Andy Danlychuk
episode 81 | Jun 28, 2022
Hunting & Fishing

Ep. 81: Keep Fish Wet With Dr. Andy Danylchuk

For anyone who says they meat fish and don’t practice catch and release, what do you do with your undersize or bycatch fish? Everyone who fishes will benefit from the science Dr. Andy Danylchuk shares on this podcast.
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How do fish breath?
Net vs tail grab?
How do you minimize the impact of handling a fish?
What are the physiological indicators that a fish is ready to be released?
How can everyone make an impact on future generations of fish?

Understanding Andy’s work and how fish respond to being caught will make you a better angler.

Check out these links for more information:

University of Massachusetts - Dr. Andy Danylchuk




[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I'm Travis Bader. And this it's the Silvercore Podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with a skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years. And we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content we provide, please let others know by sharing, commenting, and following so that you can join in on everything that Silvercore stands for.

[00:00:40] If you'd like to learn more about becoming a member of the Silvercore Club and community, visit our website at 

[00:00:49] Andy Danylchuk: weeks ago as

[00:00:57] Travis Bader: fishing with. So a few weeks ago, I was fishing with my buddy and fishing guide. Pat Beahen and he helped me hook into my very first steelhead on the fly. And it was amazing, had so much fun. And the fishery there is catch and release and that's completely foreign to me, cuz I'm used to catching a fish. If it's legal size, you Bon and you go home and eat it.

[00:01:17] And that's, that's what fishing has always been to me. So I had a whole bunch of questions about catch and release and what's happening with these fish afterwards and the effects of, of the catch. And, and he says, you know, I got some answers Trav, but what you should do, there's this really cool guy. I've done some fishing with him in the past.

[00:01:35] He's done a lot of work on the subject. He's a biologist and he's a researcher outta the university of Massachusetts and you really should reach out to him. So without further ado, welcome to this Silvercore Podcast. Dr. Andy Danylchuk. 

[00:01:52] Andy Danylchuk: Hey, thanks, Travis. Wonderful to be here. Yeah. So 

[00:01:55] Travis Bader: pat was giving me some insight and.

[00:01:58] Amazing guy, by the way, he's got so much energy, so full of life and I, uh, absolutely love fishing with him. And as a fishing guide, I'm gonna put in the plug since he is a fishing guide. If you ever had the opportunity to go out with pat, absolutely. Take that up. He's uh, he will make your day. That's a guarantee.

[00:02:17] Andy Danylchuk: Absolutely. He's a, he is a kind soul too. He's got like a heart of gold and, uh, yeah, I could not agree more. He's 

[00:02:24] Travis Bader: just awesome to be totally. So he was, uh, he was telling me a little bit about your history and what you do, but maybe it's better coming from you than from me third hand through path. so how did, how do you, what is it that you do and how did you get into it?

[00:02:40] Andy Danylchuk: All right. Well, uh, so right now I'm a professor of fish conservation at the university of Massachusetts in Amherst. Uh, I've been here since 20 2009. Um, and it was kind of a, you know, it's never a straight path, right. So like, it was a very long circuitous route to get here. But my origins, I grew up in Southern Ontario, uh, just outside of Toronto.

[00:03:03] Nice. Uh, and, uh, yeah, and in the suburbs, not nice, you know, good Canadian boy, you got 

[00:03:09] Travis Bader: that going for you. 

[00:03:10] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah, exactly. Uh, but growing in this, growing up in the suburbs, uh, was interesting for sure. Um, but, um, you know, back, uh, I guess my, my connection really to, to Phish and nature and what got me really going, um, on, on this path was back when I was five years old, you know, I was I'm the, um, the fourth in line in, in kids, in my family.

[00:03:34] And, uh, I'm the youngest. Yeah. Um, you know, maybe I was a mistake who knows . Um, but, uh, but, but when I, when I came along, you know, my parents were, um, excited to, you know, they saved up their money total. Suburb blue collar family. Um, and my dad was pretty adventurous and he put us on a plane and, uh, we went to Andrews island in The Bahamas, and that was in, uh, 19, 19 73, like super remote.

[00:04:03] You know, it was my first trip anywhere. I was five mm-hmm . Um, and, uh, my dad stuck a mask on my face and kind of shoved me in the water. And I was just like, oh my God, look at, this is like, the diversity is beautiful. Check out all these fish they're Barracuda mm-hmm , they're not actually going to eat me.

[00:04:17] you know, it's really cool. Um, and that, you know, and that, that kind of planted that, that initial seed, um, in terms of this connection to the water and fish. And then, uh, when I got back to Southern Ontario, um, you know, that there were opportunities for me to, to start to go fishing. And, um, I went to, uh, a relatives, trout pond.

[00:04:41] And, uh, had this like cobbled together, fishing rod with like an elastic band around the real seat. It was like, I think it was seven or something like that. And, um, and, and I, you know, these, these fish were like fed, right? Mm-hmm like, like the relative went to like the local bakery and got all the Dale breads and like throw 'em in these cookie dough, throwing really fat.

[00:05:01] Yeah. They were, they were, yeah, they were really plum and I didn't know that mm-hmm um, and so, you know, I casted out this lure and the thing just like ripped the reel off the real seat and it exploded. And, um, and that sort of opened my eyes up to like how powerful fish are and how cool. And we landed it and I got to see it.

[00:05:18] And I was just like, wow, this thing is like pretty amazing. Um, and you know, it, it made me realize that that there's this really neat connection to fish that we can have. Mm. Um, and you know, and then growing up again in the, in the suburbs as a teen, um, I wouldn't say that I was perfect uh, but, um, Certainly, um, you know, and my family was, was pretty, um, turbulent at the time.

[00:05:46] Sure. And I found a, a really, a really good friend and his family who had a cottage, uh, in, um, in, uh, near George or just a, um, just, uh, not too far from Georgia bay. Okay. Okay. And, and so we started bass fishing and fishing for pike and spending a lot of time on the water. And, you know, that's when I really started to, you know, fishing became like a therapy, right.

[00:06:14] Mm-hmm and getting in the water and, and even seeing what you're fishing for first then and going fishing for them. That is so cool. Um, you know, and, and then I, and then I got to, um, you know, my, my undergraduate and started to learn, you know, and I fell in love with Phish, fell in love with the environment, and then started to learn about how poorly.

[00:06:35] Humans are handling fish, dealing with fish in the aquatic environment. You know, I grew growing up around the great lakes in the seventies and eighties. It's like, that's the peak of, you know, super fun sites, mm-hmm and pollution and PCBs and all that stuff. And, and I remember starting to go fishing to some of the, uh, other lakes in Southern Ontario.

[00:06:55] And, um, you know, the, the ministry gives you this, this handbook that's this there mm-hmm and you have to flip through it, you find the lake and it shows you all the different color codes of like, whether you should eat the fish outta this lake, which species, what size, if you're pregnant, don't eat any of them gross, you know?

[00:07:09] And I was like, how could we, how could we love fish so much and, and get so much out of fish yet, be kicking the crap out of their environment. Mm. And so that kind of really, really started to, you know, because I fell in love with fish in the environment, you know, I wanted to kind of use my energy and interest to kind of protect what I love.

[00:07:28] Right. Sure. And so that, that was kind of that path that I went on for my undergraduate and. My graduate degrees. Um, and I, I did my undergraduate at Trent in Ontario and my PhD at university of Alberta. Nice. Um, and all looking at like impacts of different things on fish populations. Okay. Um, and after, you know, after freezing my, my ass off in, uh, Alberta, you know, in Edmonton for five years, um, then I had a, um, a job posting put past me and it was for a position in the Turks and CAOs islands in The Bahamas.

[00:08:05] And I'm like, can't say, no, I'll 

[00:08:06] Travis Bader: try it. Why not? You 

[00:08:08] Andy Danylchuk: can't say no to that. Can't say no. Yeah. So, so I ended up, you know, uh, I, I didn't think I'd get the job. I got the job and, and then landed in the Turks and CACO islands. And that's when I really started to focus on recreational fisheries. Prior, prior to that, it was in 2000 prior to that move.

[00:08:28] A lot of the fish species that I worked on were like Fathead, minnows and pumpkin seed sunfish and things that you could sample a lot of things that were still important to the ecosystem. Um, but that weren't really, um, you know, targeted by recreational anglers to any great. Right. Um, and, but then when I landed in the church and CAO islands, I had a friend there exposed me to bonefish and I was like, holy crap.

[00:08:51] Like, this is like, it was the, the environment was amazing. The, um, the, the fish was like the power of that fish. Um, and I, and I completely fell in love with the flats and then as a scientist. Right. Cause I, my progression as a scientist sort of, uh, increased in my knowledge and I started to think about like, okay, so I'm watching this bone fish that I'm releasing, it's a catch and release fishery.

[00:09:16] And I'm seeing all these sharks around and I'm seeing sometimes a shark eats one and sometimes a shark doesn't. And I started to look into the scientific literature in terms of like, what do we know. Handling practices on bonefish and back then, I think that was in 2001 or 2002. We didn't know anything.

[00:09:34] Um, okay. And so that, just, and, and that just, I started to dig into the literature more and started to recognize that, um, this whole idea of, um, the recreational fisheries as one, a very important economic engine mm-hmm , uh, is, is I think is, is understated and two that, um, there was then just a, uh, the beginnings of science that was used to allow anglers to understand how to better handle and release fish for those fish.

[00:10:10] They, they want to release with, because the outcome of that event is like, we want the fish to swim away, to, to be caught another day to go back to spawn and do whatever. Right. Sure. And. Um, and then when you start looking into the numbers a little bit more, um, more fish are actually released in recreational fisheries than caught, uh, than, and then, then landed than harvested.

[00:10:32] Um, and then that kind of opened my eyes up more to the, to the magnitude and the importance of this development of best practices for catch and release, and also to make sure that they're science based. So since that time, you know, for the past 20, some odd years now, uh, my research has a good part of it has focused on sort of using science to, and the scientific method to, um, figure out how fish are responding to different handling techniques and then how we can use.

[00:11:06] The science to, um, to develop these best practices that we can put back into the hands of 

[00:11:12] Travis Bader: anglers. Right. So we always, you know, talk about and hear about the effects of commercial fishing on fish populations. Uh, what effect mind you, there's always regulations being put in around, uh, recreational fishing and their recreational fishers say, absolutely.

[00:11:32] You know, we're not, we're not even making a dent on this. Look at all the commercial people look at what they're doing. Is that true? Like, what is the impact of recreational fishing on fish populations? 

[00:11:43] Andy Danylchuk: There there's a lot of push pull there and, and it really depends on the species and it depends on the location.

[00:11:48] Um, there was a, a paper that came out in, I think it was the early two thousands by a colleague John post at, at, um, university of Calgary called the invisible collapse. Um, and that to me was also a very pivotal paper, uh, in terms of my evolution of as a scientist. Um, they had a lot of these case studies where, um, because we weren't monitoring these recreational fisheries to any great extent, we couldn't actually see the fact that they were declining, uh, because anglers are so passionate about what they do.

[00:12:20] Uh, participation rates are increasing mm-hmm , you know, even if our, even if our catch rate goes down a little bit, you know, we've invested a lot in our, in our rods and the trip, and we're still gonna go out and fish and you know, it, it might take five years or six years to realize that, wow, you know, like when I first started coming to this lake, I was catching, you know, 10 lake trout in a week, and now I'm catching two there's something going on.

[00:12:42] Mm. Um, and, and I think that, you know, that, um, that time was pivotal in terms of a, an awareness, an increase in awareness that recreational fisheries can have an impact, um, in, uh, and that it's, it's also something though that we don't necessarily need regulations. To get a handle on when it comes to the best practices for catch and release.

[00:13:06] Right. Um, and, and I, and, and I often also, um, you know, when I, I often give presentations at angling clubs and there's, there's one that I remember. So distinctly it was, uh, on the coast of, um, uh, Connecticut and, uh, it was at a surf casting club and most, and, you know, I put up my big, you know, PowerPoint presentation.

[00:13:29] First slide is like best practices for catch and release. And I could see, and these are all like meat fishers. Right. Right. And I could see them all, as soon as I put that up, I could see them all kind of slump and be like, I'm not gonna listen to this hippie. Right. Yeah. Like I don't do that. I, I, so I, I, I broke the ice right away and I said, okay, I, I, so how many people here, you know, you know, go fishing for Stripe bass to catch, to keep.

[00:13:52] And they all like put their hands up. That's me. And I said, great. That's cool. And then I said, okay, so, and then how many people voluntarily practice catch and release just from a conservation ethic. And there's like a few people that put their hands up and I said, cool. So for those people that, um, that try to harvest strip bass, it was a regulation.

[00:14:10] So what happens when you catch an undersized fish? They're like, oh wow. We, we put it back. Mm-hmm I'm like, okay. And so what, what do you hope happens to that undersized fish? Oh, I hope it like grows to be a keeper and all that stuff. I'm like, okay. So one you practice catch and release yes. And two obvi obviously the, the way that you handle that Stripe path bass or whatever fish it is, is gonna affect its fate.

[00:14:32] Right. And, and it, and it doesn't take a regulation. It takes subtle changes in behavior and maybe just, uh, more personal responsibility in terms of making those changes. And, and I think that goes back to that, the, uh, the question you had about this push pull between commercial fisheries and, and recreational fisheries, you know, there's a lot of species that, that recreational angle.

[00:14:55] Fish for that. Aren't commercially fished. Mm. Right. And so, you know, when you look at the, the status of those populations, no, you, yes. There's other big impacts happening there's climate change and there's habitat and all these other things that are affecting our fish populations. But, you know, if, if you're focusing on a species that, where there is no commercial fishery, um, you know, then those recreational anglers that are interacting with those fish me, we gotta start, you know, increasing our, operating our game in terms of the, our looking at our role in terms of taking care of those, those, um, those fish populations.

[00:15:31] So 

[00:15:32] Travis Bader: as a scientist, how do you go about yep. Measuring and looking at the effects of, of recreational angling. Now, I know you were, you were up in the bulky a few years ago and, uh, yep. A friend of mine, April Vokey. I think, uh, you guys did a couple of podcasts together on some of this and. I, I heard some pretty cool stories as well about this, but I I'd love to hear, uh, the process of how you go about sure.

[00:15:57] Actually gathering that research. 

[00:16:02] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah. And, and, and actually that, that, um, project we did on the bulky river on, on steelhead is actually a great example because, uh, the process begins with the questions and the questions for that project. Didn't come for me like scientists. We can, uh, yes, I'm an angler too.

[00:16:20] and I could dream up all these great. I could dream up all these great questions to try to address that I think would be beneficial to the fishery, but it was actually, it, it was actually the folks in the bulky river lodge, uh, that approached me and also some folks from different, different parts of the community up there started to ask, um, questions about if, if these steelhead are that important and that Val valuable.

[00:16:46] How can we potentially change our, um, handling behaviors to increase the chances that they're gonna swim away mm-hmm to, to spawn, to be caught another day. Um, and so I, I went up to do a, uh, a scouting mission. I, I went up and, and, um, first met actually with the, the first nations with the wetsuit and Wetton mm-hmm , uh, because it was all on their land.

[00:17:09] So it was great to have that, um, connection and, and to basically, um, get their permission mm-hmm for the, for the study. Um, and then I met with, uh, I, they kept changing the acronym for the BC fisheries forest. Oh, they they're still changing it. So confusing. 

[00:17:24] Travis Bader: Yeah. Flin RO or whatever 

[00:17:26] Andy Danylchuk: it's now . Yeah, I know. Um, so I, I met with, so I went around and I basically talked to people and, and, uh, well, I, I didn't, I did less listening or less talking and more listening.

[00:17:39] Right. I asked questions, um, to understand. The importance of steelhead to that community, to the larger community. Um, and to start to, um, uh, think about the, the, uh, dial into some of the questions that were, um, that were coming from the guides that were coming from the community about, you know, post-release mortality.

[00:17:59] Uh, is it, is it better to, uh, one of the questions that came up, is it better to net a fish or is it to better to, to tail grab? Sure. Um, in, in terms of the handling mm-hmm , um, and then what happens to those fish after you release them? Mm-hmm and so, based on, based on that, um, uh, that initial, um, trip, um, I was able to then, you know, get a whole bunch of different non-government organizations, industry partners to sign on and say, listen, we're we put, you know, had some colleagues from Carleton university.

[00:18:36] I collaborate a lot with, um, a friend from there, uh, a great friend. And, uh, we, we basically created a, a, a team of scientists and, uh, government agencies and, and non-government agencies, um, and industry partners to, to do this, to do this study and to actually fund it. Um, right. And, and because, and, and because everybody had an investment in it, um, they felt that the project was theirs.

[00:19:03] You know, they, they had a stake in the game. Um, and then following that in terms of our experimental design, uh, what we did is we worked with anglers. We, we, we put, luckily we had some great graduate students that spent a lot of time up on the bulky river, um, basically following around people, fishing for steelhead, um, and sounds rough.

[00:19:28] We, uh, sounds rough. And, uh, and you know, again, for as much as we all like to fish for as much as we'd like to catch all these fish, it doesn't make sense. We're, we're there as scientists, right? And also that engagement with the anglers is super important because we can start to tell the story mm-hmm, behind the science.

[00:19:45] We can start to share our knowledge and we can also get more questions from them. Mm-hmm that can shape future studies. And so, uh, we started to do, uh, work where we looked at, um, blood physiology. So a lot of, um, the science that we do look at how this is not a steel. Sure. It's a tr um, you know, and, and so we, we, um, we take some non-lethal blood samples to look at how physiologically stressed the fish is, um, to, uh, to being angled, uh, and handle.

[00:20:17] So you catch a 

[00:20:17] Travis Bader: fish and you, yeah. Uh, you stick a needle in and you take some blood or yeah, 

[00:20:23] Andy Danylchuk: quick, quickly, exactly. Quickly turn it over. Uh, we use a, a, um, it's a non-lethal blood sample. Uh, we basically. Put the needle into the Kole podunkle we, we, uh, or the wrist. Yep. Sometimes you call it, uh, and, uh, take a small blood sample.

[00:20:39] And then we have meters, uh, in the field where we can actually look at, uh, blood lactate. Right. Um, and blood glucose, which are kind of the main things that we look at as indicators of that stress response related to, to the fight. So, 

[00:20:53] Travis Bader: so that's, that's basically just sugar and lactic acid are the, the big ones.

[00:20:57] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah, yeah. Ex exactly. And so blood and blood lactate is, um, a, uh, byproduct of anaerobic muscle activities. Your muscles are working and, and then, uh, you get the buildup of blood lactate, um, which is, uh, eventually a trigger for sort of that muscle fatigue, that cramping mm-hmm . Um, and then blood glucose is that, that fight or flight reaction.

[00:21:21] Right. So our, what happens is. Um, and it happens to fish. It happens to us in a scary event. Um, you know, your, your liver, um, releases, uh, sugar, and that you're on a sugar high. Yeah. And that fuels that it, it fuels that fight. And so, and we can look at those, um, physiological parameters and tie that back into the elements of the angling event.

[00:21:43] And so, and, and what the anglers, I think eventually realize is that we're watching them really carefully. We have a stopwatch. We know when the fish has been hooked up, we know how long it's fought for. We know that we take a recording of the water temperature. We look at where it's hooked. We look at how it's, if it's bleeding or not, we are also using at more and more, um, these things called reflex impairments.

[00:22:05] Um, and so, uh, as, as, as sort of global metrics in terms of how well the fish is doing, mm. And some of the reflex impairments, I'm not sure if you've noticed it. Um, one, one big one is if, you know, if you turn the fish upside down, mm-hmm, . You know, how long does it take to roll back over? Right. And that's sort of the coordination, the coordination of all its its fin movements.

[00:22:27] Okay. Um, and another one is if, um, so it's it, I'm not sure if you've noticed it, but if you, if you take a fish that's used to swimming like this and you kind of put it on its side it's I tries to track the horizon and, and tries to track. And, and if, if that, uh, reflex is lost that fish, we've seen shown some other studies that that fish is like not in good shape, but there's a whole series of different reflexes that we measure that are linked back to the blood physiology.

[00:22:57] So this is like an 

[00:22:58] Travis Bader: app guard cast for 

[00:22:59] Andy Danylchuk: fish. It, yeah, it is. It is. There you go. Yeah, exactly. Um, and you know, and those, those reflex impairments are neat because we can tie them back into the physiology. We can tie them into the Postle fate when we track fish and I'll get to that in a second, but then those reflexes are important because.

[00:23:17] You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use them. We can put those reflexes back out into the hands of anglers and say, listen, if you, you know, if you're, if you're questioning whether your fish is ready to go or not, mm-hmm , if you look for reflexes, X, Y, and Z, and they're all there, then, then the fish is ready to go.

[00:23:35] Um, interesting. And so it gives, it gives us clues in terms of how we can adjust our behavior, um, to ensure that that fish, uh, when it does swim away is, has the best chance of survival. Um, and then, and then going back to the bulk Lee river study, often what we do for a subset of fish is we, uh, will then put transmitters on them.

[00:23:55] Okay. Um, and, and so on the bulky river, we used, um, radio telemetry. Um, so a, a subset of fish had radio transmitters put on them, and then we were able to track their, their short term positions. Um, and then also track. Long term, like into months after they've been released and to see how far they've gone, did they make it up to their spawning grounds?

[00:24:19] Uh, were there any, um, sort of acute effects early on and then ultimately, were there any, any longer term effects? Um, so we have all these different tools in the toolbox that we use for our catch and release studies, whether it's, you know, it's, um, steelhead, uh, on the bulky river or bonefish in The Bahamas or, um, you know, we've just finished up a, um, going back to blood lactate mm-hmm , uh, we just finished up a great study, a very short study on, um, on milk fish, uh, in the seashells.

[00:24:51] Um, and because it, and, and, and that, um, study was based on a question that came from, um, some guides at the Alfons fishing company, and also something that shows up in the, in social media, like every six months where it's like milk fish can fight so long because they don't. Blood lactate, which when we went, that was the hypothesis.

[00:25:16] That's what comes up in social media. Yeah. And then as biologists we're like, I can't absolutely not. They can't, there's no vertebrate that does that. Right. Uh, unless they're like some alien species , uh, like not, not, not invasive alien, but like from another planet. Right. Um, and so, and we thought, okay, well we have the tools, let's go test it.

[00:25:34] Um, and so we use SA the same blood physiology, um, uh, techniques, um, and we were able to demonstrate that milk fish do indeed P produce blood lactate. Um sure. But there's something, there's something different in terms of how they can recover, which I think leads to some of the longer fight times. So, um, it, it's nice cuz of these, these tools are, are quite universal.

[00:26:00] Um, you know, we've, we've, we can use 'em on lots of different species. And if we continue to look at how. Um, different elements of the angling event lead to different fats for fish. Mm. Then we can feed it back into those best practices. Mm-hmm and this is where really, and this is where, you know, kind of keep fish wet comes in, right.

[00:26:26] Where, um, you know, as scientists, we end up writing these scientific, I wanted to see if I had a printed copier in here, you know, we end up because of our expectations of, of academia. Mm. You know, we, we publish in scientific journals that are usually the journal articles are usually really long and boring.

[00:26:47] No, no anglers is gonna read 'em to be behind. No. And they're, and they tend to be behind paywalls. Oh, right. Um, so it's not, they're not even, they're not even free to access. And so, you know, the, the, the, the niche that, that keep fish wet is filling and squarely filling across, um, all different species is.

[00:27:07] Basically taking that science because we're all, you know, science scientists as part of Keith fish wet the core. And when we're translating that science to make it more accessible and, and to use the science to, um, basically develop these science based principles and tips that anglers can use to essentially, you know, improve the outcome for each fish, they, they try to release or they plan to release.

[00:27:36] Travis Bader: So I'm, there's a number of things you brought up and I'll, I'll see if I can, uh, recall in somewhat in, in the same order, but the one that really, 

[00:27:44] Andy Danylchuk: and feel free to feel free to cut me off anytime too. I know I can get, I can start to ramble. So just like, 

[00:27:49] Travis Bader: oh, you got a ton of information that, that I, I get it.

[00:27:53] I get it. Um, so the, those telemetry devices that you'll insert into the fish. That's interesting for a couple of reasons, like number one, uh, from your perspective as a scientist, it it'll show kind of, if they're staying alive, if they're going out, if they're getting eaten, if, uh, kind of where they're moving and from an angler perspective, you can probably get some real insight into, um, maybe, uh, best places and best way to start handling for these fish too.

[00:28:21] Andy Danylchuk: yeah. Well, that's a challenge too, that, um, uh, sometimes we have to be careful about where we, when we're publishing, right. Uh, information in the scientific literature about where these fish are migrating and moving to, right there is, there is sometimes in those scientific publications and especially if we're, if the questions that were, um, the foundation for the research came from from rights holders and stakeholders and user groups, we don't wanna be giving all this information away.

[00:28:50] Um, so, you know, sometimes our, at least the positions and stuff. Right. So that sometimes in our scientific studies, you know, the bubbles that we show in the figures and stuff like that are a little bigger. So you can't quite figure out where yeah. Cause that's sort of the, the best spot is the 

[00:29:04] Travis Bader: fish work, the dilemma and the dichotomy of, of what you're doing.

[00:29:07] You're, you're trying to help the fish. Absolutely. But in the same breath, somebody could look at that whole research. And if you are very specific in what you're doing, they could very specifically target what they're looking for. A 

[00:29:19] Andy Danylchuk: absolutely. Absolutely. And, and especially if we're, if you're the science is showing that, you know, a certain size fish, bigger fish are earlier in a run or, um, you know, seasonality related to movement.

[00:29:32] Um, yeah, we, we, uh, we definitely acknowledge that and are we try to be as careful as possible mm-hmm because we don't want to. We don't wanna alienate anglers we're again, going back to this fact, like the, most of the people that do the catch and release science, like we all start, we all grew up fishing.

[00:29:47] Right. And we, you know, we, we all ha we all have pictures of us back in the day, like with our bass out and with, with our pike, with our pike, with our fingers up the gills. Yes. That we're not eating that we're putting back. Right. But we're like, The big one where you've got your, your you're holding your pike by the eyeballs.

[00:30:05] Oh yeah. and they're like, oh, I'm gonna let it go. they're like, okay. well, 

[00:30:10] Travis Bader: you're talking about the different groups that are involved here and if bulky river lodge was involved in bringing you in that's uh, yep. Both really smart. And I would say probably really brave. Right. Really smart, because they're trying to get in front of any regulations that come through by having solid science behind it and really brave mm-hmm in so far as the science might not match up with their expectation or outcome

[00:30:36] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah. Well, and, and, you know, and I, I, I actually, when we are having initial conversations with, uh, whether it's the folks from Buckley river lodge or the same, the same scenarios sort of happened with the Alfons fishing company in, in the seashells. You know, I, I, Fred I load it and I say our site, our science may show something that.

[00:30:59] You may not like, or you may have to adapt to, are you, are you okay with that? Mm. And, um, you know, I haven't, I haven't come across a group yet. Maybe I will one day that that said, no, we're, we're not okay with that. We don't want to do the science anymore because you know, there, the, the business model for the bulkier river lodge is like, the steelhead need to be there.

[00:31:23] Right. Right. The business Mo the business model for Alfons fishing company is that the, the giant Tali and the milk fish and the bone fish need to be there. Mm-hmm and, and for a long time. Right. And you know, when you start talking to a lot of folks, uh, I start to hear a sentiment more and more that, you know, yes, the anglers are clients, but you know, the fish are like clients too.

[00:31:44] I've heard that. Right. Like the fish, right. So like, I gotta take care of that, that client in the water. If, if I don't have fish to target, then I'm not gonna have anglers wanting to come and fish with me. You know, and so that's, I think that's where I've seen, um, a lot of it, uh, more attention come even outside the fly fishing world.

[00:32:05] Yes. A lot of the stuff that we've been doing, um, or that we've been talking about today is fly fishing focus. But, you know, there's, we've done a lot of work on species that aren't targeted by fly anglers. And, and I think because, uh, there's a greater awareness these days. I, I hope, I think there is about the fate of, of the, the long term fate of fish populations.

[00:32:28] And I think there's a growing awareness as well in that for as much as we, we hope that there can be policy changes and changes in regulations. We've, we're realizing that that like, to help protect SP stocks, whatever the species is, you know, that's, that's moving a big rock up a steep hill, right. And, and sometimes you're pushing a lot to change those regulations and that could be.

[00:32:51] Five years, 10 years, those regulations may not ever change the way we want them to because there's also political lobby that comes in, right. That could potentially influence the changes and steer us away from science based or evidence based, uh, knowledge that could guide those regulations. And I think that's where more and more people are.

[00:33:11] And, and this is again where, uh, key fish wet comes from is that like, as we're waiting for those policy changes that can, and management changes and, and regulation changes that can take a long time, um, why not take better care of each fish that you're handling. Right. Right. And there's, there's no, there's no downside, right?

[00:33:31] Like if you're gonna, if you're gonna, if you're gonna release a fish, whether it's under, whether it's, you're targeting to catch and keep, and whether it's undersized or the wrong species, it still plays a role in the ecosystem. It still may grow and you might catch it and harvest it later. Or if you're practicing catch a release.

[00:33:48] Every fish that you handle, that, that you're gonna release, um, you know, has value and, um, you know, and, and that, uh, intrinsic value to everybody that likes steel fishing, but also economic value. And, you know, if, if we ignore that personal responsibility, maybe this is me in a bit more of a soapbox, but if we ignore that personal responsibility and keep pointing fingers at, you know, the, the regulators, the regulators gotta change, but I don't have to change that.

[00:34:19] We, we can kiss our fisheries to goodbye, right. Too often, people 

[00:34:21] Travis Bader: co-opt all of their responsibilities onto a third party like that. And that's, it just seems to be the trend as of late. And you were saying earlier that it doesn't necessarily need a regulation change in order to be effective, but more, a general adoption of best practices is that where keep fish wet is trying to make that.

[00:34:48] Andy Danylchuk: a absolutely. And, and the fact too that, you know, um, a lot of the principles and tips that, that have come out of the science, uh, of catch and release, mm-hmm, really hard, difficult things to enforce. Like if a, a regulator's not gonna, yes. Maybe like in, for Stripe bass circle hooks, if you're fishing for bait, that's easy to enforce for certain species like Tarpin in Florida, um, you know, above a certain size, you can't take Tarpin outta the water because it causes physical damage.

[00:35:19] You know, those things are, are relatively easy to enforce. I'm not saying they were forced all the time, but if, if, um, if it's really hard to think about all the different tips, like minimize air exposer, reduce handling time, uh, you know, avoid rough surfaces, those are the three main principles that keep fish wet uses.

[00:35:38] You know, it's really hard to think about those as something that a regulator, uh, as a, a state agency or federal agency can put in regulat. And then actually enforce, right? Because there's so many people out fishing, there's so many people doing different things. There's not enough conservation agency or agents on the water to, to actually do that.

[00:35:59] So it's, it's kind of, it, it, it really goes back to changing social norms, right. And how we, as an angling community, regardless of whether you're a fly angler or a gear person, or you're harvesting or practicing catchment release from a, a conservation ethos, how we look at our collective responsibility, mm-hmm , um, for those, those fish that we're gonna be releasing and how we can make subtle changes in our behavior, um, to, to basically say, listen, we're doing the best we can.

[00:36:29] It's not our we're, we're, we're contributing to the solution. Right. Um, and, and we'll continue to have a large voice when it comes to changing regulations and we'll have a large voice when it comes to other things that are happening, whether it's habitat or climate change, but at least. We're providing, uh, we're helping those fish populations be more resilient.

[00:36:51] Mm-hmm by practicing science-based best practices for catch and release. So, um, so it's, 

[00:36:57] Travis Bader: you're going out and you are sampling different you're, you're targeting specific types of fish in particular areas and looking for similar kind of outcomes on there. Is there sort of like a blanket rule that you can just sort of apply to them all?

[00:37:11] Or like, did, is it very important that you take a look at all of these different species and, and, uh, look at the subtle differences? 

[00:37:20] Andy Danylchuk: No, that's an awesome question. Um, you know, I think there are, uh, species specific differences. Okay. Um, and, and the science is getting there. We're, we're working away at addressing more and more species specific differences, but if you distill it all down, um, the, the, um, a big rule of thumb for air exposure is 10 seconds or less is best.

[00:37:42] Okay. Um, if you look at all the different, if you look at all the different studies. Uh, that have, uh, quantified the impacts of air exposure on, uh, Postle behavior and survival, 10 seconds or less is best. The gold standard is you don't take the fish outta the water at all, and you can still get a wonderful shot.

[00:37:59] You know, if you're, and, and this is where, you know, it involves creative photography. You don't need a dome lens. you can have your fish in the water. Do you always have to have your face in the picture? Could you have your hands mm-hmm you know, I think there's some, we, we actually key fish wet provides a lot of information about, you know, creative ways to, to take a photo when the fish is still submerged.

[00:38:20] But if you do, if you, if you are going to say you're, you're really, you've caught that prize steelhead, and you wanna take it out for, you know, a couple sec to get that photo, um, let the, let the, uh, the person with the camera call the shots and it's like, get, let the person get the camera ready. It's 3, 2, 1 lift click, and it's in the water and it's 10 seconds or less.

[00:38:42] Um, And, and that's I think an important guideline. Yes. There are some species that you can leave out air exposed for longer. Yes. There are other species that, um, are way more sensitive. And, and the, the, the complexity there though, is that some species are more sensitive at certain times a year than other times.

[00:39:03] You, depending on water temperature, depending on water flow. And so if we, if we actually had some sort of matrix of all these different species and when they're more susceptible to air exposure, and when they're more susceptible to this, it'd be way too hard for anglers to follow. We, it would be hard for us to follow mm-hmm

[00:39:19] So it's, it's best from, from a precautionary standpoint, um, in, in terms of our, our, um, our way, the way that we think about, uh, conservation that, you know, 10 seconds or less for air exposure, Um, is, is, is best. Okay. Um, and I think that is something we can use, whether it's, um, you know, whether it's steelhead or Stripe bass or larva bass or whatever.

[00:39:45] Um, the, the second, um, kind of, uh, main principle is sort of avoid hard surfaces. Okay. Right. Phish have, you know, a slime coat on them. They have scales, they have slime on them to prevent disease. Mm-hmm , they have slime on them to make them more hydrodynamic. Um, and you know, anytime that you're dragging 'em across the rocks or you're using, uh, you know, dry hands or, or a glove that has like, that's super grippy, mm-hmm, , you're taking that slime off.

[00:40:13] And not only that can that, um, cause disease and, um, infection later on. But it also takes energy to rebuild that slime. Okay. Right. I always think about, think about a fish as like, you know, their daily energy budget is, you know, they're out there fishing they're or feeding, you know, and they're swimming upstream.

[00:40:35] And anytime that we exercise them, anytime we take them outta the water, anytime that we, you know, remove some slime, they have to use energy to rebuild that slime. Right. They have to produce energy to rebuild the energetic resources, um, that, that they use to fight against us. So the more that we can, you know, limit fight time, the more that we can reduce our exposure, the more that we can, um, uh, avoid, you know, destroying some of their fins or right.

[00:41:06] Wiping off the slime, you know, that, that, that there's better chances that they have. Uh, to recoup those costs. Once, once we release them, 

[00:41:16] Travis Bader: can, can that slime get in their gills? Cause I've seen some people say, oh, it's okay. If you just leave one Gill in the water and you have one Gill out and then it's just breathing.

[00:41:25] I don't, I, I get that. They cycle water through their gills in some fashion and they can extract oxygen. Yep. Um, I, I guess it's a two part question from a scientific perspective. How do they breathe? And is there any truth to that to keeping the, uh, the one Gill in the 

[00:41:40] Andy Danylchuk: water? okay. So that's a different question from the slide, but how, how about I pose the question to you?

[00:41:45] Travis? Can I put you on the spot by means? Can I put it the spot? How do I, I, I, I do this. I, when I, uh, I, uh, I gave a presentation in Smithers, uh, and I stood up on a ladder, um, and uh, in a, in an angling shop and. Okay. I'm giving a talk about best practice and for catching release. I have a question for you.

[00:42:04] How do fish breathe? Aha. So for, for, and all the egos are like, 

[00:42:08] Travis Bader: whoa. So for me, how do fish breathe? I don't know. Um, yeah, they suck water in through their mouth and out through their gills or in, through their gills and out through their mouth. And they somehow have, uh, little things that can pick up the, uh, uh, oxygen or extract it that's that's the best from my perspective.

[00:42:27] Andy Danylchuk: yeah. But, but that's, and you're, and you're partway there. Okay. Right. So the, the, um, that the, the little Mella, the, the Gill filaments that are in there right. Are super fine. And there's a lot of blood. Right. It's like the alvioli in our lung. Right, right. There's a lot of blood close to the surface where it allows for that, that exchange of gases.

[00:42:46] Okay. But the dis the oxygen is dissolved in the water. Right. We don't see. Right. Um, and so. What happens is, and this is, this is actually tied into, um, some of the reflex impairments that we spoke about. You know, one reflex that we look for is the coordinated movement. I can't do it well on my plastic chart, but the coordinated movement of when the fish's mouth is open, what they do is they CLO they are Perla.

[00:43:09] The Gill flaps they cover yet are closed. Yeah, they're closed. Okay. And what happens is then they CLO close their mouth and they open their percolate and it pushes water in one direction from the mouth through the gills. And, and that directional that, uh, that movement of water, directional water movement through the mouth and out the, and out the gills is important because that works in opposite direction of the blood flow in the gills.

[00:43:37] Ah, and it's that, it's that difference in flow rate that allows that dissolved auction to come outta solution, to get into the blood anding. That that's, that's a really important thing. And the other. Interesting thing about, and so going to your point about having one guilt out and you know, the other guilt in, right.

[00:44:00] It's okay. It's okay. They're still, respiring a little bit, but they're probably not aspiring to the same extent, uh, that they were when they were fully submerged. And we can't forget, usually after you've landed that fish, it has just fought its metabolism is way up high because it's got that blood glucose it's that sugar high, that fight or flight response.

[00:44:22] And just like, when we exercise, we're, respiring more right. And so what do we need, what do we need to do when we respir more? We more yeah. Yeah. Like, you know, we're we need, we we're, respiring more we need that, you know? Yeah. Uh, because of that exercise and so, and so do fish, right? So that's the importance of keeping them in the water and trying to keep that those, that water flow over their gills.

[00:44:46] We also can't forget, um, similar to. Us in a way. I mean, our lungs remove carbon dioxide, right. Um, and the same, same thing for, for gills, but gills are also important for things like salt excretion, the ion excretion mm-hmm , the gills of fish are, are, are a little bit more complex than our lungs in terms of gas exchanges, in terms of the, the, the services that this, the, the Gill organs provide.

[00:45:13] Right. And so that's, you know, from an auction standpoint, that's great. It's also why we like, we, we kind of cringe when we see pictures, even when somebody's holding a nice little tr like this and their fingers are slipped under the Gill, under the AUM, and they're in the gills. Like those are super delicate organs and, you know, keep your, keep your fingers away from the gills, you know, support the fish, you know, under the belly and, and around the, the sort of the, the co podunkle, the wrist.

[00:45:40] Um, you know, we have to be very protective of the gills for sure. And, and that's where, um, you know, that I think the, the 10 seconds or less in terms of air exposure is important, um, because the, uh, the, the fish are recovering from that stressful event. Mm-hmm, being angled and we often are asked, you know, can I, can I do like, like eight seconds and then two seconds and then go back and like, like, no, it's, it's cumulative because we also can't forget that fish are wild animals.

[00:46:10] Right. Mm-hmm like, they don't, they don't want to be held for as much as we think we, they, they want us to hold them and appreciate them. They, they wanna get back to doing what they're doing. Mm-hmm , they're, you're actually restraining that. Um, and so, you know, the more that we, um, and that's, you know, one of the principles, the, the third principle for the main principle for that key fish wet uses is, is minimize handling time.

[00:46:36] Okay. And it's not, and ha handling time is like, from the time it's not the time that it's in your hands, it's the time that you've scooped it up in your net. Even if it's in a net, you're still handling it, you've restrained it. Right. Um, and it's, it's in a place where it doesn't want to be. Um, and so the more that we can do when we're, when you've got fish in your net, or you have efficient hand.

[00:46:58] You know, it, it goes back to, uh, basic angler behavior. And, and just thinking ahead and making sure that you've got your PLIs ready. Mm you've got, you know, you've, you're prepared to, to, you know, turn the hook. It's also why some of the tips that we include is one like using barbless hooks. Right. You know, if, if you have, if you use barbless hooks, you know, there's, uh, there's some anglers that argue like, oh, I'm gonna catch fewer fish.

[00:47:24] Not really. I mean, if you, if you fight a fish, well, you're not gonna lose it. Right. Um, and, but what it does is it allows you to, to minimize handling time, it minimizes physical, um, injury to the fish. It also minimizes the chances of you getting a hook with a Barb and having to dig it outta your face.

[00:47:41] Yeah. Been there. Yeah. Been there. Um, but, but it's, it's all those things coupled together and thinking about the principles and tips and about how anglers can start to use those to, to. Minimize air exposure, keep it under 10 seconds, reduce handling, uh, keep, keep it, keep your fish away from rough surfaces and, uh, and reduce handling time.

[00:48:06] And collectively all those things will, you know, the science is showing that it, it increases the, the, uh, the likelihood of that fish is gonna swim away, healthy. Um, it's gonna, the fish is gonna go back to, you know, contributing to the population and that population will be more resilient to all these other things that are impacting fish populations.

[00:48:27] Travis Bader: Now, you said you had a question asked of you about, uh, net or tail grab. Did you come up, uh, did your research so, uh, preferred method? Yep. 

[00:48:36] Andy Danylchuk: It actually it's. It was a, it was a great, um, question and it was one that sh we, we showed that it, uh, it took less time to actually land the fish when you're using a net.

[00:48:51] but the handling time tended to, excuse me, tended to be longer. Ah, um, hang on. I gotta get a sip. Yeah. So you can think about it. You get, you get your fish in the net, um, and you feel that you have a chance to pause, which you kind of do. Um, and that increases the restraint time of that fish. Mm-hmm and often too, what happens is like, even if you're using a barbless hook, sometimes the hook falls out.

[00:49:20] Or sometimes if you're using a, a, a fly with a trailing hook, it gets caught in the net as well. So you're trying to navigate all the net stuff mm-hmm um, and what that results in is that fish being restrained longer. Right? So, um, so, and then the, the opposite of that was true for the tail grab that it took a little bit longer to land the fish.

[00:49:43] But it was it the re the, the handling time was so much less where you could, you know, grab onto the, to the wrist of the, the, the tail or the co put uncle mm-hmm . If the, if it was a barbless hook, you run your hand down the line, you turn the hook and you're already in the position. If, you know, if you want that picture or whatever, and then you let it go.

[00:50:03] Um, and, and the outcome though, that even though there were differences in, um, handling time, um, the outcome, the scientific outcome showed there was, there was no difference. Interesting. Um, one had a, one had a little bit more of a physiological response of being, being held longer. Um, but the overall outcome related to the fish that we put transmitters in, it, it really didn't make a difference.

[00:50:27] Um, and we, and we kind of like that, I guess, as an outcome, uh, it's important to reflect on it because. You know, there's some situations where it might be impossible to use a net. Mm. Or there might be some situations where it's, it's hard to, to tail grab a big fish and you have to use a net mm-hmm . And, and so when we, when key fish wet, you know, conveys all these principles and tips, we know that there are nuances, uh, depending on the species, depending on where you're fishing.

[00:50:58] And we also recognize that it's an evolution, it's a personal evolution. That the one thing that we, um, we really advocate for is constructive feedback, positive feedback being, you know, we, we, as an organization, as, as group of scientists and, and educators and everybody else involved, like we don't wanna shame other people.

[00:51:19] Sure. Like, because we were, we were all there once. Mm. Right. Like we were all, you know, and, and I think that if we can use, keep fish wet as a vehicle to provide a, a consistent and persistent message. Related to these best practices for catch and release across all fisheries, um, that, uh, then, and we do it in a constructive way.

[00:51:42] Then more people are going to adopt those best practices and that's gonna change the social norm when it comes to the images that are posted on a social media, when it comes to, you know, the, the images we see in film tours and all sorts of stuff that, you know, that, and, and also the images that we see on the catalogs of some of the gear manufacturers, right?

[00:52:03] Like it's, it's a, there's there's this, this change that's needed. It doesn't necessarily re require regulations. Mm-hmm , but it, it requires all of us recognizing that we play a role in the fate of these fish. Every time we handle one and understanding that subtle changes in our behavior can make a big difference.

[00:52:23] And if we all do it, then, you know, we're, we're, we're contributing to the, to the greater 

[00:52:28] Travis Bader: good. I, I have a, um, I, I would think that as a researcher and being very passionate about keep fish wet and what it does and, and trying to affect a social change, you'll probably find you end up in a bit of an echo chamber where the people around you, you start naturally surrounding yourself with other people who are, are like-minded like values.

[00:52:50] Do you have a way of being able to measure whether they keep fish wet movement is being adopted and be able to kind of tweak it or not? Cause that that's a, that's a, uh, an interest. That's a question from a, um, maybe a selfish point of view. Is there a scientific way to see what effect that you're making through your efforts, either through social media or through your website, because that, that could also be applied to so many other things, whether it be business or, or anything.

[00:53:19] Right. 

[00:53:21] Andy Danylchuk: Absolutely. And, and luckily, um, we, uh, through my connection at UMass. There was a graduate student here who I managed to, uh, convince to do some work. She's a social scientist and a really good one. Okay. Um, that looks at social signaling. And, um, and how, um, differences in terms of like the injunctive norms that, that, that, that are, uh, that are portrayed in the community, how that ultimately is, is influenced by messaging or influences messaging.

[00:53:54] Ah, and, and, uh, she is now on the board. She is now on the board of directors for keep fish wet and, uh, very cool. We, uh, we were actually, um, have done some studies, um, that actually are still, uh, in review, uh, where we're looking at, how anglers perceive different images in social media and how they're, how they're linked to the best practices.

[00:54:18] And if there's a disconnect and how we can ultimately change, whether it's the, the messaging or the images or the, the, the tone. To allow that message to be more inviting, um, to also see, are there ways that we can accelerate change just by, um, the, the way that we communicate the information. Um, and so that the one thing that I can say, and this, this happened, uh, a little bit before the transition, uh, from keep 'em wet, which was a kind of a nebulous sure.

[00:54:53] Wasn't really a thing. It was kind of a movement to keep fish wet, which was a formal not-for-profit, um, that, uh, we had some students in my lab actually do a survey that looked at the, the number of times. That the hashtag keep and wet was being used. Mm. And, and how it aligned to images. And, you know, since we started the movement and especially as keep fish wet, started to become more established as a, not for profit and as a, as, as the entity for these best practices that, that use of the hashtag has gone up.

[00:55:30] And there's more alignment in when somebody uses the hashtag, it's not a fish that's bleeding and all that sort of stuff. There's yes. We still see that, but we're starting to see more alignment between. Um, the, the use of the hashtag and, um, and also how our information is being shared by other organizations.

[00:55:51] Mm. Um, and, and how we're partnering. So I think we're getting to the point, um, where I think we're, we've, we've thought of a few other additional studies to try to address that question. Yeah. But, um, that's something that, that's something that we will, we'll continue to explore because it is a changing landscape, um, that depending on what happens.

[00:56:10] Um, so there's a campaign, uh, that keep fish wet did last year, uh, that started it, or they started a campaign called no fish, dry July. Okay. Um, and it, uh, the Genesis behind that was a fact that man, like July, August, that's when all these big heat waves were happening out west. Uh it's when there were super huge droughts.

[00:56:34] And, you know, fish are ecto thes. And so their, you know, their body temperature is related to their mm-hmm to the environmental temperature. And then also what happens is water, temperature goes up, their metabolism goes up. Mm. So if their metabolism's going through the roof, and then we fish them, you know, that there's a greater likelihood of, of fish dying because of being caught.

[00:56:57] Right. Um, at high water temperatures. So we, we, um, this campaign was started to basically change social norms and say, and, and, and change the narrative. And like, we know this is a factor, you know, from a social media perspective, let's show us pictures in July that don't have to do with the fish, show us pictures in July about the environment or your fishing buddy, or something about that, that captures that the essence of why you go fishing apart from the, getting the hero shot and having to take the picture and, and hand gripping grin, and that, and that.

[00:57:32] The gripper green and, and that took off, we had, we had such great engagement tied to no fish, dry July, um, and just as a hint, that will be happening again. um, and, and, and it'll actually be bigger and greater. And, um, and I think that, that, um, you know, I, I think there's more and more evidence that, um, many more organizations and clubs and, um, different groups and, and industry partners are coming to us to, um, to ask advice and to partner, to, to, to basically, um, have to build that community, the broader community that that does.

[00:58:14] It's not just the anglers, it's everybody that's involved in the angling industry that that needs to, um, you know, basically, um, recognize that collectively we can be agents of change as an individual. You can be an agent of change positive. But then collectively, uh, if we all start following these same patterns that we can have a, a much greater effect on the future of our recreational fisheries.

[00:58:41] Travis Bader: That is amazing. And I, and I really love the empowerment of the individual, cuz so many people think that you need a government organization or an NGO or some group just to that they can, they can, co-opt all of the responsibilities to, and that's not how it works. It just, that's a, a suck for money and you, at some point you'll be looking at the easy answer and the easy answer is just shut it all down.

[00:59:07] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah. And, and it's, and it's, and it's, it's not one or the other, right? Like we need both. Right. It's, it's all part of the puzzle. Um, and sort of the top down, uh, you know, um, policy change, approach management change, that's all needed, but that's not, that's not gonna save it. All right. There has to be the grassroots.

[00:59:27] There has to be the individual responsibilities. There has to be, um, that connection with the fish and the passion and, and that, you know, and we need to look at, look at ourselves in the mirror a little bit more and be like, yep. I, I know that if I handle a fish, you know, outta the water for too long, or if I'm jamming my fish up, the gills that, you know, what science is showing, what key fish wet is demonstrating is that's not good.

[00:59:55] Um, that a behavioral change is not gonna cost me any more money, but guess what, I'm gonna be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. And, and we also start in and more broadly, we're also starting to see, and this is just an anecdote. I think more and more anglers that have got, that have really sort of, um, wrapped around, wrapped their arms around these ideas about best practices for catch and release.

[01:00:21] And their personal responsibility are also becoming more receptive of their responsibility for like habitat loss mm-hmm and recycling and, and their, and their role in climate change and their role. And so it's kind of like a gateway, not a drug, but it's a gateway into the minds of anglers and, and, um, that, you know, their personal action does influence things right.

[01:00:47] Both negatively and positively. Sure. And, and if we, if we, if we so cherish our recreational fisheries and we so cherish the watersheds that they're in, um, and you know, both for our wellbeing and for, you know, the economy and other things. Then, you know, then we needs to start with individual actions, um, with those fish that we're encountering.

[01:01:11] Every time you go fishing, it also still means you have to, you know, be an activist and an advocate. You know, when you see something that's wrong in, and, or you're looking for change in, uh, policy, you get out and vote and you get out and, um, you know, voice your concerns, but you don't just leave it there.

[01:01:29] You, you can't forget that there's personal responsibility that's, that's also needed. Mm. Um, and so it's, it's, uh, I think that, and, and I out of, I don't know, and, and maybe somebody convince, can convince me otherwise, but I think, um, with, with recreational fisheries, it's the one activity where we engage with nature, where we have that, um, really acute responsibility with those fish that we're handling.

[01:02:01] Where we can like choose to catch it and release it or choose to catch it and keep it if it's of a harvestable species and then based on our behavior, we can affect the outcome of that fish. Mm. When you release it, you know, if, think about bird watching or hiking, you know, like there's, there's different ways.

[01:02:18] We engage with nature where we're maybe not. And, and if you go hunting, you're hunting usually to like harvest the animal. Right. You know, unless, unless, unless you, you know, there's some other I've seen, there's also people anyway, we won't get that. But, um, you know, but it's the, the Mo the motivations behind recreational angling are pretty diverse.

[01:02:38] Mm-hmm . Um, but they, but they do involve the fact that there has to be fish in the water, otherwise the sport goes away. Um, and, and there is that connection back to personal responsibility and, and that's where key fish wet comes in. And, and I think that's also where key fish wet, uh, based on the traction that we've been getting.

[01:03:01] Throughout the broader global angling community. Mm-hmm , um, that, uh, we are we're recognizing and other people are recognizing that, um, that the scientific based best practices are the best ones, because you know, there's been a lot of investment and, and that this, the science is, is done objectively mm-hmm , um, and feeds back into, uh, the best practices that sh that a hundred percent demonstrate that where we know with some confidence that it has a positive effect, if you do, this has a positive effect.

[01:03:37] Mm-hmm um, and, and I think that that's where, um, you know, there's, there's lots of other groups and lots of other government agencies, NGOs that are putting out best practices. But if you look at the Genesis behind those best practices, they're anecdotes, they're maybe not based on science they're, they're, they're developed in other ways.

[01:03:56] Mm-hmm it doesn't mean they're all wrong. But it, I, I think what I've experienced over the last 20 years is that what the angling community really needs is that consistent and persistent message mm-hmm um, because it makes it easier to remember the information. It makes it easier to remember the principles and tips.

[01:04:16] It makes it easier when you're going from trout to, to bass, to Stripe bass, to whatever mm-hmm . If the, if the principles are all sort of unified, it just makes it easier to employ them as ANR. Um, and you're not, and you're not getting mixed messages from different groups. And, and I think that's where, uh, key fish wet is, is, is really accelerated and, and being that, that, uh, filling that niche of being that, providing that consistent and persistent message, um, for the angling community.

[01:04:46] So. 

[01:04:48] Travis Bader: What about detractors out there? Are there any people out there that take a look at the work that keep fish wet? Is I, I was in my research in here. There was a, um, Idaho, I think it was, there was a group that put something out that had some contrary opinions, but that was an older sort of, uh, uh, paper.

[01:05:06] Has that one been, uh, refuted or should we talk about 

[01:05:11] Andy Danylchuk: that one? Well, so, so no, that's fine. And, and we don't, you know, I, I don't wanna knock the science, um, and you know, that, that, that paper made it through peer review and, and that's, you know, that's part of the process. Um, but I, and, and there is, there are some studies that show for certain species, it isn't as much of an impact, right.

[01:05:33] But there's so many different species that we target and there's so many different environmental variables that are to be taken into consideration. Right. And so, you know, and, and if you, you know, there's been probably now, if you do the math, there's probably maybe close to 500 studies that have been done on catch and release.

[01:05:50] Right. If one shows that it's not an impact, are you gonna trust the one or the 499? Yeah, exactly. Right. So, and that's, I think that's the approach that I take like that, you know, there's so we just did a, um, a study on, uh, giant Travali yep. In the sea shells. And we use some cool, uh, accelerometer, loggers.

[01:06:11] They're kind of like the Fitbits on your, that you wear. You'll look at tail frequencies. It's a really cool technology. And that science showed that even 30 seconds of air exposure, uh, didn't really impact the poster lease fate of GTS and the fly fishing fishery. And Alfons, it doesn't mean. Um, we should still go to that 30 seconds because, um, you know, if you're fishing in another location where there may be more predators, um, mm-hmm, , it just showed that, that in that context, um, zero seconds of air exposure, 10 seconds of air exposure, and 30 seconds of air exposure, all kind of showed the same stuff and, and it demonstrated that GTS are pretty resilient.

[01:06:54] Um, and, and there's been some other studies that are, have been done on, uh, fish outta the same family permit, um, are also, um, from, from a physiological standpoint, um, they're, they're pretty hearty okay. Of, of a species when it comes to being caught and handled. But with permit, if you're catching 'em out of a spawning aggregation and that spawning aggregation has attracted a whole bunch of sharks, right.

[01:07:21] It doesn't really, it doesn't really matter if that fish is like, Super resilient to being caught and handled. It's gotta now swim through this gauntlet of, of predators, right? So the context is important. And I think that's also where a lot of, um, a lot of the science is going where thinking about the context dependent, um, lyses like, you know, looking at the same species during low water times of year, low flow, high water temperature, high flow, cold temperatures, you know, trying to find those species specific, um, best practices.

[01:07:58] So we can, we can hone things a little bit more beyond, beyond just the general principles and tips. Um, and we're getting there. So like, um, keep fish wet, um, based on the Stripe bass fishery, uh, put out a separate campaign related to best practices. For, um, for strip bass, um, because there has been some science and so there's a, there's a species specific campaign.

[01:08:21] It's still, we still fall back on the, the general principles and tips, but there's some additional things we need to consider when it comes to Stripe bass and we're getting there for more and more, more and more species. Um, but you, I'm glad you're brought up that study. And, and yes, we also do like when, when we, um, I, so , it's maybe too much information , I'm BA I I'm BA I'm basically the, uh, unpaid social media intern for keep fish wet.

[01:08:48] Uh, and, uh, but it's fun. Yeah. And, um, but last year when we, when we launched, uh, no fish, dry July, um, there was a lot of interesting comments. They're like, yeah, I don't keep my fish dry. I put it on the grill. Sure. You know, just like, okay, that's then you're not, you don't have you read the post? No. You just looked at no fish, dry July, and there's always, there's, there's always going to be.

[01:09:14] Um, people that I think, um, don't quite relate with the, the fact that even you hear for catching fish and you're harvesting fish, if there's a regulation mm-hmm , um, that you're gonna be releasing fish. Um, there's, there's always a lot of people that I find that like to point fingers at other people sure.

[01:09:37] As being the problem. Um, but I think collectively over time, if there's this evolution of enough of us, uh, that, you know, the social norms will change. And, and, and as we're fighting the big fights about policy change and other things that at least we know that, uh, we can feel good about each individual angler taking care of fish, um, that, uh, that they plan to release.

[01:10:01] Um, and, and I think, and I think that makes it, I, I. The approach that keep fish wet takes is much more accessible, um, than if it were, that is the same information coming from a government agency. Because, you know, for instance, cuz a government agency is, is also the agency. You pay your fish license fee to that.

[01:10:20] That could also give you a, a ticket or take your stuff away. Um, and so, you know, keeping it out as a, as a non-government organization is a separate entity that, that, and we've had other government agencies or government agencies come to us for guidance in terms of best practices to partner with us.

[01:10:39] We've had other groups coming to us more and more. Um, and that's where like we're actually, we have, we have, we have more people coming to us than we can keep up or we're trying to keep up, which is great. I mean, to me, that's a reflection that it's working key fish wet is, is working it's on the mark. Um, and you know, you know, during no fish, dry July trout unlimited picked it up and said, this is awesome.

[01:11:04] They wrote pieces about no fish, dry July, um, you know, fly fishing international. Like, yeah, there's all these bigger groups that are recognizing that what keep fish wet is doing has incredible value. And, uh, and actually the, the engagement, um, and the opportunities for engagement are increasing. And that the, the, the distance between suggesting behavioral change and making behavioral change is really short.

[01:11:32] Right. You just need that sort of recognition by the individual, but like, wow, I've, I, these scientists have shown that, you know, by minimizing air exposure and keeping less than 10 seconds, I'm gonna be doing a better part for each fish. I'm gonna go ahead and do it. And if you, and you embody that, um, then you know, that.

[01:11:52] You have confidence in that behavioral change and you're more likely going to do it. Totally. Um, if we're able to demonstrate that. So, um, I think collectively, there's a, I think, I think there's a strong future for keeping awesome. 

[01:12:06] Travis Bader: I, I've got a couple easy questions. Uh, so you go into the fishing store.

[01:12:09] Sure. And they've got a couple different types of nets. One's gonna be your fabric net, and one's gonna be kind of your rubbery net, uh, rubber. Net's gonna cost you more money than the fabric net. And people look at this and say, do I spend the more money? Does it make a big difference? What should I do?

[01:12:25] What's what's your perspective? 

[01:12:27] Andy Danylchuk: AB luckily we've done some, there's been some science done on different nets and, uh, the, the flat rubberized net makes a huge difference. Yeah. Um, you know, the, the, uh, the Walmart Kmart Canadian tire special, uh, that, uh, is the noded nylon. You know, the, that, that results in, uh, more fin frying, it can actually get behind the gills.

[01:12:53] Mm-hmm it can do Gill damage. Um, it is much more impactful than, uh, a flat rubberized net. Um, that is relatively slick when it gets wet. Um, there's less opportunities for, uh, fins to get through the holes. Mm-hmm , um, there's, there's enough science, if you can, if you can afford it, uh, or you save up for it, um, then, um, you know, a, a rubberized net is, uh, is, uh, will result in fewer 

[01:13:19] Travis Bader: injuries here.

[01:13:20] Here's another easier one. Uh, let's say for, let's say for steel ed, what, uh, I'm looking at, um, you were talking about physiological responses that the fish will have, and you named a couple of 'em like through the eyes tracking their horizon. And are you able to yeah, yeah, kinda give a, uh, a quick point form of the, uh, of a few of these physiological responses that people should be looking for.

[01:13:44] Andy Danylchuk: the reflex improvement reflex. Yeah, absolutely. You know? Uh, yeah. So the reflex impairments, um, the, the, uh, the big one for us that I think is the easiest is, uh, at the end, when you're ready. If, if you say you've got it, um, close to you, and if, if you can start to roll it and it rolls over on its own, that writing reflex.

[01:14:06] Yeah. Relatively quickly. It's, it's, that's, it's it's, it's got enough coordinated movement. It's got enough of its faculties to recognize that it's upside down and it can do that coordinated movement to bring itself back. Okay. Um, the other one is that they, um, that we call it the head complex and that's that?

[01:14:23] Oops. Um, that's the, the coordinated movement between the, the, the mouth moving and the gills movement. Okay. Right. So that, that, so if, if the mouth is going like this and you have coordinated movement with the gills, that means it's trying to move more water over its gills mouth closed, gills over. . Yeah.

[01:14:42] And, and in sort of that combination, that, that sequence, right. Um, ideally with the steelhead, right. You're in moving water, um, to help with that recovery, you wanna, you know, put the, put the head of the fish into the water flow mm-hmm um, so that you have the water going in the mouth and out the gills, not the other way around

[01:14:59] Um, sure. And, um, so we've got, um, the other one that the, uh, so we've got, um, the, oh, the, the other ones that we do, and it really depends on the species is, uh, one called, um, uh, body flex. So if you start to take your weight, so, so you have the fish in the water and you start to, um, uh, use your arms to reduce the weight, the gravity that the fish is feeling.

[01:15:27] Yeah. Does it flex its body or is it just like, right? Is it just lift. So body flex is, is one that, that, um, anglers can also use. Um, and then also it, depending. So pretend you have your fish, uh, and it is kind of harder with, with, uh, steelhead, because you also don't want 'em to start to run again. Sure. But this, we, we do this for smaller species where you can actually, if you start to like pinch their tail a little bit, are they trying to kick away?

[01:15:54] Right. If, if you start pinching their tail and, and you have that, that tail reflex, um, so we've got loss of equilibrium or, or how quickly it can take the regain equilibrium. We've got the, the mouth and gills. So the head complex, um, we've got body flex, we've got tail grab. And then the other one I talked about is that the, um, the eye rolling mm-hmm , um, that one we've shown in, in some studies that if that eye does not roll and it does, and there's some species where the eye will never roll.

[01:16:26] Sure. Depends on the species. Um, but, and I, I had a great photo come in today from the person that does social media for fulling mill. Okay. And, uh, um, he's actual also a guide in, uh, in New Hampshire and he sent a picture of this fish and, and, and it's a close up, but you can see that the fish, the fish is on an angle, but it's eye is tracking the horizon.

[01:16:50] So you know, that, that fish, that, that fish's brain and it's physiologically, it's like dialed in and it's like, I don't wanna be rolled over. I wanna go back that way. Mm-hmm, , um, you know, that's another really good indicator and, and it's, you know, and some of these indicators, um, depending on water temperature, depending on the size of the fish, they might be harder to, to measure or harder to look at.

[01:17:13] But I think anglers need to do the best they can with some of these, some of these reflex impairments, because it'll tell you if the fish is ready to go, or if it's not. So say you say you like, you know, you, you roll your, we, we hear. We see so many examples of, um, the, uh, people that are holding on for fish for a long time and thinking I'm gonna hold onto for another five minutes, because the more I hold it, the better it gets and the fish is like this and are like, I'm trying to hold it.

[01:17:42] I'm gonna do this fish better by holding on this drives. So my, my, my wife, Sasha is the executive director for key fish wet. Yeah. And, um, and, and that, that's one thing that, uh, is, is a really pet peeve of hers. And it actually is pet peeve of mine, but more hers in, in that, like this whole idea, like holding onto a fish longer is going to be better for that fish.

[01:18:02] It's not always the case. If it's, if, if it's got, you know, good a curricular movement, um, if you go like this and in two seconds, it's like this, you know, like, get it, get it on its way. Sure. As long as there's no predators around, you're not in the salt, like do yourself, do the fish a favor and get its on its way.

[01:18:20] It's way it doesn't need to be recovered more. Um, certain species, like, I mean, you know, bill fish, Tarpon, big things that are like fight to exhaustion. Sometimes they need more recovery mm-hmm . Um, but this is also when, like, if you're fishing with a guide or you're on a chat with, uh, a chat group on social media, Facebook, or whatever, you know, try to, before you even go fishing for a new species, look at the different techniques that people are using to recover fish, re compare those, to compare those, to the best practices, that key fish wet conveys, and be like, okay, now I know for when I'm gonna go off for sale fish, you know, it's actually in the Southern part of the United States, it's illegal to take 'em outta the water.

[01:19:00] Um, yeah, but you know, if, if that fish needs to be recovered longer, you know, I'm gonna probably be working with that boat captain to basically be keeping that fish's head into the current. We're gonna run the boat until it's, you know, got its reflexes and then we can let it go. 

[01:19:14] Travis Bader: What do you see as the future for catch and release?

[01:19:21] Andy Danylchuk: Yeah, I think, I think the future in the short term is that, um, I think, and this seems kind of, uh, maybe a little bit, um, I, I don't, it's not jaded. I, and, and it's not, I, I think that there's based on the uptake and the ease of uptake for these scientifically generated best practices for catch and release.

[01:19:51] You know, I think there's a strong future for keep fish wet in terms of being that persistent and consistent message across all these different fisheries. I think that there's a greater growing awareness. That individual responsibility is important, especially with all these other impacts that are happening to fish populations.

[01:20:10] Mm. I keep going back to the big elephant in the room, climate change. Sure. You know, last year, last year it was droughts this year. We've got massive floods that are closing out Yellowstone. Uh, right. And I think those floods are also hitting, um, Alberta, Saskatchewan, right? Like, um, mm-hmm, that, uh, you know, that, that understand given that our watersheds and our global ecosystem are under all these other pressures.

[01:20:37] Um, I think that more and more people are asking, you know, how can I play a role? How can I, uh, help be a, be a, um, uh, an agent of change. And, and I think that that's, and, and I'd also see that more and more people are maybe being, becoming a bit more disheartened about like policy change, the rate at which those changes happen, taking down the dams in the snake river.

[01:21:03] Mm. Right. We're fighting for that pebble mind. Mm-hmm, , it's all important to fight for. Right. We're all important to do that, but it takes time. It takes a lot of time and a lot of. And I think that more and more groups and people within this sort of com recreational fishing community are recognizing the value of each fish that are in their hands.

[01:21:24] And that through those basic changes in behavior that we can, we can actually, um, have a great benefit on the future of, of that individual fish and that contributes to greater resiliency in the face of all these other threats. Um, so I, you know, and, and yes, there are places where, um, you know, and, and a concern that gets into this.

[01:21:45] And again, this could be a topic for even another podcast. , um, when you get in sort of animal welfare and do fish feel pain, we haven't really touched on that. Um, and, um, you know, I'm gonna say, yes, I, I think that there. Well, they, they, they, well, again, another podcast, cuz there's so much to go into that. Um, but there's some places like in Germany catching release is illegal.

[01:22:07] Um, because they feel that there's, uh, not law was put in place because, uh, it was felt that if you're catching a fish, um, you've caused enough distress in it that it it's inhumane to put it back. So you have to dispatch the fish. Um, but when you, but I've, I've had casual conversations with a lot of people that fish in Germany and they, they call it the ops factor and they basically, they, they know that the fish is better in the water.

[01:22:38] They don't, they don't wanna dispatch the fish. So they dropped it as they're handling the, oh, I dropped it and yeah. You know, and um, and I've actually heard some anecdotes from people that, um, for, that were actually. Caught for practicing catchment release and they took it to court. Don't just, don't don't anybody quote me.

[01:22:57] I, I heard it from, I heard it from somebody. Yeah. I read it on the internet, but that, but even, yeah, but even, but even the judge kind of threw it out. And like, if you could argue that, that the value of that fish is so much more important in the water contributing to a healthy ecosystem, you know, that, and if you're using best practices for catch and release and you're minimizing stress on that fish, you know, then, um, you know, maybe, you know, catch and release does have an important place.

[01:23:23] And, and, and I think it does. And, and going full circle back to like, you know, the, the, uh, the conversation that I've at the beginning of a presentation in, in Connecticut here about like talking to the meat fishers versus the people that practice catch and release, we all do it. Mm-hmm, , we all, we all do it, you know?

[01:23:42] And, and I think we all do it. And, and, um, and if, and if you're, if you're practicing to catch to keep and. You're not putting back an undersized fish, that's what's gonna get you in trouble. Mm. Um, that's where, you know, that's why the laws are, are put in place and the regulations are put in place. Um, and I, I think what I'm also seeing is that, you know, since, uh, keep fish wet, rebranded, uh, or keep fish as a no for profit, that I'm actually seeing more and more, uh, angler groups that are predominantly meat fishers.

[01:24:16] Mm. Um, basically starting to say that, wow, we are playing a role and these best practices are important. And of course, you know, we're, we're gonna be a part of the solution. Um, it doesn't mean, and, and we we're, we're quite open about this on, on the, on the website. Like we like to eat fish and we harvest fish sometimes too.

[01:24:37] Sure. Like when it's legal to, when it's legal to do so. You know, we, we like to harvest fish. We're not, we're not taking a, a, a very super hard stand and say, you gotta release everything you catch. Otherwise you're a bad person, right? It's like, wow. If you know, it's, if for, for those fish that you intend to release, if you use these scientifically based best practices, those fish have a better chance of survival.

[01:25:02] And we're just, and then you're part of the solution to helping to keep those populations healthy and safe. So, 

[01:25:08] Travis Bader: Andy, I am so glad you're able to make the time to be on the Silvercore Podcast and very thankful to pat for making the recommendation and point to me in your direction. Thank you. 

[01:25:20] Andy Danylchuk: Oh, Travis.

[01:25:20] No problem. It was a great being here and, uh, and I enjoyed passing on what I know and, uh, yeah. And I look forward to being back on. Oh, you.

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  • Matt Jenkins Silvercore Podcast episode 126
    Episode 126 | Mar 26, 2024
    Travis Bader sits down with the adventurous and passionate outdoorsman, Matt Jenkins. Join them as they delve into Matt's love for hunting, his experiences in the wild, and the importance of connecting with nature. Discover how Matt's journey led him to embrace the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors, and gain valuable insights into mental health and its relationship with outdoor activities. Don't miss this engaging conversation that will leave you inspired to embark on your own outdoor adventures. Tune in now and deepen your connection to the natural world.