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Hi, a beginners question so bear with me!

I have decided to take up sea fishing, i have only been once and caught sod all!, I will be fishing in Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

I don’t really care what I catch and wont really be taking any home, unless I get a couple of mackerel to use for bait, the places where I have been recommended to fish off are quite high from the sea level, even at high tide, and so my question is this, how do I safely return a fish to the water from high up?? I don’t want to damage/stress the fish, and it sickens me when I see the local kids just lobbing them back in from a great height.

Anyone got any tips on how to return fish safely?

Thanks in advance
 

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The NFSA are working on a code of conduct for catch and release fishing, more on that later.

As for returning fish from high up, well a drop net is always useful, both for bring a fish up and returning it.

Another way is, if you are using gripper leads, to impale the fish under the chin on a gripper wire (or carefully insert a gripper wire behind the gill cover - be careful not to damage the gill rakers), and lower the fish back into the water where it will easily release itself and swim away.

If you touch a mackerel, it will die in about 30 hours, so only fish for them if you are going to use them.

Accidentally caught mackerel should be shaken off the hook without touching them (using barbless hooks helps).

Tight Lines - leon
 

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The mackerel die (I think) because contact with our warm and dry hands removes the protective coating of slime. There may even be some muscle damage as bruises can be seen after handling too.

When putting fish back from a height I find dropping them head first reduces the impact for them, plus I shall hang over the edge which reduces the fall by at leat 8-9 ft.

HTH,

Andy
 

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I wrote to one of the top scientists at CEFAS on this:

Hi Mike,

I wonder if you can answer this, or pass it onto someone who can?

Frequently the question of returning mackerel alive appears on the various angling internet forums.

There is a belief by many that once a mackerel has been touched by an anglers hands, even though the fish may swim away energetically, it is doomed.

Something to do with the heat/oil of the anglers hands (where it has been touched can often be seen as a handmark on the fish's skin).

Even though only microscopically damaged, the mackerel's skin continues to break down with death inevitable within 30 hours.

Shaking the fish off the hook or handling with wetted neoprene gloves is said to prevent the problem.

The problem is that when the mackerel shoals are on the beach, anglers will soon catch their self-imposed limit, but can't seem to stop fishing, often changing from feathers to a light spinning outfit and returning every fish they catch.

(If the above is correct, then they are better advised to cease fishing for mackerel and trying for the bass beyond/underneath the shoals perhaps, with less guarantee of catching).

Although this information is widely quoted, I can't find any authoritive reference to such information, although I vaguely mention talking to someone from CEFAS at the Recreational Angling Conference in Cardiff some years back, who confirmed that was the case.

It would be useful to quote an authoritive source to refer people (one way or the other) to when the subject comes up in the future.


Tight Lines - Leon Roskilly
Sea Anglers' Conservation Network (SACN)

SACN Latest: http://www.anglers-net.co.uk/sacn/latest

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Leon,

You are quite correct, and you've come to the right people!

In the late 1970s we carried out several experiments to try to find out why dead mackerel were being found in vast numbers in the SW, co-incident with the purse seine and trawl winter fishery.

The short answer is that the fish died due to skin damage interfering with their ability to maintain osmotic balance, and the skin damage was due to abrasion between crowded fish in the nets.

We found that mackerel caught on barbless hooks and never handled, just dropped into keep tanks or nets, survived quite well if allowed to swim freely, but holding a mackerel caused enough damage to eventually kill it, sometimes two days later.

I have a number of publications showing the results of all this work, and I can send you the most relevant if you send me your home address.

These are:

Lockwood, S. J., Pawson, M.G. and Mumford, B.C., 1977. "Effects of holding mackerel at different densities in nets of various sizes." M.A.F.F., Fish. Res. Tech. rep. No. 33, 10 pp


Pawson, M. G. and Lockwood, S. J., 1980. "Mortality of mackerel following physical stress, and its probable cause." I.C.E.S. rapp. proc. verb., 177: 439-443.


Holeton, G. F., M.G. Pawson & Shelton, G., 1982. "Gill ventilation, gas exchange and survival in the Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.)." Can. J. Zool, 60: 1141-1147.


Lockwood, S. J., M. G. Pawson and D. Eaton., 1983. "The effects of crowding on mackerel (Scomber scombrus L) - physical condition and mortality". Fisheries Research, 2: 129-147.


So, when anglers have caught enough mackerel for a fry or for bait, they should stop fishing for them unless they are using barbless hooks and can return the fish to the water without touching them.

Mike P.
 

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I too have learnt somthing today. I normally put my excess mackerel in a rock pool to be freed at high tide, but will now try to shake off the hook.

So does this 'touch of death' apply to pollack too as they seem to have a similar skin and slimey texture to mackerel?
 

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Well done Leon, that must be the most compreencive answer to a question ever, plus I'll be a bit more careful when im returning fish in the future.
 

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Great knowledge! Thanks a lot, and yet another link!
Chris P talked about this last year I seem to remember so there must be other fish which are affected by contact with our hands. Certainly my skin is affected from contact with Doggies!
 

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I didn't know you could get barbless hooks for sea fishing.. I did my first bit of sea fishing (done a little coarse fishing) a couple of months ago at Shell Island, North Wales. Caught 13 Dogfish in 2 days (seems they are prolific,everywhere from what iv read) and I had an awful time trying to get the b*st*rd hook out of them, i kinda had to try to cut the fishes mouth with the shank of the hook to make the hole a bit bigger to get it out!! Are barbless hooks used very much in sea fishing, what are the chances of losing a fish on a barbless hooks compared with a barbed hook, it is obvious that i am more likely to lose fish on a barbless hook, but in reality in the sea how effective are barbless hooks? Also at mo, being a beginner I'm buying pre-tied rigs, duno if there are many that come barbless?
 

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Leon Roskilly said:
The NFSA are working on a code of conduct for catch and release fishing, more on that later.

As for returning fish from high up, well a drop net is always useful, both for bring a fish up and returning it.

Another way is, if you are using gripper leads, to impale the fish under the chin on a gripper wire (or carefully insert a gripper wire behind the gill cover - be careful not to damage the gill rakers), and lower the fish back into the water where it will easily release itself and swim away.

If you touch a mackerel, it will die in about 30 hours, so only fish for them if you are going to use them.

Accidentally caught mackerel should be shaken off the hook without touching them (using barbless hooks helps).

Tight Lines - leon
I didn't know you could get barbless hooks for sea fishing.. I did my first bit of sea fishing (done a little coarse fishing) a couple of months ago at Shell Island, North Wales. Caught 13 Dogfish in 2 days (seems they are prolific,everywhere from what iv read) and I had an awful time trying to get the b*st*rd hook out of them, i kinda had to try to cut the fishes mouth with the shank of the hook to make the hole a bit bigger to get it out!! Are barbless hooks used very much in sea fishing, what are the chances of losing a fish on a barbless hooks compared with a barbed hook, it is obvious that i am more likely to lose fish on a barbless hook, but in reality in the sea how effective are barbless hooks? Also at mo, being a beginner I'm buying pre-tied rigs, duno if there are many that come barbless?
 

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hi this why i like this site u get good info and learn something new everyday.shaggy;)
 

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Useful piece of info on mackerel from Leon. Never realised. What a site this is!

Ron1976, you could crush the barbs on ready made traces with a pair of pliers to reduce the damage.

Otherwise, I am sure the likes of D W Rigs and Tackle or possibly Danson Rigs, both on eBay, would be happy to make rigs to your own specification, regarding hooks.

Steinbeisser
 

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I use a sling to release fish from high piers which has a floaty side and a sinky side.When you lower your fish into the water,it unravels and lets the fish away.It's also quite good for holding a fish while it comes to itself incase there are any seagulls about to scoff it while it recovers before it swims away as sometimes happens when you drop them. It's on my DIY site at

http://codheadbob.tripod.com
 

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Good thread, very informative!

I generally fish Brid harbour and catch whiting regularly. I have read somewhere that 98% of whiting returned don't survive, is this true and is there anything that can be done to reduce this ? I have been told that giving them a squeeze equalises their swim bladder which is supposed to help, but not sure if this works, but always do it anyway.

I have also decided to try circle hooks because I find that most whiting swallow the hook and I believe the stress of removing it is probably very stressfull and must lead to some deaths.

Regards

MTP
 

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im currently working on a fish lift. The design is ready and prototypes are being tested. The lift is portable and extendable to different heights. Simply insert the fish and press G. During testing we have come across a snag , the fish are not yet using the lift to come up, but my team have got further concepts to over come this issue. When released no fish will ever have to belly flop again.



DOH!!!!! ITS NOT APRIL!
 

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Andy MacBog said:
The mackerel die (I think) because contact with our warm and dry hands removes the protective coating of slime. There may even be some muscle damage as bruises can be seen after handling too.

When putting fish back from a height I find dropping them head first reduces the impact for them, plus I shall hang over the edge which reduces the fall by at leat 8-9 ft.

HTH,

Andy

head first dont always work, i actually found the opposite true when on eastbourne pier, more landed head first than if i dropped them that way ! as for fish slime etc, i was always taught to handle ANY fish with wet hands, i know we dont do this in the mmiddle of winter for obvious reasons, but in summer there's no excuse not to, this stops the smilme sticking to your dry skin, and releases any slimy fish such as whiting, flatties etc with less physical damage to their coatings,


re dropping them in, i mentioned the other evening that perhaps peirs etc, where fishermen are abundant, could perhaps use some hkind of 6-8" drainpipe at 45 degrees to release fish down, that way they'd not slam into the water the way they sometimes do ! just have to persuade the idiots not to stuff all their lug paper down them as a rubbish bin.
 

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CIRCLE HOOKS !!!!!!!! Really want to try, been using them for carp for years, lip, corner hookings are 95% Any suppliers other than USA you can recommend ?
just posted a thread on the very subject in conservation and general.
Brilliant !!!!! johanna
 

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sounds like a good idea m8.( but i prefere my lift method lol)

As for the makeral, i didnt know this till the other night on the peir when cris told me! ill be certain to only catch them when i need them now.
 

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I wish to add a couple of points here...

When mackerel fishing I use an open t-bar to unhook them and drop them in the bait bucket... you don't have to touch the fish at all and you dont get spiked by tails/gill rakers or get all slimy aswell. I have no idea why more people dont use these!make them yourself out of coathangers and it costs nothing either.
 
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