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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, let me preface this post by saying I hope that we get some good input on this subject. My hopes are that folks will listen and lend info to everyone on a rather controversial subject. Whether it's a Boga Grip style scale or a simple plastic hand gripper like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Fish-Grip-Larger-10-Gamefish-Glow-Fishing-Lipper-Gripper-Kayak-Canoe-Boats-/221478890710?hash=item33912bacd6:g:8UkAAOSwh6xTrrR3 There are always opinions on why or why not use them.

I have been asked several times why I insist on them and figured I would address it publicly.

To those who don't know, the single major issue folks have with grippers is that the jaws of big fish have been literally ripped in half from these grippers. I must explain that I NEVER EVER suspend the full weight of any large fish from their jaw. It simply hurts the fish on some level whether the jaw splits in half, or the throat gets strained, it's just not good for the fish. I am not talking about bass, as I have never heard any stories of bass in CO being damaged by lipping them. That said, I personally will not suspend a large fish by the jaw, whether it's a bass or not.

So why am I preaching having a lipper on your boat and in your possession at all times when fishing for big fish? Because when used properly, it's the easiest way to control a fish without hurting it.

I started a conversation with a guide buddy of mine who mainly targets musky and pike. I wanted information on every detail of his releases as he does it 10x more than me. I def fish for pike a ton, and I have tried to improve my releases to help the fish, but my buddy had a few things to add that helped me improve. The main thing I changed was keeping pike in the water boatside in the net for 30 or so seconds before bringing them on board. Many folks have boats that sit low enough to where they can release the fish while still in the net, my boat doesn't allow this. So initially, I just let the fish rest after the fight, under water, still in the net. After 30 seconds or sometimes even more, I bring the fish on board and work efficiently to get the fish unhooked (good idea to get your tools ready while the fish rests in the water). Here is where the grippers come into play.... As soon as the fish is on board the very first thing I do is attach the gripper. Getting the spreader in the fishes mouth (nearly always necessary with big fish) is SO much easier when you have the gripper attached and holding the fish... If the fish rolls, simply let go of the gripper until it stops.

So once the spreader is open and you can get to the hook, unhook the fish and you likely want a pic. I see tons of pics of big fish (myself included) where folks put their hands under the gill plate and support the belly. This is not the end of the world, but you are still getting your hands into the gills and while we try to keep gentle while your hand is in there, it's tough some times. Also, if you get your hand too far back, the sucker gets sharp as hell and can slice you worse than the teeth. With the gripper, you can get your off hand under the belly and control the head with the gripper. It makes for a good picture and is gentle as possible on the fish...

Now, the last part, which I think is the most important. I encourage folks to release fast as possible... Get a pic or three and get that fish back in the water. With the fish still attached to the lipper, we put our trolling motor on slow. This tows the fish, very slowly from the tip of the mouth. If any of you have ever tried to do this while holding the fish, it's nearly impossible because the head wants to move and they are slippery as hell. With the gripper, I have towed a fish for up to 5 minutes to revive the fish, not only to the point of being just able to swim, but rather, to the point they are in a very good place to swim off strongly. The fish lets you know what kind of condition they are in... they will slowly start to move side to side... then as they get back to good health, they will start to truly kick, at which point, you can release the lipper (but I still will keep the one end in the mouth just in case, until the fish leaves on it's own).

The one thing I recommend is to take a dremmel tool and round the sharp edges on the lipper... Not sure why the manufacturer isn't doing this.. it's two small edges on the top and bottom portion of the lip gripper.

I hope folks will add to this and continue to try and preserve the big fish in our state.. I truly feel we have great fisheries for trophies in CO. Our trophy pike fishing is as good or better than almost anywhere in the country. The big fish are fun to catch and photograph, lets hope we do all we can to keep em around.
 

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Great info shared here Oyey.

Super helpful to me in the debate on whether to use one or not. While I won't ever be able to hoist a big pike into my yak due to space limitations; I certainly can use these tips to help safely net, photograph and release my next big pike.

I was guilty of lifting a rainbow in my first video with a gripper to try and get a weight for my friend who was capturing the video. Something I wouldn't do again for sure after all I have read and saw on videos the last day and a half.



Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I should be clear, tons of people hold fish by the lower lip, I am not terribly critical it for the most part, but big fish can def be hurt by the practice. I routinely lip bass, but when they get big, it sure seems stressful to them, in which case, I try to support the belly and never hold the fish out horizontal while holding the lower lip. Again, I forget sometimes and make mistakes, but do my best to stay consistent.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good info. I especially like the idea of letting a fish rest after the fight.
That was the biggest thing I learned from that guide.. I had always let the fish rest a bit, but usually only a few seconds. Since then, I have gone to 30seconds to a minute and it's a big difference in how they act when they get in the boat and also it lets them catch their breath so they aren't so taxed when they are ultimately removed from the water.
 

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Oyey -

My local honey hole (for the kids) has quite a bit of small 10" stockers that kept going belly up. I got some advice from posting a thread on here. I've started to let them relax before taking the hook out and haven't lost one since.

Imagine sprinting a quarter mile, being winded, then immediately having to hold your breath underwater for 30-90 seconds. Not to mention having someone jamming pliers down your neck to get out a hook! It would be hard to recoup.

Letting the fish rest and relax before pulling them out of the water is an integral step to releasing a healthy fish.
 

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Solid info.... I've seen the damage lippers can do, but that could be said for any tool that isn't properly used. I haven't used lippers before but I'm always looking for ways to help aid in a quick safe release. I might pick up a pair and give it a go.

One thing I really like in your post is addressing the mistakes we all make or have made. That's an approach that will get people thinking not defending themselves.
 

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Seems that threre are some fish who have different construction to their mouths. Pike, musky and lakers are definitely affected by a boga grip a lot more than a bass, wiper or catfish. The grippers are great and don't punch holes in the sensitive fish. When a fish rolls, how much torque goes straight to the jaw? Potentially affecting the way it feeds.

The good part of a boga is it swivels. But I can say first hand that most all of the time when they roll( lakers and esox), it punches a hole in the skin under the jaw, potentially opening it up for infection.

As a former full time bassfag, we used cull rings on many fish that went in the live well. It was a small hole because bass actually cooperate when held. But i do wonder the long term affect on a predator.

Had a pike pushing 20 this year that I had no options other than a boga, as I had no net with. Punched a pretty large hole in it, when it rolled with the bait in its mouth, with the boga attached. I cut the line quickly to lessen damages but , the damage had already been done. That fish swam off strong after recesiitation, but I wonder how long it took that fishes mouth to heal?

I have caught a lot of fish that have clearly been released and had deformed mouths from injuries in years past, but have never caught a pike or a laker that had boga marks in its lip.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good info, Smalls... I think it's a matter of being conscious about what we are doing...which leads to doing as much as we can to protect the fish. Lakers and Pike/Muskie are, in my opinion, the true trophy fish of CO. I also love big wiper. I'm doing what I can to help keep those monsters healthy. I notice that at least 50%, probably more, pike bleed when they are caught. The best fish I have caught in the past 2 -3 years have taken the bait deep which means, no easy hook removal. I reached out to the dude I mentioned in my first post because I knew he had to have something to add to my approach to the release...which he did. I hope this thread grows for a few days and folks add to it. The truly big fish in CO seem to be in good numbers and it would be nice if that held or even improved.
 

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In all seriousness, I own like 3 of these lol
http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Fish-Grip-Larger-10-Gamefish-Glow-Fishing-Lipper-Gripper-Kayak-Canoe-Boats-/221478890710?hash=item33912bacd6:g:8UkAAOSwh6xTrrR3&rmvSB=true

They are super convenient especially for fish with teeth and fish with trebles in they moufs
Yup, I have 2 of them. They work GREAT!!I have 1 large and 1 of the smaller 7". The 7" model opens wider and fit in the "pliers pocket" of my pants. Both are the glow model.
I know Zman has some too but his are the BRONCO ORANGE color!
 

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I know Zman has some too but his are the BRONCO ORANGE color!
Yep and when I run across them in a different color they will be replaced...they saved the day on the 80 tiger musky trip with Tony...a fish that are pure anger and seem to roll up in a net...
 

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Awesome write up! I'm glad to know others have had this problem. I didn't buy the fish grip til the end of last season, at the beginning of this season I used it on a 30" pike. As I was releasing it I noticed a sizable gash in its lip. Ever since then I haven't used it again in fear of damaging the fish...although I may have supported the fish by just the grip, I don't remember. I thought of sanding the edges down a bit and trying to make it a little less damaging, sounds like it has worked for you. Thanks for this!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
One other thing I want to add to this thread is in regards to weighing big fish. I highly recommend weighing big fish in the net. Learn how much your net weighs and then reduce the total by the weight of the net. I mean, if you really need the exact weight to the ounce, I suppose this isn't the best way, but for most folks catching truly big fish, the ounces don't mean that much.. get it within a half pound or so. Boga grips work great for this...
 

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Great post Oyey,


This summer when i heavily targeted Pike, i found that it was way easier to just not to pull them in the boat. I have an oversizd net that I like to use and found that I could net the fish, unhook them while in the net, and never have to pull them in the boat, keeping them in the net, in the water and this is the best way to ensure your not going to damage the fish. Once i got a couple pics of some big fish, there was no reason for me to take a picture of every fish that i caught, so my preferred method is to not worry about fish going ape **** in the boat, not worry about gill plate grabs, and not worry about getting a pic of every fish.
Then one day I forgot my big net, and it was the day i hooked up with my 23 pound 41 incher.
Thankfully, I was given a some really cool grips from a friend of mine who owns a company called Team Catfish. He developed these grips specifically for catfish but once he gave one to me I realized it would be perfect for landing trophy lakers through the ice. Last winter I had a chance to use it on an 18 pound laker and it worked fantastically. When spring came along I put one in my boat just for the hell of it. It was a good thing, because i'm not sure how i would have got that pike in the boat with out it. I still think using a big net is the best way to do it, but that grip worked awesome in a pinch and when used properly I think lippers are a great option. You can find the yellow grips at www.teamcatfish.com I highly recommend one to anybody who is a trophy lake trout ice fisherman. Like Oyey says, the key is to not suspend the fish with the grip, and if the fish rolls or freaks out, just let go of the grip and you wont break its jaw. The team catfish grip is pictured by my knee.

 
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