Catch and Release Fishing

Fishing for cold water game fish species can be very stressful to the fish. It can possibly kill them.  Since the fish are adapted for cold, clean water, many things, such as chemicals on your hand, being out in the sun, of even overheating from your hand, can easily kill them. That is why it is vital to follow these tips when fishing for cold water species.

1. Cutting the line sometimes is needed when it is not possible to remove the hook without harming the fish, Only a small piece of line should be left on the hook to ease passage through the digestive system. Research has documented that cutting the line can greatly increase the survival of deeply hooked fish. Also, research has found that the majority of hooked fish will throw off their hook after release. When you are trying to get the hook out, you may rupture vital organs, damage the slime coat, or just plainly overstress the fish. If the hook can’t be removed, don’t do it!

2. Do not handle fish by placing your fingers in the gill slits! Fish gill filaments are very sensitive and can easily be injured. Trout in particular are very sensitive to this. Fish should be handled by cradling the fish near the head and tail if possible, or by gently holding the fish near the mid-section. If the fish is not to be harvested, don’t do this.

3. Try to land your fish as quickly as possible and don’t play the fish too much. This is particularly important when fishing for trout in periods of warmer water temperatures), but it is also true for  other cold water species when water temperatures are relatively high (greater than 80 degrees F). Also, lactic acid may build up inside the fish, causing more stress and harm.  If it takes you a long time to land fish, your drag may be set too loosely or your gear may be too light for the fish you are catching. Also, the fish has more time to throw off the hook.Above: Handling a fish.

4. Using a fine-mesh landing net may aid in reducing the amount of time required to land a fish and keep it from thrashing about, possibly causing damage to itself. Also, during this time, your fish may throw off the hook, and you would have lost a prized fish.

5. Wet your hands, your net, and other materials that may come in contact with the fish before your land it. Wet hands make the damage to the vital mucus of the fish less severe. Also, if the fish is not for the table, do not se a towel!

6. Keep the fish in the water. It is best to remove the hook from a fish you intend to release without taking it out of the water. Either that, or you minimize the time the fish is out of the water.  Try not to envelope the fish with your hands, either. You may have chemicals on your hands that irritate the fish, or you are damaging the mucus coat. You can even overheat smaller trout and other fish with your hands,

7. If you can, try not to use barbed hooks. Barbless hooks can help with the quick removal of the hook from a fish and also reduce the risk of hooking injuries to the angler. Pinching down the barb with needle-nose pliers works to do that. However, the fish can throw off the hook easier.

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