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 joys of winter angling – plenty on offer around NZ

Don’t give up on trout fishing just yet – especially with some of the crisp, clear winter’s days the country’s been served up.

That’s the message from Fish & Game NZ, pointing to productive trout fishing waters including lakes, rivers right throughout the country which are still open to anglers.

Get all the options here. New Zealand-wide

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

Anglers happy as Taupo trout return

Lake Taupo (central North Island, NZ) anglers are enjoying some of the best fishing in years as the world-renowned wild fishery returns limit catches of well conditioned trout.

Department of Conservation Taupo fishery area manager Dave Lumley said the abundance of smelt and zooplankton in the lake was contributing to anglers catching limit bags of good conditioned trout.

A limit bag on Lake Taupo is three fish, each over 40 centimetres (15.7”)  long.

"It’s a continuance of the good fishing which we noticed from early summer, from around mid-November. The fish are bigger and in superb condition, with many caught measuring between 42-45 centimetres."

Lumley said anglers were catching maiden fish, sometimes second spawners, which had not been takeable last summer.

The southern end of the lake, off Omori, Kuratau and Whareroa, was proving productive, as was Waihaha Bay on the western side of the lake, he said.

Climatic changes, floods and eruptions have taken a toll on the fishery in the past 10 years.

Angler numbers have fallen 22 per cent on Lake Taupo since 2005, while adult licence sales have decreased from 12,557 to 9,791 since 2006.

Taupo Hunting and Fishing owner Mike Stent said the fishery had improved each year since 2009.

"It’s coming out of a hole and for the past three years the fishing has been getting better and better.

"The fishery is in good heart, we’ve seen big improvements and there is plenty of smelt around this year for the trout."

Stent hoped the improvements would encourage people to start fishing again.

"A lot of anglers stopped because of the lean years. What many don’t understand is Taupo is a wild fishery and it slowed up because of floods and eruptions over recent years. Many of the spawning runs were wiped out."

Full story here.

My experience: I have fished the Taupo area, especially the rivers spilling into Lake Taupo, regularly over the last year and the number and condition of the trout has been very good indeed – not back to what it was 10 years ago, but certainly getting there.

Let’s face it, how many overseas anglers would love to fish an area where the trout are wild, average around 41cm (16”) long, and round and fat with it?

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.