Here are some of the basics for catch and release of Muskys!
Remember these are only Guide Lines and common sense should all ways be used.
***Basic Catch And Release Guide Lines***
Upon catching a musky, keep the fish in the net or cradle. Leave the fish in the water until the lure is safely removed. Make sure the fish's head is submerged in the water to allow it to breath.
You will find that a rubber treated net or cradle is much easier on the Muskys and makes hook removal a snap, compaired to the knotted nylon nets.
Try not to handle the fish excessively or roughly. This will help ensure that you do not remove the protective "slime" coating on the fish. This is needed to protect the fish from disease.
When removing hooks, use a strong pair of long needle nosed pliers. Use common sense when handling the fish and think of the safety of you and the fish. If you find that the hook is deeply imbedded cut the hook with bolt cutters; make sure you do not leave any parts of the hook in the fish. Never tear a hook from a fish.
When holding the fish, use your dominant hand to hold the musky along the gill plate avoiding the actual gills it self. Use your other hand to cradle the belly, without squeezing it, in order to support the weight of the fish.
Try to keep in mind that the fish is not breathing while it is out of the water. So if you choose to take pictures of the Musky, after a long battle, it is very important to minimize the time out of the water.
Carefully place the musky in the water, while still holding the tail, slowly make side to side and back and forth motions with the fish in order to revie it. Keep in mind, this musky has been through a lot and it may take a bit of time for him to get his senses back and revived.
When releasing, make sure you do this in shallow, calm water. Be on the safe side and stick around for a little while to make sure your release is successful.
It can take a fish 10-20 years, depending on genetics, to get to 50 inches or more. This serves to enhance the significant value of a released musky alone.
*** Take extra care when fishing during the warmer summer months. Try to give the fish the least amount of stress as possible.***
Hold on to your catch! Do not under estimate the strength of a musky. If your intent is to release the fish in hopes to catch it again someday, then you need to in sure that you're handling the fish correctly. Do not drop the fish or allow it to thrash on the sides of a livewell or boat.
Once you have the fish in a gill hold, quickly pull the musky up and hold it in the horizontal position for some "quick" pictures if you so choose.
How To Do A Gill Hold
Hold hand over back and start under the plate, pull plate out - then slide forward with pressure. Maintaining constant pressure, make sure that thumb is firmly in the notch. Don't let your thumb hang loose.
When landing your Musky, You should have the right size net, again, these are big fish, make sure you have a big net. A rubber treated net is easier on the fish and makes hook removal a lot easier, especially if the fish thrashes in the net. There are two styles of musky nets that are most commonly used, the cradle (two long rods running parallel with mesh in between them) and the standard hoop net. The cradle is the easiest on the fish when the fish is in it then the net. The hoop net comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and it's a good plan to have a couple of different sizes on hand.
Use long needle nose pliers to remove the hook. This will ensure safe hook removal. The longer they are the better, you don't want your hands any closer to a muskies teeth than you have to. Another item to have on hand is the hook out. There may be times for those hard to reach places.Jaw speaders are a must. Muskies have incredible jaw strength and jaw spreaders can be very helpful when removing hooks. As well, Hook and bolt cutters are a must! In some circumstances, it will be a lot safer for the fisherman and the fish if the hooks are cut from the lure and then removed. Your cutters must be able to handle the largest hooks you will be using.