When anyone starts fishing there is always the pressure to catch a fish, be it a trout, bass or salmon; and obviously that is the main point of the whole exercise. However when your fishing begins to turn into a sport, when the whole experience goes beyond the actual "catching" of your fish (and the first one will always remain embedded in your mind), then you begin to enjoy and appreciate many other things. One of these things is releasing a fish you have just caught.
There are many places where the fishing is exclusively catch and release, and at first sight it sounds simple enough. You cast your lure, the fish is hooked, you reel it in, remove the hook and let it go. As if things were that simple.
So the first thing you should be aware of is why "release" at all. The main reason is to help keep the stock levels of that species in the river or lake and an integral part of that is so that it can reproduce and multiply. A hurt or damaged fish has a limited future.
As an angler you should be able to release your catch with the least possible impact on it so that it not only survives, but thrives.
Here are 5 Tips to help you increase your "catch and release" technique.
The first one will be during the catch, the others after.
1. You should aim to catch your fish as quickly as possible. The longer the struggle the more tired your fish will be and exhaustion will limit its ability to recover. So your play and the time involved in the release should be short.
2. Remove the hook (preferably a single barb less hook) while your fish is still in the water. This has some advantages for the fish. First and foremost you haven't removed it from its natural habitat.
3. There are times when it is impossible to keep it in the water so make sure before you touch it, that your hands are wet. Avoid holding it with dry hands. Dry hands will hurt its skin that is covered with its own oils and at water temperature. Otherwise after release it runs the risk of fungi.
4. Treat it gently and softly. A strong grip, but without applying pressure as you can cause internal damage. Avoid the gills and eye sockets.
5. Try and hold it against the current so that the water flows through it gills. Many times the fish will be unconscious, so after removing the hook, move it back and forth so it can breathe. You will notice immediately it reacts so don't abandon it until it has reacted.
Fishing is a sport and so sportsman like conduct should be applied to all those involved, large and small, family and other animals. A good release technique will preserve our sport and teach others some of the simple but good things in life.
One of my passions has been fishing and these posts and articles are the result of some of the things I have shared with my children. Another of my fishing related sites provides sources for fishing tackle boxes and fishing backpacks (as well as other fishing accessories).