Releasing a Good Size Trout
I like touching trout – big ones, well, not extraordinarilly huge ones, which make me nervous, but mostly I like really enjoy feeling the the girth of a healthy trout and the way big ones lay in your hands recovering, waiting until they choose to return to the current on their own. I try to hold them as they while they are in this disoriented state out into the clear cold part of the current, gently but firmly holding them upright and letting the water flow through their mouths and out their gills naturally. I don’t shake them back and forth. If they can stay upright with me just steadying them on their sides, like a vertical support on either side, then that’s how I hold them (the big ones).
The water flowing naturally through their mouths and gills and the upright orientation triggers their internal air bladder to adjust to a static equilibrium with the surrounding water pressure against their body. That is what is happening while they are recuperating. The trout has been fighting both yon ad the current and then you pulled it unnaturally out of the water, so it no longer had that external pressure keeping it buoyant and then it got flipped over and handled in weird ways that made the internal air bladder disgorged itself.
Haven’t you ever heard a trout croak? That’s not a vocal cord - it’s the air being expelled from the air bladder. That sound is distinct underwater to other trout. It’s a sound that represents distress, like, “Who is croaking? Is that Herman? Whassup w Herman?” That’s why all the brookies in the creek will flee like started mice when you hook onto one. – it croaked. The , all the other brookies know, “There’s sumfin afoot and it ain’t good (for brookies)”. That sound really travels well underwater: “C-R-O-A-K!” In trout language that sound means, “AGH!! HELP!!”
So, it is the art bladder that needs to adjust when you hold a fish up right in the water. Think of the air actually filling the bladder. That’s how much time it takes or a trout to regain its senses. It has to equilibrate, which happens rather efficiently actually. That said, the air bladder is an organ and the fish can’t “feel” what is correctly up or down until that organ is right. Plus, maybe your grip is constricting the air bladder or even damaging it? Once the air bladder has adjusted, the foggy animal feels oriented again. Then, I let the trout can wriggle out of my hand on its own volition – either over the lip of the net or simply sliding out of my hand. It will seek depth. It will find a place out of the current to recuperate and it will think about what just happened. Blinking its eyes. I’ve seen this.