Fish Handling Tips

Help Us Insure The Survival Of Our Thriving Fishery

List of Fish Handling Tips

Here, we provide you with fish handling tips that will help you become a pro at catch and release and get a fantastic picture of your trophy as well!

Handling fish properly will insure that a released fish will survive to spawn and be caught again.

  1. Wet your hands before touching a fish.
  2. Lift a fish carefully and lift it horizontally giving support along the length of the fish with two hands.
  3. Don’t place your fingers in the gills of your fish.
  4. Don’t lift your fish by its eyes or touch its eyes.

Fish placed on a stringer in the water cannot be released as they are unlikely to survive.

On The Stringer Is On Your Limit

Never release a fish that has been held on a stringer, once on the stringer, it stays on the stringer as part of your possession limit. Culling fish is the same as killing fish and is illegal.

Things to know about Fish Handling

The decision to keep a fish or release a fish must be made immediately. Studies have shown that if fish are handled and released correctly there is virtually no mortality for fish to be live released.

However, if fish are held for any length of time the mortality rate increases considerably. Proper handling techniques assures fish survival and the sustainability of the fishery. A fish can stay out of water without injury for about as long as you can hold your breath. Try to land, measure, photograph and release your fish within one minute to increase the survival rate of these majestic fish.

Bringing The Fish To The Boat

Do not play a fish too long if you plan to release it – stressed out fish often do not recover. Fish which do appear exhausted can be revived by gently holding the upright fish near the tail and slowly moving it back and forth through the water. This movement forces water over the gills and will assist the fish to recover. This technique should be continued until the fish is able to swim away under its own power.

In deep water, if possible, bring the fish up slowly to prevent stress from changes in water temperature and pressure.

Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. Don’t let it flop around, even a little water under a thrashing fish protects it. More times then not, the hook can be removed while leaving the fish in the water along side the boat.

Don't play a fish too long.

Handling The Fish For Your Picture

  • Wet your hands with lake water before holding the fish.
  • Handle fish gently – keep your hands wet. Remove hooks quickly with long-nosed pliers. If a hook is deeply set, cut the line and leave the hook in place.
  • Never put your fingers in the gills or eyes. This is an ancient method that certainly cripples and slowly kills the fish after release.
  • Always hold a fish horizontally. Holding vertically places stress on the vertebrae and will hurt or kill the fish.

The Correct Way To Hold A Northern Pike

Boosting Catch And Release Survival Rates

Barbless hooks are an important factor in fish survival. Single hooks have also proven to lower mortality rates over multiple hooks. We encourage the use of barb less hooks on all crank baits, spinner baits, and other lures not designed to hold bait. The barbs can be pinched down or removed. Barbed single hook jigs and bait rigs used for live bait can be used.

However, if the hook is swallowed, cut the line and leaving the hook in place. It will dissolve naturally without hurting or killing the fish. Never try to pull the swallowed hook out of the fish.

Landing nets should be used as little as possible. Nets, if used should be made of soft nylon or cotton. A large fish may require a net to facilitate landing a big fish, attempt to remove the hook while leaving the net and fish in the water.

Gently use a wetted soft rubber net

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