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First of all try not to take the fish out of the water .Try not to touch the fish if at all possible. Reach down and remove the hook with a proper fish removing tool (Pliers,Hemostat etc.) and let the fish swim away. Leaving the fish in the water is by far the best way to increase its chances of survival. That said here are some tips for Catching, Handling and Releasing fish that should help decrease the mortality rate of fish catch.
What gear to use
- Use circle hooks as they decrease the chance of hooking fish deeply.
- Use barbless hooks.They are easier to remove and aid in reducing handling time as well.
- Use a catch and release style of net. It should be knotless and be made of a less abrasive material, preferably soft rubber.
- Ensure you use proper sized gear for the species you are targeting. This will prevent line breaking and reduce playing time.
- Don’t use stainless steel fish hooks. They take to long to dissolve.
Catching and Handling
- Retrieved fish as quickly as possible to help prevent the amount of stress placed on the fish.
- Handle the fish as little as possible again trying to minimize the stress placed on the fish.
- Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
- Don’t put your fingers through gills of the fish.
- Hold fish horizontally and be sure to support its body avoiding damage to the internal organs.
- Make sure you use wet hands or even wet cloth gloves when handling fish.
- Use Hemostats or Pliers to quickly remove the hook trying to keep the fish in the water when you do it.
How to Avoid Escapes
- Keep the line tight at all times while fighting the fish
- Equip lures with split rings
- Use re-curved point or “triple grip”-style hooks on lures
- In rivers hold the fish upright facing the current.
- In still water gently move the fish back and forth in the water.
- When gill movements return to normal and it begins to struggle, let it swim away.\
These are some basic tips when it comes to catch and release fishing. If you fish for recreational purposes i suggest that you only practice this form of fishing as it maintains balance in the environment and it doesn’t pose any threat to the oceans or lakes.