Video: How Long Should You Keep a Trout Out of the Water?

The advent of social media over the past decade or so has led to numerous discussions about the value of grip-‘n’-grin photos and the best way to take photos without harming the fish. First, it’s important to state the obvious: the best thing for the fish is to never take it out of the water. That said, anglers–and not only those trying to generate “likes”–enjoy commemorating their catches, so I don’t think photos of fish are going away.

So that leaves us with the question of what’s the best way to get that photo and do the least amount of harm? That is the whole raison d’être of Keep Fish Wet, an organization dedicated to teaching anglers the best way to handle trout and other species. Their Fish Photography Basics page is a great place to start.

Other anglers–including Orvis chairman Perk Perkins–have long advocated that you hold your breath while the fish is out of the water as a way to gauge how long is too long. When you run out of breath, it’s time to put the fish back in the water. New Zealand guide Alex Waller decided to really put this concept to the test, but he tried to make it even more realistic. Since the fish you’ve landed has spent at least a few minutes frantically fighting for its life, it’s worn out. So, Alex figures, that breath test should be based on a worn-out angler. I think you’ll find his experiment illuminated. It sure surprised Alex.

6 thoughts on “Video: How Long Should You Keep a Trout Out of the Water?”

  1. What conceivable physiological relationship is there between how long a human can hold his breath and how long a fish can safely be out of water? These are very different organisms with very different systems. I suspect this old saw has no basis in fact. Just skip the photo and put it back.

    1. Trigg, Charles
      You’re right – don’t take the fish out of the water. I wasn’t trying to convince people that gills are the same as lungs. For those who do take the fish out of the water, I wanted them to feel the pain.

    2. only keep it out of the water as long as it takes to fillet it and put it on the grill.Have a nice cold beer while waiting for it to cook..And dont forget to flip off the orvis snob across the river..

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