Catch and Release
give fish released the best chance for survival, follow these recommended
guidelines (From the PA Fish and Boat Commission):
Use barbless hooks
(or pinch down the barbs with pliers)
Barbless hooks can facilitate 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.
Play fish quickly
Try to land your fish as quickly as possible and donít play the fish to
exhaustion. This is particularly important when fishing in periods of warmer
water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees F) Keep in mind that as water temperatures
warm, dissolved oxygen levels in the water decline. Therefore, fish are
subject to stress and exhaustion in a much shorter period of time at 70
degrees compared to 55-degree water temperatures. 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.
Use a landing net
The use of a fine-mesh landing net may aid in reducing the amount of time
required to land a fish and keep it from thrashing about in shallow water or
on the shore.
Keep the fish in
Chances of a fish being injured increases the longer it is held out of water.
It is preferable to remove the hook from a fish you intend to release without
taking it out of the water, or at least minimize the amount of time a fish is
held out of water.
Wet your hands
Wet your hands, your net, and other materials that may come in contact with
the fish. This reduces the removal of the mucus on the fish and lessens the
possibility of bacterial infection.
Hold the fish
upside down while removing the hook
This can often pacify the fish and reduce handling time.
Hemostats or long-nose pliers are essential tools for quickly removing hooks.
Cutting hooks from a lure may facilitate lure removal in some cases;
therefore, wire cutters are a valuable addition to an anglerís hook removal
Cut the line
When it is not possible to remove the hook without harming the fish, cut the
line. 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.
Donít touch the
Do not handle fish by placing your fingers in the gill slits. Fish gill
filaments are very sensitive and can easily be injured. 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. Bass can be safely handled by holding the lower
jaw, thumb in the mouth and forefinger under the chin.
Hold the fish
upright underwater after hook removal and allow it to swim away under its own
Fish that are
bleeding from the mouth or gills due to hook removal and handling indicate
your catch and release techniques need to improve!
Survival is reduced significantly when damage resulting in bleeding occurs; if
regulations allow, fish that are bleeding are the ones that you should