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Gotta Have the Right Tools for the Job!

Why should surf fishing be any different?  Your tackle and equipment play a major role in achieving the objective- catching AND, if you are so inclined or required, releasing- fish. It’s important to have the right tools for the job at hand. Having the right tool for the various situations common in fishing is just as important in your fishing as matching the hatch.

Let’s dive deeper and heed the advice of guys known for having the right tools. Indiana Jones was heard to say, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”. Meaning? Have the right type of gear for your situation. However, it’s not always about the type of tool. Sometimes size matters. For example, Crocodile Dundee certainly knows which size knife to use for a given situation. You need a variety of rod/reel combos and a variety of tackle options. If you are fishing a jetty or beachfront on the ocean, don’t bring your snapper rod or back bay set up.  Undersized equipment could result in a longer, more exhausting/stressful and, unfortunately, often unsuccessful fight with the fish. Not only could that bring disappointment, but longer fights, especially in warmer water, make the fish more vulnerable in its mortality.

When it comes to tackle, never underestimate the importance of having the right hook. If its fish mortality that concerns you, it’s a good idea to use barbless hooks or crush or file down the barb. This will result in a quicker, more efficient release. They also cause less damage to the fish's mouth, and less bleeding if the fish is foul hooked. Depending on your state, if you’re fishing with bait, you may be required to use circle hooks. This practice reduces the potential for deep hooking and foul hooking.

If you're using crankbaits, think about changing the hook set up. Replacing the treble hooks with single hooks allows for a quicker, and much safer release. You can even reduce the number of treble hooks on the lure. That middle hook is more likely to end up in your hand or leg rather than the fish’s mouth.

So, you fight the fish almost to the beach. You’ve waded in for the fight. What do you do now? You don’t want to handle the fish too much. Dragging it to the beach or grabbing it in your hands will remove the “slime coat”- the protective coating containing antibodies and enzymes that protect the fish from parasites and bacteria. Removing the coat can leave the fish susceptible to disease.   If you must handle the fish, it's best to do it with two wet hands. A dry hand contacting the fish will remove more slime coat than a wet hand.

Having the right tools can minimize the risk of doing damage to the fish and to you. First, have your pliers or hook removal device ready. I wish I had a dollar for every time I saw a fish get dragged to the beach and left there while the angler walks back to his truck to get pliers. Make sure you have a pair of pliers with a line cutter or have something to cut the line close at hand. If the hook is stuck deep inside the fish, cut the leader as close to the hook as possible and leave it in the fish. It’s not ideal, but the stress and injury to the fish trying to remove the hook jeopardizes the mortality substantially.

It is best not to remove the fish from the water. That is not easy to do sometimes and of course anglers want pictures. Consider having a fish grip to minimize fish handling during the photos and release.  The Eastaboga Tackle Boga Grip is pretty much the class of the field. Consider the weight of the fish you are catching as well as the way the grip fastens to the mouth. They are not the answer to every releasing problem and, like with any procedure, care must be taken to keep fish stress to a minimum. Try to keep the fish vertical, and support the weight of the fish with your free hand if you move the fish from a vertical position. The Boga Grip is super tough, and it is known to provide very accurate weights. It is easy to use. The grip certainly solves the problem of very sharp teeth, and plastic grips are better for the fish's teeth. Just remember that lifting the fish with lip grippers can alter the alignment of the vertebrae and possibly damage internal organs so care must be taken to release the fish quickly, supporting it as much as possible until that is achieved.

The right rig for the fight, the right hook to minimize damage, and the proper release tools make for both a better fishing experience, and better fish care when releasing fish. As with anything else in life, having the right tools for the job makes a big difference. Tight Lines and Live the Passion!


Contributed to iBass360 by Joe Pelligrini, Long Island Beach Buggy Association. You can read more of Joe’s tips in his Tackle Tuesday series on the LIBBA Facebook page or at the LIBBA website.


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