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Catch Photo & Release Catch and release is a practice within recreational angling intended as a act of conservation. After a fish is caught it is unhooked and returned to the water before exhaustion or serious injury. Over the years anglers have accepted the idea fishing for fun rather than food.
In Canada catch and release is mandatory for some species and require the use of barbless hooks to facilitate release and minimize injury. Today catch and release is practiced by most all anglers, fishing guides, and promoted by fishing based organizations for Muskie, Walleye and Bass ensuring healthy fish populations for the future.
Here is a guideline for the key aspects of catch and release use the correct tackle:
Fish with appropriate rod, reel and line for the species of fish your targeting. When catching a fish you want to minimize the fight time. The greater the time playing a fish the more lactic acid build up and exhaustion sets in for survival. If fishing in cover (weeds) or warmer water use a heavier line than normal to reduce stress for the fish.
When landing a fish leave the fish in the water for the unhooking process to avoid any handling, if lip hooked a simple flick of the needle nose pliers should remove the hook. If a landing net is used, leave the net in the water when removing or cutting hooks. If the fish has multiple treble hooks embedded from a artificial lure, use the bolt cutter to cut the hooks, replacement hooks are inexpensive. If the hook is lodged deep in the gullet, never pull on the line or try to rip a hook out. Cut the line as close as you can to the hook or the hook itself. Jaw spreaders come in very handy for larger game fish aiding in the cutting or removal of hooks.
Catch and Release Nets:
All quality net manufacturers today have catch and release nets in their product lines. When selecting a net, hoop size, depth of net bag and type of mesh need to be considered for practicing catch and release and the assurance of fish survival after releasing. Using a larger hoop size and deep net bag will reduce the margin of error during the netting process and the extra net bag depth will allow for a portable live well during hook removal. The type of netting (mesh) is important in reducing the removal of the fishes protective slime layer while the fish is in the net. Today there are soft micro fiber knotless mesh, ideal for trout, bass and walleyes. Rubber mesh is an elastic soft molded rubber also used by bass and walleye anglers. Dip treated extra strong knotless mesh with a protective coating is used for musky, pike, salmon and large catfish.
Use barbless hooks for quick easy hook removal and reduced handling times. Some anglers believe that using barbless hooks will cause too many fish to escape. When fishing barbless hooks concentrate on keeping your line tight while fighting a fish. You’re catch rate with barbless hooks will be as high as those achieved with barbed hooks. Barbless hooks can be purchased from several major manufacturers or can be created from a standard hook by crushing the barb(s) flat with needle-nosed pliers. If fish are removed from the water for a photo or measurement, key aspects of proper handling include:
Try to land fish as quickly as you can. The more time they spend fighting, the more lactic acid they build up. In fish, lactic acid is toxic. Fish also use up oxygen, become out of breath, if you will, during the exertion of the fight. Just like us, the shorter the time of exertion, the quicker they will recover. Landing the fish as quickly as you can becomes even more important as the water temperature rises.
The following few tips will help you take better pictures the next time you go fishing. Before lifting the fish out of the water, have your camera turned on and ready to shoot. Don’t hurt the fishes chances of survival by keeping it out of the water for too long.