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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it more stressful to a muskie to use a gaff than a net??
It seems like handling a fish with a gaff may be safer to both you and the fish, if you just lift him out of the water
enough to unhook the fish and then release it without
bringing it into the boat (unless you feel that a picture is
needed) .
What is worse one more hole in the fishes mouth or
or having him roll around in a net gasping for air & getting tangled leaving his slime coating everywhere but on his body.
(not to mention the muskie poo!)
 

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Wacker,

Seriously (assuming you are), gaffing is unnecessary. Get yourself a boga grip (or one of the knock-offs, if the boga's outside your budget) and accomplish the same unhooking routine you describe without putting any holes in the fish's mouth (or head or body). Otherwise get a really large net or a cradle to contain the fish alongside the boat for hook removal and release.

Gaffing is for fish you want to keep, like in the salt where the practice originated, IMHO.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
that sounds like a good idea Mike, I have just been thinking about the gaff thing after netting about 20 fish in the last couple of weeks and things get crazy in the boat at times. does that boga grip have a scale built in to it?
 

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I agree Mike why would you stab a fish if you want to release it. Releasing fish should alway be for the benefit of the fish. Being as careful as you can. Using the cradle works best kinda like a operating table. Good question fishwacker hope alot of people read your post. Plus it takes talent to gaff correctly, i can only imagine how many fish die because of improper gaffing. Going barbless works so good fish come right off and just don't give slack in your line is a key to going barbless. h2o
 

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There are a couple "grippers" that also have a scale in them. Boga is one, Rapala has one as well. Little jaws grab the fish's jaw and pull together the harder the pressure is. They can't get loose. They work GREAT for big channels and blue cats. ( You can't lip those bad boys- they will tear the skin off your thumb). The Boga is the favored tool down here on the Ohio River- grab 'em, weigh 'em and release 'em. Nice tools.

I've always thought the cradles were too cumbersome and unwieldy. Big nets get in the way in the boat and cause undue stress on the fish. Grippers only take the fish out of the water long enough for a weight measurement and then off they go. ( Unless you are photographing them. Then a wet hand under the belly supports the fish well enough for that.)

UFM82
 

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I wouldn't dream of gaffing a fish that I wanted to release. I recommend the cradle if your concerned about the fish's well being. I will be buying a cradle myself because I have been catching more muskies on accident than I ever thought I would.

If your worried about slimeing up your boat, then you either have the wrong boat or your in the wrong sport. There is nothing I like more than "the signs of a successful day" on my boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think that I will shop for a gripper with a scale built in to it tonight. (I am sure that I will need it this weekend)
I like the idea of having as little contact with the fishes
body as possible while unhooking it.
East Coast, I am a lot more worried about the fish losing his protective coating than having to clean my boat!
thanks for all the input guys! happy trolling
 

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Just another thought, FW. A gripper is a particularly nice tool when you're solo in the boat. It takes three-four hands to land a fish in a cradle safely. Math-point: That's one-two hands less than you have if you're alone. A gripper is a one-handed operation. Once you have the fish lipped with the gripper, you put down your rod, grab your hook-out device (your choice), and out come the hooks, especially if you go barbless as H2O suggests. Tail the fish, retract the gripper, work the little piggy back and forth, and you've got a successful release.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I found a berkley gripper at lakeside for about $30.00
and got to test it on this scrappy 17.5 lb. 42 in. musky
in 15 ft of water in front of g.p.y.c.
this is way better than using a net!
this fish wiggled and tried to twist, but the gripper held just fine! it has a 30lb. capacity.
I found a boga grip at b.p.s. for $115.00 but that is a little steep for me right now. (we will see how long the berkley model lasts)
I removed one lamprey from this fish before release
but it also had another sore on it (it could be the pox?)
the fish fought hard and seemed healthy when it swam away.
I will look for her mother monday after 5.00 p.m.
happy trolling!
 

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