Choosing Carp Tackle - Treating Your Fish Safely

The importance of good fish care

With the ever vociferous anti "cruel brigade" targeting angling as a blood sport there has never been a more pressing need to show the general public that anglers are in fact custodians of wildlife in addition to being good environmentalists. Many of us have always treated our quarry with respect, being gentle and considerate in the knowledge that it is the only way to continue our sport. Hopefully good practice in looking after the fish is becoming a standard approach amongst all anglers now.

Treating carp with care

There can be one overriding theme when considering the safety and health of a fish when angling and that is to handle it as little as possible. However, with a very hard fighting fish such as a carp it may be safer on some occasions to keep the fish for a while rather than let it swim free immediately. A strong determined fish will tire itself out, and I have seen exhausted fish swim away after being released immediately only to be attacked by a lurking pike.

So in big carp fishing a short period of rest in a well designed smooth and small meshed carp sack will allow the fish to rest and recover so that it can be released fully ready to swim away. This is a reasonable argument , though sometimes I think it simply an excuse to keep the carp in order that it can be weighed, photographed and shown off to passing friends.

If the the carp is to be recorded and witnessed, the rule of careful handling must be followed. Yes keep in a suitable restrainer for a minimum length of time and also observe a few simple rules:

1. Use a large landing net with appropriate small mesh size that does not tangle the fish and is big enough to comfortably hold the biggest catch.

2. Unhook the fish carefully on a soft smooth surface – preferably using a dedicated unhooking mat available from all good carp tackle shops.

3. Only weight the fish if you absolutely must – be quick with your carp photography - a quick snap by a friend as you are lifting it back into the water is best!

4. Use wet hands and a wet cloth to handle the fish – do not be afraid to be firm when handling – there is nothing worse than losing grip, juggling with the fish and then dropping it onto gravel. If necessary use a soft cloth that has been damped in water.

We need to respect the fish that we catch. This is why I am not in favor of man made lakes stocked with named monsters that get caught week after week. I would much prefer to catch a fish that had never been caught before and knowing that it would be unlikely to see another angler for a year or two if ever.

Carp care conclusions

Carp are big fish. A big specimen can run to 50 pounds or more. Fish of 100 pounds are being caught in France currently. Fish of this size, and even small fish of 5 or 10 pounds, cannot support their own weight when out of the water. Gravity plays a part in stressing their bodies. Where possible the fish should be supported by water at all times as this is their natural environment. Even though carp are hardy, it is cruel to submit them to pain of any sort. We use barb-less hooks, why then enforce unpleasant treatment on them once caught?

By caring for the fish, there will be less criticism from the anti-bloodsport supporters, or at least you have a good argument against their cries for banning angling as a sport.

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