’t careful. The gills tend to spike me the most, but thankfully not horribly. Its a fun fish to catch, and a tasty one to eat, but the amount of sharp things on that fish are insane.

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