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How to Hold a Walleye – Guide for Proper Handling

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Fish and photography go hand-in-hand. Some fish, such as walleye, are sought after for their beauty and rarity.

These fish can be tricky to hold for a photo because they’re sensitive to any movement. The best way on how to hold a walleye without causing stress is to place your hands on the inside of their pectoral fins and cover their eyes with one hand while you take their picture with the other.

Once you develop a routine for holding your fish, you’ll be able to take high-quality photos of these gorgeous creatures and show off your catch. But how do you take a perfect photo of a walleye? Read on below to find out!

But before we laid out our tips, do you know…

What is a Trophy Fish?

A trophy fish is a large, usually rare fish of different kinds of fish species that are caught by an angler (or hunter) after a hunt. It’s measured on the length of its body.

Where to Hold the Big Fish?

Gill Plate

 “Gill holding” the fish on the gill is often seen as a safe and stable place to hold a large fish. This is held by placing your hands under the opercles (the bony plates) and grasping onto the gill covers and arching them over your hands.

Then, you can use your thumb to support the bottom of their bodies so they don’t flop around.

Pectoral Fin

“Pectoral fin holding” involves using one hand to cover up their eyes with an open palm, while supporting their bottom half with another hand beneath their pectoral fins. The top part of the fish should be secured between your arms or chest area, depending on how big it is.

You can also position the fish vertically and hold the dorsal and anal fins to give it a more stable feel.

Lower Jaw

Place your hands underneath their jaw to cover up their mouth. This way, it can’t bite you without seriously injuring itself. But be careful not to get your line wrapped around one of its gills or fins – that would hurt it quite a lot!

Walleye’s Habitat

Walleyes can be found in large rivers, high-gradient low-land rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and even mangrove swamps! They like clear water with a rocky or sandy substrate where they can hide from predators while foraging for food.

When walleyes spawn (which is usually during spring and fall) males build nests by clearing depressions in shallow water. The nests are typically constructed over areas of gravel on shoals or near underwater structures such as rocks or fallen trees.

Proper Handling & Catching Walleye

When handling fish, it’s important to keep them in the water so they aren’t exposed to air for too long. The colder the weather is, the more you should be careful with how much time your fish spends out of the water.

In general, though, it’s best not to handle them by their gills or eyes, as this can stress them out or expose their organs. It’s also best to hold larger fish vertically and lay smaller ones horizontally. Don’t grip onto their fins as well because that can cause damage!

  • Use your dominant hand to hold the tail of the fish and the other hand close to the head. 
  • Never remove a fish from the water and then move it to another container – this can cause damage to its internal organs.
  • Fish should also never be held by their eyes and if you’re trying to release a small fish, make sure you do so as quickly as possible.
  • Use needle nose pliers to remove hook.
  • Use a net large enough to completely enclose the fish. If you don’t have one, try using your own hand or any other object that can be used as a barrier between the fish and your hands to keep it from biting or jumping out of them.
  • If you need to hold the fish by its lower jaw because it’s too big for any other method, make sure you support its bottom half with another hand.

Pro Tip for Holding Fish the Right Way

When holding a fish, there is a right way and a wrong way. If you handle it improperly, you can seriously injure the fish and even scare it. Here are some suggestions on how to hold your catch:

For Larger Fish

Lifting a large fish out of the water can cause its organs to shift around, which is very dangerous. If you need to take a photo fast for whatever reason, be sure that the fish stays submerged while drying off afterward.

Grip it by its tail and lower half while holding onto its fins with your another hand. Holding them horizontally is best so the weight of their bodies doesn’t weigh down on themselves or damage any of their fins! You can also hold them vertically if they are small enough so they aren’t at risk of injury, but because these kinds of photos look better when photographing big fish, horizontal is typically preferred.  

For Smaller Walleye with Sharp Teeth

These areas are sensitive, so be sure to avoid gripping onto them. Be gentle with the fish during every part of the process so it doesn’t get scared!

You should always unhook a fish as soon as possible because this eliminates unnecessary stress on its body. Use pliers instead of your bare hands for this, too! To do that, put the pliers around the line as close to the hooks as you can and turn until it comes undone.

If you’re holding a fish at the same time, make sure to support its weight with your another hand or by laying it flat across something like a table or rocks in shallow water (be careful not to hurt yourself if using sharp rocks!).  

Walleye are considered fish royalty due to their interesting history! So, when catching one, make sure you handle it with care because it deserves to live.  

Removing a Hook from a Fish’s Mouth or Throat

If the hook is too deep in the skin for pliers to grip onto, use your fingers instead by carefully sliding them down towards the bottom of the jaw.

After this, push down toward the fish’s stomach in an attempt to dislodge the clasps – do this slowly and cautiously while keeping in mind how sensitive these areas are!

Putting The Fish Back

When putting a northern pike or muskie back into the water, first hold it horizontally by the bottom of its bodies while supporting its fins with your other hand. Then, use a quick motion to return it back into the water while ensuring that it’s facing in the direction you want! Fish deserve to live just as much as other animals, so be sure to treat them with kindness.

In Northern Ontario, catching muskies is considered good luck, so it’s necessary to handle them with care. After you’ve removed the hooks, hold it by its tails until you’re ready to let it go! This will ensure that your hands are far away from their teeth and allow for ease in maneuverability.

Keeping fish out of the water too long can be damaging to their organs. To keep this from happening when taking photos, simply lay the fish across rocks or on surfaces in shallow water – just make sure not to hurt yourself if using sharp rocks!  If you have to hold it up in the air, be sure that its body is level so that too much pressure isn’t put on its organs.

Final Thoughts on How to Hold a Walleye

If you find yourself in an area where fish are plentiful enough to keep, be sure to handle them with respect! Catching a fish is exciting, but the way it’s handled after being caught can make all of the difference.

Taking these considerations into account will ensure that every fish has a happy ending!