Catch & Release Practices

c&r

Catch and release is an essential part of sustaining one of our favorite and yet fragile local resources.  I cant tell you how many times that I have been out fishing and seen other anglers that keep everything they catch, no matter the size. I for one keep fish for the table but also practice catch and release.

The benefits of proper catch and release is vital to the future of a number of important fisheries around the country as it is a means of preserving and enhancing the fish populations.

Some simple and effective tips for Catch and Release:

    • Use barbless hooks: Fish are most easily unhooked from barbless fishing hooks. Hooks can be purchased as barbless or the barb can be pinched down rendering them barbless. Depending on the size of the hook, you can pinch down the barb using needle nose pliers.
    • Use circle hooks. Another hook type that can be used in catch and release is the circle hook. Rarely resulting in deep hooking, fish caught on circle hooks are generally hooked in the mouth, and can be easily and effectively released. In-line circle hooks are generally preferred.
    • Minimize handling. The less you handle, touch or hold the fish the better. Ideally, it’s best to leave the fish in the water and not to handle it at all, but sometimes you will need to handle a fish. There are a number of tools that allow you to catch, hold and release fish with minimal handling.
    • Watch the gills and eyes. Gills are fishes’ means of breathing. Be particularly mindful of preventing any contact with the gills to assure the successful release of the fish you catch.
    • Hold the fish horizontally, rather than vertically, if you do first want to take a photo of your catch. Support its midsection from the bottom with one hand, while using the other hand to gently yet firmly grip its lip or hold its head from the bottom.
    • Deep hooked fish. Occasionally, especially when using bait, fish are hooked so deep that hook removal will damage the fish. In these instances, the fish may be best served by cutting the line as close to the mouth as possible. Most hooks will dissolve or dislodge enabling successful release.
    • Wet your hands first. If you do handle a fish, and you do it with dry hands, it can cause some of the protective coating (“slime”) on the fish’s skin to come off. This coating is designed to protect fish from disease. Wet hands reduce this risk and can actually make it a little easier to handle your catch. Some anglers prefer soft wet gloves.
    • Take photos as quickly as possible. The practice of catch-photo-release is a good one, it’s our favorite kind of “CPR.” But photos should be taken quickly and with minimum impact to the fish.

All fish are a part of the ecosystems in which they live, and all entertain us with a battle when caught. Lets preserve and save their habitats so that future anglers can enjoy the same joy and experiences that we get too.

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