Handling natives

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Cohosanders

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This is my first year steelheading and I was wondering the best way to handle natives. I understand banking them or keeping them out of the water for more than 60 seconds reduces the survival rate to half. I know every fish and every situation is different, but my biggest concern is sustaining these fish. I would much rather NOT get a photo than risk hurting the fish(it defeats the purpose of letting them go). Anyway I need some guidance as I am sure some other newbies could use. Thanks OFF:D
 
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beaverfan

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Out of all the pics you've posted seems like you got it down pretty good. I think it kinda goes on a fish by fish basis, each fish is different and some fish fight extremely hard some don't. If the fish is nice and active, with downward facing eyes I don't see anything wrong with pulling them out of the water for 15 seconds for a picture. I like the glove method that metalfisher uses, seems to work good. If your going to pull a native out of the water, with one hand hold the fish by the tail and cradle the front of the fish with your other hand. I know you know this but NEVER stick your hands in a fishes gill plate that you don't intend on keeping. These fish are a lot tougher if handled correctly than most people give them credit for, they can also be very sensitive if improperly handled or stressed from the fight. If you get one that looks like it's struggling a little bit, don't pull it out of the water for the picture. Simply hold the fish in the water by the tail and snap your pic. Not as good but you still get a picture and the fish will almost certainly live throught the ordeal. Just my .02
 
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SantiamDrifter

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I like the washington rules. Although I'll be the first to admit there have been a few fish years ago I wish I would of handled differently. But here are some of my thoughts. When your going to take a picture, get in the water with the fish. Usually kneeling works best. That way you only need to rasie the fish a few inches compared to the 5+ feet when your standiing. Just in case you do drop the fish, he's just a few inches above the water instead of a few feet above the bank.

Same thing goes for a boat. Hold the fish out the side of the boat. You can still get a picture with your mug in it, but without the risk of dropping a fish in the boat. And dont hold the fish to tight either.

As far as taking a fish out of the water, Do it quickly. Try running a couple miles then sticking your head in a bucket of water. Thats what it is like for the fish when you take them out of water after a fight. When releasing the fish, revive it in the water for however long it takes. Dont do the push pull method for trying to revive them. Because when you pull them backwards it getting water up thier gills. Its like drowning the fish. Lots of people do it and the fish rockets out of thier hand, but its only because they dont like the water going up thier gills. They swim off and die somewhere else. So just hold the fish in a little bit of current until the fish swims off by them selves. No matter how long it takes, its your job to revive that fish.
 
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beaverfan

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I'm not sure where you heard that from but it doesn't really sound right. All the push/pull method does is simulates the same action they do to breathe. Notice when pushing the fish the gills close up and when you pull them back they flare out. That's how a fish breathes! To get "new" water into there gills they flare them out, to expel that water they close them. Now if you were tof push and pull them to fast/hard you could easily harm the fish. But a slow push/pull method is just getting there gills going again, it is a proven method that has been used for years. Of course if you have any evidence to prove otherwise I'd gladly read it.
 
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eggs

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I never risk the fish for a photo... hince why i havent had many photos up this year.. i have had a nasty string of natives all year for the most part.... i take them out of the water.. hold them down gently and unhook em and put them right back in..
 
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SantiamDrifter

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I'm not sure where you heard that from but it doesn't really sound right. All the push/pull method does is simulates the same action they do to breathe. Notice when pushing the fish the gills close up and when you pull them back they flare out. That's how a fish breathes! To get "new" water into there gills they flare them out, to expel that water they close them. Now if you were tof push and pull them to fast/hard you could easily harm the fish. But a slow push/pull method is just getting there gills going again, it is a proven method that has been used for years. Of course if you have any evidence to prove otherwise I'd gladly read it.


The following is a reply taken verbatim from Grant Scheele on an Ifish thread about handling native steelhead. You might not know who Im talking about, but Grant is a very respected fishing guide here in oregon along with being a sponsored Ifish guide. If he is saying it, then I'll believe it.

OK, in reverse order my three biggest points on handling native steelhead.

#3) don't boat a native steelhead. Get on the beach or just release it from the net hanging on the side of the boat.

#2) don't try to take a picture of a native in the boat. They will slip out of your hand I don't care how strong you are. If you are strong enough to hold the fish then you have crushed it's spine.

#1) HERE IS MY BIG ONE!: DON'T pull he fish backwards and forwards to revive it like they do on TV.

That is one of the single most damaging things you can do to a fish's gills. Not different than stuffing water up a humans nose.

It flat out drowns the fish if done to much and kills them if done only a little. Here is why.

People will note than when a Steelhead is pulled backward through the water that it will usually kick right out of your hands whether it is ready or not.

It is no different than if a human just ran a marathon and lay exhausted in the grass and moments later somebody stuffed water up the runners nose. The runner would jump up to get away but would probably not run very far before collapsing again.

The steelhead does the same thing. He will quickly jump out of the proud fisherman's hand and while the fisherman is patting himself on the back for a great release the steelhead will be floating belly up underwater to probably never regain it's life.

People, I see it over and over every year on many TV shows. They are the worst culprits.

I see it on the river every year and while I normally mind my own business I have made it my small cause to politely explain the proper way to revive a fish.

Just hold the Steelhead with the current going into it's mouth. I know the water is bitter cold but it is your duty to keep the fish upright until it can stay upright on it's own.

I have had to keep my hands in the water for over 5 minutes before and had the fish sit in front of me while my clients and I quietly talk for another half hour while the fish stays upright while supporting itself. (They are so pretty like this and if you get your face close enough they will actually look you in the eye) After a half hour, somebody will move to fast or talk to loud and the fish will take off so fast it startles you.

It is a beautiful thing when that happens!

Great Thread and will all of the recent posts of people catching their first Steelhead, appropriate timing also.
 
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beaverfan

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After a bit of research and an exchange of emails between a fish biologist you are on the right track. Not spot on but pretty close. First OFF she said that the push/pull method has proven to be successfull for a very long time. Like mentioned in the quote you posted from Grant Scheele fish need to have water moving in there mouth and across there gills to absorb maximum oxygen. YOU ARE DOING ZERO HARM TO A FISH BY USING THE PUSH/PULL METHOD, but you aren't doing all you can do to revive that fish. To provide maximum oxygen absorption Grant is correct, holding the fish head upstream while holding the tail and bracing the belly with your other hand IS the MOST effective way to revive a fish. However in still or slow moving water often the ONLY way to do that is to do quick forward push followed by a slow pull. If you pull the fish back to fast too much water passes the gills going the wrong direction and they're not getting optimum absorption. So I was wrong about my method being the most effective, under these circumstances (native steelhead almost always in running water) holding the fish upright facing upstream is better. But to say it kills or even harms the fish is grossly exagerated.
 
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Fishtopher

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Who knows?! Not me!
I hold em in the current. No back and forth. Although now that I think about it, for salmon and steelhead in rivers and cricks, is the only time I just hold em. Aint no current in most of the lakes I release trout and other fishes in...
 
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metalfisher76

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I can`t say enough about the 100% cotton. It grabs, doesn`t introduce your sweat to the fish and doesn`t remove too much slime/scale IF ya get it wet 1st. I keep my cam in my inside pocket with the wrist strap hanging out so I can grab, pull and click all while holding the fish in the water facing into the current. The fish will try to swim, let it when it does. If you have no current carefully, slowly push/pull till he tries to swim off.
 
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Cohosanders

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I am learning that nets are no good as well(unless they are the right material and used properly), but here is my little video of that nate I posted earlier this month(my only April steel so far:)) I took out the hook and grabbed the tail to guide it, but as you will see she had a lot of spunk.:lol::lol:
 
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Mike123

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The fist of fury is no bueno for nates.

HAHA I was gonna write that.. Jeanna beat me to it. I've seen quite a few "fist of fury pics" on fishing forums. They may take right off, but the chance of them surviving is that much less now that your entire hand has been wedged inbetween the gill plate.

On that note though, any time you catch a fish, it's survival chance just went down.
 
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Johnny Southpaw

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Good thread Coho...bueno info. to be gleamed...I will definitely be more aware of how I handle/release a native as a result...GRACIAS!
 
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Mike123

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BAHAHAHA OMG Phil you are too much sometimes. That just made my morning.
 
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Fishtopher

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LMAO!! Thats awesome bud! I was about to post the same thing, but I really didn't want to sound like a know it all! LOL!
 
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Cohosanders

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:lol:That was some late night colorful imagination: How about the old mouth to mouth. If your native steelhead seems like it is unconscious gently place your 2 fingers 3 inches above the max fin and press 1-1000, 2-1000 Then breath into the fishes mouth if that does not work just use a defibrillator....CLEAR :D When you feel a pulse continue with the over the shoulder method:clap:
 
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OnTheFly

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Wow! I had it All Wrong! I'm writing all of this down. Thanks guys!
 
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