How to treat a Monster!!
Caring for the large Flathead that are
to be returned to the water.
A reader of the website Alan Lucas has made a good point about handling
the monster Flathead that are more frequently being caught at Lake
Tyers (and probably everywhere else thanks to the max size limit of
55cm, ie they must be returned to the water). These are great
trophy fish and worthy of special attention. Most people will
realise that the fish must not dry out, should have line cut and deep
set hooks left to rust out and not have the mouth/jaw damaged with
Alan has made an extra point that holding these fish out of the water
with a "fish holder" by the jaw will be putting a large strain on the
muscles and nerves along the vertebrae, and the pads in between.
While the code
says all large Flathead must be returned, it does not
necessarily mean the returned fish will survive if they are not treated
a fish is in the water it weighs less because of the bouyancy of the
water, and the fish is horizontal. When the fish is landed the full
downwards weight is realised. The fish will be blissfully unaware of
its own weight until you have landed it.
Most people will be landing a big Flathead with a net. So
use the net to put the Flathead onto the floor of the boat (or a seat)
and use a Brag Mat to get your photo and measurement at the same time.
Then slip the Flathead back in to the water ASAP. (See below)
If a photo of the Flathead being held by the proud angler is required
then make sure most of the weight of the dangling fish body is
supported by your hand. Remember all the weight of the lower part
of the Flathead hangs off the first vertebrae behind the head
and only gradually grows less and less as we move along the
spine. So some solid support for the body is a good idea.
To left is a picture of Hans Orth with a 95cm Monster, supporting the
big fish a midships, and also not using pliers or fish holder, but
heavy gloves to hang onto the jaw of the fish. Holding the fish
sideways and more horizontal could also have helped.
Dangling is not good!
Here is a Brag Mat in action (just excuse the pliers on the head for
the moment , we are getting there) and it is easy to see how a fish's
length can be easily documented and also keeping it horizontal as
well.. plus get a shot of the fisher as well :-)
Just remember that when Humans are "hung", as in Capital punishment,
it is their own body weight that breaks their neck.
So don't let this happen to our magnificent Flathead.