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Catch and Release Fishing
Catch and release fishing is gaining
in popularity, which is good news for our fisheries. Catch
and release angling is one of the most important tools that
recreational anglers can use to preserve and manage a fishery.
If you intend to release the fish
that you catch, there are important steps you can take to
improve your chances of releasing a fish that will live another
Landing the Fish. Over-exertion, exhaustion
will kill many of the fish you release, so use common sense.
Using extremely light tackle will prolong the fight and delay
the landing of your catch, and in certain conditions it can
result in death to the fish. The first key to proper release
is to play the fish quickly.
Landing the fish can also cause
physical stress to the fish. A big nylon net with large-string
netting can become caught in the gills of a fish and cause
serious physical damage. This damage often results in a dead
fish. Use a catch and release net made of a fine cotton mesh.
Using it will vastly improve the chances of survival for
Not using a net at all is the
altogether best choice as long as you keep the fish in the
water. Many anglers lift the fish out of the water. This
action simply deprives the fish of water and oxygen. A fish
can only breath when it is in the water. The less time out
of the water for the fish, the better. Ideally the fish should
never leave the water. If you want to photograph your catch,
have the camera ready and minimize the time that the fish
is out of the water.
Releasing the Fish. Use care and
be gentle when touching a fish. Don't squeeze the fish to
get a good grip, you'll traumatize the fish by crushing its
internal organs and by removing its protective slime coating.
This outer slime coating prevents disease and is essential
for the fish's health.
Always keep your fingers out of
the fish's mouth and gills, and use needle-nose pliers to
remove embedded hooks. Turning a fish upside down sometimes
calms it and makes for an easier release.
Fish with barbless hooks or with
crushed barbs whenever possible. There are three obvious
advantages to using barbless hooks:
1. If you hook yourself at all,
the hook will come out without you having to visit the emergency
2. You will hook your fish easier
because a barbless hook penetrates a fish's mouth better
than a barbed hook.
3. Barbless hooks are much easier
to remove from a fish's mouth, so you release the fish quicker.
If the fish swallows your hook,
cut the line as close to the mouth as possible without causing
injury to the fish. The hook will dissolve quickly, provided
you are not using stainless steel hooks. If you're really
serious about catch and release, don't use stainless steel
hooks unless they give a real advantage for your type of
Finally, you will need to release
the fish. While gently holding the fish's tail and supporting
its underbelly, guide it through the water to exercise its
gills. Face the fish into the current so that it can control
it's breathing. The fish will usually swim away when it is