Catch and release is one of those topics that always draws questions, critique and emotions within the fishing world. The fact is that there is no single answer to a question that is ultimately focused on an angler's catch being returned to the wild to extend a lively existence. To begin this exploratory look into catch and release, please go to the following link that is unsolicited and has been authorized for use with the Owners' permission. This article articulates the basis of Lip Ripper Lures philosophy and is a great "easy read" One small sidebar, for those not familiar with Alaskan saltwater fisheries is the references to "circle" hooks. Circle hooks are commonly used to catch saltwater rockfish/halibut and not anadromous salmon. Circle hooks are primarily used with various bait fished in a stationary or mooching configuration.
This Blog "Catch and Release" subject photo is of a West Coast spring chinook caught on a Lip Ripper Lures "Bore Tide" spinner. This picture generated some catch and release "critique" in the world of Social Media. This fish was of hatchery origin and was retained. The question still remains, what if it were a wild fish that was regulatory mandated to be returned to the water unharmed? First a couple situational factoids:
1) For scale, the "Bore Tide" spinner measures 8" in length
2) The barb was pinched down on the 6/0 siwash Gamakatsu hook in compliance with Local fishing regulations.
3) There is no blood or bleeding around the hook set or on the boat deck.
Lip Ripper Lures offers all of its' spinner models with either a 5/0 treble or 6/0 single siwash, both manufactured by Gamakatsu. One of the criteria defining why Gamakatsu hooks were selected, for use on Lip Ripper Lures, is their "needle-like" hook point. "Needle-like" does not reference the "sharpness" of the hook in particular, but rather the slenderness of hook point over the point length which facilitates hook point sharpening, (see my upcoming related Blog titled "Sharp Hooks").
With the barb pinched down these hooks just "punch" a hole in the mouth of the fish. The large size of these hooks keeps inadvertent catches of smaller juvenile fish to a minimum. Large sized hooks make a good "target" and easy "grab" for a release tool or pliers. Hooking way down in a fish's gullet is nearly impossible with a lure and hook of this size.
In conclusion, catch and release has many acceptable approaches, but five main concepts, in my mind, control the end game success where ever you might be:
1) Barbless hooks....SHARP barbless hooks
2) Keep'em "wet" and "in the net" if possible
3) Use good large pliers to remove hooks, not small palm sized needle-nose pliers. Larger hook shanks facilitate a good "handle" to grip with pliers.
4) Save "hero" photographs for "keepers" not "releasers"
5) Respect and follow the local fishing regulations.
One last sidebar....Below is a short 2-sec video of a lake trout caught on a Lip Ripper Lures "Prospector" spinner fished off a downrigger. Right at the end of the video, notice where the 6/0 single siwash hook has the fish hooked...right through the back side of the mouth. Fish tend to CRUSH my spinners!