How to Handle Trophy Fish

The Lake of the Woods offers anglers a chance to catch some trophy fish whether it’s a Walleye, muskie, northern Pike, or sturgeon to name a few. Lake of the Woods also gives anglers a chance to bring in some trophy crappie, jumbo perch, and burbots. These large fish are the future to LOW’s remaining a great fishery. Keeping these large fish alive to give them a chance to pass on their genes is crucial in maintaining a trophy fish population. Many anglers are not accustomed to catching these trophies and are unaware the harm they may cause the fish. Most anglers will take a picture as catching big fish is one of life’s great pleasures. Doing it properly is a must for every angler. Getting the fish unhooked and back into the water in a timely manner will allow the fish a better chance at living through the stress of being caught and held out of water. The cold temperatures also pose the problem of the fish’s gills and eyes being froze and damaged.

Big fish need to be handled differently than their smaller counterparts. Holding a large fish vertically by its gill plate can be a dangerous proposition. The extra weight needs to be in support under the belly when holding horizontally. An example would be for yourself, would you rather have someone pick you up by your head or by having both arms around your waist. When a fish is held vertically it puts a tremendous amount of strain on their vertebrae. And what kind of strain is put on the stomach and other entrails when held vertically as opposed to the fish’s normal horizontal body structure. While ice fishing limiting the fish’s time out of water is key. When hoisting the fish out of the water by the gill plate, reach under its belly to support the fish’s body. When holding the fish be sure to support the entire fish by having an arm or hand under the belly of fish as well. (The picture accurately represents this position)

With the decreased cost of graphite mounts currently, an angler can now take a picture of their fish and get a mount made instead of the traditional skin mount. These new type of mounts allow the fish to be released back into the lake to have a chance to reproduce fish for future generations. Everyone can do their part as doing it right is not hard and will overall help the fish’s chances of survival. Doing these things will mean more big fish in the future!


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