The ability to catch a fish and release it unharmed is an important skill for any angler. Most fish species have rules and regulations on the size and number of fish you can catch, and practicing catch and release is important for fisheries conservation. Here are a few tips on how to quickly and safely release a caught fish.
Use Appropriate Tackle
The longer a fish fights, the more exhausted it becomes, decreasing its chances of survival. Land your catch quickly by using the right tackle. If your tackle is too light, it will prolong the battle.
Use Circle Hooks with Bait
Using circle hooks with natural bait reduces fish deaths because the design allows the hook to slide out of the fish’s throat and lock around the jaw hinge as the line tightens. This is much better than other styles of hooks that often lodge in a fish’s stomach or gills.
Use Single Hooks with Lures
A single hook on an artificial lure generally causes significantly less damage to a fish than a plug with multiple treble hooks. And a single hook makes it easier to release your catch.
Keep Your Catch in the Water
Keeping a fish in the water keeps its skin moist and provides its gills with oxygen. It also avoids injuries from being hoisted aboard or dropped on deck. If you must remove it from the water, make sure your hands are wet, as dry hands can remove a fish’s protective mucous coating.
Don’t Use a Net
A stiff, scratchy fishing net can also remove a fish’s protective mucous coating, as well as scales. And a net increases the chances your fish will get tangled. If you must use one, avoid nylon nets. Use a shallow net specifically designed for catch and release.