Doubters Strike Back at Grip and Kill Article

Trout dying to get a good photo?

My Grip and Kill (GAK) article received a huge amount of support from the fishing community. Links to the article reached many hundreds and is still growing. Many out-takes from the article were, and are still, being published by a large number of sites, big and small. The article has been published, (by permission), in a great many fishing club newsletters, etc.

The GAK page blew my site bandwidth cap out the window, and if it was not for a friend in the business mirroring the page, I would have had to shut the site down for a while. Even today, the page receives over 200 – 250 unique visits, every day.

But of course, being on the Internet, GAK attracted a significant group of nay-sayers and doubters.

So I have written answers to the more rational doubts and this is in the side-bar of the original article.

To UV or Not UV

An excellent and deeply researched article on the MidCurrent site will provide answers to any and all questions you might have on the relevance of Ultraviolet light to fishing.

The money shot:

“He found that ultraviolet photographs of trout food looked “pretty much exactly the same as any other black and white photographs of the same subject.” He also went on to say that this was not surprising: “… trout food insects just simply don’t possess strong UV-reflectance patterns, and that trout are not likely to identify their food by looking for UV reflectance”.

… But for fly fishers, there seems to be no reason to elevate this trait to any significant status. For trout and a number of other species we target, ultraviolet-sensitive vision does not seem to be a component of the adult fish’s behavior, and it is especially unlikely to be an important part of the way they locate and identify their food.”

Read more here.

Securely handling trout without causing stress or damage

An article I did on ‘Grip and Kill’. how not to hold a fish for photographs went mini viral. Got me thinking that one thing I left out of that piece was how to hold a fish by the tail securely but without damage to the fish.

Well there is already a fantastic article on my site by Tony Entwistle that explains just how to get a good grip on a fish’s tail. It is important because a good tail grip means the pectoral area does not have to be held in a vice like grip.

And here it is:

 Securely handling trout without causing stress or damage

One of New Zealand’s best known guides, Tony Entwhistle, writing in the New Zealand Fish & Game Magazine, has one of the best descriptions I have read on the proper handling of a trout.

Securely handling a trout without causing stress or damage is a matter of a gentle touch, not a tight grip.

To pacify a landed trout, simply place a hand vertically in front of its nose to prevent it  from swimming  forward and fold the palm to cover both eyes. This acts as a mask and immediately calms it down. Trout relax quickly when their eyes are covered.

Next grasp the fish’s tail with the other hand, without excessive force. Some anglers use a piece of stocking for grip, but with good technique this isn’t necessary. Securing a trout needs only gentle pressure between the thumb and forefinger, applied directly over the base of the tail, applied where it joins the body (hypural joint).

Apply pressure top and bottom through the first joints of the forefinger and thumb, rather than along the sides. The mistake is grasping the tail too far forward and using too much hand in doing so. Squeezing hard does not help as the fish slips more easily.

Now test the grip by lifting the fish slightly by the tail, keeping the other hand over the eyes for the moment. If the grip is secure the trout will not slip, but if it does resist grabbing at it with both hands. By quickly slipping a hand in front of the nose, and covering the eyes again, a lot more fish will be saved from premature release.

With a positive grip on the tail it is now possible to begin lifting the trout safely for a photograph or release.

Avoid squeezing the fish around the soft belly area behind the pectoral fins because this causes discomfort and can potentially cause serious damage to internal organs. Instead slide the free hand under the pectoral fins, orientating the hand so that the trout’s head rests along the index finger, with the pectoral fins spread out between thumb and little finger.

The trout will be nicely balanced and the soft tissue in the belly area will no be supporting any weight. Lifting the trout this way, and returning it to the water between photographs minimizes any distress which could reignite its struggles. Turn the fish belly up when removing the hook.

Handle trout gently and with respect and they won’t panic or stress, ensuring their revival for release without damage and a minimum of fuss.”

© Reproduced by permission – ‘New Zealand Fish and Game Magazine’

The ‘UK Grip’ – A Trout Killer Too!

badgripuk

Some people who read my recent article on ‘grip and kill’ when taking photos of trout have pointed out the style of grip shown above – I call it the ‘UK grip’ and it can be lethal.

Those who follow UK trout fishing magazines and websites may have noticed the prevalence of photos with the trout being held as seen in the photo above. I did a quick flick through a pile of recent top selling UK magazines and websites and as rough estimate well over 50% of fish are held by the UK grip.  I believe trout are held this way to show off the fact that the fish is a ‘full-finned’ or wild fish, not a stocked fish.

Many (most?) stocked fish have their tails and fines damaged by other fish and the concrete walls of the stock pens. So to show off the fact the fish is ‘full-finned and tailed’ you need a grip that does just that. That grip which I have called the ‘UK grip’ is great for showing fins and tails, but is it good for the trout? No.

The UK grip means that the tail of the fish is not firmly held by fingers encircling the base of the tail – to do so would ‘hide’ the tail. So the holder must squeeze the fish as shown above. If the fish thrashes about the grip around the heart area has to increase. All bad news for the heart and other organs.

This practice needs to stop, and fishing media can stamp it out almost immediately. Magazines and websites need to stop showing fish held in this way.

Trout Dying To Get a Good Photo

We all should know the rules for releasing a trout with the best chance of survival, but there is one rule that is almost never included in articles about successful releasing.

So, you have landed the fish as quickly as possible to limit capture stress and you are about to pick up the fish and a get a few ‘grip and grin’ shots before release.

But, grip and grin, can all too often turn into grip and kill, and it is all down to where you grip, and how you grip, the trout that can determine its survival.

Link corrected – Read the full story and see the grip and kill photos.

The worst example of ‘grip and kill’ in these shots – almost certain lethal damage to heart, liver and gills. Photo of worst grip and kill grip

New Fly-Fishing Book: ‘What Trout Want –The Educated Trout and Other Myths’

Quite simply this is the best book I have read on fly-fishing, and I have well over 100 books on fly-fishing in my bookcases. This simplified approach to catching trout, without the baggage of myth, pseudo-science, and self-serving BS is something I have tried to preach in my own books and articles – just wish I could write it half as well.

I don’t care where in the world you fly-fish for trout, read it and become a better fly-fisher.

whattroutwant

“In What Trout Want, Bob Wyatt busts one of fly-fishing’s biggest myths -selectivity- and teaches readers how to:

  • Simplify fly pattern design
  • Reduce the number of patterns needed
  • Improve presentation and stealth
  • Catch pressured trout

Catching trout simplified 

  • A brilliantly written and well-crafted exposé fly fishing’s greatest myths–selectivity, matching the hatch, pressured fish, fish feeling pain, precise imitations, drag-free drifts
  • Recipes for the author’s tried-and-true patterns
  • Practical, down-to-earth suggestions for catching fish”

Don’t Put Your Fishing Gear Away Too Early

There’s still plenty of productive trout fishing to be had around the country (NZ) in spite of the onset of winter and the closure of some lakes and rivers to fishing. 

Fish & Game NZ is urging anglers not to put away their gear but to broaden their horizons – try the lakes and rivers that remain open over the winter months, different methods of shoreline fishing, and even sampling what other regions have to offer.

Anglers should consult their Sports Fishing Regulation booklet, or visit the Fish & Game website, where they’ll discover a wealth of fishing opportunities available over the cooler months.

More on where to fish over winter in both North and South Islands.

Noise and Trout – is it a problem?

There are many who believe that metal studs on wading boots and metal wading staffs generate too much noise and make trout nervous, if not frightened away.

I have yet to become a believer. I have banged two hard rocks together underwater within 30 feet of trout and they have not moved.

Over on the MidCurrent site there is an interesting comparison video between a metal wading staff and a wooden staff with a rubber tip, and the sound generated by both. The video makes it pretty clear that the metal staff does make more noise as it hits boulders. But the wooden staff also generates a lot of noise as it moves rocks and boulders. It is that, that I think gets forgotten in the ‘no metal’ argument.

That majority of the noise generated by a wading angler is the displacement of rocks and boulders on the bottom, and this background noise reduces the impact of metal noise.

On rocky, boulder, river beds any time a wader moves across the bottom noise is  generated. Best advice, metal studs, metal wading staff, or not, stay out of the water if at all possible.

But even if you have to wade, keeping as way away from the trout, or likely lie, is good advice – my experience is that trout most often only react to ‘clear and present danger’, in the water or above it. I am often amazed at how close you can get to a fish without spooking it if you wade carefully, despite the noise I make treading on boulders and rocks.

Trout Night Vision

I received a number of questions arising from my articles on night fishing, about trout’s night vision.

In general a trout’s night vision is very good, even on the darkest of nights. There is some evidence that trout’s vision actually changes to black and white in the dark.

One thing that is key to a trout’s night vision is a strongly enhanced ability to detect contrast and silhouette. So it is probable trout will stay lower in the water than the likely prey. Looking up towards what light there is, will make it even easier to detect prey.

So trout may spend most of the night near the bottom of the river, or lake if in the shallows, looking up to locate prey. What light there is, (and there always is light, it is just that humans can’t see it) will silhouette prey or your fly against, or on, the water surface. It is possible that trout can see larger prey easier at night; think baitfish, frogs, mice and large dry flies.
14 lb brown taken at night

Larger fish, say trout over 5 or 6lbs, seem to do much of their feeding at night. It is probable that this is more true of big brown trout than rainbows, and it is my experience, and the experience of my fishing circle, that big trout, browns and rainbows, are more often caught at night than in daylight. (14lb night-caught brown alongside).

While the above is related to night vision, ‘the lateral line’ should not be forgotten. The sensors along the lateral line can pick up tiny signals from prey, and when combined with night vision, all help a trout find prey.

Night Fishing Part 1, Part 2, Part 3