The practice of catch and release fishing spawned from bass tournaments keeps evolving.
While some tournament circuits continue to use the traditional format of weighing in a fish on stage and then releasing it, kayak bass circuits have established a format of CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) that immediately returns the fish to the water after the catch. The new Major League Fishing bass circuit also has a similar format of weighing the fish in the boat and immediately releasing it.
I remember one of the TV fishing show hosts would always say to keep the fish you intend to eat and release the rest. Abiding by your state’s daily possession limit and releasing the rest of the fish will help insure good fishing for the future at your favorite fishery.
Here are some good fish-handling practices that will help keep your catch safe and healthy when you return the fish to the water.
- Use barbless hooks. Barbless hooks are easy to remove from the fish, whereas barbed hooks can cause serious damage to your catch.
- Reduce stressing the fish by landing it as quickly as you can.
- Lip a fish to land it or use a “fish-friendly” net. Rubber mesh landing nets are preferable.
- After landing a fish, try to avoid touching it too much to prevent wiping away its protective slime coating. Wetting your hands before touching a fish will also prevent rubbing off the slime coating, which is a fish’s first line of defense against infection.
- Keep the fish off the floor of your boat. The fish’s slime coating will also rub off if the fish is flopping around on your boat’s abrasive carpet. The fish’s skin will also be damaged if it lies on a hot, sun-drenched boat deck.
- If the fish has swallowed your hook and it is difficult to dislodge the hook cut your line as close as possible to the hook, which will eventually corrode in the fish. Trying to dig out the hook usually mortally wounds the fish.
- When you want to measure a fish, wet the measuring board before laying the fish on it.
- Take photos of the fish as soon as possible to prevent from stressing the fish too much. Never toss a fish back into the water.
- When releasing the fish, gently hold it in the water and let the fish swim out of your hands.