overheated muscles that break down in the course of a long fight. An exhausted fish has problems avoiding predators after release.
Each second you keep a fish out of water decreases its chance of survival. Holding a fish up for a picture may be a death sentence.
Fish have a protective outer layer of slime. Handling them with dry hands can remove that slime and leave them prone to infection. Don’t net the fish or lift them out of the water. Don’t hold them up for mug shots. Keep them submerged, reach over with a hook-out and set them free.
Gills are internal organs. Reaching into the gill plate to hoist a fish is not recommended. It can damage sensitive tissues.
Catch and Release the Right Way
• Pinch the barb on your hook flat so it’s easily removed. Start by using the right hook. Circle hooks are the ideal choice.
• Bring the fish to the boat as quickly as possible to avoid extreme exhaustion.
• Keep the fish in the water and resuscitate it. Handle the fish gently with wet hands or moist gloves. If you must net it, use a release net made of soft knotless fabric and keep the fish under water in the net. Don’t lift the fish up in the air or squeeze it. I know you want a picture before you let it go, but that photo-op may kill the model.
• If you plan to keep a fish for the table, let the hook-up decide what you kill. If a trophy size fish is hooked in the lip for an easy release – let it go. If smaller fish is bleeding – keep it.
• Fish responsibly by altering your method or your gear to minimize hooking mortality. That may mean going to circle hooks or setting the hook a little sooner. Put deeply hooked fish in your bag and release the fish with good survivable hookup. If we are responsible in our approach today, it will mean more fish in the future for everyone. Story by Angling UnLimited