Catch&Release is good and all but in my opinion worthless if the released fish was treated badly before. It may swim away but due to the damage done by bad handling, the fish might die minutes or hours later.
Before my latest fishing trip to the jungle I was again thinking about a careful handling of big fish. I already knew that the camps won't have nets. For the last trip I sent some down, with $100 per net plus horrendous shipping costs an expensive solution. Especially if I have to leave the nets back in the camp like last time.
Then my friend from my local tackle shop introduced me to the W3 Weighsling from Westin Fishing.
A bag out of soft, fishskinfriendly material with drain holes in the bottom so the water escapes quickly. Once in the bag, the fish can be held moist and weighted safely without hanging it at its jaw.
Combined with a lipgrip to fix the fish IN the water, this seemed to me like a good solution since the bag can be transported in the rodtube wraped around the rods. Plus it even adds to the safety of the rods.
Here a short explanation on how we used this cool product. We tested it in the jungle with Peacock Bass but it should work with all other species too that fit into the bag.
- Secure big fish with a lipgrip at the boat without holding it out of the water on it to reduce the risk of breaking jaws.
- Put the bag in the water and pull the fish in it.
- Lose the lipgrip and the fish is secured in the dark and wet bag.
- You now can get the scale and camera ready while the fish recovers in the water (works best with to people or more so one can hold the bag closed).
- When all is ready it can be weighted easily (just subtract the weight of the empty bag) without hanging the fish on its jaw.
- Carefully take the fish out of the bag for a quick photoshoot.
- Release it safely!
almost 20lb of Peacock Bass bagged safely
This method won't take all the pain/stress from a fish but if you don't want to harm a fish at all then fishing is probably not for you.
In my opinion, the handling of a fish makes a difference on its chance of surviving the whole procedure. Letting a 20lb Peacock Bass (or any other species) hang with all its weight on its jaw, throwing it in the boat or holding it out of the water for several minutes just to get 200 pictures in several locations and angles reduces a fish's surviving rate much more than landing it with a net, unhook it in the water and just take it out its element for a few seconds. But that's just my theory, I couldn't ask a fish about this so far...
Fish deserve respect and proper handling, not just because they are a part of nature and a living being but also because without them, fishing would be pretty boring, wouldn't it?!
In this sense, I would like to finish this post with a quote from the Westin Fishing product page:
"Take care of the fish, it's our future!"
Thanks for your time!