Thursday, June 2, 2011
Why 90 seconds?
I feel compelled to write a post today based on a comment about this project I received recently. In short, the comment took issue with the use of 90 seconds as an air exposure duration in the catch-and-release study. What follows is my response (should anyone ever directly ask me).
By and large, specialized muskellunge anglers handle their catches similarly; we use nets big enough to fit over most 5-year old kids, "thief approved" bolt cutters, and pliers big enough to yank an elephant's tooth out. However, when it comes time to proving that we as anglers aren't liars, there is a high degree of variability. Some people adhere to a 3 picture maximum, or an air exposure duration equivalent to the length of time you can hold your breath, while still others prefer to allow others in the boat a chance to hold the fish and maybe take video. Bottom line, some fish are held out of water for as little as 10 seconds and maybe up to a couple minutes, depending on how someone chooses to "admire" their catch. Furthermore, this was evident based on the responses from surveys passed around to a couple Muskies Canada chapters. Ninety seconds, therefore, is not an excessive amount of time. Five minutes might be, but 90 seconds is probably not.
What did our research show? Ninety seconds is OK, though I will take this opportunity to say that it is always best for the fish to limit air exposure as much as possible. This doesn't give everyone the green-light to hold fish out-of-water for 90 seconds, but it should tell you that these fish can withstand that much air exposure. None of the fish we tagged in our study died as a result of angling, which suggests to me that these fish are much more resilient than some are willing to admit.
Now, trout on the other hand... you just look at those buggers wrong and they seem to die on you!