OUTDOORS: Father’s Day brings out best gadgets

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 19, 2002


We sportsmen are suckers for gadgets. And believe me there are a lot of products out there for fishermen and hunters that fall into the gadget category.

Can someone please explain to me why everyday camping items double in price when they are camouflaged and actually become harder to find when misplaced in the woods? And exactly how useful is a waterproof carrying case for your waterproof hip boots or waders?

Father’s Day seems to bring out the best in gadgetry. But if you look hard enough you can avoid having to give dear old Dad the standby ugly neckties and underwear and truly come up with a gift that really will make his passion of fishing or hunting more effective, comfortable or safer.

Recently I came across one of those finds as rare as an albino 10 point that fulfills all three simultaneously – Berkley’s Big Game Lip Grip.

Do not let the name fool you it is really not a tool made only for those who fish tuna, wahoo and other bluewater species although it works equally as well for those. This is an item for inshore anglers as well.

Just glance at the LDWF and Federal fishing regulation pamphlets.

Aside from the conservation-minded, minimum sizes, maximum sizes, highly restrictive daily bag limits, outright closures for endangered or threatened species make anyone who fishes, by law, a candidate for catch and release.

The days of just throw ’em in the ice chest and we will sort it out later are long gone. Additionally the regulations mandate that fish to be released be handled in a non-harmful manner.

Body-gaffing a fish certainly defeats the purpose of live release. And believe me, we are not just releasing small fish these days.

Amberjacks must be 28 inches; lemonfish 36 and all but one per person of the common bull redfish more than 27 inches has to be live released. Keeping undersized fish alive and healthy and spines and teeth away from your body simultaneously is often not an easy deal!

Since even lip gaffing is not the best way to land and release fish that leaves nets. Nets are OK except that they are often too small for big fish and lines and hooks often get entangled in the webbing. Nets also do not immobilize fish allowing an easy hook removal.

It is also next to impossible to exercise the most effective release method – unhooking fish without removing it from the water. Time lost fooling around with nets can mean the difference of life or death for a released fish and less time spent fishing.

Safety during catch and release or even catch and keep is not just for the fish. Many of today’s popular baits are armed with three treble hooks sporting a total of nine barbed shanks. Keeping a big, slimy, writhing fish’s head from shaking with one hand while removing the hooks with the other can be risky business. Even small speckled trout caught on topwater baits can drive hooks into fingers, hands and other human body parts.

Photographing, tagging, measuring and weighing are all part of catch and release. Hoisting up a hefty, slippery snapper, grouper, drum or redfish for the camera often ends up a potential scene for a Three Stooges remake. Not to mention that even handling a fish with a wet towel will remove some of its mucous slime leaving it susceptible to bacterial infection.

Maintaining a solid grip that protects both the fish and the angler from harm has become more important than ever before.

The Big Game Lip Grip is the answer to all of the problems associated with landing and releasing all types of fish. It is a pretty simple concept and reminds me of those old ice block pincers you used to see around icehouses.

The Lip Grip is especially designed with saltwater anglers in mind. Made of a stainless steel to resist corrosion with rinsing after, it is designed to last for years. The solid handle opens and closes the heavy-duty pincers by sliding a collar with the fingers or thumb to lock onto the fish’s lower lip while never losing your grip.

There is even a handy little safety lanyard that loops around the wrist to keep from dropping it in the drink should it slip from the hand.

The Berkley Lip Grip is not a gadget but a very useful tool for today’s modern fishermen. If you have not yet found the right gift for Dad, you might consider one or give him a gift certificate or the cash to purchase one himself. They are distributed by Pure Fishing at a suggested retail of $34.95.

To find dealer locations call 800-237-5539 or visit www.berkleyfishing.com.

DON DUBUC is the outdoors reporter for L’Observateur.