How to Safely Catch and Release Fish
It’s a thrill when you reel in a fish, and can also be thrilling to successfully release the same fish. By releasing your catch, you’re doing your part to protect fish populations that anglers hold so dear. Knowing how to do so properly is an important skill that every angler should have. Here are a few tips to make your catch-and-release experience a smooth one.
- Use the right gear. Your tackle must be strong enough to reel in your catch quickly. Fish can become exhausted if they fight for too long, increasing their chances of dying. Also, using barbless hooks makes removal easier and decreases the chance of injuring your catch.
- Move fast. The longer a fish is hooked and handled, the higher its chances of being injured or stressed and possibly dying. Try to release your catch immediately.
- Keep the fish wet. Your fish should be kept in the water as much as possible. That allows oxygen to flow to its gills and keeps its skin moist.
- Handle with care. Dry hands and abrasive fishing nets can scrape away fish’s scales and mucus coating, which it needs for swimming and fighting infection. Keep your hands wet when handling your catch, and avoid using nets, which can tangle and injure fish.
- Go headfirst. Releasing your fish headfirst into the water helps resuscitate it by forcing water through its mouth and over its gills.