Lately I've been catching a lot of under size fish. Comparing with not catching anything at all it seems catching something is more fun. But the problem is the fish seem to swallow my hook all the way into their stomach / gut, so pulling the hook out ... well they're dead anyway. So you throw them back into the water and they float belly up. My 9 y.o. made the point that the fish is dead and throwing it back into the water is useless - as in not helping in terms of preserving the fish stock. But taking the fish I'm quite sure I'd get fined if fishery checked and found the undersized fish in my bucket.
So here is a question: Anyone got any strategy / tips to ensure (or improve the chances of) the fish being hooked on the lips rather than in their stomach?
I was wondering about it as well some time ago. If I catch undersized fish, I try to keep them alive to release them. If they are already dead sadly, I am thinking that might be better not to put them back into the sea.
Has anyone caught fish with plastic baits or other sorts of baits in their stomach? I am also wondering about where all my soft baits are gone to.
Yeah, that's an interesting question about the soft plastic lures. I've been thinking about the same. If the tailor chomped off your soft plastics and swallowed them does that mean when they're eventually caught later on, and if they're of legal size, what would happen to people who eat those fish that have eaten plastics ?
Sounds like the location you are fishing just simply might not have any larger fish. Try different spots.
Try using a bigger hook.
Long shank hooks are harder for fish to completely swallow and are easier to get out. You could also try circle hooks which are designed to hook the corner of the mouth and if swallowed are easier to pull out.
itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
yeah bigger hooks keep smaller fish off and also I would recommend to use circle or recurve hooks. I only use circle hooks for bait fishing and the fish hardly ever get gut hooked on them. They are the best hooks in my opinion.
Also when fishing with soft baits I usually don't get smaller fish. And if you're using proper soft baiting gear then you can feel every little nibble anyway, so you'll usually lip hook the fish before they can devour the bait.
But for bait fishing definitely use bigger (around size 5-6) circle hooks and it'll be less likely to hook and much easier to release undersized fish.
I forgot to mention that I actually used circle hooks. I used larger size hook initially but while we got lots of bites we were not hooking up any. So I changed the hook size for my two little boys to a smaller size. So they caught the undersized fish but I still caught nothing.
Changed the hooks on my kids' rod today to a slightly larger "bait holder" hook and they were hooking in the lips so we were able to release the undersized fish pretty quickly.