Catch-and-Release Best Practices
Regardless of whether you’re a regular practitioner of catch-and-release fishing, or an angler who needs to throw back a catch because of size/species regulations, knowing the best practices will come in handy. Fish need to be handled in a certain way so as to not damage them when sending them back to the water.
When handling a fish, make sure your hands are wet to preserve the fish’s natural protective coating. Release the fish into the water only when it appears strong enough. If it looks tired, position the fish against the current to help water circulate through its gills, or rotate it in a figure-eight pattern in still water. Avoid holding the fish by the mouth with one hand only. Instead, use your other hand to support the body and take pressure off the lower lip.
Tips for Hooks and Hook Removal:
- Use J-hooks or circle hooks when practicing catch-and-release; never treble hooks.
- De-barb your hooks using a set of pliers for easier removal later on.
- Have a tool handy, such as pliers, to quickly remove the hook from the fish.
- Never remove the hook through the gills.
- If the hook is hooked deep inside the fish, simply cut the line rather than removing it. It will eventually rust away.
To avoid the occurrence of barotraumas – when the fish’s swim bladder over-inflates due to being pulled rapidly to the surface – avoid fishing in deep waters when practicing catch-and-release. For more information on catch-and-release fishing and which species to target, see more details here.
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