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Swim Safety and Fish Care made easy

Swim Safety
First look at your swim & identify foremost where you are going to manoeuvre the catfish up & out of the water & onto the bank. Forming a ramp to transfer your prize may require some hard work & effort by clearing rocks both bank side & those submerged in the margins, to form in effect a slope free from sharp edges from the waters edge to the bank level you are fishing from. Upon achieving your slope, cover it with a sheet of plastic or a ground sheet to protect the fish from any sharp stones & gravel that will scratch the fish as you remove it from the water & onto the bank & into position for weighing or photographing. After putting the baits out make sure you have plenty of water on the bank ready to pour on the mat & the fish.

Fish Care made easy
In Spain as you know most days are more than sunny than not, even in the evenings the dry heat lingers & fish on mats soon dry out. When you have a fish on the bank make sure you put plenty of water over it but particularly through the mouth so it gently trickles out through the gills. The trick is not to put or force too much in too quickly as they react such they either think they're back in the river or by most a reaction to the shock is to turn & thrash on the mat, they do not like it. Pulling your catfish up a dry slope or moving it around on any part of a dry mat removes its protective membrane of slime on contact & causes burns that are avoidable. Wet plastic is ideal for turning your fish for unhooking, weighing & manoeuvring into place for photos. These burns are most noticeable in fish when taking the photo.

The burns pictured have healed well but never the less are avoidable by a more conscientious angler. Playing the fish comes naturally, the emotions & experience resulting in it nearing the margins to be gloved is one best described by you later in the pub back home with a tale of the one that was this big.

Gloves are best worn, as the pads both top & bottom just inside the mouth can be very sharp in young fish & will take off your skin on contact with any part of hand or arm leaving you literally red raw. This red rawness does heal eventually & does rub off your tan but it usually goes sceptic so ensure your tetanus immunisation is up to date.

When the fish has been gloved ensure that the slope & mat are wet, this can take up to 6 buckets of water, so you need to be prepared. Firstly stand back, admire & respect your catch irrespective of size, then weigh & measure it & capture the moment on film if desired.

When gloving a cat for the first time it is best to wear two gloves, take the hook link in one hand & guide the mouth to the surface & place your other hand into the opposite side from where the fish is hooked. This gives you a better chance of not you getting hooked up to a big cat, that either swims gently back out into the river with you still attached, even worse have you toppling overboard & to a depth or feature most frequented by your quarry.

When holding a pectoral fin it is best to have all four fingers gripped tightly in unison over the thickest joining piece of cartilage as it allows you to pull the fishes head & shoulders down horizontal to the camera. If you do not achieve these types of grip, then you are more likely to drop the heaviest part of the fish.

If there are more than two of you lifting, he who caught the fish usually is positioned for photo at the head end of the fish, with several volunteers supporting the tail section; you can use two hands to lift the bulk of the fish, an overlapping two-handed grip as shown right.

When supporting the mid section (where the catfish's stomach & tail meet) it is best to grip gently the anal fins together & lift putting the strain of your forearm in the meat of the tail as opposed to compressing the stomach. Being anywhere near the anal fins & lifting such a weight can result, if these anal fins are not being held properly, in warm fingers!

Pectoral Lift grip should always be obtained by holding either side of the meat of the pec bulb. Never lift a catfish up out the water by its gill plates, as any contact with the gills themselves may cause un-necessary heavy bleeding.

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