Effective tools and techniques exist to assure
that the majority of fish we release will survive to reproduce
and fight again. All too often even, well meaning anglers
harm a fishs chance at survival due to ignorance of
basic catch and release methods.
First and foremost, the fishs chances of survival will
be greatest if they are played to the boat and released quickly.
We must remember that while we are often fishing for fun,
its a life and death struggle for the fish. One of the
easiest ways to assure a fishs survival after release
is to remove the barb of the hook. This is best done with
a pair of needle nosed pliers held in line with the hook.
This prevents the hook barb from breaking, bending it smoothly
against the shaft of the hook. If constant pressure is applied
during a fight there is no need for a barb, as the hook will
not back out.
If possible, avoid removing the fish from the water. The water
supports its weight and keeps it from being harmed through
handling and thrashing around a boat. By using one of a variety
of tools, the fish could be released without contact. One
of the most effective tools is made from heavy stainless wire,
has a simple handle, a short shaft and a U shaped bend in
the end. By holding the line near the fish, the angler has
only to hook the wire over the bend in the hook, pulling down
on the line and up with the tool.
Circle hooks help to avoid deep hooking any species of fish.
Their design allows them to hook in the mouth of the fish
a majority of the time. Circle hooks are now widely used for
live bait fishing for fish as diverse a blue marlin and trout.
Fish that need to be revived should be held in the water and
towed slowly through the water. They will swim away under
their own power when oxygen in the water revives them.