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Brandon Khoo

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As many of you are aware, gtpopping.com promotes catch and release. That is one of the most important aspects of the sport which we promote. That said, catch and release is pointless unless fish are properly handled. It has become apparent to us that there is not quite the level of awareness around careful fish handling that we might have expected and this thread is intended to set out some key aspects of how you should handle GT.

Getting a GT out of the water

There are a number of implements used to assist anglers in getting a GT out of the water with the most common being gaffs, nets and Bogagrips. With a gaff, you must be careful how a fish is gaffed. The best (and in fact, only spot) to gaff a GT is through the lower jaw BUT extreme care must be taken to try to gaff the GT in the corner of the lower jaw and to ensure that the tongue is avoided. If you gaff the tongue, the fish will bleed to death.

Bogas are self explanatory as are nets. One further point to make here is that if it is a large fish, try to have a second person assist by getting their hands under the body while lifting the fish if possible.

Wetting areas in contact with the fish

Ensure that you wet or preferably soak your hands (or gloves), your clothing and particularly a hot deck if you intend to lie a fish on the deck. If you have a hose with running water, that is ideal. Anything that comes into contact with the fish should be wet.

How long can a fish be out of the water?

The best answer I can give you on this is don't remove the fish from the water unless you have to. These days, I generally ask the guide to release the fish in the water unless it is of a size that we want a photo. If we are going to remove the fish from the water for a photo, the photographer should be ready to take the snaps so the fish can be returned to the water as soon as possible.

A fish can stay out of water a bit longer if you have a running hose and you are able to flush the water through its mouth and out its gills but that still doesn't mean that a fish should be out of the water for five minutes.

Focus on trying to get the fish back into the water as soon as possible.

I will make the additional point that if a fish is absolutely exhausted, ask yourself the question on whether you should even remove it from the water and in fact, make sure you swim it before release. Your photograph is not worth killing a big fish over.

If you return a fish to the water and it floats back up to the surface, you must catch it as quickly as possibly, et a gaff or a Boga into its jaw and swim it behind a moving boat for as long as it takes for the fish to recover. You will know because it will start to kick its tail around.

Photographs

A fish should be properly supported for the purposes of taking photographs. This means the fish is held in a horizontal position with either your hands supporting the weight of the fish from underneath or the fish is resting on your knees. Whatever you do, avoid holding the fish in a vertical position with a gaff, especially if it is a big fish.

Be gentle

Finally, be gentle with the fish. Don't slam it on the deck and don't throw it back into the water side-on. A little bit of care goes a long way.

Happy fishing! If anyone else has any suggestions, please feel free to add them to this thread.


   
If it swims; I want to catch it!

Nathan Tsao

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This past season we have been "dredging" the GTs out of very deep water with a variety of lures like the Carpenter Pandora and large casting spoons. We have been getting some big fish by letting the lures sink down close to the bottom in 80ft - 150ft of water.

When the fish come up from that deep they can have a hard time getting back down due to all the gas in their swim bladder. Usually the smaller and medium size GT come up pretty fast and you can see them "burp" the gas from their bladder; those fish swim back down just fine. It seems like the larger fish that take longer to bring up sometimes are not able to release the gas.

There are a few solutions to solve this problem and get the gas out. One involves a heavy gauge hyper-dermic needle inserted into the bladder, another involves literally squeezing the air out of them. Both of these methods can work but can be pretty damaging to the fish if not done properly. Perhaps the best solution to this is to use the deep water release system that bottomfish tagging programs use to "sink" tagged snapper and grouper back down to their depths.

The method involves a heavy lead weight about 2-3kilos that is fixed upon a heavy gauge wire (thicker than a clothes hanger). The wire comes straight up from the lead and is then looped a couple of times into a circle. This circle serves as a point to tie a long rope to, as well as for strength. The tag end of the wire is then bent back downwards at about a 150 degree angle. The tag end is then sharpened.

Once you are ready to release the fish, you punch the wire DOWNWARDS through the bottom lip and carefully place the fish in the water. Have your buddy hold the rope attached to the lead and slowly lower the fish down to the approximate depth at where you hooked it. At this point, you then simply pull the rope back upwards and the whole device will slide UP and OUT of the GTs bottom lip. Fish should now be successfully released at an adequate pressure where the bladder pressure is somewhat equalized.

Combine this with all the tips that Brandon stated above, and you have a winning combination for releasing deep water GT!
 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 Notice how your friend's arms are crossed (look more like boobs in my drawing) because you are releasing your 75kg GT and his knots have been failing all day.   
Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 06:45:11 PM by Nathan Tsao

Mark Harris

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Absolutely excellent thread Brandon.

A few points I would like to add:

1. Absolutely never pick up a fish by its tail. I see photos of GTs held that way even in this forum.  This will damage its spine and it is likely the fish will die after release.

2. A de-hooking mat is a good idea. The fish will be much better off being laid on a clean, moistened soft mat than on a hard, often dirty, deck. You can easily make these yourself for almost no money from neoprene or the foam stuff that shoemakers use for the soles of sandals (thongs).

3. Do not over handle the fish and especially avoid putting your hands inside the gill plate. Gills are both easily damaged and infections are a worry.

Steve Li

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This past season we have been "dredging" the GTs out of very deep water with a variety of lures like the Carpenter Pandora and large casting spoons. We have been getting some big fish by letting the lures sink down close to the bottom in 80ft - 150ft of water.

When the fish come up from that deep they can have a hard time getting back down due to all the gas in their swim bladder. Usually the smaller and medium size GT come up pretty fast and you can see them "burp" the gas from their bladder; those fish swim back down just fine. It seems like the larger fish that take longer to bring up sometimes are not able to release the gas.

There are a few solutions to solve this problem and get the gas out. One involves a heavy gauge hyper-dermic needle inserted into the bladder, another involves literally squeezing the air out of them. Both of these methods can work but can be pretty damaging to the fish if not done properly. Perhaps the best solution to this is to use the deep water release system that bottomfish tagging programs use to "sink" tagged snapper and grouper back down to their depths.

The method involves a heavy lead weight about 2-3kilos that is fixed upon a heavy gauge wire (thicker than a clothes hanger). The wire comes straight up from the lead and is then looped a couple of times into a circle. This circle serves as a point to tie a long rope to, as well as for strength. The tag end of the wire is then bent back downwards at about a 150 degree angle. The tag end is then sharpened.

Once you are ready to release the fish, you punch the wire DOWNWARDS through the bottom lip and carefully place the fish in the water. Have your buddy hold the rope attached to the lead and slowly lower the fish down to the approximate depth at where you hooked it. At this point, you then simply pull the rope back upwards and the whole device will slide UP and OUT of the GTs bottom lip. Fish should now be successfully released at an adequate pressure where the bladder pressure is somewhat equalized.

Combine this with all the tips that Brandon stated above, and you have a winning combination for releasing deep water GT!
 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 Notice how your friend's arms are crossed (look more like boobs in my drawing) because you are releasing your 75kg GT and his knots have been failing all day.




The illustrations are hilarious!!! You're an artist Nathan!  ;)

One of the more prominent charters in Maldives are using it and I think its a great idea! Definately beats shoving a needle in the fish......
Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 07:03:05 PM by Steve Li

David Noble

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Thanks Brandon,

It's not worth seeing a fish knocked around or returned in bad condition. As you mentioned managing damage to the fishes slimey protective coating by only coming in contact with wet surfaces is particularly important. Recaptures have found lesions or 'burns' having developed on fish that have had this barrier removed.

Cheers David

Brandon Khoo

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Nathan - I should add Picasso as your middle name!   ;D
If it swims; I want to catch it!

Yewleong Tan

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Troy Burbidge

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What's the correct spot to needle a GT to regales the Gas?

Andy Rowe

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Just pondering on the impact of net vs gaff. I have heard said in the past that nets remove the important slime coat on a fish but I am wondering if this is just a short term issue for the fish as certain fish cover themselves in mucilaginous envelopes (Slime) every evening.  I am also wondering on the potential damage caused by gaffing, it looks like a correct gaffing should not be too detrimental perhaps, but what is a concern is having the jaw as a single lift point. For a fish in the 30's and above this has got to be an immense amount of strain on the jaw bone and its connecting tissues, fish also live in a different gravity regime to terrestrial animals and have bone structures that do not require the same strength or load bearing requirements.

Even when the tail is used to assist the lift in a gaff situation the jaw bones are still being subjected to abnormal strain directions and a lot of weight. The net does afford a much more equal load distribution on the fish body during the critical lift from the water. It just seems logical to me that nets are a better and that gaff lifting could cause potential damage that we don not readily observe.

I'm not trying to force my logic on anyone but it would be good to hear other opinions on the matter.
Set the ray to GeeT

Ed Nicholas

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Love the release rig & drawings Nathan, great thread too. I wish there was a way to net these Geets instead of the lip gaff, as mentioned in my tagging report i think we are all going to start realizing pretty soon that the only way to C&R these big Geets is by keeping them in the water & fishing barbless hooks. 

At present i have not seen any net that would be sufficient. We carry a net on all out boats and the simple task of netting a 20kg fish actually takes a fair amount of strength with the water resistance on the big frame and net. I would be very hesitant using the same type of string net on a big GT as it will no doubt dig into/cut the fish, the answer to that would be one of the new age nets that use rubber/nylon or what ever it is but that is even harder to use in terms of dragging through the water and guiding the fish into the basket. I also have never seen one big enough to fit a monster GT in and if/when they come out where are you going to put it in the boat? For strength purposes it couldnt be a fold down net.   

When i designed our boats i was discussing with the builder putting in a diving door so that all you would have to do is lift the head a little and pull it in but it would have compromised the strength of the gunnels so we never went ahead. As you mention Andy im sure the gaff is doing the fish no favors but there seem to be zero alternatives at the moment.

Interesting thoughts and i am all ears to any suggestions.



 

Alex Jordan

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Some good points - fortunately what we do have in the UK is world leading fish handling mentality from the Carp, Pike and Catfish fishos so there is a wide range of products for protecting fish out fo the water - we even sell Carp first aid kits!

We have a very large range of unhooking mats, weighing slings - heck does anything grow bigger than an ebro catfish?? (9ft long 200Kg's) that could be applied to GT's although I don't know of any nets that could be used unless an existing carbon framed specialist one was strengthened?

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=catfish+unhookign+mat&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#client=firefox-a&hs=X1i&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=catfish+unhooking+mat&spell=1&sa=X&ei=A87GUf3vD-OH0AXI0YFA&ved=0CCwQvwUoAA&fp=1&biw=1680&bih=878&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&cad=b

http://www.fl2.co.uk/fisherking-BigGame-200kgs

I have started to adopt better fish handling for our domestic UK sea fish that we practice C+R on - Bass primarily!

Andy Rowe

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I Should have posted these pics earlier. Most of the boats I have fished on in Indonesia either have the frames for the nets made locally and then weave the netting onboard with a nylon rope which is the right thickness so it is supple but not too thin to cut the fish. I always try to request them if they are not equipped. Generally the net hoop is a bit bigger than this one and we have lifted 50kg fish without issue. I have never noted any serious damage to the fish and believe it safer than than lip gaffing for several reasons which I have noted in my earlier post. The fish in picture was near 40kg est.
Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 09:25:27 PM by Andy Rowe
Set the ray to GeeT

Lars Nielsen

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Let's try this one:



http://www.ccgonline.co.uk/acatalog/copy_of_Spare_parts_for_CCG_Landing_Nets.html It comes with a handle of course.

The type of mesh might not be ideal, but that is what we can get at the moment.

Regarding the strength, the important thing is the mesh, because when the fish is in the bag, you unleash the arms from the spreader, collapse the net and lift the fish in the mesh, not the arms. It is much easier than it sounds.

You can keep the fish in the water while you get out the camera and wipe the tears and blood off the angler. :)
Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 10:36:36 PM by Lars Nielsen

Ed Nicholas

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My point of where to keep these huge nets on the boat is important when running 34ft centre consoles. With the indo big live aboards this is not such an issue but Lars a big net with foldable arms .. I think you may have cracked it! It is specifically designed to collapse once the fish is in the net?

Whats the damage (cost)?? Seems like we could fold it down and stick it in a hatch. Even if you use just that part you posted without a pole it would work. There is no way with any pole light enough for a decky to use to land a 50kg would be able lift the fish so best just get it in the net and a few dudes help lift it in.

Lets give that bad boy a test run in October bro!

Lars Nielsen

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My point of where to keep these huge nets on the boat is important when running 34ft centre consoles. With the indo big live aboards this is not such an issue but Lars a big net with foldable arms .. I think you may have cracked it! It is specifically designed to collapse once the fish is in the net?

Yes.

Whats the damage (cost)?? Seems like we could fold it down and stick it in a hatch. Even if you use just that part you posted without a pole it would work. There is no way with any pole light enough for a decky to use to land a 50kg would be able lift the fish so best just get it in the net and a few dudes help lift it in.

It seems to be about 120 US in England.

Lets give that bad boy a test run in October bro!

Deal. ;)