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Catching fish is one of life's greatest joys.
But, if we are careless with how we catch and release, it won't always be.
Using responsible C&R techniques, you can help increase the fish's odds of survival dramatically. This not only allows them to breed and spawn more offspring but also allows them to grow bigger.
And if there is one thing we can all agree on with it come to fishing:
We want to catch BIGGER fish!
9 Catch and Release Tips You Need to Take to Heart
Practicing C&R isn't even all that hard, and certainly, won't make fishing any less fun. Instead, use these easy to follow guidelines to master catch and release!
Use barbless hooks
Using the right hook is the quickest way keep fish from dying after release. Either buy barbless hooks or pinch the barb on your hook down.
Land the fish quickly
When a fish tries to avoid capture, physiological changes occur. And after 2-3 minutes, plasma cortisol levels increase to an unsafe level. Studies show up to 89% of exhausted fish die, so reel them in quick!
Don’t damage the fish’s slime
Fish have a slime coat that protects them from infection. Prevent damaging this coat by handling the fish with wet hands, a knotless rubber net, or fishing gloves. If possible, don’t even take the fish out of the water to dehook.
Don’t hold the fish by the jaw!
Holding a fish by the jaw puts an enormous amount of stress on the fish. Always hold the fish horizontally and don’t drop the fish on hard surfaces!
Don’t take pictures!
Survival decreases to 62% with air exposure of 30 seconds. So, keep air exposure to 15-20 seconds. If you must take pictures, have the camera ready before you take the fish from the water.
Avoid touching their eyes and gills
Keep your fingers away from the gills and eyes of the fish. These are sensitive areas that are easily damaged.
Use a Tool to remove a deep hook
Using fish hook removers keeps your hands off the fish. Greatly improving the odds of survival.
Resuscitate the fish
Don’t just throw the fish into the water. Instead, hold the fish horizontally in water. This allows water to move through their mouth and gills until the fish swims away.
Don’t throw a dead fish back in the water
Don’t try to hard to remove a hook; it will just kill the fish. If the hook is too deep, cut the fishing line close to the hook and release the fish. The fish will have a better chance of survival if you let the hook rust away.