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Captain Eric Herstedt Stresses the Importance of Proper Fish Handling

The following text is from a recent Instagram post from Capt. Eric Herstedt @capt_eric_herstedt.

This is a post about mishandling bonefish and tarpon for pictures by guides and recreational anglers. It’s 2020 and the way we all treat fish seems to improve every year. I am hoping to promote even better handling of bonefish and tarpon. I don’t follow many people on Instagram, but I get a lot of bad pictures sent to me of people holding tarpon and bonefish with sun gloves on or by the gills. And, also, people holding small tarpon and bonefish over the boat. This is a bad idea because they are hard to hold, and most of them get dropped in the cockpit, which is not shown in pictures. I have done my share of mis-handling bonefish and tarpon in the past, but in the last couple of years, a fair amount of us really make an effort to leave them in the water. If someone wants a picture, we ask them to hold the fish over the water. So, when the fish gets dropped, they fall in the water and not in the boat. Does it really make sense for a fishing guide to have an angler who has never done this before hold a bonefish or tarpon over the boat? I’ve been holding these fish for many years and they are still hard for me to hold, and new anglers understandably drop these fish most of the time. Of course, if you squeeze the heck out of them they’re easier to hold, which is also shown in pictures.

We luckily have Bonefish and Tarpon Trust to help us protect these fish because they are valuable to our economy, very fragile and slow growing, unlike some of our other fish down here in the Keys. Science shows that mishandling these fish is a bad idea. Let’s all try to handle bonefish and tarpon better in the future and ask ourselves before we get that picture for social media. Is there a better way to do this? What’s the least harm I can inflict on this fish? If you catch a huge trophy bonefish, of course you are going to take a picture, but do it quick and as smart as possible before the fish gets to the boat so you can act fast.

Click HERE for more information on bonefish best handling practices.

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