Catch and release is a great way to enjoy fishing without taking a toll on the fish population. At least, it is as long as the fish get released back to the water properly.
During the warmer months, like July and August, it’s especially important to release fish right. In fact, how you catch them can affect their chances of survival, too. When the water temperatures start to rise, fish are less able to shake off the effects of being handled. Especially trout. Trout are cold-water fish, and the warmer the water, the lower their chances of survival after being caught.
Fish survival rates are higher when you use artificial lures, like flies and spinners, than when you use natural baits. They are more likely to swallow worms and minnows, so if you’re catching and releasing, maybe stick to the artificial lures. And when you hook a fish, get it to shore as quickly as possible. Don’t go for the long play. Just reel that sucker in.
Using a net makes it easier to release a fish gently. Catch the fish in the net, then make sure your hands are wet before you handle the fish. Don’t squeeze it, but hold it firmly. You can hold it through the net to get a better grip. Another tool that helps with catch and release is a pair of hemostats. Use these long, thin pliers to grasp the hook, and pull it backward to free it from the fish’s mouth.
If you want photos with the fish, be ready with the camera. Snap a quick picture once you get the fish unhooked, then get the fish back in the water. Hold it upright by the tail, and gently move it forward and backward in clear water to help it get fresh water over its gills. Once it’s strong enough, let it go.
Catch and release right in order to keep the fish populations strong.