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ORVIS – Catch & Release Tips For Bonefishing

The ORVIS – Catch & Release Tips For Bonefishing video by The Orvis Company provides valuable insights into best practices for handling bonefish during catch and release. The video, featuring Justin Lewis, Bahamas Initiative Manager for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, emphasizes the importance of proper fish handling for the survival and overall health of the fishery. Research conducted by BTT and others has shown that inadequate handling of bonefish can greatly reduce their chances of surviving post-release. Therefore, it is crucial for anglers, guides, and anyone participating in the fishery to handle these fish correctly. This includes using barbless hooks to minimize handling time, keeping the fight short to prevent exhaustion, and handling the fish as gently as possible to avoid damaging their mouth and protective slime. Additionally, the video highlights other tips such as using the appropriate tippet strength, keeping the fish in the water while handling, and reviving tired fish properly by ensuring water flows over their gills from front to back. By following these catch and release practices, anglers can contribute to the conservation of bonefish and the sustainability of the industry.

ORVIS - Catch  Release Tips For Bonefishing

Barbless Hooks

Barbless hooks have become increasingly popular among anglers, particularly when it comes to targeting bonefish. These hooks are designed to be smooth and without the small barb that is commonly found on traditional hooks. The absence of a barb offers several advantages when it comes to catching and releasing bonefish.

One of the main benefits of using barbless hooks is that they significantly reduce the risk of injuring the fish during hook removal. The absence of a barb allows the hook to be easily and safely removed from the fish’s mouth, minimizing any potential harm. Additionally, barbless hooks also allow for a quicker release, reducing the amount of time the fish spends out of the water, which is crucial for its survival.

Fighting the Bonefish

When it comes to targeting bonefish, it is essential to master the art of fighting these powerful and elusive creatures. Bonefish are known for their incredible speed and strength, and engaging in a battle of strength and skill with them is part of the thrill of bonefishing.

To effectively fight a bonefish, you need to maintain a balanced and steady pressure on the fish while allowing it to make powerful runs. It’s crucial to avoid putting excessive strain on your fishing line and rod, as bonefish are known for their ability to make sudden, explosive runs that can test even the most experienced anglers.

Tippet Strength

Choosing the correct tippet strength is vital when targeting bonefish. The tippet is the thinnest section of your leader, and its strength determines your chances of successfully landing a bonefish. It is important to choose a tippet that is strong enough to handle the force of a bonefish, but thin enough to avoid spooking the fish.

A tippet strength of 10 to 12 pounds is generally recommended for bonefish. This allows for a good balance between strength and stealth. However, it is crucial to adjust the tippet strength depending on the size and weight of the bonefish you are targeting, as larger fish will require stronger tippet to ensure a successful catch.

Handling the Bonefish

Properly handling a bonefish is essential to minimize stress and potential harm to the fish. When you have successfully landed a bonefish, it is important to handle it with care and avoid unnecessary contact with its sensitive skin.

Using wet hands or a wet cloth, gently support the fish by cradling its belly and tail. This protects its delicate fins and scales from damage. Avoid putting excessive pressure on the fish or squeezing it tightly, as this can cause internal injuries. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid touching the fish’s gills, as they are extremely delicate and can easily be damaged.

Reviving Exhausted Fish

During a challenging fight, bonefish can become exhausted and require some time to recover before they are released. Reviving an exhausted fish is crucial to ensure its survival and give it the best chance of recovering from the stress of the fight.

To revive a bonefish, gently hold it in a still water current or facing into the current. This allows water to flow through its gills, providing oxygen and helping the fish regain its strength. Avoid forcefully moving the fish back and forth, as this can further stress the already tired fish. Once the bonefish shows signs of strong and steady movements, it is ready to be released.

Hook Removal

When it comes to hook removal, patience and care are key. It is essential to remove the hook as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimize stress and potential injury to the fish. This process becomes even more critical when using barbless hooks, as they are specifically designed for easy removal.

To remove the hook, gently hold the bonefish and use a pair of pliers or forceps to carefully back the hook out of the fish’s mouth. Try to avoid pulling on the hook forcefully, as this can cause unnecessary damage to the fish’s mouth. If the hook proves difficult to remove, it is recommended to cut the line as close to the hook as possible to minimize injury and increase the fish’s chances of survival.

Air Exposure

Air exposure is a topic that has sparked much debate among anglers. When catching and releasing a bonefish, it is important to minimize the amount of time the fish spends out of the water to ensure its well-being. Exposure to air for extended periods can cause stress and potentially harm the fish.

Ideally, a bonefish should only be out of the water for a short period while handling, hook removal, and taking a quick photo. It is essential to have a plan in place to efficiently handle and release the fish to minimize air exposure. Being prepared with the necessary tools, such as wet hands, forceps, and a camera, can help reduce the time the fish spends out of the water.

Avoiding Damage to Gills

The gills of a bonefish are extremely delicate and vital to their survival. It is crucial to avoid any unnecessary contact or damage to the gills when handling the fish. Direct contact with the gills can cause severe harm, potentially leading to respiratory issues and even death for the fish.

When handling a bonefish, be mindful of the positioning of your hands and fingers. Avoid touching or squeezing the gill area, and ensure that the fish’s gills have enough space to move freely without being constrained. By being vigilant and cautious, you can help protect the bonefish’s gills and contribute to its chances of survival.

Avoiding Internal Damage

While handling bonefish, it’s essential to minimize the risk of causing internal injuries. Bonefish have sensitive internal organs that can be easily damaged if excessive pressure is applied or if the fish is mishandled.

When handling a bonefish, avoid squeezing it too tightly or applying excessive pressure on its body. This can lead to internal bruising or damage to its organs. Additionally, handling the fish while it is out of the water should be done with care and precision to reduce the risk of causing any internal harm.

Taking Pictures With the Fish

Capturing the moment with a photo is often a highlight of a successful bonefishing trip. However, it is crucial to ensure that the fish’s well-being is prioritized over any photo opportunity. Taking pictures with a bonefish should be done quickly and efficiently, ensuring that the fish is not unnecessarily stressed or exposed to air for prolonged periods.

When capturing a photo with a bonefish, keep the fish as close to the water’s surface as possible. This minimizes air exposure and ensures that the fish remains in a comfortable and safe environment. Remember to handle the fish with wet hands, avoid touching the gills or squeezing tightly, and release it promptly after the photo is taken.

In conclusion, utilizing barbless hooks, mastering the art of fighting bonefish, choosing the correct tippet strength, and properly handling, reviving, and releasing bonefish are all crucial practices for the ethical pursuit of this thrilling sport. By following these guidelines and prioritizing the well-being of the fish, anglers can continue to enjoy the excitement of targeting bonefish while contributing to their conservation and sustainability.

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