Clean15It has been wonderful to see the sharing of fish photos on our Facebook Page. We love to see folks out enjoying their time out on the ice this winter. The selfie is certainly alive and well and folks are using it to share their catch on social feeds. Wonderful! Everyone loves to see great fishing moments from across Alberta!

Ice fishing often has a built in need to lift a fish from the water. We suggest a TARGET of 15 seconds from coming up out of the hole to back down the hole (for released fish) without letting it roll in the ice or snow. Our suggested motto is “CLEAN-15: No Ice & No Snow, Pre-plan your pic and let ’em go”Of course nothing is absolute, it’s a target to shoot for that everyone can practically achieve. The released fish will be far better off: the less time a fish spends out of the water, the greater its chance of survival.

If you’re wondering “How am I supposed to lift the fish from the hole, take the hook out, and get a decent photo of my fish before I release it – all in under 15 seconds?” Perfect! We want to encourage you to find your how. We asked several experienced ice anglers and they shared these tips to ensure the fish gets back in the water as quickly and safely as possible:

  • Maybe it’s best not to get a photo, especially if you fought the fish a long time.
  • Have your pliers ready to go.
  • Have your camera ready and know how to use it. Remove your sunglasses as you reel the fish up so your eyes and smile shine in the photo. 
  • Use barbless hooks where you can.
  • Use single hooks if possible.
  • If deeply hooked, rather than wrestle and over handle the fish, cut the line and get it back in the water asap.
  • Use line heavy enough and abrasion resistant to land the fish quickly.
  • Avoid touching any part of the gills.
  • Lift the fish out of the hole then cradle the body to lift it for a shot. If you’re comfortable and confident under the gill plate it’s ok to lift it temporarily, but be sure to quickly cradle its belly to reduce pressure on the head/jaw.
  • Be considerate of the fish’ future by not leaving clamps/fish grips on its mouth or jaws. The stress and wounds aren’t worth it in the long run. 
  • Avoid crushing or squeezing the fish to prevent damage to internal organs.
  • If the fish wiggles uncontrollably and you can’t get a photo, it’s best to simply get it back in the lake. Fish>Selfie  🙂
  • If it’s below freezing, gill capillaries can freeze quickly and the fish needs to get back into the water sooner – if it comes out of the water at all. It’s often best if the fish never leaves the water unless you’re taking it home. 
  • If you aren’t great at fish handling, consider a grip glove from a tackle shop or unhooking it in the water and releasing it straight away. 

The common theme to all the above is our encouragement to PRE-PLAN and to consider the CLEAN-15 TARGET.  The longer a fish is out of the water, the greater the chance of harm due to handling, stress, lack of oxygen, dropping it, rolling in ice or snow, or man-handling it and pressing it in all the wrong spots (internal organs). Bad things can happen quickly despite our best intentions. We all get that and can agree it’s best to honor our catch the best we can.

Fish selfies/phone camera shots are wonderful for sharing our moments and they are here to stay. It’s easy to lose sight of the simple fact that fish need water as we’re snapping our photos. Hopefully the CLEAN-15 TARGET will help remind you to consider the fish’ survival first.  🙂  Have a great time on the ice and we look forward to sharing your great shots!

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One thought on “The CLEAN-15 TARGET INITIATIVE

  • February 23, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Some great advice there.

    We need to move beyond getting that glory shot at all costs attitude – especially if the survival of the fish is at stake. My philosophy while fishing is Fish over Photos – if i’m not ready, or things are not going good (difficult hook removal etc.), I skip the photo op. I have released many a nice fish without getting a photo.

    Fish handling is so important in the survival of released fish. Many anglers do not realize that just because the fish swam away seemingly unharmed, they can still succumb to internal injuries or infection (you just jabbed a sharp, unsterilized piece of metal into their jaw – add to this removal of protective slime from laying in the bottom of a boat or on the ground, and internal injuries from flopping on the rocks or rough handling, and survival rates go way down). Even the survival of a perfectly handled fish is not 100% assured.


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