Monday, April 14, 2014

CPR ............ for fish

If you have spent much time on the internet as of late and you're a fishin nut like myself, I'm sure you've seen the rather new acronym, CPR; Catch - Photo-Release.

 I don't consider my self a "purist" when it comes to catch and release and I condone those who crash the internet with hateful spite when someone takes home a trophy fish. I try to keep in perspective that fishing is just that, fishing. In the scheme of life, fishing should come well below God, Family and things to get really worked up about. But I also feel it should fall somewhere in-line with education and being a good steward of our resources because trophy fish are a resource that if not taken care off, can be depleted.

I think the most important part of CPR happens before you ever catch the fish. It starts with having a plan. You have to decide in your mind (and probably your spouses) what constitutes a trophy and what you would consider spending $$$$$$ on to put on your wall. It's important to have a clear cut limit so you don't spend time waffling with a trophy fishing gulping for air on the deck of your boat. Spend time investigating local taxidermists and their reputation before their price. Also look at skin mounts vs replica's. Replica's typically cost more but last significantly longer. My experience as of late would also suggest that if you get the right taxidermist, replicas look much more realistic as well.

With all of this already decided, when the moment of truth comes you can be ready. Keep the fish in the water while you get ready, either in the net or in a live well. Then quickly pop him out, snap,snap, snap (make sure your buddies know to take non stop pictures, they're digital and you can delete them!), grab a quick length and girth and then back in the water. Try to weigh the fish with either a cradle or by using the net. Then spend the time to make sure she's strong before you let her swim off. Then high five and hoop and yell, after all you just accomplished something awesome!

For me and my customers, its an easy decision. Any trout over 24" goes back and any laker over 28" does too. This makes it easier when we catch a trophy because there's no decision to be made. I impose this limits on myself as well. This past weekend, my boys and I where graced with a gorgeous brown, probably my biggest ever. The decision was easy because I knew before she even boarded the boat what my courses of action was. Because of this, when we released her, she was very strong and healthy and I have no doubt she made a full recovery. After all,
nothing is worse than releasing a fish that dies, everyone loses when that happens.

As we get ready for spring fishing and the magical time of year when the big fellas come out to play, I encourage you to think about what you will do if and when you tie into a personal best. If you decide to keep it, know that you will not see any trash talk from me or my team. Instead you're going to get a congratulations on a beautiful fish. At that point your decision has been made and it makes no sense to bash anyone about legally harvesting a fish. If anything, it motivates me more to help educate people about the benefits of CPR and what it might mean for our kids in the future of fishing our local rivers and reservoirs.

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