So, you want to participate in catch and release fishing. Although it sounds like a simple concept, there are some points to remember when catching and releasing, to ensure the highest chance of fish survival. Since the main idea behind catch and release fishing is the conservation of native fish, it is important that we, as anglers, do everything possible to keep the fish alive.
Points to Remember when Catch and Release Fishing:
1. Tackle: Use proper equipment. You will want to make sure you are using artificial lures; a rod, reel and line of ample strength, to decrease struggle time; and use the right sized single circle or barbless hooks.
2. Landing the Fish: Stay away from playing with the fish for too long, the longer the fish is “played” with, the more lactic acid that builds up and decreases survival rates. Use a landing net, which will help avoid injury and stress to the fish.
3. Handling the Catch: Once the fish is on your hook, try to keep the fish in the water and avoid letting the fish “thrash” around. You will want to make sure that your hands are wet while handle the fish, while properly supporting it. Avoid squeezing the fish or touching their gills.
4. Removing the Hook: While removing the hook, try to keep the fish wet and calm. The best tools to use for removing the hook are needle-nosed pliers or hemostats. If necessary, leave the hook.
5. Reviving the Catch: Don’t release the fish too early. Wait until the catch is revived and when releasing, make sure you send the fish with the water’s current.
Source: National Park Service