It has been studied for many years and almost all studies confirm that if things are done properly you can release fish back into the water and they do stand a great chance of survival. Times have changed greatly when it comes to fishing and now in many states and provinces you have no choice but to release many of the fish you catch.
Below I will try and provide you with some tips on catching and releasing your fish giving it the best chance possible when it comes to survival.
1. The first tip is to catch the fish as fast as you can. When you fight a fish for a long time they tend to get very tired which in turn lessens their chance of survival in a catch and release situation. The one exception to speed is when you are pulling fish up from fast water. A fish needs time to adjust to the pressures as they change in the water. The problem is when the pressure changes to quickly the bladder will expand. When this happens the fish can not swim back to deep water. If this does happen it is okay to use a very small pin to puncture the bladder. In this case you need not worry because you are doing more good then bad. The little puncture wound will eventually heal but without it the fish stands almost no chance of surviving.
2. It seems that treble hooks will never go away when it comes to fishing so we really need to learn how to fish with them to stand the best chance of fish surviving release after being caught on trebles. A few things you may want to try is cutting a few of the hooks off of a treble. Something else some fisher people are doing these days are completely replacing trebles with single hooks. One other thing you need to know if you want to stand a chance at survival during catch and release is while using trebles you will not want to set the hook too hard.
3. When using a simple, single hook you will want to set the hook quickly when you feel the tap or bite. Doing this helps reduce the chance of the fish swallowing the hook and making survival almost impossible. At this point you also want to make sure you have all the barbs on your hooks pinched. It is amazing how many fish have been saved just from a small thing like pinching barbs. If by some chance the hook does get too far in and too much damage would be inflicted by removal then you should just cut the line and let the fish go. The fish will have a much better chance of living as compared to tearing up its internal organs.
4. When you are catching a fish you want to handle it as little as possible and if possible keep it in the water. If need be you can use pliers or something like that to get the hook out. You also want to do your best not to let the fish thrash around too much and do some possible damage. If you absolutely need to take the fish out of the water do what you need to do and get it back in as quick as possible.
5. The final thing for now that you must know when it comes to catching and releasing is allowing the fish to get its strength back before allowing it to swim away. Just hold the fish lightly by the tail and move it slowly back and forth in the water until it swims away on its own.
At the end of the day whether you like it or not catch and release has become a very big part of the way the fishing world needs to be to ensure the survival of fish not only for us but for generations to come. The key is to keep on fishing but just do what ever it takes to make it an experience you can love for a very long time to come.
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