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1. Rubber nets.
Yes, rubber nets are a little heavier and have more resistance in the water, but they are more fish friendly than string nets. With string nets, lures often become tangled in the net and when they are still in the fish’s mouth. Untangling lures in a net is dangerous to both the angler and the fish and it requires the fish to be out of the water longer than need be. Rubber nets are more tangle resistant and the soft rubber is less abrasive to the fish’s scales and protective slime.
2. Have your camera ready.
My personal rule is the fish must be back in the water in 30-seconds or less. So the first thing I do when I get to my fishing spot is I get my camera out and ready so when the time comes I’m not fumbling with a lens cap or getting my camera out of the camera bag. Same when using your cell-phone for pictures. Have it out and ready.
3. Have a supportive hold. When holding a fish by supporting their midsection be sure not to squeeze the fish’s midsection too hard or you run the risk of damaging the internal organs. All you really need to do is place the palm of your hand under their belly and support the fish’s weight.
4. Protect the gills and avoid the eyes. When holding a fish, make sure you place your fingers behind the fish’s gill plate, not in their gills. Damaged gills from improper finger placement is a sure way to release a fish, only to have it die later. Picking a fish up by the soft tissue of the gills would be like picking a human up by the inner tissue of their nose. Never pick up or hold a fish by their eyes.
5. Be gentle. When releasing a fish back into the water, I like to support the fish under their belly and let it swim away under its own power. Sometimes I will gently hold the fish by the tail once it’s in the water until it’s ready to swim away. I never dive bomb the fish into the water and I never move it back and forth. Some believe moving the fish back and forth in the water forces water through its gills creating oxygen. However, many experts believe as you move the fish backwards it forces water past the fish’s gills in the wrong direction damaging microscopic sensories on the fish’s gills.
6. Consider... is the hook is too deep? If a fish is throat hooked and the hook can't be removed without hurting the fish, cut the line as close to the hook as possible and release the fish. Thousands of controlled studies in aquariums have shown that fish with hooks left in their mouths and throat, including barbed hooks and crankbaits, are free of the hook in 48-hours or less and many of the hooked fish during the study continued to feed. Anglers will often do more damage and even mistakenly kill a fish by trying to remove the hook(s) that are too deep.
There are thousands other great tips and tricks that anglers can use to prevent a dead release that aren’t mentioned here. However, these are the six most basic ways to prevent a dead release this season.
Wes David | Len Thompson Pro Staff
Anglers can take advantage of this downtime by putting away their ice fishing gear and getting their fair-weather fishing gear ready for the 2016 open water season.
Taking the time to properly store ice fishing gear during the off season will save you a ton of grief next winter.
While the line is removed, take the time to lubricate the gears and bearings in the reel. This is rarely done on ice fishing reels but it’s an important step in keeping ice reels in game shape. Store all fishing rods and tip-ups where nothing will be placed on top of them during the off season. Check all hooks and repair, replace and sharpen as needed.
Tip: Sporting stores usually put their remaining ice fishing gear on sale at the end of the season. Also, some stores have a recycling drop-off for used fishing line.
Wes David | Len Thompson Pro-Staff
I had the good fortune of spending this past year fishing Len Thompson’s Dimpled Series for a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish species. After catching and releasing over 300 fish with the lure, I’m convinced it performed well above anyone’s expectations.
The Dimpled Series hooked into more than 30 salmon and lake trout over 20 pounds without issue. The Eagle Claw hooks withstood the pressure of fighting these large fish from as deep as 120 feet of water and over the course of the year, I never had to change a bent hook and rarely had to sharpen a hook.
I look forward to fishing this great lure again next season but can’t wait to jig it beneath the ice this winter to some unsuspecting fish.
Wes David | Len Thompson Pro-Staff
Do you have a Dimpled Series catch to share? E-mail us your photo!
Spoons are generally used with a casting and retrieve routine or are trolled, but they are versatile enough to use as jigs for Smallmouth bass or Walleye. When retrieved quickly you can use them as a sub surface or surface bait.
How do I choose the right spoon?
Spoons come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but a good fundamental choice is a spoon of about 3 to 6 inches in length that target numerous species. The color to use varies with water clarity.
In selecting certain Len Thompson spoon colors or choices in clear or slightly stained water my choice would be in the Original Series - Black & White or Yellow & Red, in the Platinum Series - Reverse Red and in the Dimpled Series - Brown Trout.
In stained water or darker water I would use in our Platinum Series- Fire Tiger. In our Dimpled Series - Traffic Light and Sun Set.
The weight of the spoon determines the depth at which it runs. Heavier, thicker spoons sink faster and run deeper. They are also the best choice for trolling.
How does action vary by shape and weight?
Fat, wide spoons have a lot of surface area and won't sink as quickly as a thinner spoon of the same weight. The rounder the spoon, the shallower it will run. A lighter brass spoon however can be fished a lot shallower when the fish are relating to shallow structure like rock piles and stumps in 4' or less.
Why choose a spoon made of brass versus steel?
Brass is heavier than steel. Heavy spoons cast like bullets and sink quicker. In wind or current, they are the order of the day. You can fish a heavier spoon more quickly without sacrificing depth.
Larry Davidson | Len Thompson Pro-Staff, Ontario