How to Handle a Fish | Fly Fishing Guide Advice from Minturn Anglers, Vail, Colorado

How to Handle a Fish | Fly Fishing Guide Advice from Minturn Anglers, Vail, Colorado

Imagine your name is Jack, and you had just climbed this giant vine up into the clouds; only to find a pissed off giant looking to hold you in his tight little fish, I mean fist.Fly Fishing Vail Colorado: Handle fish carefully

Imagine for a minute that you are just 1/30th the size of your captor, and completely helpless when in the grip of his all engulfing hand. At any moment this giant could without even trying, tighten the muscles of his hand, and in less than a second, end your life as you know it. Now you know what it is like to be a trout!

We all know that the most important part of any clients fly fishing trip is the photo. It is the culmination of all her and her guide’s efforts. It is a tangible way to remember the experience, and share that experience with friends.

Of coarse she wants to show off her perfect drift, hook set, and fight, that has amounted to this beautiful trout, glistening in the net. As Gloria Swanson said in Sunset Blvd, “Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”

How to Handle a Brown Trout

As a keepers of the river and abassadors of the sport, we as guides want you to have your photo, but we want you to do it safely so that the resource remains sustainable and producive for the next generation of fly fishers.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to protect the beautiful trout before you.

Fly Fishing Vail Colorado: Handle fish carefully
Show that side

1) Get your hands wet. Trout have a protective slime coating on their skin to keep fungus and other dangerous aquatic organisms from attacking them. Getting hands wet first keeps this coating from coming off during handling.

2) Keep the fish in the net with its head underwater so it can breathe. Think about this: If you sprinted 400 yards and then plunged your head under water right away your body would be screaming for oxygen. After a long fight, a trout experiences the same thing.

3) Don’t lift the fish out of the water until the camera is ready to shoot. I see people (even inexperienced guides) grab the fish and hold it out of the water while they fumble around for their camera or phone and the fish suffers. Remember, if the fish is out of water, it can’t breathe.

4) Grab the fish with one hand. (See picture) how to handle a troutPut your thumb on the top of the fish towards the head and wrap your hand around the fish with your pinky finger under and just behind the anal fins. Cradle the fish underneath without squeezing and hold it out to the camera, away from your body. This will make the fish look natural and show off it’s true size to the camera without any injury to the vital organs located in the belly just behind the head.

5) Slowly put the fish back in the water facing upstream and cradle it there until the fish swims away.

Fly Fishing Vail Colorado: Handle fish carefully
A proper grip

By taking these simple steps you can enjoy all of what makes fly fishing so special and also do your part to protect our most valuable resource. Good fishing friends.

[Scott Thompson is a senior guide at Minturn Anglers. He is also a fly designer for Montana Fly Company and an actor/director and comedian. To book a trip with Scott, call Minturn Anglers at (970) 827-9500to request him]

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

About the Author

Justin Nolan

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