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Discussion Starter #1
Every lake trout fisherman has had a fish that didn't expel all the air from its swim bladder on the way up. Sometimes you can successfully "burp" the fish to get the air out, but sometimes even that doesn't work very well.

A friend of mine up in Utah is hand making a new Laker Saver device to quickly and safely get these trophy fish back down to deep water where the swim bladder will be re-compressed and the fish can then be released with a quick tug on the line. This isn't a money making venture, just a sincere desire to prevent unintended and preventable mortality. The Laker Saver is made with 4 lbs of lead and stainless steel hardware. Here's a picture:



I haven't had to use mine yet, but Tarponjim swears by them. Here's the website:
http://www.lakersaver.com/

Certainly the life of a trophy lake trout is worth far more than the $20.00 cost.
 

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Looks pretty kewl man, you should have him put a camera on it so you can see the fish swim off and see how smooth the release is.
 

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Curious............as I dont know much about Lake Trout..............Why can't they be "fizzed" like a bass? Insert the needle into the swim blatter and let out all that air and away they go. Any reason this doesnt work for a Laker?
 

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"Fizzing" can work, but most large lakers have HUGE swim bladders, and it takes a very long time for all the air to fizz out. Also, if you don't know ecxactly where to insert the needle, you can hit and damage a vital organ.

The LakerSaver can be used by just about anyone. Its simple, very fast, and highly effective. I'd never laker fish without one.

I hope to make a video showing its use as soon as I can get: A day off, sunshine, and no wind. That could take a while at the rate things are going!
 

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the venting most times leads to infections and does more damage then good. If you take your time and bring them up slowly lake trout blow off there air and release well. I have rarely seen the need for anything like that for lake trout but I don't fish as deep as the Flaming gorge guys do and at high elevations the water is colder and doesn't stratify as easily, for yellow eye rockfish the deep release tool is a recommended process although it's hard to believe it would work after they come up with there eyes bulging and bladders out of there mouths.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The problem comes, in my humble opinion, when the fish has just eaten a sizeable meal. If it has a larger fish in its belly it seems to sometimes block the duct between the swim bladder and the fish's "throat" (for lack of a better term) that would otherwise allow air to escape from the swim bladder. Then it doesn't matter how long you play the fish, the air won't be released, and the blockakge makes it difficult to get the fish to burp, too. Watching a big fish struggle helplessly on the surface, unable to swim back down is a sick feeling.

It doesn't happen often, but often enough to make something like this worth having on hand.
 

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Right. Almost all the fish we land that don't decompress have tails in their throats, and it happens to me on a weekly basis. Also, I used the tool last summer on fish that were just flat out tired and stressed from being brought up from 100 feet. They go from cool water to 70-degree water, and just don't have much energy left, especially if it takes the angler 8-10 minutes or more like some fish do.

I attach the LakerSaver, and send 'em right back down to the cool depths. "Reviving" fish boat-side just isn't too effective during late-summer when surface temps rise into the high 60's and low 70's like they do on the Gorge. This thing makes it fast and easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ePiC said:
Looks pretty kewl man, you should have him put a camera on it so you can see the fish swim off and see how smooth the release is.
I will record a release on my sonar one of these days when the ice goes off and then post some screenshots of the descent and separation.
 

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Im just wondering how you know it swims off ok and not just a few struggling twitches like it would on the surface.
Also at what speed do you lower them back down? The movement might help revive a worn out fish forcing oxygen over the gills. Do the fish fight it when heading back down? If so how much damage to the jaw is caused?
Its a great idea, but Im not familiar enough with this problem to know the answers.
 

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At Granby, It is only a few months out of the year that it would be needed. A biologist in Alaska came up with a similar device that he claims works well for yelloweye which are very old fish and easily fished out of an area. I will get one and try it out there and keep it with me if the situation comes up on a laker and I will get an extra one for Bernie, we need to send some to the dow in Gunnison.
 

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epic: I can see the fish swimming on the sonar. Sometimes they dive right on to the bottom, other times they leave horizontally out of the cone. I lower them quickly, as the studies all indicate that the faster, the better. (Study done by New Zealand Dept. of Fisheries, for one) I can feel the fish kicking a little on descent if I slow it down, but for the most part, they are getting a "free tow." The damage to the fish is a small hole in the soft tissue of their lower jaw. Better than fizzing hole(s), prolonged "reviving" at boat side, trying to squeeze the air out, or death, that's for sure. I've also caught a few with a "strange little hole" still in their lower jaw already too. ;)
 

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Tarponjim said:
I've also caught a few with a "strange little hole" still in their lower jaw already too. ;)
Thats a good sign.
 

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Here is a lame attempt I made a few weeks ago to show how its used. The fish was a 30-pounder with a kokanee in its throat, blocking the release of air. I was alone, with the camera on a tripod, in some wind, and cold. So have a little mercy on me. You should get the idea though.

A better version is still to come, but for now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqRo0WKeIFg
 

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Nice video Jim, one question why don't you use neoprene gloves and grab them in the mouth rather then the gills? I find it very easy to control a fish for a picture or measurement before release that way and some times don't even bother with a net. Ps. I gave Bernie the same lecture.
 

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Your point is well taken.

But, I don't own neoprene anything. I also wonder if neoprene would really stop those razor-sharp teeth on the larger fish. Maybe? I guess I just don't like gloves. I can't do anything wearing them.

I use the net to control the fish, and to weigh them for those who want it. I've become pretty proficient at touching the fish on the outside plate without any actual gill contact. I also never lift them by the gills.

My idea on gloves is this: "The only thing gloves are good for is peeing on yourself." There really isn't a good way to handle large fish in a boat. For me, the net seems to be the lesser of all evils. When I lift a laker for someone to get pictures, I lift it with both hands on the sides of the fish, behind the head/gills, and in front of the tail. Its awkward any way I've tried it though.

I have a dream: For the day to come when no large lake trout is ever removed from the water. When I don't even have a scale on my boat because their actual weight is meaningless. When we get 'em to the boat, pop out the hook, and send them on their way. Some guys do it that way now, but not enough.

It's now law in Florida that you can't remove a tarpon from the water. Maybe in the next century, when I'm long gone, it will happen with more fish in more states.

I'll take the glove idea under advisement though! I used to use "steel" gloves to handle big pike in Canada, so maybe I'll look for a pair of neoprenes or heavy rubber ones to try on the lakers.
 

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I just find gloves work great for me especially when ice fishing I just wait till they open there mouth and grab them by the lower jaw, also helps to remove the hook and let them go boat side without netting or bringing them out of the water. I fish alaska all summer and use the same method on lingcod which have much larger teeth. I know what you mean about gloves but I have found it very easy to control and release a fish that way. Thanks for showing us the release tool it looks like it works great.

Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Steve--

As far as gloves for ice fishing go, that's just one more thing to hassle with as far as I'm concerned. I usually fish without gloves and certainly don't want to fumble around trying to put on a neoprene glove while I'm trying to control a big fish. What works for me is to simply grab the jighead and slide the fish out of the hole that way. I bend a hook now and then on a big fish, but I've never lost one because of it.
 
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