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If you are fishing in a length restricted fishery and you hook a fish in the gills that is outside of the legal limit, do you re

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  • If you are fishing in a length restricted fishery and you hook a fish in the gills that is outside of the legal limit, do you re

    If you are fishing in a length restricted fishery and you hook a fish in the gills that is outside of the legal limit, do you return it to the water knowing it won't survive, or keep the fish so that it will not be wasted and hope to be able to explain if necessary?

  • #2
    As much as I hate to say to release a fish that will surely die I would still release it. I know that some CO's might be more understanding than others if you chose to keep it and explained the situation to them but you are running the risk of a ticket if you choose to keep it.

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    • #3
      Fish always die no matter if they have been badly hooked or not. Nothing lives forever. And when they die naturally, they don't "go to waste." Their bodies are consumed by other things that are actually counting on those nutrients. It's part of the balance. Don't worry about it.

      Usually the length restricted fisheries are trout fisheries. My suggestion for avoiding lethal gill hookups for trout are: 1) stop using bait 2) fish with flies (gill hookups are relatively rare for fly fishermen) and 3) do not fish with treble hooks. Even change the spinners to single hooks. If a fish winds up with a single hook deep it may survive if you simply cut the leader off short to the hook and release the fish. The hook will dissolve fairly quickly (especially in salt water).

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      • #4
        Oh, and of course barbless hooks go a long ways towards ensuring reduced damage. However, I never use barbless hooks when fishing with flies. Trout almost never take a fly deep enough to cause damage. 90% of the time they're only hooked on the lip or jaw.

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        • #5
          I would put it back into the water. All it would take is the wrong conservation officer to come along to chew you out.

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          • #6
            Throw it back. The game warden has probably heard the "hooked too bad to live" excuse too many times to cut you much slack.

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            • #7
              The law is the law period. Laws of nature will take care of a fish that dies in the water. The fish before it was even caught was still a part of the food chain, (little fish gets eaten by larger fish etc.). The fact that it will die only means that it will become a different part of the food chain. So the fish will not have died in vain, but in order for other live to continue. As to man made laws concerning creel limits and size, it is always safer to error on the side of the law. For example, if the limit is lets say 10 inches minimum, allow for some shrinkage by adding a few fractions of an inch. The fish could be legal when you catch it but may shrink enough by the time an official measures it to be illegal and spoil a perfectly good fishing trip.

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              • #8
                If you have a live well, put one of the other fish that might have a better chance of living back.

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                • #9
                  There is no excuse that will justify keeping a illegal fish or animal. Take a chance and you will pay a fine - maybe a big one.

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                  • #10
                    I release all my fish, i just hope the ones that look particularly bad can heal up. If not they get recycled but nature.

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                    • #11
                      I do what the law says regardless of the ethics involved with fish. It is dead if you keep it and it might die if you release it. Something will eat it.

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                      • #12
                        I would release it. the law is the law. It will probally wash up on shore for scavengers to eat. Wrong conservation officer= Big Fine possibly.

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                        • #13
                          Follow the law! I had the misfortune of observing a nice young man fishing a little estuary in Florida. He caught a sea trout that was about a half inch short and threw it back. He felt distraught that it had floated to the surface, dead, and was going to waste. Finally he retrieved it saying, he just could not tolerate wasting it.

                          As he was docking his little boat, he was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs. So much for being considerate! I doubt that the judge had any sympathy for him either.

                          I hate to tell you but the sharks and bigger fish eat these littler fish for survival and you just make their day by returning your dead fish. I am all for protecting wildlife with everything I've got but these laws were made for a reason and most of them are working very effectively.

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