There are several lakes and rivers in the U.S. that have catch and release regulations. Catch and release is very important for the conservation of our fisheries. Here are a few catch and release tips and techniques…
1. Water Conditions - Be sure to avoid stressful water conditions for the fish. These include extreme low flows and high water temperatures.
2. Fishing Tackle - Certain fish require certain hooks, bait, and lines. Using the proper size hooks and lures for the type of fish you are targeting will make for easier hook removal. If possible, refrain from using scents that tempt the fish to swallow a hook. Be sure to follow local regulations; in some areas it may be illegal to use certain kinds of bait.
3. Catching and Landing the Fish - Make sure to be quick when trying to land your catch. It is possible for a fish to exhaust itself, so land it as quickly as possible, then release the fish quickly as well.
4. Handling Your Catch - Always handle the fish carefully to avoid injuring it. Make sure to keep it wet and calm. When the fish is out of the water, it causes stress, suffocation, and possible injury. Treat the fish gently, don’t squeeze tightly. This can cause damage to internal organs and muscle tissue. Always try to use wet hands to handle a fish.
5. Removing the Hook - Make sure to have the proper tools to make for quick and safe hook removal. Holding the fish upside down or in the water when removing the hook will help. It will keep the fish calm so the hook is easier to remove.
6. Cut hooks that are too hard to remove - When a fish is hooked in the gills or deep in the throat it is safer to just cut the hooks off with a hook cutter to avoid causing too much damage.
7. Releasing your Fish - Before releasing the fish, let it make a full recovery. Hold it underwater, and you should see the gills opening and closing. Then hold it underwater just low enough to let it catch its breath, and let it swim away on its own. It is very important to our fisheries that we treat fish carefully and don’t harm them while we are about to release them back into the water. When you catch one, reel it in, unhook it, snap a few pictures, and quickly release it back into the water.
Till next time, see you outdoors!