Are release tools safe?

Don't hold a fish out of water longer than you can hold your breath

Q: Do we hurt fish when we pick them up with a Boga-Grip or similar release tool?

-Randy Johnson
New Orleans

A: Fishery scientists in the Northern Territories of Australia conducted some experiments. The tests involved X-raying fish while laid flat and X-raying them suspended. Their early conclusions are that no great harm came to the fish when lifted with a Boga, as long as the other hand supported the body of the fish. It is always recommended that any long, slender fish not be held vertically but supported with both hands in a near-horizontal position.

Too often, snook are picked up by the lower jaw and then tilted at an angle while being held. This can break the jawbone. Supporting the snook with both hands is better.

A quote I saw somewhere regarding holding a fish out of water makes a lot of sense. Often when I view a fishing TV show, the host will hold the fish up and talk for two or three minutes about the catch before placing it back in the water. I keep mentally saying, "Please put the fish back in the water."  The quote that really scored with me: "Don't hold a fish out of water longer than you can hold your breath."