Kayak anglers who fish tournaments often express the difficulty of successfully getting a picture for catch, photo, and release. (CPR) There biggest concern is typically the fish flopping off of their measuring board and back into the water before they are able to get a successful photo. There are a couple tricks that can be used to help contain the fish and keep it calm. The best thing you can do is design a CPR plan and stick to it. By plan, I am referring to the steps you take to measure and photo your fish after catching her and before releasing her back into the water. You need to not only plan the steps it takes to complete the CPR successfully but also where you keep things like your measuring board, Camera, Fish grips, and Tournament identifier. Make sure to put all of those things right back in the same spot after you release your fish. That way you don’t have to search for your identifier while you have an agitated fish your trying to control.
Here are some of the things I do to insure I get a good photo and keep the fish healthy.
-After I catch the fish I work as fast and as carefully as possible to remove the hook and get it connected to a set of fish grips. My fish grips are connected to a YakAttack/T-Reign retractor on the GearTracs. Now that she has the fish grips in her mouth I can slide her back into the water and let her relax a bit while I get my measuring board, camera, and Identifier ready.
-My next step is to wet my measuring board. A quick dip in the water tends to help keep the fish more relaxed when she is on the board.
-One thing I do different than most folks is to lay my board out in between my feet from running from bow to stern. Most kayaks have a dash or hatch that helps to tilt the board toward your crotch. Tilling the board will also help relax the fish and close her mouth. There are four reasons I measure fish this way as opposed to on my lap like most. The first reason has to do with hight. The lower the fish is the smaller chance she has to find her way back into the water. The second reason is because our legs create a natural barrier that will help keep the fish in the kayak if she flops off the board. This works with all kayaks, but is even more effective with the high walls on hybrid kayaks like the Jackson Kilroy. The Third reason is camera angle. The lower that fish is the easier it is to get in the photo frame. The Fourth Reason is so I can utilize the floor of my kayak to hold my identifier.
-I make sure to take at least three pictures of the fish as quick as I can. After I take the third picture I reattach my fish grips and put her back in the water. At this point i review my pictures to make sure I have a clear one that shows the fish’s lip touching the front of the board and clearly shows what line the tail crosses. If I didn’t get a good picture I pull her back in and do it again. In most cases I did get a good enough picture and all I have to do is reach down to the fish grips and let the fish swim off.
-My next step is to put everything back where it goes. Camera in my PFD pocket, Identifier in my PFD Pocket, measuring board back behind my seat. Now it is all back where it goes and easy to find when I catch the next HAWG!
Hopefully this will help some of you improve your CPR plan so your next catch will be perfect!