BEST PRACTICES TO HANDLE YOUR CATCH
Fishing isn’t always about bringing home the bacon — or rather, the fish. For some anglers, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt. If you have no desire of keeping your catch, it’s best to practice catch and release. However, be sure to do it properly to ensure that the fish has the best chance of survival. To minimise stress and injury to the fish, here are four of the best practices to handle your catch.
Upon landing a catch, it’s best to remove the hook while the fish is still in the water. Even if the fish puts up a fight, try to do this as calmly and carefully as possible to prevent any damage. Use proper tools such as pliers or hook removers. However, if unhooking isn’t possible without causing significant harm to your catch, just cut the line as close to the fish’s mouth as possible.
You should also handle your catch properly. When holding them for the first time, make sure to wet your hands. This is to minimise the potential damage to the protective slime on the fish’s outer surface.
Proper handling of your catch also means not holding them by their jaw or gills. A fish’s mouth can be easily dislocated, especially for the likes of bass who tend to fight hard. If you injure a fish’s mouth, you’re affecting its ability to feed in the future. Instead, handle your catch by supporting its belly. Use both hands, so you distribute the fish’s weight adequately.
As much as possible, don’t take a fish out of the water. Doing so will cause them a lot of stress, and will put them at risk of suffocation. Keep them as close to the surface of the water by using a landing net or supporting them with your hands.
If you have to remove them from the water, don’t take too long. You don’t need a lot of time to snap pictures or document the catch. Also, do not place them on hot surfaces. If you have an aerator, use it to ensure your catch has enough oxygen when placing a fish in a holding tank. Fish measuring mats are designed to make it easier to measure fish while also providing a gentle surface.
When you’re ready to release your catch, position the fish so that its head faces the current. This will allow them to catch their breath gradually. If you place the fish into the water the other way around along with the current, there’s a chance that too much water will rush through their gills. Don’t immediately release your catch.
Provide support for the fish until it can catch its breath. When it’s ready, allow the fish to swim away on its own.
You don’t have to feel bad about enjoying the spoils of your fishing trip. As a responsible angler, though, it’s best only to take home what you can eat. Otherwise, you’re better off letting the fish go. This prevents the depletion of fish stocks and makes sure other anglers have their chance to catch fish, too. Once you’ve decided to release your catch, abide by the best practices to ensure their safe return to the water.
Is there anything else that should be included? Please share your knowledge and experience.