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Fish Handling and Catch & Release Tips
General Tips for Handling and Releasing Fish:
- Fish that you don't intend to keep or fish that are smaller
than the legal length should be released immediately and gently.
- Keep the fight time to a minimum, and play the fish to hand as quickly as
- Use a knotless catch and release net, or better yet, no net at all.
- Whenever possible, remove the hook without touching the fish.
- Avoid handling fish excessively. The mucous covering the fish's
body should be protected because it prevents infection. If you must handle the fish,
wet your hands before touching it, and support it carefully.
- Keep handling to an absolute minimum, and be gentle. Hold fish firmly. A fish
dropped on the ground or in a boat has a poor chance for recovery.
- Grasp large-mouthed fishes by the lower jaw with thumb and forefinger and
let it hang vertically so as not to damage the cartilage in its jaw.
Grab smaller fishes with your hand around the mid-section.
Fish with teeth may be handled by grasping them across the gill covers. Once again,
If you must handle the fish, wet your hands before touching it.
- Never put your fingers in the gills or eye sockets.
- Every angler should carry a hook disgorger or needlenose pliers.
Back the hooks out if possible.
- Never pull a hook from the fish's throat or stomach. It is better
to cut the line. Many hooks will rust away.
- Use Use only barbless hooks or hooks with barbs squeezed shut if you intend to
release all fish or if you like additional challenge. Also, these hooks are easier
to set and easier to remove, causing far less tissue damage than barbed hooks.
- If you need to shoot photos, or weigh or tape the fish, do it quickly and
gently, and get the fish back in the water immediately.
- Revive the fish thoroughly before releasing it. In moving water, point fish
into current to force water through the gills. If you're in stillwater gently slide
it back and forth to force water through the gills. When the fish tries to swim off,
it's probably ready.
NOTE: Keep water temperature in mind. The warmer the water, the more stress on
the fish. It becomes even more important to keep them in the water at all