By Montana Grant

Posted: June 19, 2021

Recently I read a report about how Tournament Anglers are trying to preserve caught fish with bleeding gills. In a Catch and Release scenario, no one wants the fish to bleed to death. Gill bleeding is often a challenge for bait, nymph, and treble hook fishermen.

Anyway, someone came up with the idea to pour Mountain Dew, or other carbonated sodas, over the fish’s gills to encourage the bleeding to stop. Pike and Muskie Anglers have taken a shine to this trick.

A recent study took a closer look at this practice. The University of Manitoba and the University of Massachusetts published their findings recently in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

They found that there is NO benefit to the use of carbonated beverages to stop bleeding. To test this concept, they worked with Pike, under warmer water conditions, and cut a small 3/8th inch piece of the gill raker, causing it to bleed.

They tested 4 treatments. The fish was left in the lake water, carbonated lake water, Coca Cola, and Mountain Dew. These liquids were poured over the wound and the bleeding was timed until it stopped. 118 fish were tested and the average time for the bleeding to stop was 193 seconds.

No test liquid performed better than another. What was learned is that carbonation does cause blood vessels to constrict and slows the heart rate. This idea is at the root of helping bleeding to stop. The trauma of the wound does the same thing. There is no advantage of any liquid helping to stop the bleeding faster than just the water the fish is in.

What is most critical are the other Catch and Release techniques, and gear, that protect and prevent mortality. Always keep the fish in the water, use a rubber, wet net, do not squeeze or compress the fish’s body, cut the line if the hook is too deep, minimize any handling or photo time.

Mountain Dew is a perfect toast for after the fish is properly released.

Montana Grant

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