Muskie Guy's Release tips

CPR Guidelines and Facts

It makes sense....The best thing that you can do to ensure the fishing will remain great in your favorite lake is to practice catch, picture and release (CPR). Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water before experiencing serious exhaustion or injury.

CPR is a conservation practice developed to prevent overharvest of fish stocks in the face of growing human populations, mounting fishing pressure, increasingly effective fishing tackle and techniques, inadequate fishing regulations and enforcement, and habitat degradation. Fishermen have been practicing catch and release for decades, including with some highly pressured or rare fish species.

Muskies are a valuable resource to us who persue them and we are most fortunate here in Ohio to have such a fine stocking program. The reason for CPR is to sustain our fishery and grow trophy Muskellunge. Did you know it takes a female Muskie on average 3 years to get 30 inches ? If this fish is kept or killed it will require stocking 10, ten inch muskies to replace it. Most trophies are 10 plus years old. To grow a muskie to 40" requires stocking 38, ten inch muskies. And to get a 50 incher it takes 500 stocked fish. There is little or no natural reproduction in Ohio lakes. That is why we depend on our stocked fish. CPR works and makes a difference.

  • 1). Keep the time from hookset to release at a minimum.
  • 2). Do not fight the fish to the point of exaustion. This is one reason muskie fishermen use bigger and heavier gear. Be sure your partner is well informed about what should happen when you hook up. Preparation and organization is very important.
  • 3). Be sure to have a large enough net with a treated bag. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible with the head underwater so she can still breathe. The weight of the fish is supported by the water. Try to only remove the fish from the water long enough for a picture. (about as long as you can hold your breath).
  • 4). Remove the hooks with a strong pair of needlenose pliers. If removal is difficult, do not hesitate to cut the hooks with a pair of midget bolt cutters or Knipex cutters. An adult muskie is far more vaulable than a replacement hook.When using a Boga, always support the weight of the fish with the other hand. Do not suspend the fish from the Boga !
  • 5). Care should be taken not to remove the protective body mucous. This slime coat helps protect from disease. If you have to bring the fish into the boat, lay it on a soaked towel, never on dry carpet. Do not let the fish thrash around in the bottom of the boat. This could cause the fish injury. Also don't try to take a picture with the lure still in the mouth of the fish. This can be very dangerous and you may regret it.
  • 6). Muskies have teeth and sharp gill covers that will cut you. If you pick up the fish please do not suspend the fish by the jaw or fish gripper tool. DO NOT use a vertical hold. (this isn't the cool pose) Do not pick up the fish by his eye sockets. Dont use a stringer,gaff, or hanging scale , this will put unnecessary strain on the delicate supportive and connective tissues between the head,body and vertebrae. Instead find the vee in the jaw where the two gills meet. Slide your hand in the vee and grasp firmly to control fish. Use your other hand to support the weight of the fish under the belly. Do not get your hand in the gills because this will do harm. Gills and gill covers get damaged easy. Using gloves is sometimes preferred.
  • 7). When releasing do not "Torpedo" the fish back into the water. Also try to release her over shallow water if possible, especially large fish. Place the fish in the water upright and grab by the tail. Move the fish gently back and forth to get areated water over the gills. ( there are times when you won't have to do this. If the fish remains upright it may take a moment for the fish to stabilize and go down on its own ). Be easy! Do not swish the fish back and forth. The fish should be able to remain upright on its own. You will know when the fish is ready. When certain fish are brought up from depths too quickly, their swim bladders, which normally control buoyancy, can overinflate from rapid depressurization. Burping is a technique used on a fish with an overinflated swim bladder. The fish is massaged in the belly region in an attempt to release the excess air in the swim bladder. A big splash in the face when they take off is always a welcome. Think safety for you and the fish.
  • 8). Heat Kills. The summer months are the most stressful on fish. The hot summer surface tempeatures are deadly to muskies. You should avoid netting the fish. Some people prefer not to fish during this time.

    More info:

    Keep in mind, the two primary causes are stress and wounding. Stress results from the fish fighting after being hooked. Internally, the physical exertion causes an oxygen deficit in the tissues, forcing the muscles to function anaerobically (without oxygen). This causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle tissue, and then to diffuse into the blood. Lactic acid acts as an acid in the blood, causing the pH of the blood to drop. Even slight changes in pH can cause major disruptions of the metabolic processes, ultimately killing the fish. If the fish is quickly released, its blood pH usually returns to normal and the fish will be unaffected. Some fish, after a long release, may appear to live once released, but the imbalance in the blood chemistry may kill them as late as three days after being caught. In most cases, the means of preventing this type of mortality is to not keep the fish in action for a long period of time.

    Another release method is to take a piece of line put a snap on one end and a small hook on the other. Hook the fish in the skin on the jaw. You only need enough to hold the fish on the hook. Attach the snap to an anchor or lure knocker and lower the fish down into the cooler water. When you feel the fish tug give the line a pull to release it from the hook. This method is used when fishing in hot weather.

    If you need to weigh a fish, bring along a bathroom scale. when you catch a fish, stand on the scale while holding the fish. After release deduct your weight from the total weight reading and you'll have the weight of the fish. This is much safer than suspending them from a hanging scale.

    Old school is not the way. Muskies are a natural predator. Studies have PROVEN they prefer soft finned high protien based fish. These fish are Shad, Carp, Minnows and Suckers (The fish most people don't want in their lake). Muskies are opportunistic predators and occasionally consume gamefish. But the amount of gamefish eaten by muskies is minimal compared to the amount harvested by anglers. When a muskie comes and attacks your Walleye, Bass or Panfish when your a reeling it in, it is just simply reacting to the struggling fish due to its predatory instincts. It's natures balance. Muskies keep the rough fish in check.

    Good Eats ? Mercury works its way up the food chain to predator fish when plankton (one-celled plants and animals), which absorb mercury from the water, are eaten by small fish (minnows and shiners), and these forage fish are in turn eaten by gamefish. Methyl mercury builds up in fish through the food chain. Nearly all of the mercury found in fish is methyl mercury. Muskies accumulate contaminants in their body tissues as they feed on fish that contain small amounts of these toxins. Larger muskies may be contaminated with PCBs, pesticides, or mercury. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are man-made oils that were once used in carbonless copying paper and in electrical equipment such as capacitors, transformers and fluorescent light ballasts. PCBs break down very slowly in the environment. PCBs tend to stay in sediments and build up in fish through the food chain.

    Here is a list of things you should have on hand.

  • a). a long set of needle nose pliers a regular short set comes in handy too.
  • b). Boga Grip or fish gripper (Rapala makes one too).
  • c). heavy duty bolt cutters. Midget bolt cutters or knipex work well
  • d). a quality net, with a treated bag.
  • e). a measuring tape or other accurate measuring device. One on the side of your boat works well for in water measurements.
  • f). Rubber coated gloves or "Fish Gloves"
  • g). Digital camera... Pictures are the way to go.

    I thank you for reviewing these tips and guidelines. Muskies are very sacred to us who persue them. Mostly because we know the potential size that can be achieved. Many local game fishermen have no idea how big these fish can get. Please contribute and take part in building a Trophy Muskie Fishery in Ohio. CPR works and makes a difference and selective harvest is encouraged for all gamefish species... FISH HARD and keep em swimmin !........... Muskie Guy