SGF's Best Shots photo contest has been running since 2007, and continues in 2012 with sponsorship by StingRay Tackle.
Besides sharing the thrill of fishing, the contest encourages practices that 'increase release survival'.
Anglers release 90% of all the fish they catch, but estimates of release mortality (death of released fish due to predation, injury or other causes), are estimated to be as high as 50% in some studies.
As research progresses, verification of what increases release survival is becoming more precise. A recent study on bonefish showed that time spent out of the water is more significant than other factors, even hook location. One recommendation from this study was to keep fish out of the water less than 15 seconds. So what about taking photos now?
Steve Goethel gets a good shot easing the fish into a release.
Anglers are becoming more creative with ways to take a quick shot. The 'quick lift', where your buddy takes the shot on the count of 3 while you lift it out of the water, is one way to do it.
A shot with the fish half out of the water is another.
Beautiful results such as Sam Root's (below). taken with underwater cameras, may become the standard. Also see Jason Stock's work with GoPro (Video below.)
As we continue the Best Shots Contest this year we will occasionally publish harvested fish shots - this is because SGF is now collecting data on more than 100 species of fish, many of which are open for harvest year round.
As in the past, logging your fish (in AnglerAction.org database), and membership in the Snook & Gamefish Foundation will result in extra goodies sent your way when you submit fish photos.
Sam Root (Salty Shores) snaps underwater pics of many of his catches.Special Thanks to StingRay Tackle's Debbie and Ray Lorenzen for their faithful sponsorship of this program. Please be sure to visit their online store as well as their location in Jupiter, FL
Anglers in the Best Shots photo contest are encouraged to exemplify safe gamefish handling techniques with their photos and stories, and we've had many opportunities to discuss, and learn more about what is best for handling various species.
Thanks to widespread understanding of the damage that can result from hanging species such as snook by the jaw, we've seen a shift in the standard fish pose from a vertical hoist to a horizontal display. (here's an older article showing what we're talking about) It will be interesting to see the evolution of the the catch photo standard in the coming years.
Tight Lines and Quick Shots!