FISH HANDLING AT THE GRAVIERS
Along with rig safety, Fish handling at The Graviers is one of the things we take very seriously....
I believe the physical condition and even the future existence of carp depends on the way we handle them during their capture, I also believe that good or bad handling of fish during this time could affect the amount of times they are caught throughout any season....
Just like you, if every time you went for a Pizza you got a smack in the face...then eventually you would avoid going for a Pizza...right?
Well it's the same for our beloved Carp....bad handling, injury, or stress from spending too long out of water would soon
be associated to feeding on anglers baits, and they could easily end up looking for alternative food sources, and could also become harder to catch!
You must remember that fish were never meant to actually leave the water... yet alone be subjected to being rolled around on unhooking mats, lifted in slings, and held for photos...or have hooks in them for that matter!.....But these are all parts of what the fish we catch go through!...and in many cases it's with out enough consideration of their "comfort zone".
Most Carp anglers today pride them selves in their approach to "fish care", and it's true we have come a long way with the development of Carp friendly Unhooking mats, Landing nets, Weigh slings, and medical treatments, etc...all of which have been created and in turn improved over the years to try and limit the risks of any accidents and injury to the fish we catch.
These developments are all good news for sure, but, in fact only half the answer to the ultimate handling of the fish we catch....Carp anglers must be aware that despite buying all the best stuff available for handling fish, that there is still the often over looked fact that the Carp, and all fish for that matter, need to be in the water as much as possible through out handling, and only removed for the minimum time possible, limiting stress, discomfort, and reducing the risks of injury.
If you think about it for a minute...During the "standard procedure" (which is what we now call "the OLD standard procedure") our prized capture is most at risk once it leaves the water...and the biggest risk is when we try to pick them up for the photos!.....
It does not matter how long you have been fishing for Carp, and how many fish you have photographed, we have all been in the situation where the fish we are trying to photograph is having none of it, and tries it's best to wriggle out of your hands, and becomes very difficult, or even impossible to hold for the few seconds it takes to get that, what seems to be all important photograph.
Why do they struggle anyway?........because they don't like it! ..but along with the obvious difficulties in breathing, and strain on their bodies from leaving their normaly weight supportive environment...another thing is that your body temperature is considerably higher than that of a Carp...each time you touch them, it's comparable to burning them!....a bit like touching a hot radiator for us. But most of these issues you could help eliminate if the fish were to stay in the water, relaxed and supported, and your hands in the water too, reducing the temperature differences.
So why do we do the photos on the bank anyway then?...... a good question!.....and one with no acceptable answer really...."because I can't be bothered to get in the water." which as an answer is no where near as good as the question itself,... and would certainly get you of the welcome list here.
I think as anglers, we owe it to the fish we catch, and our self proclaimed "safe angler status"...to stand back for a minute, look at the whole situation, and correct where we are going wrong.... put the fish's welfare first instead of just saying we do,
Keep them in the water!, and only pick them up for a photograph in the water!....and you know what?.....they will never get hurt doing that! We will still get a weight and a photo...and the fish avoids a bad experience!
AT THE GRAVIERS... FISH REMAIN IN THE WATER ALL THE TIME!
Once netted, the fish stay in the water throughout the entire procedure of unhooking, weighing and photographing.
In each swim, areas have been prepared so anglers can enter the water and safely deal with their fish, without any risk to their own safety.
For the colder periods, waders are provided if you don't have any yourself.
Since switching to this procedure, we have noticed some of the carp are actually caught more often now...which is obvious proof that this method does considerably reduce the discomfort and stress whilst being handled.
Most of our guests now use this method on other waters they fish, because they have realized the benifits...not just for the fish, but to the angler too.... because doing it this way, you will never hurt or stress another carp again.
SAFETY CRADLE MATS AT THE GRAVIERS.....
Protection of the Carp is very important to me, so working in association with our friends at Cotswold Aquarius, we have developed the ultimate Carp unhooking cradles, to offer the maximum safety and protection for the fish during handling.
These Unhooking Mats are a no expense spared development, incorporating various density foams, and highest quality materials to offer an un-equaled cushioned protection for the fish during handling, and built with the size of Graviers carp in mind.
The mat's also offer a level of buoyancy which enables the entire unhooking procedure, weighing and treatment of the Carp with out the need to remove the fish from the water.
Special water inlets were also incorporated in the design so that the fish would remain wet through out handling, eliminating un-nessacary stress and discomfort.