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Thread: is it true that fish die after you hold them?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default is it true that fish die after you hold them?

    This has probably been discussed on here before...someone told me that the mortality rate for trout is exceedingly high once you hold them, and that you might as well just eat them.

    Something having to do with the protective "slime" on their bodies?

    Scoop or poop?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Knoxville, Tn


    If you handle them with wet hands, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, if you handle them with dry hands it is a problem for sure. Exactly for the reason you mentioned, protective slime that keeps away fungal and bacterial infections.

    It's probably best if they aren't handled directly at all, but I imagine minimal handling is not too detrimental. Just my opinion, I know some will say never handle at all, but from talking to biologists I work with i hage concluded tgat some wet handling is ok.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    My rules are 1) always wet hands before touching and 2) don't lay the fish on the ground for a picture. Learn how to take a one handed picture while cradling the fish with the other.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Crossville, TN


    Definitely NOT true if you take the above mentioned steps and just use a little common sense. Lots of the big browns in the Smokies have been caught multiple times by multiple anglers. Those big fish are pretty easy to identify most of the time. Also, you don't see dead fish lying all over the stream bottom and based on the quality of anglers fishing Smokies streams and resulting numbers of fish caught, if there was a high mortality rate you would see dead fish around.

    Of course, things like mortality rate go up significantly when the fish are already experiencing environmental stresses. I generally see dead fish on the Caney in late summer when the dissolved oxygen becomes an issue. Keeping those fish out of the water or fighting them too long is a much bigger problem than carefully holding them for a few seconds. I've seen 12 inch rainbows fought for over 5 minutes in late summer on the Caney and that should never happen.
    "Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19

    Guided Fly Fishing with David Knapp
    The Trout Zone Blog
    contact: TroutZoneAnglers at gmail dot com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    What David says is exactly right. Anglers need to learn how to play a fish correctly. Some people just like to hear their drag squeal and set it as low as possible. I had a similar experience to David expecting to see the man land a pig, but he scooped up a 12" rainbow. That is poor judgement on the part of the angler, and I believe it doesn't matter how he handled the fish as it probably did not survive the battle...

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