Why we loose fish – sometimes

We fish and fish, and sometimes we hook a fish.  If that fish happens to be a spring chinook, it is a dear prize and we then proceed to do our best to land the fish.  We may release the fish or we may kill it, depending on the regulations, location, personal preferences, and all of those issues, but we would normally like to be able to make a conscious decision regarding the kill or release – at least I like to make the choice.

Sometimes, though,  the fish, or fate, or circumstances, or our own actions results in the fish’s early release.

Usually, we don’t know why, unless it was some ridiculously dumb mistake that we recognize.  More often, fish lost are a mystery.  After a short or long period in play, the fish simply comes un-buttoned, and we do not know why.

Recently, I netted a hatchery spring chinook and was able to see just how close I had come to not netting said fish.  The springer was held by a slim thread of skin, after running around the pool for many minutes, being well into my backing, being tangled up in kelp, with my fly line so fouled with the green stuff that I was forced to lay my rod down and let the fish swim free under the boat while I picked kelp off the line and out of the rod tip.

How many times do we loose good fish because they were hooked like this one, and the hook either fell loose from the skin or the skin broke.  We can’t be sure, but this is just food for thought, and perhaps reason to not feel like it is necessarily anyone’s fault when the fish says adios before we want it to.

If a fish is hooked like this one, (well into the bone of the maxillary) we are far more likely to land it than if hooked like the other noted.  Just sayin’.

And while on the topic of chance encounters, the photo above is of the smallest Bullhead I have ever caught on a Clouser or on any hait or lure for that matter.

And on the topic of close calls – Kerry Burkheimer please note – I was backing down at the ramp recently with my two favorite short two hand Burkies on the rack, when i heard some undefinable noise.  I got out to find that the leader on one rod had caught on a tree and I was about 6 inches short from breaking one of my precious rods.  Normally I would have backed down another several feet until the sickening sound of shattering graphite caused me to stop.  Not this time, thankfully.

Hope you found a smile or a glimmer of recognition in these photos.

And – I hope to see you on the river soon, or the ocean or estuary, or in the coffee shop or whatever.  Be well.

Jay Nicholas – July 2014

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5 Responses to Why we loose fish – sometimes

  1. David Swart says:

    Nice story,have lost many a good to fish,mostly human error(my fault),the worst case was while salmon fishing,kept breaking off hooks right at the bend,upon looking at the hooks I’d bought on sale I noticed a kink in the bend,where I applied vice pressure had to be a batch of bad metal,I’m guessing.

  2. Mrmachinist says:

    Wow, that bullhead is one for the record books!

    I once hooked into a monster carp swinging a muddler minnow about that size on the Umpqua for steelhead,….lol. This was back in the 80’s before carp on the fly was cool. I’ve never fly fished for carp since then because I thought I was never going to get my favorite muddler out of it’s tough mouth, I could have towed a trailer with that hook-up!

  3. John Hamburg says:

    We also recently stopped a slow drive on a dirt road to find out what could be whack whack whacking the side of the van. Oh, that rod forgotten in the holder on the side, the hook now well stuck on a roadside fir limb. Stop for noises… except shots.

  4. Lou says:

    Nice article. Misspelled lose.

  5. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Loose – lose, awwwwww – choose, chose – I’m lucky to get half the words and ten percent of the punctuation in the ball-park these days. Y’all look out for cheap hooks, loose rods, lost fish, loose lips sink ships, carp lips, and don’t blame yourself for stuff that’s just gonna happen anyway. On the hooks thing, i once found a full box (thousand hooks) Mustad 9672 size 8s that had one in four hooks with un-tempered steel. I would put each hook in my Thompson Model A vise and give it a little push. A full quarter of the hooks would just bend easier than a paper clip. I had bunch of Daiichi SW Hooks with a burr in the hook eye that cut leaders! No kidding. It took a magnifying glass to reveal the imperfection, but it was nasty. That whole lot of hooks got recalled. Stop for lost fish, wack-wacking, and corn dogs, which i hear can make great carp bait if the Muddler won’t entice ‘em. And it is Ok to not capitalize i because our remaining time on this planet is to short that if the spelt checker doesn’t fix our boo-boos, we probably ought to just get on with whatever it is we need to do while we still can. And thanks for your kind thoughts and encouragement – always. Jay

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