Real Catch Stories: Husband and Wife Fishing Team Reels One In

by Skye Garver

This snook was caught in Johns Pass; it was a calm, beautiful day, and the ocean was very clear. We were in a tournament for snook/trout/red.

We got our trout and were heading to our red spot - that's when my husband was looking down and immediately stopped the boat. He told me to hook the menhaden and pointed to where to throw it. Seconds later, my line started screaming....

I pulled back, and then we were off - the snook pulled us around for a good five minutes. She finally gave in and my husband crept in the knee high water and was able to gently pick her up.

This is my biggest snook to date. It definitely got my heart racing, and the fact that I caught it with my husband makes it one I'll never forget and one of my best! 

Ten Tips for Better Catch & Release

by Joe Mahler

  Illustration copyright   Joe   Mahler 2016

Illustration copyright Joe Mahler 2016

Certainly there is nothing wrong with keeping a few fish for dinner, maybe even putting a few away in the freezer for later. But if you are a skilled angler, you will most always catch more fish than you can use. Practicing good catch-and-release skills is more than just a good idea - it is a responsibility.

Living in Southwest Florida and frequently driving along the causeway and the beach, I see all sorts of mishandling of fish - not that it is intentional, but it represents a lack of understanding of just how fragile even the heartiest of fish really are.

There are a few things that you can do to greatly increase the chances that the fish you just landed will swim away to fight another day.

#1 Fish barbless 

This serves two purposes. First, a barbless hook comes free much easier than a barbed hook, allowing you to get the fish back in the water more quickly. Second, the barbless hook does much less damage to the delicate inside of the fish’s mouth and gills.

While many think that you will lose more fish in a battle using a barbless hook, in most cases, the opposite is true. Studies show that the barbless hook actually penetrates deeper for a solid hook-set. To de-barb your hook, simply take a pair of fishing pliers and gently smash the barb so that it lays flush with the hook wire. Some hooks can be purchased in a barbless model.

#2 Have the camera ready

I know it is an old superstition to not bring out the camera until the fish is in the boat (I was even yelled at by a Keys guide for grabbing the camera bag), but if you plan to take a photo, have the camera ready and turned on while the fish is on the line. Besides, action shots are often more interesting than “Grip and Grins.”   

#3 Practice the “No-Touch” release

This offers the highest level of protection for the fish and is the most effective technique. Leave the fish in the water. Grab the leader and guide the fish to your pliers and pop the hook.


Another tip: If possible, get out of the boat and land the fish while in the water.

The “no-touch” method causes the least amount of stress on the fish and gets him back on his way in no time.

#4 Wet your hands before touching the fish and NEVER use a towel

Most fish (especially seatrout and bonefish) have a delicate protective mucus coating that when removed by dry hands, or even worse a towel, invites infection and signals predators. Dip your hands fully into the water and be sure to remove your sun gloves. Never lay a fish in the sand or concrete.

#5 Land your fish quickly

Once you hook a fish, apply enough pressure to land the fish as soon as possible. During the fight, a fish will experience a lactic acid build-up, and the longer she fights, the more serious it becomes - especially in the warmer months. Once a fished is released, it can take up to 24 hours(!) to recover. During that time, it can become easy prey for sharks, birds, and other predators. Land it fast to give it a fighting chance after you release it.

#6 Use a rubber net bag

Rubber net bags are widely available and much more fish-friendly that the nylon versions. Freshwater trout anglers were quick to champion rubber net bags, and more and more saltwater fishermen are following suit. 

#7 Always have pliers on you

Wear them on your belt, around your neck, in your pocket, or attach them to your boat. Having a pair of pliers or hemostats makes hook removal easier on both the fish and the angler.

#8 Don’t keep the fish out of water any longer than you can hold your breath

Try it, and it will give you a better appreciation of what our finned friends are feeling.

#9 Never lift by the jaw

Some may disagree with me on this, but I never hold a fish by the jaw, and it breaks my heart when I see photos of pro bass anglers hefting a seven-pounder by the jaw. Fish spend their lives in a near zero-gravity condition and simply weren’t intended to be held vertically with undue strain put upon the delicate muscles of the underside.

In the case of large snook, tarpon, and others, lifting a fish by the jaw can PERMANENTLY damage those parts and, even though the fish may swim away, it may no longer be able to eat.

Lift your fish from the water horizontally by holding the jaw and cradling the underbelly.

#10 Revive your fish

It is your responsibility to make sure that the fish you just enjoyed fighting swims away healthy and happy. Hold the fish in the water and gently move her back and forth until she's strong enough to take off on her own.

Follow these tips and you will keep your trophy catches alive and fighting for years to come.

Announcing a new biodiversity and conservation partnership...

What: Fishbrain and the University of Texas have teamed up on a biodiversity and conservation project called Fishes of Texas. This is a project gathering into a single database crucial information about fish species in Texas, its surrounding U.S. states, and northern Mexico. 


And in a first, Fishbrain is providing crowdsourced catch data from its passionate Texas anglers to biodiversity and conservation researchers at the University of Texas.

Why it's important: Conservation and planning, that's why. Using real-time catch data, researchers on the project can build a far more accurate picture of the biodiversity situation in Texas waters. They can also see how climate change is impacting fish species. 

That information, in turn, allows scientists to make better conservation recommendations. It's a win-win-win - for anglers, for Texas game fish, and for scientists working on the project.

How you can take part:

Step 1: Go fishing in Texas.

Step 2: Log a Texas catch in Fishbrain.

Step 3: Repeat.

With over 50,000 Texas catches logged in Fishbrain already, and with the ease with which the angling community can participate, it's a fantastic partnership.

Read more about the Fishes of Texas project...

Read more about Fishbrain...

Press Release Below

Angling app provides species data to University’s Biodiversity Collections

FishBrain (, the world’s largest free-to-use app and social network for anglers, has partnered with the University of Texas’ Biodiversity Collections ( and its Fishes of Texas project (, to provide app-powered, crowdsourced data to aid in conservation and academic research in southern U.S. and northern Mexico states.

As the first ever example of an app assisting a regional biodiversity project for data-collection, FishBrain, which has 1.4 million users in the US and over 130,000 users in Texas (its second most-popular state), will provide crowdsourced user-data directly to the Fishes of Texas project database for academic research and species-conservation. The rigorously-administrated database, used to determine the prevalence and locations of certain species of fish, has, until now, been composed of strictly museum specimen data.

For more information, and to find out how to help the project, go to

Anglers typically focus on game species, which often grow very large in size. Scientific collecting, however, has very different tendencies, usually toward smaller species collected as part of specific research goals. Therefore, FishBrain’s data are highly complementary to the museum data. For example, Rainbow Trout are only represented by a meager 24 observations among the museum data, but has 342 observations in the FishBrain database. Those data are a vital tool in understanding when and where species are actually going and how long populations persist. With other crowdsourced data there would almost certainly be errors in ID, as many anglers are not well trained in fish ID. However, because FishBrain users submit photos of their catches, scientists can verify the identifications.

The authors of the Fishes of Texas project and FishBrain will co-publish a scientific paper detailing the relationship, and the app’s use as a valuable scientific resource. The data are expected to be used frequently by scientists, and will also be made available to the public.

As well as providing pre-existing data from the 50,000+ catches in Texas already, FishBrain will be making the project widely known to its user-base, and asking it to collect conservation-relevant data also in Texas’ neighbouring states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana in the US; and Tamaulipas, Nuevo Léon, Coahuila, and Chihuahua in Mexico).

Adam Cohen, University of Texas, Biodiversity Collections, Ichthyology Collection Manager, and Fishes of Texas Project co-author, comments: “Historically, we’ve always focused on museum data, but we are excited to branch out and use the highly-complimentary FishBrain data alongside our existing museum data. Along with data from Texas’ agency databases, scientific literature and other citizen science sources, we are hoping to make the Fishes of Texas Project database an exceptional and unique resource for studying fishes in our region. With enough data, we will be able to much better document how species’ ranges are changing over time, in a scientifically defensible way.”

Johan Attby, CEO of FishBrain, comments: “We're proud to be part of such a significant milestone in the relationship between technology and academia. Texas and the surrounding states make-up a significant part of our userbase, and so the preservation and study of the area’s aquatic life is very important to us. We see tech playing an ever-increasing role in academia in the future and, with our big data capabilities, we are proud to be part of the vanguard helping to make this happen. Being able to offer a unique boost to a rigorously scientific and productive project like the Fishes of Texas, which is also so relevant to the biodiversity we all care so much about, is a real statement about the potential, and future, of technology and conservation.”

Download links:

About The Fishes of Texas Project

The Fishes of Texas Project, based in the University of Texas’ Biodiversity Collections’ Ichthyology Collection, addresses a long-needed effort to bring together in one database the worldwide museum holdings on the fish species of Texas (currently from 42 institutions and counting). These specimen-based data are the highest quality available, since they are verifiable via specimens and original documentation. Until this project, museum data has only been disparate, incompatible and, sometimes, completely inaccessible. The database includes well over 124,000 records collected between 1851 and 2010 by nearly 6,000 collectors. Project staff have visited and received specimen loans from over half of the project’s data contributors, enabling examination of over 4,000 museum specimens. Gulf of Mexico records and almost 19,000 inland records from neighboring Mexican and U.S. states are also included.

These efforts have already resulted in the discovery of 31 species occurrences in locations where they were previously not believed to occur, as well as 3 entirely new species for the state. Those data are now available on the FoTX website (, where users can query and download the data, view interactive maps, and access the extensive digital library of field notes, specimen imagery and derived products. Users are encouraged to upload images and field notes of their own, and comment on the data to help continue improving the data.

These models and data products are being used in various ways, including projecting the impacts of climate change on fish distributions, finding and addressing knowledge gaps, exploring new ways to perform bioassessment, and comprehensive conservation planning. These data serve as a solid base for decision-making regarding regulation and conservation.

About FishBrain

FishBrain is the world’s biggest and fastest growing social network and mobile app for the world’s biggest hobby – sport fishing. FishBrain helps anglers globally catch more and bigger fish and share their experiences.

In 2014, FishBrain closed a $2.4m funding round lead by Northzone and Active Venture Partners, and has also received investment from other companies including GP Bullhound, Edastra Venture Capital, Umando, Almi Invest and Industrifonden. Additional investors include high profile entrepreneurs and business angels including Mattias Miksche, Founder and CEO of Stardoll; Rikard Steiber, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at MTG and former global marketing director of mobile and social advertising at Google; Hans Lindroth, CEO of Lingfield; Henrik Torstensson, CEO of Lifesum who previously held leading roles at Spotify and Stardoll; and Mathias Ackermand, business angel and former Founder and CFO of Transmode.

FishBrain has achieved widespread recognition, having won several awards including Slush in Helsinki in 2012, MTGx Google Glass Hackathon in San Francisco in 2013 and Seedcamp Berlin in 2013.

Johan Attby, CEO of FishBrain is an experienced serial entrepreneur, and previously founded Tific, a software company which was acquired by technology services solutions company PlumChoice Inc in 2011.

For media enquiries

Please contact Benjamin Webb / Nicholas Baines at Deliberate PR /

Tel: 0044 207 221 1540 / Mob: 0044 7930 408 224



Fishing Life: Bass Pro John Hunter's Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Young Anglers

This is part of a multi-part series about pro bass angler John Hunter. 

(1 minute to read)

JB: What are the top three pieces of advice you’d give to a young angler getting into the sport?

JH: A lot of kids think it’s okay to skip college because they want to fish professionally. And my first advice would be, Go to school. I went to school first. That was my number one priority - get an education. I was a Cum Laude graduate with a finance degree, and I always have that if fishing doesn’t work out. 

Fishing isn’t always going to work out. You’ve got to be ready to fall back on something else and support yourself and the ones around you with your education. And now it’s great - education and fishing are possible at the same time, because college and high school fishing are so huge. Some schools are also giving fishing scholarships. 

School makes you a better writer, a better speaker, a more educated person. That’s important.


My next piece of advice is to get time on the water. It might not be possible for everybody, because not everybody has access to a boat, but everyone has a rod and a reel and a pond nearby. Just do what you have to do to get time on the water and experience. 

You need to be a student of the sport. Subscribe to Bassmaster magazine. Get on your Fishbrain app every day. Watch the TV shows about fishing. That’s what really teaches you, seeing how other people are catching fish. You have to be ready to learn from anybody, whether it’s something you should or shouldn’t do. 

[Content edited and condensed - Jesse Bastide]

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Fishing Life: Bass Pro John Hunter Talks Tournament Prep and 3 Qualities for Success

This is part of a multi-part series about pro bass angler John Hunter. 

(2 minutes to read)

JB: Talk me through how you prepare for a big tournament. 


JH: I can give you a brief look. For instance, I’m heading to the St. Johns river in Florida for the first Bassmaster Elite Series event. 

When I get there, we get two and a half days of Official Practice where we can fish before the tournament. 28 days prior to Official Practice, we’re not allowed to get on the water, get any information about it, talk to anybody about it, or get any information that’s not public. The water is completely off-limits to us.

For my own preparation, I went down to the St. Johns before the 28 day window started and rode around and checked out the body of water to get familiar with it. Now, when I go back for my two and a half days before the tournament, I’m ready to rock. I’ve got all my gear ready. I’ve done my research. I’ve checked out the tournament history online and talked to people. I know what to do as far as baits. The rest of the game is the regular Florida fishing thing. I’m going to go fish holes in the eelgrass. And most of the fish will be spawning, so it’ll probably be a tournament based around that. 

It’s crazy. You really have to plan ahead when you’re fishing these things full-time. It’s a lot of time in the truck and a lot of traveling, but it’s something you’ve got to do. 

JB: What makes you successful?

JH: I’d say it would be my competitive drive, my commitment, and my focus. 

Competition drives me. I want to win. I don’t want to be beat. And that’s what keeps my fire burning. 

I’m committed to fishing. I grew up doing it and I love it. I’m also committed to the sport, and to being great. I’m committed to my sponsors, and that’s an important thing; I’m committed to making them happy and working my butt off for them.

Focus is big. I’m thinking about fishing all the time. I guess that’s the way it should be. Out on the water, I can go from daylight to dark, and it feels like I blinked and the day is over. I try to have laser focus when I’m getting ready for a tournament. It’s like tunnel vision - all I can see is myself doing well. I keep that in my head.

[Content edited and condensed - Jesse Bastide]

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8 Required Skills to Cast Above the Mendoza Line

In baseball, a batting average of .200 is what is known as the “Mendoza Line” and is generally regarded to be the demarcation of acceptable and not acceptable hitting. There is some controversy as to whether it was named after Minnie Mendoza, or Mario Mendoza - both major league infielders, both unremarkable hitters. For our purposes, the term will describe the threshold of casting skills needed to reasonably expect success in a saltwater fly fishing situation.

Fishing Life: Bass Pro John Hunter's #1 Tip for a Stronger Mental Game

This is part of a multi-part series on pro bass angler John Hunter.

(2 minutes to read)

JB: When you’re fishing, how do you handle the unexpected?

JH: The cool thing about fishing is that it hardly ever goes the way you think it’s going to go and the way you want it to go. Which is another reason why I love it so much. It’s a game of unknowns. You’ve got to be prepared to change on the fly, change on the conditions. You’ve got to be ready to go, to move. You’ve got to be able to adapt at any time. 

But it’s also a game - you lose a lot more than you win. 

Take baseball -- you’re going to fail more than you’re going to succeed when you’re up at bat. A good batting average in the Big Leagues is .300. So you’re going to fail seven out of ten times. Fishing is probably right around that, too. You’re going to lose some. But it was really tough, particularly at the beginning of last year, which was my first year fishing professionally. I wasn’t working a lot and I was basically all in for a year to try and give it a go.

At the start of the year, I was 170th on Okeechobee in my first tournament in the Rayovac series. Then my next tournament was on a lake I was familiar with - I thought I was going to do really great. And I made a bunch of bad decisions as far as fishing goes, and I ended up finishing 152nd out of like 250. Those were some of the worst finishes I’ve had in my life. 

It’s hard not to get down, because you worked really hard to get where you’re at, and you’re chasing the dream, and you fall flat on your face. And it’s hard to keep the questions out of your head: Should I really be doing this? Is this meant for me? 

With fishing, you just have to bury those things and stay positive, because you never know - you might go out and win the next one. So last season, I tried to stay positive and have a short memory, and I didn’t miss a check the rest of the year.

You know, you’ll see guys get on this run, and it’s all about momentum. It’s just crazy. It’s like they can’t do any wrong. And that shows you how much of a mental game it is. Because when you’re hot, you’re hot. You’re in the zone. And when people get down, they get kind of in a slump.

It’s like a lot of things in life. It’s all upstairs in your head. 

JB: Where do you see the fishing life taking you? 

JH: What you just asked me is something I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Because I feel like the better vision I have of what I’m doing five years from now, the easier it will be to reach that. If I know where I want to be, who I want to be, and what I want to be doing, then I can start now, working my way to get there.

I would love to still be doing this. I think it’s a really great possibility. In order to do that, I’m going to have to catch some fish and keep my sponsors happy. I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be possible.

The competitive side of me wants to be the best there is. So in five years, I see myself being one of the top guys in the sport. That’s who I want to be. 

[Content edited and condensed - Jesse Bastide]

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Fishing Life: Bass Pro John Hunter Shares His Fishing Influences and 2 Heroes

Professional bass angler John Hunter talks about his fishing background and greatest influences growing up. This is one post in a multi-part series.

(3 minutes to read) 

JB: Who is John Hunter in a nutshell?


JH: I’ll just tell you a little bit of background story about me. I’m from Kentucky. I grew up playing multiple sports. I played three sports through most of high school, then narrowed it down to baseball near the end. 

I was always a super competitive kid growing up. Everything I ever participated in, I wanted to win. I was big into fishing as a kid, too. I was introduced to it around the age of ten years old. I had a family member, an uncle who took me fishing, and he let me catch a fish off the nest one day (It was a big one.) From then on, I was hooked. When I would come home from baseball practice, I would run to the pond.

I was fortunate to get into the tournament fishing, and to be able to fish in high school and college. 

As far as me as a person, in a nutshell -- man, on the water, I have a competitive drive. I think what drove it was playing sports when I was growing up. And that’s why I really like tournament fishing: It gives me a chance to go out and compete. 

JB: You’ve mentioned your dad and your uncle as heroes...

JH: They’re my role-models. I grew up watching them. They helped shape me into who I am. 

My dad isn’t big into fishing. Neither of my parents are. But the whole time, they’ve been very supportive. And I learned a lot of things from my dad other than fishing. 

My uncle Jimmy, I learned a lot of great things other than fishing from him, too. But he basically instilled the love for fishing in me. He presented the opportunity for me to take the next step.

Both Jimmy and my dad helped me realize that it was possible for me to be great and do the things that I’ve done. They were both super influential in my upbringing and in making me who I am today. 

JB: What’s one thing that your dad gave you or taught you that you’re grateful for?

JH: From my dad - my work ethic. My dad is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. He works his butt off. Always has. He came from nothing, and now he’s a successful part-owner and COO/CFO of a commercial construction company. He’s worked for anything he’s ever had. I’ve gotten the benefit from that growing up. And now that I’m older, I can really see and appreciate how hard he works, and he’s passed that on to me. 

Also, he’s really helped me on the business side of things. I got my numbers from him. Fishing isn’t a game of just catching fish; it’s a game of business, too. 

JB: Do you also work for your dad? 

JH: When I graduated from college in May of 2014, I went to work for my dad at Buffalo Construction, basically full-time. I was still wrapping up some college fishing that summer. I worked for him for eight or nine months. 

While I was working, I also spent my nights and weekends building my fishing presentations and sponsorship packets. That fall, around September, I told my dad that I really wanted to give this fishing thing a try and chase it professionally. 

Both my dad and my mom were super supportive. I was living at home, and they said, Yeah, go after it. We’re right behind you. 

So I said, “Awesome.” I called and emailed thousands of people that fall and got a good group of people to support me. Some awesome companies came forward to help me out for my rookie season: Texas Roadhouse, Fishbrain, Afterburner, and Buffalo Construction. That’s when I knew I’d be able to try it. 

My rookie year (2015), I went out and had a dream year.

Although, maybe it wasn’t quite a dream year from the beginning. It was kind of funny - it started off terrible. My first two tournaments were awful. But the rest of the year was just great. I gave it a chance and it worked out for me. And now I’m doing it full-time, and that’s pretty neat.

[Content edited and condensed - Jesse Bastide]

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Fishing Life: Surviving PTSD by Getting Outside

It took me ten years to be able to talk about what little I talk about. The daily struggles are very real, but I keep moving forward. I try not to get hung up and spin my wheels. I have to keep doing things, I have to keep fishing and bowhunting. The alternative is sitting and dwelling on the bad, and that's how guys end up pulling that trigger - Mike Wooten, Veteran (Iraq)

Trip Report: This is What Hooking a Massive Marlin Feels Like

The reel’s drag began to scream for what seemed to be several minutes. Most of the line that Harry had worked so hard to retrieve was now back in the water after the fish made a long run. But Harry continued to fight the fish, pulling back hard on the rod each time to gain line, only to lose half that much again as the fish resisted. -Chris Day