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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know if it is coincidence or what but since the weather has gotten a little colder, I have had a harder and harder time releasing the trout I've been catching.

It seems as if any trout I catch, if they swallow the hook even just a little bit, they go belly up when I try and release them. A month ago I wasn't having this issue and nothing has changed.

Fishing with my kids with a nightcrawler under a bobber.

We wet the hands before handling, get the hook out ASAP and return to the water.

Some fish have been deep hooked and have started to bleed. I get why those haven't made it.

It's the fish that don't bleed, hook comes out quick and easy, gills pumping as I'm gently moving them back and forth in the water, they have a flash of energy and kicked the tail a few times, get a few feet away and then belly up!

I want to keep my local fishing holes full of fish for the kids and not have to take these little 10-12 inchers home.

Any suggestions/ideas as to what is going on?
 

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Maybe there stressed out but the cooler weather/water should improve their condition.
Try barbless hooks and set them quickly before they swallow, don't remove them from the water and try to bring them in asap to limit time on the hook.
There could be other factors like gill lice going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Redleader,

I checked for gill lice but they look healthy and have good color.

Unfortunately fishing with four kids, their reaction isn't quick and they set the hook after it's been swallowed and the bobber is swimming away!

I'll try pinching down the barbs and see if that helps. Thanks!

Any other thoughts?
 

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Any other thoughts?
On my ponds I don't allow bait and only allow single barbless hooks, flys and lures only. Might be fun teaching them how to fish that way casting and retrieving or break out the fly rods or go with a bubble and fly with spinning gear.
 

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Try some circle hooks. Also be mindful of how hard you grip the fish when removing hooks. And I know you said you get them back in the water ASAP, but with trout, anything past 30 seconds out of water is extremely detrimental to their survival. In the end, it may be something out of your control that is killing them.
 

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Try some circle hooks. Also be mindful of how hard you grip the fish when removing hooks. And I know you said you get them back in the water ASAP, but with trout, anything past 30 seconds out of water is extremely detrimental to their survival. In the end, it may be something out of your control that is killing them.
Especially if you fight them for an extended amount of time or the weather/water temp is high
 

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Another thing... If they have the hook down deep, you can just cut the line as close to the hook as you can. The hook will rust out. Snelled hooks are pretty cheap(at least they were years ago when I last used them).
 

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Another thing... If they have the hook down deep, you can just cut the line as close to the hook as you can. The hook will rust out. Snelled hooks are pretty cheap(at least they were years ago when I last used them).
Yep I've cleaned lots of lake trout with a rusted off tube jig in their belly, don't think they were drug in with it but pick the ones up off the bottom that get broken off in the rocks.

There's a reason gold medal waters are flys and lures only...
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
We've only been using a single hook with a small barb. I try to get them in the water within 30 seconds. Some of the deeper hooks do take about a minute, sometimes having to go through the gill plate so I can ease the hook out without having to rip it out.

I think the barbless hooks is a great idea.

I didn't realize they could have a decent survival after cutting the line and leaving the hook deep. That is good to know.

The fish are usually caught within 15-30 feet without much of a fight. It's a small pond.

I've tried small lures but they didn't catch anything and it ended up costing me $$$ after multiple snagged lures and the kids snapping the line trying to get it unstuck on their own.
They were losing $3-6 lures which got expensive quick!

We fish from shore 90% of the time.

Any cheap lures you guys would recommend trying for them?

The pond has tiny 6-8" bass, tons small 4-6" of bluegill, and small stocker trout.
 

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dallas, I used to do a lot of bait fishing when my kids where younger and the wife was just learning to fish. What worked best for us back then was just cutting the hook off as close as possible without bringing them out of the water and putting hands on them. As tough as it was for the kids not to be able to "hold" the fish; I just explained to them how stressful having a hook caught deep in their mouth could be and if we got a few that couldn't be successfully released we would just keep a few for them to eat. I also started them all out on ice-fishing rods vs. trying to manage large rods and reels; especially in waters not known for large fish.

Barbless is great and so are circle hooks, but stockers always seem to be a fragile fish and inadvertently you may kill a few no matter how careful you are. At least you are someone who cares enough to try not too.

Kudos to you and happy fishing with the kiddos.
 

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another thing you can do is go 1 or 2 sizes bigger in hooks with pinched barbs they should be not as deep and come right out. you might also try a pair of needle nose, while the fish is in the water grab the shank of the hook and tip it up , the fish will come right off when you get the hang of it
 

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if they swallow the hook even just a little bit, they go belly up when I try and release them.
Ripping out a hook that was even just a little swallowed is likely going to kill the fish. You've gotten some good suggestions, however I think your best bet is to try to hook them before they swallow it. I have caught trout before on little jigs under a bobber, I don't think I ever had a problem with them swallowing those
 

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If you fish with bait theres gonna be fish that don't make it-especially the smaller ones.

Just the way it is.
 

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You could try holding them longer. They always try to get away before they're really ready.

Bait and C&R is not a great plan.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Bobys,

What kind of jigs would you recommend? Any certain color?

How do you fish a jig under a bobber? Cast and retrieve or let it sit?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Pete-G,

I have literally tried reviving a fish for 5+ minutes. The hook just barely snagged him, it wasn't deep in his gut, it came out relatively easy without ripping, no visible blood but he wouldn't come back to life.

I was gently moving him back and forth, front and back, his gills were pumping like he was trying to breath. He'd even get a quick spurt of energy and kick HARD out of my hand but would go belly up after 2-3 feet of swimming. He did this 5+ times but never came back. That was the most puzzling one especially with the absence of a visible injury.

I swear the trout are just fragile. The kids have the little blue gills and baby bass out of the water for well over a minute and the moment they get them back in the water those species just take off.
 

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^this
 
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