To Grip Or Not To Grip
Musky Hunter|August/September 2020
RESEARCH WITH OTHER SPECIES INDICATES LIP-GRIPPING TOOLS ARE INJURIOUS TO FISH
Jordan Weeks

My love/hate relationship with social media continues ... at least it provides some good article ideas!

If you want some entertainment just post a strong position on either side, sit back and watch what happens when you mention lip-gripping devices.

Sometimes scientific literature is devoid of research on fishing-related topics. However, in 2008 researchers Andy Danylchuk, Aaron Adams, Steven Cooke and Cory Suski evaluated injury and short-term survival of bonefish as influenced by mechanical lip-gripping devices used by recreational anglers.

Like muskellunge, bonefish are rarely harvested (95 percent-plus catch and release). Therefore, proper handling and release is important to anglers passionate about these saltwater white sucker look-alikes. Correct handling minimizes injury to the fish and angler, allows easy hook removal, and decreases time out of water for the fish. “Damage from handling (e.g., scale loss, bruising, slime loss) coupled with the stress from an angling event can lead to opportunistic pathogen infections that have the potential to kill the fish. Furthermore, the handling event itself can induce physiological disturbances, e.g., through air exposure (Ferguson and Tufts 1992, Cooke et al. 2001), that ultimately leads to post release mortality (Danylchuk et al 2007 a,b),” researchers wrote.

There are several brands of lip-gripping devices on the market. The intent of this article is not to call out any, but to shed light onto the impacts of using them. The devices researched in this article are characterized by opposing metal pieces designed to hold the mouth of the fish. It secures the fish by clamping both inside and outside the jaw. These devices maintain the grip as long as pressure is applied against the fish.

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