Joe Myers commentary: Tips to love fishing while not cleaning the mess

There's a widely used fishing technique introduced in Michigan in 1952 which makes it possible for those of us who love to fish but hate the mess, making fishing more enjoyable. It's called catch and release.

This technique makes it possible for non-fish cleaners to enjoy the sport they love while avoiding the gutsy mess of fish cleaning. Conservationists praise this method, as it provides for sustainability in the fishery and prevents overfishing certain species out of existence.

Here are a few tips of catch and release for the novice angler:

[BR Folio dot] Try not to net the fish. This removes that slimy coating on the fish that we all love. If you do get the "big one" you've been waiting for and need a net, use a net with a neoprene bag.

[BR Folio dot] Beginners may need to use a barbless hook. This decreases the potential of injury to the fish's mouth. Flattening the barbs on a hook may also be a good idea for easier removal of the hook.

[BR Folio dot] Don't keep the fish out of the water for a prolonged amount of time. Try holding your breath while you release the fish. If you keep it out of the water longer than you can hold your breath, you may need to speed up the process.

[BR Folio dot] Keep a pair of needle-nosed pliers handy for hook removal. Keeping your hands away from a sharp hook while handling a flopping fish is a good idea for beginners or young anglers.

[BR Folio dot] There is only one way to deal with the dreaded swallowing of the hook: Cut the line and release. Don't pull on the hook. The hook will dissolve over time and give the fish a better chance at survival.

So, load up the family and maybe even your wife and head out to your favorite fishing hole. Catch and release, then treat them all to a big fish dinner at your favorite restaurant instead of dealing with the mess.

Give 2 Wildlife

If you haven't filled out your taxes yet, listen to how you can help wildlife in Georgia.

Conservation of non-game wildlife in this state -- from loggerhead sea turtles to golden-winged warblers -- as well as native plants and natural habitats is supported largely by the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund. In turn, that fund depends on public contributions.

One main source of contributions is the Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff, also called the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff. You can give as little as $2 and still be helping conserve rare wildlife and plant species.

The checkoff and the Wildlife Conservation Fund have been part of Georgia's biggest success stories, including the rebound of bald eagles and the acquisition of thousands of acres of natural habitat along the Altamaha River. More than 1,000 Georgia plant and animal species listed as species of conservation concern, so consider giving to wildlife this tax season.

To help out, just fill in $2 or more on line 26 of the state's long tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short

form (Form 500EZ).

Turkey Season

Don't forget that turkey season opens Saturday in Georgia, while in Alabama the season started March 15. In Alabama, the season ends April 30 and hunters are allowed to bag five birds between the fall and spring seasons. Meanwhile, Georgia's season lasts until May 15 and hunters can bag three gobblers per season.

Tournament Trail: There are several tournaments on tap for this weekend, including one multi-day event on Lake Seminole.

The FLW Everlast Series will be stopping at Lake Seminole for a tournament that runs Thursday-Saturday. The tournament starts from the Bainbridge launchpoint and for more information, call (270) 252-1000. Also on Lake Seminole, there will be a Southeast Individual division tournament starting off the Big Jim's launchpoint Saturday morning. For more information on that tournament, call Wes Meadows at (229) 416-5661.

Then on Sunday, there's two tournaments to choose from. The Georgia Team trail will be at Seminole launching from the Big Jim's launchpoint. If you want more information on that tournament, call Meadows at (229) 416-5661.

Or you can fish in the American Bass Anglers American Fishing Tour Division 114 tournament that launches from the Seminole Lodge launchpoint. To get more information, call Mitchell Oldnettle at (850) 376-2628.

Over at Lake Eufaula, the ABA-AFT Division 12 trail will hold a tournament Saturday starting from the Lakepoint launchpoint. To register or get more information, call Deacon Collins at (404) 862-4233.

-- Joseph Myers is an independent correspondent. Contact him at Lecia Laney contributed to this report.