Every angler should be prepared to release some of their catch. Whether you are practicing catch and release by choice or to comply with regulations, it is necessary to release the fish quickly. Follow these simple tips to give the fish you release the best chance for survival.
Use barbless hooks
Barbless hooks are much easier to remove – this helps reduce damage to the fish and minimizes the time the fish is out of the water. Hooks can be purchased as barbless or you can pinch down the barb with needle-nose pliers.
Play the fish quickly
Land the fish quickly and handle it as little as possible. The less you handle, touch or hold the fish the better.
Keep the fish in the water
It’s best to leave the fish in water while you unhook it.
Wet your hands
The slime on the fish protects it from disease, so be careful not to wipe it off. Wet your hands before handling the fish – this reduces the chances you will remove the slime coating.
Remove hooks quickly
Use either needle-nose pliers to gently remove the hook from the fish’s mouth.
Cut the line
If the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line as close as possible the fish’s mouth and leave the hook. Research has documented that cutting the line can greatly increase the survival of deeply hooked fish.
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