Any good fisherman should know how to reel in a fish and then release it unharmed. Practicing catch and release is an important part of fisheries conservation, and, nowadays, most fish species have regulations governing the size and number of fish you can catch. Here are some tips on how to safely release a fish.
- Use appropriate tackle. The longer a fish fights, the more exhausted it becomes, decreasing its chances of survival. And if your tackle is too light, it will prolong the battle. Using the right tackle will help you land your catch quickly.
- 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, rather than lodging in a fish’s stomach or gills.
- Use single hooks with lures. A single hook on an artificial lure usually causes 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 fish in the water. Keeping a fish in the water keeps its skin moist and provides its gills with oxygen. 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 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.