When it comes to releasing muskies, I am proud to state that my lifetime release rate is 99.9%!
I have gone a step further in that my guiding
policy, in that all muskies be MUST be released.
Keep the release tools handy... hooks out, and back she goes! Keep handling to a minimum.
Beckman's new Finsaver Pen makes landing
a breeze, even for lone anglers:
The square bottom gives large muskies, like this 46 1/2"er lots of room to swim,
while the finer mesh on the sides reduces tangling and split fins.
Normally, I prefer to net head first; however, on larger fish with larger baits with
multiple treble hooks, I prefer to net tail first. This keeps the head up and a little
further away from the mesh, which reduces the risk of severely tangled fish.
BogaGrip in action:
The Boga is a viable alternative for releasing fish. Do NOT lift fish vertically using the Boga
or you risk breaking /dislocating the jaw. Warning: Fish can and will occasionally pop off the
Boga, so it is best to grab the jaws with a gloved hand. Note the positioning of the jaws.
The gaff is a big fish release tool:
A gaff is still widely used by many of North America's top muskie anglers. It provides the most
secure way of handling large muskies in the water. Do NOT lift fish vertically using a gaff or
you risk breaking /dislocating the jaw. The gaff is inserted point DOWN through the thin membrane
of the lower jaw on either side of the tongue. (The point must be needle sharp!) Once through, a gloved
hand bridges the shaft of the gaff, across to the point, effectively corralling the muskie. With a slight
bit of side pressure, the muskie can be rolled onto its side, where it is often more docile while hooks
are removed. The use of a gaff effectively requires practise. Note the kevlar glove for hand protection.
Cradle picture here to follow
There are numerous sizes and styles of cradles on the market. The fish is lead into a partially
submerged cradle, held at an angle to the boat. Once inside, the cradle is closed-up around
the fish. This method is a 2-man operation. It is also the release method that is the most
dangerous to the angler in my opinion because of the proximity of hands and fingers to large
multi-hooked baits. Use of a cradle effectively requires practise.
If you are fishing for muskies or northern
pike, you should have at least one of each of these tools
in your boat within easy rich.
From left to right: Knipex compound bolt
cutters, long-handled pliers, Stanley heavy gripping pliers
(or Vise Grip pliers), razor sharp fillet knife, and jaw spreaders. (Note the tape to extend the reach of
the spreaders and to cover the sharp edges.)
Keep your tools lightly oiled to reduce corrosion.
Last updated: April 26, 2004
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