We received some really nice photos from
folks who attended the Central Washington
Fish-In last weekend. The advent of cheaper
digital cameras has allowed more folks to carry
a camera easily - and send them to friends (or
websites) where they can be shared.
Looking at some of the photos, I realized we have
not spent much time in explaining how fish photos
should be taken. We have a very good section,
Fly Fishing as well as Al Campbells series
on Digital Photography.
Both will really help you take better photos - but
we really didn't cover what our friend, Dr. Fish,
(Jeff Pierce), calls the 3-Second Rule.
This quote is from Dr. Fish's article,
Fly-fishing for Atlantic Salmon,
Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec, Canada.
* PLEASE NOTE - Great care was taken in photographing the
fish you see in this story. I have a very strict three-second rule
when removing any fish from the water that is to be released. The
photo is set up and everything is ready so that when the fish is
removed from the water the picture can be taken and the fish put
back in three seconds or less. When taking your own fish photos
please keep this in mind so the fish is released in the best possible
shape. ~ Jeff Pierce
I do want to mention here that Catch and Release
is the law on Rocky Ford Creek where we fished
last weekend. But the State of Washington has
a new law, covering steelhead and salmon, which
mandates those fish, in C&R situations, CAN NOT
be taken out of the water. Period. Nada. Ziltch.
If you fish in Washington state, the steelhead and
salmon you photograph better be IN the water. What
is the law where you fish?
While we weren't under state law at Rocky Ford,
we did notice some fish were out of the water
far too long, and unfortunately, we felt it best
not to use photos sent to us which plainly showed
the fish were also far from the water.
I can surely understand the pride in wanting a
photo of what may be a 'lifetime' fish, but it
can be done without overly stressing the fish.
Take a good look at the photo here:
The tail of the fish is still in the water,
there is moss and crud on my hand and on the fish.
I could have taken a little more time and cleaned
it off - or could I? I was careful to support the
fish with both hands, my fingers are not in/near
the gills, and I WAS actually counting, one Mississippi,
two Mississippi, three Mississippi - and the fish
was back in the water. I stooped over the water
with the fish, closer to the water than I would
have been standing up. It may seem like a small
picky thing, but it really is important to have
the fish out of water the least amount of time.
Had my husband, JC, been able to get closer that
would have helped, but in any fishing situation it
isn't always possible to get everything you want
in a photo - and not stress or kill the fish.
You may have noticed too, the fish is not in a net.
I hand-landed it. That is, played the fish in close,
reached down and slid my wet hand under it. It's sort
of like handling a bar of soap - if you don't squeeze
it doesn't squirt away. Gentle is the key. You can
turn a trout on it's side (I know a lot of folks who
turn them upside down) but with either method the fish
will be nice and calm. Then point the nose upstream
and gently support it until it swims off. This fish
did not need resuscitating, but if it had, slowly and
gently move the fish, in the water, back and forth so
the water can go over it's gills. It will let you
know when it's ready to swim off.
Before you ask about which net to use, there are
differences of opinion, but if you feel you need to
use a net, I would recommend one with the softest
mesh you can find, and the bag part of the net should
be deep enough not to force the fish into a tight bend
would could break its back. There are some special
C&R nets which look neat, but I really don't know which
is best. Since there seem to be so many available, I
suggest you do some research and see what really is
best for your particular fishery.
The same is true for handling fish other than trout.
I've seen too many big bass held sideways by the
lip...and I've read that on a big fish you can hold
them vertically to remove the hook just fine, but
holding them out horizontally to show the fish off
can break their jaw. Not nice to release a big fish
only to have it die of starvation.
I'm told panfish can stay out of the water longer
than trout. I do not know that to be a fact. Do
you? How long is too long? Probably a good idea
to find out.
We all want memories of our fishing trips - some
we carry around in our heads to keep us from going
nuts when life's smatterings of dung hit the fan - and
some we carry in our wallets. Make sure the ones in
your wallet didn't cost the fish it's life. Remember
the 3 Second Rule. ~ The LadyFisher
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