Are you a professional photographer? Are you making money by taking photos of your "trophies" that are smaller than most of the fish being caught round the world? Most people are not, and that vast majority of us anglers have very few reasons to leave a fish gasping for air on a bank while we try to set up a tripod and point and shoot camera for a moment we're not prepared to capture. There are many different perspectives out there.
"A fish can be out of the water for 30 seconds before harmful effects take place."
"You have about 10 seconds to get the fish back in the water."
"Four seconds...that's all it takes."
Fish are different from people in many ways. Their gills might offer the most significant difference between our species, but the operation of gills (and the service they provide a fish) are too often misunderstood by anglers of all skill levels. Keeping them wet...ALL THE TIME, is the only way to ensure any unnecessary suffering or damage to a fish. Raising them quickly from the water for 2-4 seconds is a must for many photo opportunities, but the realities of picture taking usually do not allow that to happen. There's a better way to get that photo on the water...take it from video.
Hear us out. Video quality and cost are no longer correlated to a point where you must pay too much for a camera that takes great video. A waterproof camera will not only take high def video and a great snapshot from the editing table, but it will give you the piece of mind knowing you can set it on the bank for a quick fish video without worrying about it falling in or getting wet. With the fish in the net you are able to start the video while leaving the fish in the water. When you are ready to set up for "the shot", lift the fish and release the fish. It's that simple. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It's understandable that a professional photog will need something more, so they'll be fishing with a buddy. Using video to get your fishing still shots is for those solitary explorers who want to capture a moment without a soul within a 50 mile radius. And it's effectiveness will not only save you time on the water, it will save fish and still produce some fine photos for your social media feeds. Sure, there may be the occasional water spot on the lens that will show up on your image. What's so bad about that? I say it adds a bit of authenticity to an always perfect, photoshopped, filtered world of photos.
Of course it would be great to have the skills of some professional photogs. We admire what they can do with a camera and enjoy their work often. For now, though, it's ok to be proud to say you've released a fish in under 10 seconds and still have a great photo to show for it. Be content preserving the memories of great adventures and fish encounters one video at a time.