Kymijoki, Kotka, Finland

How to handle salmon properly

Käsittele lohta oikein

Published in Perhokalastus magazine

Wild salmon will secure fishing in the future

Catch&Release -fishing has become a popular and common way to secure the growth of fish stocks. In recent years, the release of fish has also become more common in Kymijoki, both within the framework of fishing rules and on a voluntary basis. However, the release of large fish brings its own challenges to C&R fishing, especially during warm water. The fisherman must therefore feel his responsibility when releasing the prey.

By releasing fish, each fisherman can influence the number of spawning ewes in the river. The goal of increasing the river's own fry production is the main reason for the release of fish. Fish that have entered the river through sea fishing do not face any dangers in the river other than the hooks of fishermen. Thus, each counted salmon and trout is a direct increase in the number of spawning fish. The importance of natural spawning has only been properly understood in recent years, and the already stricter fishing rules and fishermen's own volunteering to protect salmon have paid off. The densities of wild boar in the Kymijoki River are gratifyingly rising, and rising fish from natural spawning are already almost as common as those planted. The best way for a basic rapids fisherman to secure the future salmon stock is to release the fish preparing to spawn.

The natural reproduction of salmonids is a prerequisite for the well-being of the fish stock. A baby born from natural spawning goes through a natural selection and is therefore a much stronger survivor than a planted pup. The natural pup recovers many times better than its implanted son back into its native river, due to its ability to avoid danger better than the implanted son. Natural fish also have a stronger time than their planted to ascend to their native river, which is evident in the Kymijoki River at a slightly earlier time of ascent. With an earlier rise, sea fishing will be targeted at wild salmon for a shorter period. With the increase in wild salmon, fish born from natural spawning are also used as mother fish for fish farms. In this case, it is possible to avoid planting that causes great harm to the planting stock. So far, the best way to identify a wild salmon is to have a flawless and complete dorsal fin that is often missing or in poor condition from the young. In the future, chicks will also be marked with fins.

The fish to be released must be able to handle it

While voluntary release of fish is a good way to protect the salmon stock, fishermen still need to know what to do with the fish to be released. If the release is not done properly, the fish will suffer unnecessarily. Dead fish is better at the dining table than in the river. Of course, the right kind of release of fish has been written before, but big fish and warm water are making the situation even more challenging. If fish are to be released, provision must be made for the release to begin before fishing begins. The most important thing in times of warm water is that the fatigue of the fish will in no way get too long. The longer the fatigue of the fish lasts, the harder it is for the fish to recover from the fight. Therefore, the tools to be used should be considered before starting fishing. Salmon to be released should not be attempted with devices that are unsure of the survival of the fish after release. So you can't start playing with wig thicknesses. Wigs less than 0.40 mm cannot be recommended for use with large fish, especially in warm water. The rod should also be strong enough to press the fish. In addition, attention must be paid to the hooks used. A thick wig has no post if the hook is so thin that it does not dare to command the fish. In addition, the one-pronged hook is better than the three-pronged hook, and the barbed hook familiar from the trout rapids often makes it easier to remove the fish. However, the non-barbedness and design of the hook is almost cosmetic when compared to the importance of the location of the hook and the fatigue and handling of the salmon in its survival.

"If the fish isn't pulling line, the fisherman pulls"

Tuomo Kilpi

Even if the gear is in order, the most important thing is what the fisherman himself does with the rod. The fish to be released should not be tried to swim to death, but above all the fatigue should be determined and strong. Of course, fish should not be pulled by force, but one's own reason can be used in fatigue. But, for example, Teno's familiar 15-minute fatigue with a two-pound fish, with only a little nodding of the rod, would not be seen in warm water. Especially with a repeat train. “When a fish doesn’t pull, the fisherman pulls” is probably a good basic guide for a C&R fisherman.

As the fatigue turns to the end, the next critical stage begins, the uptake of the fish. The easiest to pick up the fish gently and fast enough is with the help of two men and a large knotless wound. When a fish is chased by a friend, the fish can be removed and measured the fastest. However, it is important to use knotless and absolutely pre-soaked wounds so that the mucus surface of the fish is not damaged during uptake. The importance of the mucous surface is further emphasized during warm water. It is for this reason that there is a large knotless wound for everyone to use on the shore of Ruhavuolte during the rise of salmon. Once the fish is wounded, it can be lowered into shore water for imaging, detachment and measurement. Keeping the wound, the fish can even be weighed quickly. When raising fish, always remember to handle it with wet hands. It is also a good idea to take any photos quickly and lift the fish out of the water as little as possible. Under no circumstances should the fish be landed on dry land.

However, it is not always possible to use wounds to pick up fish. This makes the situation a little more difficult and the only option is to land the fish by hand. Even when taken by hand, the guy speeds up and eases the situation. There are practically two options for picking up by hand: a shore pull and a handtail straight from the water. If the fish is hauled ashore, the fisherman should haul as little of the fish as possible and work in the coastal waters with fish measurements and other measures. However, especially in the rapids of Kymi, salmon most often have to be grabbed directly from the water. In this case, the fisherman brings the fish next to him or himself and takes a tight grip on the tail of the fish. The next step is sometimes advised to lift the fish out of the tail, allowing it to calm down. However, this lifting of the tail to the salmon to be released must not be done under any circumstances! A large salmon drooping from its tail can cause serious injuries to its spine and internal organs. The fish calms down in the same way when it is spun in the water with the belly up. After this spin, the fisherman has several seconds to move the fish to a safer location. Fish can also be gently caught in the water as long as the wading lures are wet throughout. Without wounds or a weighing bag, it is not advisable to try to weigh the fish. In this case, the fish is exposed to the same danger as when the tail is hung. If a guy is involved in the pick-up, the length and circumference of the fish can be taken. In this case, an indicative weight can be calculated for the fish. If you are not traveling, it is a good idea to just take a measure of the fish against the freewheel and measure the length afterwards from the rod.

Once the fish has been measured and the hook has been removed from the fish using pliers, its resuscitation can begin. Especially during warm water, fish must not be allowed to enter the river in half condition. The fish should be kept completely submerged, with the head pointing upstream. The best way to support a fish is to hold the tail with one hand and under the abdomen with the other hand. There should be a clear stream at the recovery site, but the fish will remain fairly effortless on their own. Often the fish get out of hand a little too early, so it’s good for the fisherman to hold on to the fish if it still seems in poor condition. When the fish is finally ready to leave and kicking itself happily out of the hands of a happy fisherman, it is still worth watching the movements of the fish a little. If it turns yellow on its side, it is imperative to pick up the fish from the water and continue resuscitation. If, despite the resuscitation, the fish refuses to leave or bleeds badly, for example from gills, the C&R fisherman must also face the truth and knock the fish within the rules. Although I recommend the release of fish for everyone, C&R must not be the end in itself. Especially when the water is warm, it is often better to take it home for food than to let the river suffer. It is in no one’s interest if dying fish floats in the river. However, such cases have been extremely rare in recent years. With a few right constants, releasing fish becomes quite easy and certain.