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Catch and Release

CATCH AND RELEASE

WHY RELEASE A FISH?

A fish is too valuable a resource to be caught only once. A personal commitment to conservation adds fun to fishing. Size, season, and bag regulations make release mandatory. Stressed fish populations need your help to recover. The future of sportfishing is in your hands. Pass it on!


HOW TO BEGIN

Decide to release a fish as soon as it is hooked.

Land your quarry quickly; don't play it to exhaustion.

Set the hook immediately. Try to prevent a fish from swallowing the bait

Work a fish out of deep water slowly, so it can adjust to the pressure change.

Use hooks that are barbless and made from metals that rust quickly.

Always keep release tools handy


HANDLING YOUR CATCH

Leave the fish in the water (if possible) and don't handle it. Use a tool to remove the hook or cut leader (use extreme care with a large, dangerous fish).

Keep the fish from thrashing.

Net your catch only if you cannot control it any other way.

When you must handle a fish:

Use a wet glove or rag to hold the fish.

Turn a fish on its back or cover its eyes with a wet towel to calm it.

Don't put your fingers in the eyes or gills of your catch. Larger fish can be kept in the water by holding the leader with a glove or by slipping a release gaff through the lower jaw.Avoid removing mucous or scales.Get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible.

Protect against personal injury by handling each species carefully and correctly.


REMOVING THE HOOK

Cut the leader close to the mouth if a fish has been hooked deeply or if the hook can't be removed quickly.

Back the hook out the opposite way it went in.

Use needle-nose pliers, hemostats, or a hookout to work the hook and protect your hands.

For a larger fish in the water, slip a gaff around the leader and slide it down to the hook. Lift the gaff upward as the angler pulls downward on the leader.

Do not jerk or pop a leader to break it. This damages vital organs and kills the fish.


THE FINAL MOMENTS

Place the fish in the water gently, supporting its mid-section and tail until it swims away.

Resuscitate an exhausted fish by moving it back and forth or tow it alongside the boat to force water through its gills.

Use a large hypodermic needle (or similar tool) to vent the expanded swim bladder on a fish taken from deep water (see graphics below).

Watch your quarry to make sure it swims away. If it doesn't, recover the fish and try again.


Venting trapped gases in a fish caught from great depth

Use the largest hypodermic needle you can find (#10 or larger) and remove the plunger. Insert hypodermic needle at a 45 angle, under a scale, near the tip of the pectoral fin and squeeze gently. You will hear the trapped gases release. Also, make a needle clearing tool from a piece of stainless leader wire to clear any tissue, etc. from needle. Leave this tool in needle between uses. Sterilize the needle with iodine or alcohol between uses.




Typical embolized condition after retrieval from depth


Location of swim bladder



Carefully insert needle under a scale at a 45° angle and gently squeeze. You will hear the trapped gas escape.


If deflated stomach is still protuding from the mouth do not attempt to push stomach back into the mouth. This will generally take care of itself.


REMEMBER, A RELEASED FISH HAS AN EXCELLENT CHANCE OF SURVIVAL WHEN HANDLED CAREFULLY AND CORRECTLY.

Thanks for helping preserve our priceless marine resources!


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