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Created by Scott McKee Nov 26, 2014 at 1:32am. Last updated by Scott McKee Nov 23, 2015.
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Here's a vile display of over-handling a musky. (This sort of display seems to dominate musky videos on YouTube.) The farther you get from the Niagara the less important proper C&R seems to be.
The sad part is that these guys probably believe that they're doing the right things. I think they need to do a little research on how to improve their catch and release skills. Too many rods to clear. Too much time to get the fish in (were they drowning the fish Lake St. Clair style?). Too much time out of water. Too much time on the floor of the boat. Too much picture taking. I can go on and on. Actually, it could be a good instructional video on what not to do.
By posting this video I was hoping to visually display poor release technique and attempt to instill a sense of pride in Niagara musky anglers and our release ethic. The video was posted in a public forum and I think I can justify critiquing his video on one. If I sent a personal E-mail to every angler who poorly releases a musky and posts the video on YouTube, I would have little time for much else. Do I have an elitist attitude towards releasing muskies? You bet I do.
Give me his e-mail address and I'll gladly write him an e-mail. Problem is he posted the video, probably hoping for more business? I wasn't bashing him, but if he posts a video like this, viewers should be aware that his fish handling leaves a lot to be desired. I also believe that if he's going to fish for muskies, and really cares about catch and release (and not just going through the motions) he would make sure he knows what he's doing before he's doing it. There certainly wasn't any sense of urgency in releasing that fish. My guess is that most Lake Ontario charter captains don't practice it much for the species they charter for. My past experience is also that most charter captains really don't want to hear from us. Being charter captains, they know better than us (but maybe Mr. Williams is different). And maybe they're more open to advice from non-captains than they used to be. Finally, I'm not sure that his type of fishing - I think 8 lines were being used, is conducive to proper release. I'm not too sure how big the fish was, but it surely didn't have any energy left even before they netted it. My guess is that only cold water saved the fish, maybe. I can go on and on, but like I said, the fact that he is fishing out of a big boat with 8 lines and apparently doesn't stop the boat - dragging the fish through the water with the boat (effectively drowning the fish) isn't promising. It's not only his release techniques which are troublesome, but also his fishing techniques. I'll gladly e-mail him these concerns and hope it makes a difference.
And I really don't think many anglers outside of our members pay a lot of attention to this forum.
It's always good to be exposed to fresh and untainted perspectives such as your own. Sometimes my own perspective tends to be a bit moldy, I think.
Many years ago we (either as members of Muskies, Inc. or the NMA, I can't really remember), attempted to get the St. Lawrence guides to agree to higher size limits, more catch and release, and better fishing, landing and releasing techniques. They were rather dismissive and resisted all of our suggetions (that is why for the longest time size limits on the St. Lawrence were lower than on other trophy waters, even lower than the Niagara River).
The resistence was based on the need to keep high paying clients (many who were not real musky anglers, just casual anglers willing to pay good money for the chance to catch a legendary trophy) happy. To appease these clients, the captains used lighter line and looser drags, which enabled the client to enjoy the great fight of this mythical fish. The catch might be a bit dissapointing if you could reel in a 50-incher in less that a minute or two. And if that client wanted to have that trophy mounted, the captains wouldn't oppose it. At the very least, they believed that paying clients should at least have the opportunity to have a few minutes to admire the fish and get a few quality pictures. Then there is a host of other issues related to the size of their boats, which probably still exist. I'm sure things have changed for the better since then (at least they're releasing most of their catch?).
At any rate, I no longer try to get involved in what happens in other waters. What happens on the St. Lawrence is the St. Lawrence's problem. If they care, they can address it. I try to keep my focus and concern solely on what happens on the Niagara.
The problem with the advent of utube videos is that what happens on the St. Lawrence, or anywhere else, gets broadcast to the entire world. Impressionable novice musky anglers may believe that this is the way to handle muskies not only in cold water, but also when water temps are higher. The problem is no longer limited to the St. Lawrence, but can now potentially effect other musky fisheries, including our own.
I've had some bad experiences with captains, but maybe I should get out of my shell again.
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