One that got away broke the old faithful rod that snagged it

I BUSTED a rod this week.

I've broken maybe 10; typical for someone who has fished with light graphite rods for as long as I have.

The thing is, I snapped this one on a fish and that's a first.

Not that it was the rod's fault; it seldom is, despite porkies told by many an angler blustering in the tackle shop, or at the end of the phone to a rod company worker who has heard it all so many times.

One or two rod labels have even forged overblown reputations by adding a huge whack to their price to unconditionally warrant breakages by ceiling fans, car doors, boat hatches, dogs, tree branches, clumsy mates, snags, stampeding cattle and even, occasionally, fish.

No questions, no lies.

Now and then, during the voyage from factory to fisher, the amazing paper-thin graphite in the wall of a rod blank is weakened by a bump, scratch or a sharp metal burr on a rod guide. It breaks - no big deal.

More often, a doofus customer in a tackle store grabs a rod tip and snaps it off trying to test the working curve of a rod the way they thought they'd seen the sales person do it. See how the shop guy lightly pinches just the very tip between upward-pointing tips of thumb and forefinger?

I was alone in the boat with rod in one hand trying to swim a strong, active fish into the net in my other hand when the fish dived hard. The crack sounded like a gunshot as I joined the "Two Piece Club".

Still, it was a good last fish for a rod that six years ago I'd carelessly snapped the top 15cm off before I'd even used it. I just glued on another tip...

Pressure's off

A QUEENSLAND DAFF study on barotrauma in snapper supports an age-old practice and sheds new light on the fish's ability to cope with pressure changes.

Barotrauma is damage brought about by rapid changes in atmospheric pressure; in this case, fish surfacing from 150 metres or more.

It is very common for a fish quickly brought up from even 20 metres to have the expanding gases in its swim bladder distend and force the inverted stomach out through its mouth.

In the good old days, if a red were to be released because of size or bag-limit concerns, a fisho would just prick the protruding stomach with a hook and send the fish on its way.

Some years ago this became frowned on and, it seems, a lot of fish died as a result.

The new study suggests that 90% survival rates can be achieved on all sizes of snapper by this "buccal venting", which achieved similar results to the more complicated lateral venting procedure.

In 27% of snapper dissected after three days in captivity the swim bladder had already healed, and in 64% of cases prolapsed and punctured stomachs had healed.

The great news is that if a mouth-hooked snapper of any size is quickly returned to the water after venting, it has a huge chance of surviving.

The paper by McLennan, Campbell and Sumpton appears in Fisheries Management and Ecology, see 4339/2/fme12083.pdf.

Topics:  fishing outdoor-living

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